Comment of the Moment: Yonder Stands The Sinner
Can we get it together
Can we still stand side by side
Can we make it last
Like a musical ride?
The Comment of the Moment is from Yonder Stands The Sinner by Greg M.:
You know, I just can't believe that we're still having this discussion of questioning Neil's motives, or the initial effect of anything he does or says. Yes, I am a Neil freak. Yes, I am wired to like anything he does. Yes, I am intolerant of short sighted opinions which don't take everything into account. But speaking as someone who has dissected the subject for 40 years now, I'm sorry, Neil is Neil, and if you don't get that you probably never will.
Spotting a pretender from a mile away is as simple as reading the comments which usually start out something like: "I'm a Neil Young fan, but..." You can't be a true fan of Neil Young and question his motivation. I'm sorry, you can't. You can’t even be a critic and question his motivation. Do I have the ability to read Neil’s thoughts? No, but I’ll stake my own integrity on what I’ve just stated. You don’t have to like what he does, or agree with what he is saying- even assuming you can figure out what he is saying, which in the context of some of these blog posts is a real leap. Does this mean he's perfect, that he doesn't make mistakes, or miss the mark now and then? Of course not. That's what you get from an artist who doesn't work with a net, and that's what lukewarm fans just don't understand.
Besides, in many instances the role of provocateur is simply missed altogether. Many times you don't know what role Neil is adopting, or for what purpose. In these instances he's usually looking for a reaction from people who are otherwise lost in playing with their toys, and need to be provoked to some semblance of critical thinking. Just check out his neutral response to critical and supportive questions alike at the Déjà vu movie press conference.
Look, I understand the reaction some people have listening to some of Neil's stuff for the first time. I hated Tonight's The Night when I first heard it. I didn't get a lot of things over the years when I first heard them. As recently as Chrome Dreams II, it just clanked when I first heard it. It made me uncomfortable. Fallin' Off The Face Of The Earth from Prairie Wind was painful at first. But you know what, I learned a long time ago that if I listened to something I didn't like right away over and over and over, that I would not only eventually see the genius in it but that I would end up really liking it. I took to heart the intent of Living With War, and the Ohio like immediacy of the recording, but also took a pass on the musicality of it. Frankly, I thought it was sloppy, a one off recording that I theoretically appreciated but couldn't really listen to real well. Recently though, I pulled it out and kept it in the CD player for a few weeks, and am now blown away by the power of it on all fronts.
Other posts have said it much better than me, but suffice to say, you dismiss things that you think you don't like at your own peril. If you don't understand this, it's time to move on to another artist who has the ability to calculate your taste and never take the chance of disappointing you.
Trust me, I appreciate that it is not a good thing to walk in lock step, and that it is wrong to simply slap someone down who dares to question whether or not the emperor is running around in his birthday suit, let alone speak it out loud. It's o.k. to feel this way, but I would simply tell you this: when it comes to Neil, please do yourself and everyone else a favor, and refrain from voicing your opinion before you've had a chance to fully digest what Neil is trying to do, both in terms of meaning and musical execution. You may find to your great surprise that your initial reaction was misplaced, in part or in whole. And for God's sake, refrain from commenting on tours and albums which you haven't even heard yet. I mean, give me a break.
I think Thrasher is great, and has its collective heart in the right place, which basically amounts to reveling in the sheer joy of everything Neil represents. But these blogs are so disheartening, and akin to the blogs I have checked out in other places. They seem to attract a smaller but significant minority view which is invariably mean spirited, ignorant, illiterate, ill-informed, and distracting. The positive bloggers get caught up with the negativity (the pot said to the kettle), which of course is what these "trolls" are after to begin with. I just don't have room for it anymore, and plan to confine myself to the news and feature pieces, like the excellent memorial to Dewey Martin, and the Squires remembrance I just read.
I think the lion’s share of Neil fans feel the same way. We have long since chucked the notion of "good" and "bad" that the detractors want to focus on- including those second tier "I like Neil Young, but..." fans. If the critics want to put the time in and hear what we're saying, based on long experience and the tangible proof represented by Neil's career, great, but I'm just not gonna sweat it anymore.
Keep up the good work, Thrasher.
Thanks Greg! It's appreciated whenever we see folks rise up in Neil's defense against unsubstantiated assaults. We can disagree on opinions. But we can't disagree on facts.
More on Sinners Standing Yonder.