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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Following Neil Young's Muse

As predicted, our posting calling out the anti-Neil 4% Club provoked howls of outrage. We do not look for trouble. Trouble comes to us.

So here's what Philip had to say on the latest brouhaha:
Zuma was then. This is now.

Just because an artist has made music you or I value on some level or other does not mean the next 'album' is going to have the same effect. What is amazing about NY is that 90% of his material is linked by genius and I have felt it and owned it for my own ends.

So what?

Exactly, that is the point - we 'listeners' do not have any 'rights' just because our psychological being has been influenced by NY's music. It is quite worrying to read some of the often well written negative comments on this site but the writers all make the error of claiming the music for themselves, through their understanding, their 'ownership'.

It is a particular male trait to compare everything, to compile lists of the 'top ten'. I see these arguments in the same vein. Take Ambulance Blues, Don't be Denied, Cortez, Flying on the Ground, Country Girl, The Losing End, Little Wing, Hippie Dream for starters. All those songs are so different, it is also obvious they are all NY.

The new stuff is obviously NY - that is it. You cannot make any comparisons, any 'top 10' or 'bottom 10'.

It is part of the NY brain - not your brain or my brain - the fact you or I can connect so perfectly with some of NY's songs is our problem NOT HIS.

Once he recognized the pointlessness of fame for its own sake he cares only as you or I care whether or not we are liked / respected by others.

For what it's worth I think some of the new songs, having been honed and arranged are really good - Fork in the Road is a multi-media experience.


ps - Neil, please play Folsom CA.

"Love and Only Love Will Endure....Hate Is Everything You Think It Is...Love and Only Love Will Break It Down...Love and Only Love...will BREAK IT DOWN"

(Thanks Gil!)

More on Neil Young following his muse.


At 3/21/2009 11:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would suggest Phillip is 100% right on.
(Ross in Whitehorse)

At 3/21/2009 11:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrasher, check your previous post! He's back again! bsm

At 3/21/2009 01:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just because someone makes a negative comment about Neil does not mean that that person is claiming Neil's music for their own. I don't think that most of the (serious) negative posters are claiming that. I have posted several times on what I believe to be weaknesses with Neil's more recent music - the lyrics are not finely crafted and sometimes simply sloppy (like the repetitions of "rig" and "school" in FITR), the tunes are often not remarkable, and so on - but in no way am I trying to claim that Neil should do such and such for me, or that he should be the old Neil that I really liked (for the record, my favorite Neil albums are (probably) On the Beach, Re-ac-tor, Trans, Comes a Time, and Live Rust. Oh, and ATGR.

Now, I've been thinking about FITR lately, and I agree with those who suggest we wait for the album, listen to it a bit with an open mind, and then only then weigh in on its merits. The album itself may hold together better than individual songs. I quite like Re-Ac-Tor, and I especially enjoy T-Bone. I doubt I would have liked T-Bone if I had heard it in isolation from the rest of the album, and furthermore, I actually DIDN'T like T-Bone (or Re-Ac-Tor) the first time(s) I heard it. Only much later - probably 10 years after it came out - did it really hit me, did I finally 'get' what Neil was up to with that song and that album (I could have done without the chorus on "Opera Star" though!).

So, now that I've contradicted myself in the first two paragraphs, I'll try to pull it together. I believe there is room to criticize Neil for being sloppy in some of his recent work - the way you might criticize your kid for not doing a good job on an essay - not to say that Neil owes us, but simply to say that his material is not as good as it could have been had he invested a bit more time in it. However, the sloppiness that in isolation - a video clip, a song fragment, or printed lyrics - seems weak or awful or subpar, may actually not be so bad when evaluated in the framework of an entire album. Time will tell. I know that I like 80s Neil MUCH better today than I did then...

And of course, let the debates continue.



At 3/22/2009 05:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw come on, this is all getting out of hand. This is a musical blog, not a theology site! So both positive raves about Neil Young's work and critical remarks should be welcome. I mean, what's the point of sharing your thoughts on Neil's work, if you HAVE to be unconditionally 'loyal' (i.e. blind to all kinds of criticism). We love the road this guy's been travelling on for 40 years now, but that doesn't mean you have to shut up about the bumps in the road, or the various ditches he's headed for. Some ditches are/were great, some are just ditches.

At 3/22/2009 06:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, what's all this about there being no possibility to compare Neil's work, or make a list of your top-10 or bottom-10. I mean, is he God and His Work Perfect? Come on, that's what music lovers do: make lists!
By the way, here's mine (I'll make it snappy, a top-and-bottom-5):


1. Zuma. Both slowest & fiercest electric guitar I ever heard.
2. Tonight's the Night. Both most depressing & most uplifting album I ever heard.
3. On the Beach. Second most depressing & uplifting album I ever heard.
4. Sleeps with Angels. Same pain as 2 & 3, but about some one else.
5. Fork i/t Road. Loosest devil-may-care sing-along-crap since the Sex Pistols.

Now, for the bottom half

1. Evrybody's rockin'. Private joke, public turn-off.
2. Broken Arrow. The Crazy horse album that shouldn't have been.
3. Old Ways. Nice try, but still: bad imitation.
4. Slver & gold. After the Goldrush stripped down to nothing.
5. Landing on Water. The one great track on this one sums it up: I got a problem.

So, how's that for a list of God's Great Works?

At 3/22/2009 06:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trasher, i'd appreciate if you'd stop putting down the "4% club" (of which I'm a card-carrying and proud member, I might add). From what I read on your great blog, these 'anonymous' guys & gals are not dumb assholes trying to spoil the party, they seem to be literate and articulate, albeit critical Neil young fans - more literate anyway than some of the screamers who loooooove anything Neil does, even if it's a fart in a box.

At 3/22/2009 06:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting remark about Neil's work from the 80s getting better by the years, by the way. I'm glad for Anonymous, but I can't agree. Somehow, Trans, Reactor,Landing on Water, Life, Everybody's Rocking don't seem to ripe with age (lol). Fascinating stuff for a biographer of Neil Young, but evidently the work of a man who has lost his way and is desperately trying to get away from himself and just have a bit of fun (as Young has told us he was trying to do). Well, maybe it was fun for him, I sure hope so. For us 4-percenters, those lack-luster and failed albums were just part of the fucking 80s - and just as bad. (Even if David Geffen was an asshole for suing Neil).

At 3/22/2009 11:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a serious writer and songsmith, I never worry about whether what I have done or created meets any expectation but my own. How could I and be genuine or authentic? Otherwise, it would ruin whatever magic streams come in and out of my consciousness. Channeling has to be an organic process not contrived or forced.
Van Morrison in a recent interview

At 3/22/2009 12:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Neil but some of these albums of the last 10 years are not that thrilling. I know Neil doesn't like to repeat himself but maybe he should reconsider? Isn't that better than "Pieces of Crap"? Performing live Neil is better than he ever was. But his records are just reflections of political phrases and newspaper headlines.



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