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Monday, March 02, 2009

A Battle Raged on the Open Page: Can You Change Your Mind?

What Would Neil Young Do?
Poster by Jeremy Deller

When faceless and anonymous
Come to beat down your door
And say you're all washed up and done
You can just say they have nothing in store

To touch this soul
Because they just don't know
They just don't know
The way

"The Way"

Well, say what you will, things seem to have been getting a little intense around here of late.

Can't imagine why? Maybe the upcoming Canada tour? Or Europe Spring tour? Or New Orleans Jazz Fest? Or excitement over LincVolt repowering the American dream? Or maybe because the Neil Young Archives have been delayed again for the up-teenth time?

Who knows why?

Certainly couldn't be those new LincVolt love songs on the upcoming Fork in the Road CD, do you suppose? Afterall, if you download them, they'll sound like shit, right?

The comments have really piled up of late. Like this one from Bert:
As far as the criticism of Fork in the Road (FITR), we all know Neil will do whatever he wants but at the same time I think we have a right to express our opinions, good or bad. In fact, that's what makes reading the comments here - by die-hard fans, no less - so interesting. Personally I'm not too impressed by what I've heard so far but that's fine. I haven't been blown away by everything he's released but considering how prolific Neil is I just take it in stride.

To those who are unwilling to tolerate *any* criticism of FITR, be honest: if Everybody's Rockin' had not been released in '83 and Neil performed the songs in his recent shows, wouldn't you expect some fans to express their dislike of what they heard? I'm sure even Neil would expect it. My point is that not everything he releases is of the calibre of LAH or Ohio, so you can't really expect everyone to fawn over everything he does.

From the comments on TW, I've noticed that Neil seems to elicit a strange kind of obsessiveness among his fans. There are those who are so moved by his songs that they think Neil can do no wrong no matter what he does ('FITR rocks!'), while others love him so much that that they fault him for any deviation from their perception of what he is capable of ('FITR sucks!'). I think it might be because Neil himself seems to have an obsessive personality and it comes out in his music, where what he's fixated on at the moment is all he cares about, until he moves on to something else which then becomes his all-consuming passion.

He's a man of extremes and maybe that's why some of his fans are so possessive of him, they're like that too. He's not called Shakey for nothing.


And there have been many similar sentiments expressed like Bert's.
On the other hand, there have been many similar sentiments expressed like SONY's (Speakin Out in NY):
I still think the presentation of FITR blasting into our collective face on the internet for nothing is the main story.

We'll all respond from our personal bias as to what we like, what we want, what we think he should be doing. But this next album is the soundtrack to 'his' current moment.

How easy it it for YOU/ME to switch gears when we're 'into' something that is capturing our attention and efforts. It's like having a baby - can you relate to all your old ways and thinkings when that baby is near, or born, or first growing? You're captured, or least you should be. It's the birth of new creativity from a personal perspective and is as uniquely individual as the DNA that puts it there and channels it out.

I guess if it ain't your cup of tea, go out and do it yourself.


But what could possibly be going on here with Neil Young fans? Are they just too serious about Neil's music and need to get a life?

Here's what Not Above Suspicion has to say:
I think we need to bear in mind that the projected release date for this album is still 3 months away [ED: ? 4/7 according to]. Given Neil's history that makes the odds of this album being released as currently conceived, what, maybe 50:50?

A difference is that today, we can witness beforehand what we couldn't in the past.

On numerous occasions in the past Neil has changed his mind abruptly after releases were announced. Albums have been shelved or radically reworked but we relied almost entirely on rumors and third hand information as to what the original conception was.

Now, the process is far more public because of both the easy almost instantaneous dissemination of live shows by "pirates" and his own choice to provide previews.

I don't really think that Neil's decision will be directly influenced by feedback (positive or negative) but, assuming FITR will be released at all or that it won't include substantial surprises is premature at best.

Obviously, the "eco-car" thing is very important to Neil but the possibility that he might decide that the album isn't "right" still looms large. I don't think, however, his decision will hinge much on what other people have to say about it.

He's heard people ponder his judgment, taste and even sanity before. Maybe that came after releases rather than before, but I find it hard to believe he could not anticipate the reaction to some of his more idiosyncratic choices.

If Neil changes his mind, he will change his course. If he doesn't he won't. I think, however, the notion that his mind will be changed by external reaction is misplaced.

---Not Above Suspicion

Which reminds us of a song called "Change Your Mind":

When you get weak, and you need to test your will
When life's complete, but there's something missing still
Distracting you from this must be the one you love
Must be the one whose magic touch can change your mind
Don't let another day go by without the magic touch

Distracting you (change your mind)
Supporting you (change your mind)
Embracing you (change your mind)
Convincing you (change your mind)

When you're confused and the world has got you down
When you feel used and you just can't play the clown
Protecting you from this must be the one you love
Must be the one whose magic touch can change your mind
Don't let another day go by without the magic touch

Protecting you (change your mind)
Restoring you (change your mind)
Revealing you (change your mind)
Soothing you (change your mind)

You hear the sound, you wait around and get the word
You see the picture changing everything you've heard
Destroying you with this must be the one you love
Must be the one whose magic touch can change your mind
Don't let another day go by without the magic touch

Destroying you (change your mind)
Embracing you (change your mind)
Protecting you (change your mind)
Confining you (change your mind)
Distracting you (change your mind)
Supporting you (change your mind)
Distorting you (change your mind)
Controlling you (change your mind)
Change your mind (change your mind)
Change your mind, change your mind (change your mind)
Change your mind (change your mind)

(More on Lyrics Analysis of Change Your Mind).

Neil Young, Neil Young (2004)
Photo by Melanie Schiff

But we guess we would just say that for many, Neil Young is not only a musician but a different animal all together. More of a performance artist in the best sense of the term as an experimenter pushing audiences' boundaries.

From by Martin Herbert on performance artist Melanie Schiff:
"That kind of willed projection, born out of abiding admiration, is taken a stage further in Melanie Schiff’s tender photograph Neil Young, Neil Young (2004).

In it, a figure’s head is obscured by the cover of Young’s debut solo album, with its life-size carbon-dated psychedelic portrait of the musician. 'It’s about fandom, genius, and awe,' says the young Chicago photographer. 'He was 23 when he recorded it, and I just found — and find, now that I’m older than that — it incredible that someone of that age can make something so amazing. It was a way of making it my face, because it’s me in the photograph, like a cover song or a tribute or a wish.'

The line between admiration and analysis is consciously hazed
; Schiff, like the other artists I talked to, can happily spiel till sundown about Young, which points to a degree of investment that exceeds callow reverentiality and shades into something greater and more deeply seated.

'I don’t think of him as a musician, I think of him as an artist,' says Lee. 'His work has a conceptual quality to it, and he’s not afraid to experiment and lose fans in the process,'
says Deller. He has, for Durant, 'incredible integrity and authenticity.'"

(Another take on this on Nothing to Say & Saying It by John Gallaher and Stoning the Devil by Adam Fieled.)

But we'll give Shakey himself the last word from Jimmy McDonough's Neil Young biography on the 1992 acoustic shows (p. 668):
"You know what that tour was good for? It was good for me. It wasn't good for anybody else.

It was good for me to realize how completely fuckin' out of touch with the audience I was. I went out there and played all new stuff - songs that really meant somethin' to me - and they were still lookin' at fifteen, twenty years ago, even though they were teenagers. These young people who wanted me to do my hits. Wanted me to do Ragged Glory, wanted me to do 'RITFW'. They wanted me to get out there, get real intense. They didn't understand that I don't always do that.

They didn't get what they wanted - but I got what I wanted.

Because I went out and did the songs and got in touch with what its like to play and communicate to an audience just with guitar, with songs they don't know that well. That's really where it lives. To get out there with new songs that no one knows and make them known, make them hear them. That's the challenge."


Neil's not jesus. We debunked that theory long ago. Here's your new messiah.

Thanks Bert, SONY, Karen & BBQ Master!


At 3/02/2009 06:36:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

What? A poster I don't have?

Just singing a song or writing a blog won't change the world but it's the first step in the right direction, right?

I mean maybe this line forming for him and here on your blog is our own human need to stay connected to one another as a humanity.

Love ya, Thrasher.

At 3/02/2009 07:18:00 PM, Blogger Ian G said...

Speaking of Change Your Mind, why hasn't Neil played it more often? Its in my top 5 favourite Neil songs along with Ambulance Blues, Cortez, Cowgirl and Powderfinger.

At 3/02/2009 08:04:00 PM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

Nicely written. It must be hard for you to have to put these things together two or three times a week. A weird time to be a Neil fan.
Regarding your last word, the Shakey quote - I went back and looked at the track list from Weld. It has songs from:
Rust Never Sleeps (3)
Freedom (2)
Ragged Glory (5)
Everybody Knows.. (1)
Zuma (1)
American Stars.. (1)
Tonight's the Night (2)
plus Blowin' in the Wind

So I'm reading the quote and asking...

What were the new songs he was talking about?

Every one of those albums was a classic. Every one of the songs was a classic, except maybe for the two long ones from Ragged Glory and Farmer John, but I wouldn't argue with someone who rates them higher than I do.

But that was 1991 - 18 years ago. And I'm not sure I could imagine a 16 song set from Prairie Wind, Chrome Dreams, Living with War,that would belong on the same stage.

This is no disrespect to Neil or to those of you who are satisfied with his last decade of recordings. I've never said it was utter garbage, just that it isn't as good and I wish it was. But when you get these long posts from people who hated Tonight's the Night at first listen advising that if you only play the new stuff over and over again you'll grow to love it, I have to chime in with a hearty "Bullshit."

In one of his epic interviews (Playboy, I think, but maybe Rolling Stone) John Lennon was asked his opinion of the "Better to burn out than to fade away" line. He said he hated it and that it was from Neil Young and who has come back more often than Neil Young?

That's how I prefer to think of him, as churning out the Reactors and Life's and Landing on Waters while another Freedom percolates in his subconscious.

As Thrasher has said, it may be a long wait, but it will be worth it and, if it never happens, Weld still sounds pretty damn good.

At 3/02/2009 08:57:00 PM, Anonymous AK said...

the new songs refer to the 92 solo tour before harvest moon came out. not the 91 tour.

that was a great show. i sure as hell wasn't wanting to hear the tired classics.

At 3/02/2009 08:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All those people who were saying that they didn't care about the Archives delay because they wanted new music are now looking pretty stupid. Enjoy the crappy Fork in the Road lol.

At 3/03/2009 01:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is Anonymous above on about? (Kind of reminds me of Neil's song "Words"). New trumps old.

Bring on Fork in the Road. It sounds like an excellent album to me. It can sit next to my Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Dick Dale etc hot rod albums.

The Archives will turn up sometime. However,I am looking forward to listening endlessly to FITR. I hope I won't be late.


At 3/03/2009 07:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The 28 min No Hidden Path from Madrid 2008 is as good as NY has ever been.

And of course its not everyones cup of tea.

Thank goodness.

Springsteen can be the cup of tea for teh masses.

At 3/03/2009 07:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got just an advance copy of FITR.
Listened to it for the first time last night.It sucked.but hey, I'm a Neil Young hardcore fan, so I cant hate any of his albums.So I kept listening. After listening to the entire album 5 times,I started to like it. Then I started drinking and smoking heavy. Now I am listenign to it for the 9th time. I think another 20-30 listens and I will be able to post on Thrasherswheat about how I love Neil,he's great and that the new record is great to if you give it a chance to grow on you.After 100 listens, it will be part of the family.Even my dog will like it.
Hey,I have to do anything and everything to like it...after all I'm a big Neil Young fan.In fact I bought tickets to a few shows in Canada.Only $ 200 a ticket.I wanted to pay more.I insisted that Neil needs more $ and deserves more $ and that I wanted to pay $ 400 per ticket.but they wouldnt take the extra $.Neil, if your reading, raise the ticket prices please !
I want people to know I am willing to pay $ 400-500 per ticket to see you and then I can post about it on Thrasherwheat.Anyway, I know you will do good things with the $, I trust you, so I think tickets should be more $$$. and when is Pegi releasing her next album ? Forget the archives, just help Pegi get that next album done !

At 3/03/2009 08:16:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Well, at least you have a choice about what to buy and what not to buy ... nothing worse than an angry mob ...

At 3/03/2009 08:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even an ugly baby can become cute if you stare at it enough times.

At 3/03/2009 08:32:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

... or waiting for an old rusty inquisition or thrashing ...

At 3/03/2009 08:33:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder ...

At 3/03/2009 08:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little background. I'm of an age where I first became really aware of Neil with Heart of Gold. I was 12 and I loved the song from the first time I heard it on the radio. For my next birthday I got a stereo and began purchasing albums for the first time. Went to the store and it didn't have Harvest so I bought his new album-- Time Fades Away.

Not quite what I was expecting, but I loved it too, and my "true fandom" basically began as Neil was putting out his first wave of WTF? records. I was getting heavily into his early stuff at the same time the "dark trilogy" was current. I loved it all.

Many of my friends loved the standards and thought TFA and TTN were garbage. I was a fan on a different level (not "better" or "more true"-- just different).

That's still the case and really until the advent of the internet I knew maybe two people in my life who were NY fans in the same way I am.

I know plenty of people who like a lot of Neil's albums or songs bit can't begin to understand my appreciation of some of his music that they don't get at all. I don't have any problem with that or consider it reason to doubt their appreciation of his music that they do like.

The thing is, I don't think any of those people would come to a NY website and post negative comments about songs they don't like or use them as ammunition to advance the argument he's lost it. they'd just listen once and decide they had heard enough and move along.

People coming forward here appear to have a different agenda. I strongly suspect that some who take issue with Neil's recent political and social expression want to discredit him by creating the impression that even his most devoted fans mostly hate the recent music. More than that though, they want to make the argument that hius music being less popular makes his political and social thoughts unworthy of attention.

My advice to them would be that this is a counter-productive strategy. going out of your way to write about Neil in order to attack him just increases his visibility. the best thing you can do if you wish he would be quiet is ignore him. That won't stop from speaking his mind and acting on his convictions but it would lessen the impact.

And, no, this is not a reverse psychology ploy to get you guys to shut up. Just some friendly advice.

At 3/03/2009 08:33:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

and even the blind can "see."

At 3/03/2009 08:34:00 AM, Anonymous SONY said...

"The 28 min No Hidden Path from Madrid 2008 is as good as NY has ever been."

I will say that last night I did pull out a 22 minute NHP from Boston 12/07 and I reflected back on a recent statement about 'no more classics' from 'ol Neil. Wrong. This one fits.

And I rememeber when he was scratching the floor like a cat for about 5 minutes playing it in Buffalo 11/30/07. Chrome Dreams baby, I'm still having 'em.

And not for nothing, but I would say that the Chrome Dreams release with the old hood shot of the 59 continental before transformation to LincVolt was (obviously?) a precurser to all the 'car songs' coming out now. I think he's a bit more calulated in what he's doing that we've caught on to.

At 3/03/2009 08:39:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign the preceding post---

--- Not Above Suspicion

At 3/03/2009 08:42:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher said...

To 3/03/2009 07:42:00 AM -

And we wonder why some folks see Neil fans as total dweebs. It's comments like yours.

They really give us all a very negative impression.

Would you want to follow someone's music who's fans think this way.

We know that you don't have an advance copy. We know you don't have canada tour tix. And I think you can leave Pegi out of this.

Now run along.

I've got the perfect site for you to visit: It's Not The Band I Hate, It's Their Fans.

Have a nice day!
Peace & Love

At 3/03/2009 10:06:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Hidden Path holds up along side anything from NY's catalog. I would not short change some of the songs on Prairie Wind. He doesn't play them on stage but there are some absolutely terrific gems there. Even LWW has a couple that really deserve attention - Restless Consumer, After the Garden, and Families are great and people would be talkign about them more if he had added extended solos. You know, it's hard to keep coming up with the same songs, with the same tone, in E-minor. That gets boring.

At 3/03/2009 11:37:00 AM, Blogger BrechtV said...

I still keep on hoping that maybe Neil's just joking and secretly he's putting a whole other bunch of songs on the CD:)

At 3/03/2009 12:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All you cretins out there who are complaining about an album that's not even out yet?My my my.If when after FITR is out and I see you same people blogging about how good it is I will just laugh laugh.F that I'll just start laughing now.I to wish Archives vol.1 and yes even 2 was out now.But what's a Neil fan to do.?
The Mugwump

At 3/03/2009 12:52:00 PM, Blogger BrechtV said...

You don't have to like every song to call yourself a 'Neil-fan'... I've heard most of the songs and I've seen Neil performing them live, and they were.. hmm.. dissappointing.

At 3/03/2009 01:25:00 PM, Anonymous joerg said...

If you like a song or not, if you like an album or not... as it was said here earlier beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everybody is entitled to its opinion and freedom of speech is one of the most precious goods in the world (I know because I grew up behind the Iron Curtain where it did not exist)but if someone has something to criticise he or she sould show more respect. Respect other people's view and opinion even if you do not share the same. As Grandpa said in Greendale "Those people don't have any respect,
So they won't get any of mine."

At 3/03/2009 01:39:00 PM, Anonymous wAtChToWeR said...

I haven't heard the new songs everybody's talking about but the more I read these comments the more I can't wait for fitr to come out so i can hear what the fuss is all about.

funny, but after reading this and clicking to see all the comments i thoguht some commenters would be argueing about whether JM is a messiah? I guess since no one argued it, he must be?


At 3/03/2009 01:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way.Who are the 3 honey's in the WWNYD poster pic and where were they when I saw Neil and Crazy Horse in '96?They sure do make that poster look GOOOOD.!He he :)

At 3/03/2009 03:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FITR (the song) is a total classic. True its not the same as 'Goldrush' or 'Old Man' or 'Tell Me Why' ... but its at least as good, if not better ... the web cam video takes it all to a new level ... Neil expressing the angst of the times in a way nobody else can ... Its clear to me that Neil is MORE relevant today than ever ... I don't love everything he puts out, which is likely impossible given how prolific he is. But I love the fact he puts his heart and sould into all that he does, I love his passion which comes through every time he performs. The naysaysers are wrong not for having a negative opinion about the new songs, but for framing their negative opinions of the new songs as evidence of Neil's being washed up and done. And in doing so they reveal that they don't 'get' Neil ... I don't care what they say about their status as fans ... they're fair weather fans ... and with all of Neil's twists and turns, changes, experimentations, its almost impossible to be a fair weather fan of Neil because when he heads for the ditch he leaves 'em behind ... and maybe that's what the negativity is all about, its the cry of the fair weather fan once again left in the dust as Neil moves on ... if you've been on this journey for a while you eventually learn to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, take the good with the bad .. leave Neil at the wheel and you'll be just fine

At 3/03/2009 04:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just reading all of the comments here when my iTunes (on random) started playing 'Horseshoe Man' from the Silver and Gold LP.

Now THAT truly is shite music - the samples I've heard from FITR are genius in comparison!

Give me Electric Neil any day, even if he is singing about electic cars...

At 3/03/2009 04:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a general wait-and-see policy on Neil records. If I like it I do; if I don't, then I wait for the next one. There's some very good stuff on some albums that others regard as worthless, and I'm not crazy about some of the ones others think are good.

For the record, I was a little surprised when I heard "Fork in the Road", but it's really just talkin' blues. After the first chorus I realized what he was doing. I like the instrumentals in the background, it's driving music. And I'm fine with the other songs I've heard.

So I figure I'll wait and hear the whole thing.

Besides, the video is priceless. When he took a bite out of the apple I fell off the couch laughing.

Also, that is a great poster.


At 3/03/2009 09:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And I suppose you'd like Neil to be like Bruce "We're going to Disney World" Springsteen and perform at the Stupor Bowl halftime??

Or Bob "Victoria's Secret" Dylan and sellout to sell women's underwear?

I think I'll stick to my crappy Neil LP's thank you.

Buf Spring Again, PLEASE

At 3/04/2009 02:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, well, well, oh well. Neil is coming back to Europe and more dates are coming. I think I posted this news here on TW in the summer of 2008. Really can't wait to see the man again. Since Glastonbury has Bruce and Neil together it still might be possible they both come to the same festival in Holland too.

From Reuters:
A special edition of "Fork in the Road," which includes a DVD that features three music videos and a live concert video of Young performing the Beatles' "A Day in the Life."

At 3/04/2009 05:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At 3/04/2009 08:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess maybe the reaal question is, what would Bob do?

At 3/04/2009 10:39:00 AM, Anonymous Clarabell said...


He would sell his mother, wife, girlfriends. and family down the river... like he always has ...

At 2/27/2010 05:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

neil young is by far the best musician ever, but too good for a watered down society to appreciate. admittedly, however, it's not all good stuff, just mostly well above average overall, even when he's half dead, he still can produce some gems.


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"greed is NOT good"
Occupy the Music

Hey Big Brother!
Stop Spying On Us!
Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

The Achilles Heel
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
~~ Bob Marley

The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?




(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul