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Sunday, March 15, 2009

This Is Not For You: Following The Muse

all that's sacred comes from youth
dedication, naive and true
with no power, nothing to do
i still remember, why don't you...don't you...
this is not for you
this is not for you
this is not for you
oh, never was for you...fuck you...
this is not for you...

- "Not For You" by Eddie Vedder

So at the risk of precipitating another round of Neil bashing, we'll make another go of it. And here's why.

We know the little things shouldn't annoy us but when we post on the pleasant little videos that Neil has made and shared with us recently like the hilarious "Fork In the Road", the crunchy "Johnny Magic" or the simple, yet subtly beautiful "Light A Candle". Then -- inevitably -- the "true Neil Young fans" emerge to anonymously post about all of the new songs' faults and shortcomings.

Bad lyrics. Poor melody. Lack of creativity. He's a greedy sellout ripping off his fans. And so on.

We summarized most of the pro and con reaction on Neil Young Following The Muse: A Good Idea? which even included a little poll on the question (which we'll get back to that in just a moment).

But first, one of the reaction comments by Not Above Suspicion:
I want Neil to do what he needs to remain challenged by something more than sales targets and radio play and proud of his work.

If he would feel like a sell-out if he simply crafted "new" music to exploit the enduring popularity of his "classics" then I can live with that even if I might actually prefer to listen to traces and echoes of past glory.

He can and does still play the old stuff so I can see where he might see it as redundant and stifling to deliver new stuff that is mostly in the same vein (even if he has been so eclectic it's hard to use the singular there).

He doesn't want to be a nostalgia act. He probably sees himself as making sufficient concessions to fan demands by playing a selection of the popular stuff live and putting together the Archives (although that concession remains elusive).

I accept that he does a lot of what he does for himself. I'm free to walk away when his self-indulgence does not produce something that draws me.

I'm not walking. Partly because I admire his independence and iconoclasm, but mostly because I think he knows best what he needs to do connect with the muse on a level that produces creativity that is something more than echoing his own past.

He may now be very deep in the shaft, with the thickest seams played out requiring him to mine through a lot of rock to find the gold that remains. But, if he's still searching, I'm still listening, whether he hits gold or not.

One thing is certain. If he stops searching he won't find it.

And this comment by punkdavid:
I love that Neil follows his Muse, but after that, it's fully Neil's decision about what to do with where the Muse leads him. Neither he, nor we, can absolve him of responsibility for his work simply because he believes in an ancient Greek mythos regarding artistic inspiration.

As I've quipped before, only Neil Young can give us "live albums" that have been edited, overdubbed, and otherwise produced for months in a studio while simultaneously giving us "studio albums" filled with raw first takes. If he wanted to devote more time to refining that which he brings us from his Muse, he certainly could, and at times he has.

Sometimes things are better raw, sometimes they're not, and sometimes the Muse would rather eat mac 'n cheese than Peking Duck. There's no accounting for taste, even among spirit beings.

Which brings us to the Pearl Jam lyrics we quoted above and the poll results to the question of whether Neil Young following is muse is working for him of late.

Regular readers of this blog's comments know that there has been a disturbing pattern over the years where virtually every artistic and business decision Neil has made has been ripped to shreds. We're not even going to begin to link to the dozens and dozens of examples we've documented over the years, but this post contains a link summary.

Which led us to the creation of the "Muse Poll" in order to see if we could determine the extent of dissatisfaction and tension amongst Neil Young fans. And -- in not too big a surprise -- the vitriol of negative Neil comments is in no way whatsoever reflective of the larger Neil community.


So, as you can see, after all this wailing, bitching and moaning about those lame new songs and Neil being a washed up rock star a grand total of 4% of fans have a problem with Neil's course. That's right -- 4%!!! (Polls are still open below, so stand and be counted).

So, before we go, we'll conclude with this comment by Not Above Suspicion:
Apart from the obvious reality that different people have different opinions and some people like things others dislike, why would anyone be against him releasing more rather than less? Who is hurt by music being made available?

If you don't like it, don't buy it. then you can't even claim the loss of $15. Those who want it can buy it. The implication of some that Neil is harming his legacy strikes me as being both silly and no one's business other than Neil's.

Personally, I want to hear everything he's ever done. I won't like it all but I'm actually a good bit more interested in what he's doing now and thinks enough of to prepare for release than I am the 339th (random number) version of Powderfinger, even if that 339th version of Powderfinger is a sure thing.


So, to the 4% of Neil bashers out there -- as Eddie (and Johnny Cash) would say: "this blog is not for you, oh, never was for you...fuck you..."

Thanks Eddie.
btr. btc. btw.

So stand and be counted.


At 3/15/2009 10:59:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Perfect P (or F) [bumped]

Pinto (or Flounder) said...

there are those relatively few of us who understand what Neil is about and what he does

Neil's career and work is a gift to all of us who are smart enough to accept it!

FYI - it's this kind of crap that makes it difficult to have a rational discussion on your site.

Ah hell, I was going to expand on that thought but, really, any comment that flies in the face of the kind of mindless idolatry like Shittypants espouses brings down the house and so...

I really love the passion behind your eloquent and enthusiastic endorsement of Neil's environmental concerns. I admire your devotion to the artist. I would love to spend hours and thousands of words debating the relative merits of "Will to love" and "I'm the Ocean". I would love to carry the torch for "Depression Blues", my own favorite least-listened-to Neil classic. But I get so tired of the "those of us who are smart enough" party line. And, frankly, as a late-comer to the Thrasher's Wheat discussion board, I don't blame you for not giving a shit about whatever the hell I'm thinking.

But I'll just sing out, once again, to gently express the opinion that Neil, or maybe someone in Neil's circle, may actually be paying attention,
we're not doing Neil, or ourselves, any favors, by ignoring the fact that maybe it's possible to be a "real", (if maybe not "optimal"), from a commercial standpoint, Neil fan without buying into the line that every single note he lays down is golden.
I have listened to the car songs. I have kind of come to the conclusion that they have a certain Greendaleish charm. I love Greendale.

But can we please acknowledge that these are not "songs" in the sense of the word that would inspire any other artist to sing them? And can we then discuss what that means in terms of Neil's career?

Look, I really admire what you have done with this site. A few years ago, I applied for a job as Executive Director of a foundation that controlled a natural resource that I thought was capable of being transformed from a local to a national treasure. The founders ran the foundation as a little private club and I tried to tell them that they could have so much more, that they were the conservators of a gift that God had given to the world. They opted to keep it as a private club.

For better or worse (and I think, my friend, better)you are the current conservator of the Neil Young legend and foundation. I would hope that you would appreciate the responsibility that status confers upon you and search, most of all, for the truth, not the legend.

Best always

P (or F)

At 3/16/2009 07:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

True fans? Surely you jest.

Involvement in the art requires that you critique the art and not the artist. In my opinion, half the new stuff or more isn't of good quality. Period.

As to your ending flourish above, and I quote "So, to the 4% of Neil bashers out there: this is not for you, oh, never was for you...fuck you..." I offer 2 words of my own:


At 3/16/2009 08:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But can we please acknowledge that these are not "songs" in the sense of the word that would inspire any other artist to sing them?"

I never realized that having others sing or perform a song was a criteria. While imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, I can't seem to get Light a Candle out of my head after only a couple of listens.

The opening lines are actually 'timeless'. Not that they are the absolute best combination of words ever splashed to the page or the micophone, but that they have have continual present tense to them. They work for the dark ages and for the future. And today.

And how many songs open with "Instead of"?

Those are the brush strokes, the colors are the message, the patterns and the melody the signature of the artist.

It's been fairly evident for 40 years now.

At 3/16/2009 09:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is one of my all-time favorite moments on the Wheat. You go,


At 3/16/2009 09:21:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

[Bumped from Neil Young News: Neil Young: The Uncompromising Spirit of a Native Son thread]

Pinto, with no disrespect intended, you have registered your views more than a few times... at some point one has to wonder if these comments are about Neil or about your being uncomfortable about the site and the fact fans congregate here to revel in Neil and his art .... there's nothing wrong with disagreements and with differences of opinions but I'm not sure that every thread needs to have discord, disagreement and negativity. Also, I like to think that our comments here are important but we should keep it in perspective ... I don't think it makes any difference to Neil if we all praise or haze him ... one of his great qualities is that he doesn't tune in and he doesn't care what the critics say. Its misguided to think that for the sake of helping Neil we must all dissect every note critically ...

SH in my view is simply expressing his adulation for Neil and for how consistently Neil puts tremendous emotion and soul into his work ... If you read his post carefully he's not saying every note is golden, just that every note has SOUL.

In the end, the "truth" is clearly subjective ... If some people can't be satisfied with what Neil has done over the past two years (never ending tour - acoustic, electric, small venues, big venues, music festivals), interviews, documentaries, blogs, internet videos, Lincoln Volt, new albums, new songs, Archives releases (Massey, Filmore East), Blue Ray anticipation, Archives Guy, then they'll never be satisfied ... but I like to think that many congregate here on TW to celebrate the man and his art. And let's face it, there's bountiful reasons to be thrilled with what Neil's doing and its a pleasure to come on the site, catch up on what's happening with Neil (Thanks Thrasher! there's no one who does it better) and simply enjoy seeing what fans are thinking.

On that note, I'd love to hear your thoughts on "I'm the Ocean"


At 3/16/2009 09:36:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

To Pinto (or Flounder):

Sincerely, I respect your right to disagree with what we do here on our blog. And also appreciate your normally level comments (tho we often disagree).

But here's the deal. You say you "would love to spend hours and thousands of words debating the relative merits of "Will to love" and "I'm the Ocean". I would love to carry the torch for "Depression Blues".

Well, then, bring it on. Here's the forum. E-mail your thoughts and I'll be glad to post.

Or if you'd rather me not precisely ID your profile, then drop it in the Guestbook. Again, I'll be glad to publish.

Otherwise, since you seem to have such a fervent anti-Neil agenda, why not start your own blog that will cater to the 4% Club as you will now be referred to henceforth.

You do your thing over on 4% anti-Neil Club and we'll come over from time to time singing Neil's praises and you can then rip us to shreds for our delusions.

We'll come over and login with our publicly traceable profile.

BTW, since you seem to have such a problem with Neil's music lately, who are you listening to lately that you love with a passion?(We'll resist the temptation for snark here.)

Have a nice day!

At 3/16/2009 10:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Thrasher - I think you're not asking the right questions. Same thing that's been affecting Neil lately - not asking the right questions. You seem to think that Neil's nebulous 'search' is a defacto license to release anything and everything his interesting mind concocts. By that criteria, we would have heard 'Slowly Burning" and "Big Waves" a long time ago.

I'm not against Neil. I think he's trying. But I do feel that since David Briggs departed he lacks a sounding board that would enable him to better clarify his own intentions.

imo Neil hasn't knocked it out of the park since "Freedom", and that was almost 20 years ago. He hasn't swung and demolished the scoreboard in a blaze of sparks since "Rust Never Sleeps". And he hasn't changed the fundamental rules of singer-songwriters since ATGR. Admittedly he's hit numerous singles, doubles and triples in the last few years (I especially like "Without Rings", though "Buffalo Springfield Again" almost makes me cry for the sentiment expressed and then apparently disregarded. What a set up for a reunion that never happened.)

so, I hope Neil keeps trying, have lots of respect for him... but the new stuff just doesn't resonate. We all know what's happening in this country, and Neil's bromides aren't very illuminating or inspirational. In other words, I take a lot more consolation from "Give Me Strength" or "Everybod's Alone" than "Light A Candle." Time for the Archives - maybe if neil would release them it would free him from his own past. Maybe to reclaim his full creative powers. Am I wrong to expect more than a "Fork in the Road" from this guy?

"It's not a case of being lonely we have here...."

At 3/16/2009 12:29:00 PM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

"Otherwise, since you seem to have such a fervent anti-Neil agenda..."

your quote

"you are the current conservator of the Neil Young legend"

my quote

If you have paid any attention to anything I've written in the last few weeks you would clearly see that the only issue I've ever raised is in regard to the relative artistic quality of Neil's recent work as contrasted and compared to his previous work. The fact that raising this issue for discussion results in your belief that an honest critical evaluation is the equivalent of "a fervent anti-Neil agenda" tells me that it's time to hang up the opinions and "take what I want and leave the rest."

I'll come back for the articles and read the opinions, but no more comments about issues of artistic quality. You have the right to run your site the way you want it. You've been pretty generous about not totally freaking over opinions with which you violently disagree and I appreciate it.

Best regards.

At 3/16/2009 01:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so let's get this straight folks...anyone who disagrees with thrasher is a "neil basher".

i guess i'll take the same "high road" and say to you, thrasher,

fuck you. peace.


ps. who the fuck cares what that whiny bitch eddie vedder has to say?

At 3/16/2009 01:05:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Hi Pinto (or Flounder),

Thanks. This all probably comes across as rather hostile to causal observers.

You're right that I've erroneously extrapolated your position on Neil's recent work to all of his work.

I don't have have a problem per se with your position.

But for us to dialogue, I really need to better understand where you're coming from because I don't see your bona fides here.

Over the past few months, I've posed a series of questions to try and establish your credibility. Like when was the last time you saw Neil in concert?

What was the last concert you attended?

And just earlier, I posed the question of what are you listening to right now that you like and why?

You see, I question your legitmacy.

You suggest that you can expound on all these great Neil topics yet I don't see it.

It seems like you're a broken record with a looping mantra: new songs suck.

You're entitled to your opinion but you've never really explained why they suck. It's always that new songs aren't as good as old songs. Well, duh.

C'mon. Enlighten us all with your wisdom because we just don't get this.

This is not for us.

At 3/16/2009 01:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's'only 1 Mona Lisa.
And of course many other Davinci works.

Not every adhesive sticks to the same material.

That's the nature of it all.

The bee stings, and makes honey. Depends what moving it at the time.

At 3/16/2009 02:07:00 PM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

Oh man... legitimacy, huh?
We are talking about rock n' roll here, not nuclear physics. Any thirteen year old kid on the street with a boombox has legitimacy (just don't ask him what he thinks of Johnny Magic).

I used to get so pissed off at Rolling Stone, back in the day when they mattered, when they would do this "the heart of rock n' roll is the three minute single" routine, but, you know... turns out they were right. I'll take about any cut off Pink's albums over Radiohead any day. I've listened to Fleet Foxes' White Winter Hymnal obsessively for weeks now (and it's under three minutes.) That was how punk saved rock n' roll, by restoring the three minute song to its proper place after a decade of Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin hour long jerkoffs. (Although I actually kind of like Jethro Tull.) And Neil was right there all along. Even his long songs were so intensely melodic that they always seemed to be over before you were ready.

You ask what I think is wrong with Neil's latest music.... and all I can really say is that it doesn't make me want to listen to it after the first few times. Used to be I would get a new Neil, even eighties Neil, and it would play all day, on every car trip, for weeks. The last time that's happened (for me) was Greendale. Hence the concern.

You want more.... the melodies are missing. Hum me a song from Prairie Wind... or Chrome Dreams. Neil used to write great melodies. Not so much anymore. That's why I brought up the point about the relative lack of cover versions. It's an indicator, is all. There are so many artists out there who have covered Neil. Their versions were never as good as the real thing, but it was just good to hear a Neil song, from whomever. The range of artists who covered Neil was staggering, from Dolly Parton to Phish. But when's the last time you heard someone covering a recent Neil song? You can try to convince yourself that the new stuff is just as good, but, if it were, there would be other people singing the songs, because that's what singers do. They sing great songs.

More... I don't want to get into lyrics. I've never been a big "analyze the lyrics" guy, but, as an exercise, go back and read the lyrics to oh, say "Tonight's the Night" or "On the Beach" and then immediately afterward read the lyrics from Prairie Wind or the new car songs. There's a certain amount of subjectivity here, but whole books could be written about lines like "when the aimless blade of science slashed the pearly gates" or "they had the best selection; they were poisoned with protection" or "need random violence; need entertainment tonight" and I'm just not getting those transcendent lyric moments from the songs Neil's writing these days. If you are, then I think that's fabulous. I would never dream of trying to question someone else's artistic epiphanies. But it's not happening for me.

I said I would cease to express opinions about this, but you pretty much demanded a response to your legitimacy post. So here it is. Take it or leave it, I really don't care. People will either be listening to this stuff fifty years from now and you'll be right, or they won't.

I know they'll be listening to Tonight;'s the Night, though, and so do you.

At 3/16/2009 02:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So while you critics sit at home
You're no better than HE for what you've shown.

With your stomachs pumped and your 'beat on Thrasher'schemes
We can barely get together without screams.

At 3/16/2009 04:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice "fuck you" thrasher.

fuck you too.

and my fuck you is coming from a person who is fine with the music neil is doing these days. i'm not in the 4% but i respect those that voted that way. unlike you.

you take this shit way too seriously. i'm sure you've read shakey. then you know that briggs would have been the leader of that 4% because if it wasn't the horse then it wasn't shit to him.

again, fuck you. and i have no bullshit "comments policy" at my spot so you are more than welcome to come and drop me a "fuck you" there anytime.

At 3/16/2009 04:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



FU, no FU, NO FU!

Fuck me

At 3/16/2009 04:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i´m not crazy about the new stuff, but i´m kinda tired of all this discussions, neil-bashing etc. take it or leave it - simple as that.

cheers, thomas

At 3/16/2009 05:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pinto (or Flounder) - I think you are quite repetitive. I find it boring to read your posts. I know by now what you mean. I think you are way too serious. FITR is not On the Beach or After the Goldrush, we can agree on that. But I like these songs - just like you don't. I feel good. They make me feel good, in good mood. And Neil's got humour making these videos. I enjoy this stuff. Maybe I won't in 50 years (but on the other hand, I won't be alive anymore, so who cares). But you are too serious about the whole thing. Just relax and enjoy (or let it be). You don't have to throw the dice for every move Neil does - just take it as it is and enjoy.

Car (or Vehicle)

At 3/16/2009 05:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

no good melodies? i'd say "no hidden path" has a pretty GREAT melody, actually.

i'd go so far as to say it is a CLASSIC neil young song. so there.


At 3/16/2009 05:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nag-i'll second you on no hidden path

At 3/16/2009 05:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Living with War have good melodies.

At 3/16/2009 06:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just upset that Trasher's Wheat quoted a Pearl Jam song. Here I was, having almost forgot that Neiler collaborated with these idiots once upon a time, and here you go reminding me. How can you make up for this?

At 3/16/2009 08:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

eddie vedder he is terrible !
Thrasher needs to GROW UP !

At 3/16/2009 08:24:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

I have listened to the car songs. I have kind of come to the conclusion that they have a certain Greendaleish charm. I love Greendale.

But can we please acknowledge that these are not "songs" in the sense of the word that would inspire any other artist to sing them? And can we then discuss what that means in terms of Neil's career?

Am I reading your question right here? Sometimes, I don't think you get it all. And I think the lyrics from Pearl Jam are hysterically funny.

How do you know that any of the songs from Greendale or the FITR haven't inspired already? There might be a 12 year old neo grunge somewhere watching that FITR video and thinking of doing that song for his or her upcoming gig.

There are thousands of bands and singers who look at Neil's work and journey for inspiration and motivation.

People are always referencing something that he said or did, too. Just recently Chrissie Hynde referenced Neil with whom she'll be sharing the bill as the reason why people go into the business.

At 3/16/2009 08:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to the last few posts, nobody's saying that Neil can't come up with a good song now and then. Indeed, that's part of what makes a lot of his recent stuff so infuriating. He clearly can still create something special when he so desires. But, most of the time lately -- in my view and the view of many others -- his songwriting is tossed off, lazy, cliched, fragmentary and completely undeveloped. I don't know why that is. Perhaps Neil is well aware of this. I do know that there are very few people nowadays who actually care -- nobody buys his albums anymore. You folks do realize that, unlike in the past, very few people actually purchase Neil's new music (Greendale, Prairie Wind, Chrome Dreams II, Living With War), right? The reason is because those albums are not very compelling, with the exception of a few songs here and there.

Big Old Rig

At 3/16/2009 08:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's what you write every time (in a nutshell):


At 3/16/2009 09:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eddie Vedder is great (I THINK)...have heard the "Into the Wild" soundtrack? It's shame the number of closed minds there are on here. You'd think Neil Young fans wouldn't be so snobbish and stubborn! God I'm starting to realize why Neil Young hates his all are so bitchy!
THESE ARE SONGS PEOPLE! S-O-N-G-S...that’s all! People have different tastes.. hence.. Opera, Speed metal, Classical, Gangsa Rap, punk, techno, get the drift... I know so many people whom HATE Neil with a passion...but the shouldn’t go to the gallows for it and I don't hate them because of it. I dislike contemporary country but I LOVE classic Country...go-figure. That’s life... we need to learn to be a little more accepting of other people's tastes and opinions...just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong, or evil. We'd ALL benefit by LEARNING something from all these differences instead of all the hating. Look at all the different things Neil Young has done...that’s why he's still around...I don’t think there are two albums that are a like so I think its funny when people say 'Oh what is he doing now?" WELL what has he ALWAYS done?
Not you...and that’s ok...I'm not going to call you a name because if it. But don’t start bashing me for my tastes.

You know this reminds me of an old classic..

Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum,
What might be right for you, may not be right for some.
A man is born, he's a man of means.
Then along come two, they got nothing but their jeans.
But they got, Diff'rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
Everybody's got a special kind of story
Everybody finds a way to shine,
It don't matter that you got not alot
So what,
They'll have theirs, and you'll have yours, and I'll have mine.
And together we'll be fine....
Because it takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.
Yes it does.
It takes, Diff'rent Strokes to move the world.


At 3/16/2009 09:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

we need to learn to be a little more accepting of other people's tastes and opinions...

At 3/16/2009 10:10:00 PM, Blogger Ian G said...

Re Neil's melodies, Light A Candle has an excellent melody.

At 3/16/2009 10:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I appreciate reading the different pints of view, what Neil does is none of our business. No one is forced to buy his albums.
(Ross in Whitehorse)

At 3/16/2009 11:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK...why, in your opinion, is Eddie Vedder Terrible? To just say he's terrible is a very blanket statement. What don't you like about him/Pearl Jam? Is there anything by him you can tolerate and or might ever like to some degree? What have you heard?
One cannot create dialog or express the opposite point of view or just their point of view without knowing why the other feels that way. To just say he's terrible gives the impression of ignorance and just the desire to dislike with out giving them a chance.
This, I believe, is a big problem on this website and what Thrasher means about people just bashing Neil Young with out giving reason or example. We know he is accepting of opposing view points but honest discussion and or debate can not be had when someone just spouts "Neil young's new songs are horrible!"...OK why do you feel this way? Here's what I feel. Here's why I may disagree.
Without these reasons and or descriptions you come off really arrogant and its obvious you care none about what someone else has to say, your not interested in discussion and you just want to see your words in print. Kind of like shitting in the punch bowl and then shouting to the other party goers... "HEY look what I just did!" its like” OKAY...Thanks"

At 3/16/2009 11:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...




i',m look ing for spece in the blank

At 3/17/2009 05:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shittyhorse said...
OK...why, in your opinion, is Eddie Vedder Terrible?
Number one reason HE CANT SING !

your attacks on critics here shows you are a very insecure and ignorant child, but with a name like shittyhorse what can you expect.

At 3/17/2009 07:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a child, I'll last a while.
You can't conceive
of the pleasure in my smile.

At 3/17/2009 08:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(AP)Redwood California:
Rocker Neil Young, caving in to fan pressure for the first time in history, is set to release a new song on Wednesday written after agonizing over blogger response to his new Fork In The Road album. Says Young, " You know the pressure of everyday stardom has begun to really bother me, so, in an effort the placate the 100 or so fans that I have left, I decided to really concentrate on their opinions of my new stuff. I can't believe I haven't been sensitive to their wants and desires over the past 40 years. I cried to my wife Peg for hours over this. Finally after the tears dried, I was able to really commit to something so powerful that I couldn't deny it anymore. I really hope they like this new one"

Young has allowed release of these new lyrics in advance of the song. Finally, we can all agree that he has written a true masterpiece.

I've been alive forever, and I wrote the very first song
I put the words and the melodies together
I am music and I write the songs

I write the songs that make the whole world sing
I write the songs of love and special things
I write the songs that make the young girls cry
I write the songs, I write the songs

My home lies deep within you
And I've got my own place in your soul
Now, when I look out through your eyes
I'm young again, even though I'm very old

Oh my music makes you dance
And gives you spirit to take a chance
And I wrote some rock 'n' roll so you can move
Music fills your heart
Well, that's a real fine place to start
It's from me it's for you
It's from you, it's for me
It's a worldwide symphony

At 3/17/2009 09:11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Big Old Rig is back with his whining fantasy comments. BOR, you write:

You folks do realize that, unlike in the past, very few people actually purchase Neil's new music (Greendale, Prairie Wind, Chrome Dreams II, Living With War), right?

Well - you're wrong.

Look at the Billboard chart, and the figures of Neil's records:
This Note's for You No. 61
Freedom No. 35
Ragged Glory No. 31
Harvest Moon No. 16
Sleeps With Angels No. 9
Are You Passionate No. 10
Greendale No. 22
Prairie Wind No. 11
Liwing With War No. 15
Crome Dreams II No. 11

Some other countries:
Are You Passionate Norway:10
Greendale Norway:5
Prairie Wind Norway:3 Canada:3
Liwing With War Norway:4 Canada:7
Crome Dreams II Norway:5 Canada:8

So - I think he still sells some records.

Little New Song

At 3/17/2009 09:23:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

I've been at plenty of Neil's concerts and watched people walk out on him in the late 70s when critics saw him at his zenith.

People walked out on "Tonights the Night." Can you imagine that? People at the time called this masterspiece a piece of shit.

That Neil survived the late 70s & 80s is really a miracle.

What saved him? The style of music that evolved from Neil garage funk. Grunge. Why do you think he's called the "grandfather of grunge?"

All the grunge bands in the early late 80s & 90s revived rock'n'roll from the commercialism that was slowly killing it.

I think that's what Thrasher & Sh*ttyHorse's been trying to say...

Hats off to Eddie. Happy Belated Birthday, dude. Surfs up.

At 3/17/2009 10:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's Godfather of grunge.

Didn't Neil more than survive the late 70's? Decade, Rust Never Sleeps, Live Rust, Comes a Time? wasn't that in alive mode, not survive mode.

He's already chronicled the 80's stuff. The why and the what was up. And yeah, it probably was a miracle that he got through. I'm not sure that 'grunge' saved HIM, might have saved the record industry. Probably not though.

At 3/17/2009 11:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

number 11 on the billboard album chart today is like being number 376 20 years ago. there just aren't as many people buying the physical product.

grunge didn't do shit for rock and roll. it never went anywhere. the flavor of the month just changed from lip synching to flannel and ripped jeans. that fad passed over 15 years ago but lip synching is still with us. commercially speaking. fuck commercial anyways. sales and popularity do nothing to justify good music.

eddie vedder i can take or leave. the worst thing about pearl jam is that they are a mediocre-at-best band. in rock and roll sometimes it's better to flat out suck than to be mediocre.

At 3/17/2009 02:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man oh man.You ALL have officialy reached bottom as far as I'm concerned.Everybody Knows This Is NOWHERE!!The only reason you all are belly acheing is because The Archives aren't out yet and FITR is coming out first.Before you comment about the simplicity of the new go back and REALLY check out the old.Simplicity has been part of the beauty in Neil's art.For me anyhow.I'm upset that The Archives aren't out yet myself.At least I'm not being a crybaby about it though.As far as bootlegs I have just 2 cd's and 2 vid's.The rest of ya that are crying probably have a buttload.
The Mugwump

At 3/17/2009 02:43:00 PM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

Ok - I swear you keep writing these kinds of compilations to keep the traffic up,unless, like me, you just get a big kick out of seeing Shittypants get so worked up that he PUTS HIS CAPS LOCK ON.

I didn't even respond to your "poll" column. You bumped a comment I made on another thread to get the faithful rumbling once more.

About your poll (and we won't even begin to get into the wisdom of actually drawing conclusions from an open web poll), my headline would be:

Only 27% of voters in a Neil Young fan site poll believe that Neil's muse has worked well for him and his music.

Voting that "Neil should do whatever he wants" is hardly a ringing endorsement.

"Another motivation for this site was a firm belief that Neil Young's work deserved the in depth critical analysis that is widely accorded to Bob Dylan"

"So, to the 4% of Neil bashers out there -- as Eddie would say: "this is not for you, oh, never was for
you...fuck you..."

The first quote is from the home page of your website. The second is from this article about your poll. You can't have it both ways. You can't ask for "in depth critical analysis" and then scream "fuck you" when the analysis is critical.

"short-order sardonicism without grace or wit; rock'n'roll without joy. The sound of a man running out of road."
Nick Coleman - (review of FITR)

Yes, I'm sure Nick Coleman is a(nother) fanatical Neil basher who isn't smart enough to intuit the wisdom of the car songs. And I'm sure you will mentally file this in your cabinet of "unsubstantiated" criticism. You've used that term more than once, but never answered my question as to how, exactly, one substantiates one's criticism. But regardless of how badly you want to believe otherwise, it is entirely possible to revere the artist and his work without having to twist yourself into an rhetorical pretzel to justify his every utterance as gold.

"Yet, as McDonough enumerates in painstaking detail, Young the rock star wields control obsessively, and that, more than anything else, may explain why he tried to spike the book. This is a man who will
ruthlessly punish those who don't bend to his will. Drummer Kenny Buttrey tells McDonough that, during one tour in the early '70s, Young made him play so hard, with oversized sticks—vengeance, apparently,for an exorbitant salary request—that a pool of blood began to amass on his snare. Young fired him shortly thereafter. There are lots of anecdotes like that in Shakey, and despite Young's well-known rep
for heartlessness, they're chilling to read."
-Slate review of Shakey, linked from your home page

As I've said before, I am far less interested in Neil Young as a person than in the pursuit of great music and this may be why we seem to be speaking foreign languages to each other. I came here hoping for a discussion of why popular artists seem to lose their ability to write great songs as they age and I've referenced any number of them over the course of these various discussion threads, but the only response has been the perpetual "Neil basher" crap. I'm pretty sure Neil is like most of us, an utter asshole at times; a pretty good person at other times, sometimes both at the same time depending on where you're standing. I really don't care. I never cared.

I only ever wanted to know why he doesn't make great music anymore. (and I'll remind you once again before you sputter into action, that it was you who wrote that I might wait a long time before I hear another classic.) So we've been saying the same thing all along.

Really time to stop, now.

"Don't follow leaders. Watch the parking meters."

At 3/17/2009 04:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I only ever wanted to know why he doesn't make great music anymore."

Some of the past music was great first time heard, the rest, I would venture, 'grew on us' over time, and in the longer run became great. The 'staying power' is elusive. Some of the recent stuff was monster the first I heard it. But, as mentioned previously, has not made the frequent Neil rotation after a while.

I would also venture that in the writing, the anticipation of so many things that had yet to be experienced and conquered at earlier ages became the focus and the inspiration for the lyrics, which thread the 'music' and balance the vast diversity of intensity and melody of his catalog of prior work.

The writing may seem more simplistic given the topics. But to me the "wordsmithing" has continued to grow. Sometimes it may be a simpler message he wants to convey.

Can the older man continue to dream as brightly as he once did. The wine and whiskey may age smoothly. Modern man? Athletes? Politicians? Us?

At 3/17/2009 07:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I came here hoping for a discussion of why popular artists seem to lose their ability to write great songs as they age..."

It seems from the above quote that you showed up with a premise that you intend to defend at all costs ... and from observing your writing over time it seems to me that its not really about Neil its about you and defending your behavior on the blog ... so, I question the sincerity of your criticism on Neil and wonder if in defense of yourself and your premise that "popular artists seem to lose their ability to write great songs as they age" you're not really interested in an honest debate. Nobody on this site suggests professes 100% admiration for everything Neil does ... almost everyone at some point expresses the fact that Neil is not perfect and some of his art strikes them more than others ... but, I come to take your criticism as different, for some reason you seem to have an axe to grind ... what happened to the multiple invitations to write about your passion for "I am the Ocean"? It seems to have taken a back seat but you've proven your ability to write well and be insightful, please bring it on already ...

At 3/17/2009 07:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My 2 cents on Neil's recent output in a nutshell:

melodies: Maybe not as stellar as his classics but he still comes up with some good ones now and then.

lyrics: Lack the finesse of his earlier work, even sometimes downright cringe-inducing ("Don't need no side effects like diarrhea or sexual death"), but he expresses what he feels and that's his prerogative as an artist.

production: Here's the main problem, IMHO. The production on Neil's recent albums stinks. This is no longer 1972, we're living in an age when punk is now mainstream and most popular music (even the lame stuff) sounds far more relevant than anything released 30 or 40 years ago. Pleasant country-tinged 3-chord rock songs sound like something from a bygone era. Even an album as raw as LWW lacks the energy and urgency of, say, Mirrorball.

I'm not suggesting Neil incorporate studio trickery or hip-hop beats to sound more 'edgy' but maybe he just needs to try working with a different producer who might be able to bring out the best aspects of his songs (like Rick Rubin or Daniel Lanois?). Honestly, is there anyone here who prefers the hokey CDII version of Boxcar to the original? Maybe not the best example since it's an old song, but the production is so different that they are essentially two different songs. Other recent tunes like The Believer and Shining Light aren't bad melodically but the instrumentation doesn't reward repeated listenings. I think by including Ordinary People and referencing a lost classic in the album title, Neil expected CDII to be a monster hit. The Volume Dealers may have scored on Freedom but I'd say it's time Neil looked around for a new producer.


At 3/17/2009 07:50:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

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. I 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.
Neil, please play Folsom CA.

At 3/17/2009 07:52:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To say Neil Young is the godfather of grunge is to undermine his influence to a terrible degree.

No, Eddie Vedder cannot bloody sing. I used to love Pearl Jam. WHEN I WAS 11! I GREW UP!

At 3/17/2009 08:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grunge didn’t mean anything? Are you kidding? The very last great bands came out of the 'Grunge' thing (although grunge is terrible name for it...I view it as a hybrid of Rock/Punk/New Wave and there has been unfortunately NOTHING since. With the exception of the White Stripes and maybe one or two others. There are some great musicians, song writers and songs that came out of that period...I venture to say it was more than a fad. Nirvana (the last really great band) Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Jane's Addiction/Porno for Pyros, Green River/Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, Melvins and Stone Temple Pilots. You cannot dismiss this as a passing fade...and less then, say, the Sixties Rock movement. Lets long did the Psychedelic/Sixties rock movement last? 1965-1970? How about Rock N’ Roll (I mean the 50’s Rock N’ Roll as opposed to Rock Music) What? Less then seven or eight years….ending, figuratively, with the plane crash deaths of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and Jiles Perry Richardson (the big Bopper) in 1959 and Elvis Joining the Army. Put that way then all great movements in Rock are a passing fad. Punk might have the longest life as Punk started in the early to mid 1970's and new punk bands crop up every year. Personally I don’t like to put these labels to music except for reference purposes only ... I don’t discriminate I LOVE Nirvana, the Doors, The grateful dead, The sex pistols, Dylan, The wipers, The Beatles, the Velvet Underground, Television, as well as the old Blues Men and folkies like Woody Guthrie (Neil Young is just IT for me…Neil and Dylan are numero uno in my book ) and on and on...its all music to me- it’s all Rock and Roll and to quote Jimmy McDonough they all "deepen the mystery in their own way"

At 3/17/2009 08:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with "To say Neil Young is the godfather of grunge is to undermine his influence to a terrible degree."

But to say Eddie Vedder can not sing? Are you kidding? He's crooner much like many other greats; Morrison, Jagger... HE CAN SING! But who really gives shit about someone voice anymore? Is this American Idol suddenly? Can Dylan sing? Does that fact undermine him in any way? Its about the Passion and Emotion in the voice. I can say with great confidence that the greatest singers can not truly sing a lick.

At 3/17/2009 09:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You grew up alright...and with maturity comes the realization that people you liked when you were 11 can no longer sing and ANYONE who happens to still like that musician obviously has yet to grow out of horrible adolescence.
Listen to the 'Into the Wild' Soundtrack and Merkinball then tell me Eddie Vedder cant sing.
Ever been to a Pearl Jam show? Fantastic live performance.

At 3/17/2009 09:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


i agree with a lot of what you said, but there are still great bands emerging all the time. to call nirvana the "last great band"....well, that's downright silly. the good music is out there, you just have to go find it.

At 3/17/2009 09:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, well well.
I've come away on hols to sunny Hawaii and I'm up on the balcony of the 12th floor looking out at Waikiki beach.... beautiful.
Yes beautiful Waikiki.. the most commercialised bit of real estate I ever experienced!Just vegin' out for a coupla weeks.. no Kids, patients, bedpans or cranky nurses..paradise.... but I'm missin' somethin' dearly.. what is this? I says to myself..Hmm. ...but of course! I'm missin' my daily dose of thrasher's wheaties!! So off I sneek to the internet cafe. (If Mrs dip finds out I'm bloggin on hols, I'm a dead Dip!) "Just goin' for a walk hon' ,I'll seeya in about an hour!" I says.
So here I am, snuck up in the corner of some obscure little post office up in the back woods of Waikiki,readin' through the comments of my favourite blog site,...(my only blog site!).. AGHAST...the natives are restless!!
All my favourite bloggers are goin' 'hammer and tong'!.. whoa!..There's some pretty serious bloggin goin on here! probably the most bitchy comments and retorts I've ever read! Neil certainly has some passionate fans/non fan's...Thrash your gettin a lot of 'weavels in the wheat man!'...It's time to harvest!!..the power of words! Christ, I thought I was readin a draft of the next series of 'The Hills'!!Oh and Sony(Manilow).. I'don't think old shakey is in to doin covers...especially at the Copa!!!
Blog ya back in Auss.
Luv Dip

At 3/17/2009 10:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What'sup doc?
I wondered if the sarcasm would work. THE FU's didn't.

At 3/17/2009 10:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

shittyhorse-you don't know a fucking thing about rock music if you think it ended with "grunge". i will take the entire built to spill catalog over any piece of shit "grunge" album anyday of the week. and they've been active the entire time you claim "nothing" happened. you need a fucking education mac.

and steve-i respect your opinion but mirrorball may be the worst sounding guitar rock album in neil's catalog. the mix is like wading through a muddy bog. it really distracts me from the actual music. only "i'm the ocean" really shines through although i know there are other songs that could be salvaged.

At 3/17/2009 11:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know I lose, you know I win
You know I call for the shape Im in.
Its just a game you see me play,
Only real in the way
That I feel from day to day.

Although the answer is not unknown,
Im searchin, searchin, and how Ive grown.
Its not all right to say goodbye,
And the world on a string
Doesnt mean a thing.

At 3/17/2009 11:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"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."

The last post w/ the lyrics from "World on a String" I posted to agree with the quote above ... but, as Neil has often said over the years (based on my interpretation) his songs have multiple meanings or take on different meanings for different people. On that note, the lyrics from "World on a String" say a lot about where Neil's coming from now and where he's always been coming from ... and why from my perspective what he's doing with his new songs / albums is what he's always been doing ... if its not your cup of tea, listen to the other 40 albums or hang out for another six months and he'll probably coming out with something new ... and ya know, history repeats itself, especially with Neil, so stick around and he'll surprise even the worst naysayers to the upside I'm sure of it...

At 3/18/2009 12:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brothers and sisters, quite frankly I don't know what to say about this whole thing, but I figured since I tortured myself by reading the whole thing I might as well make a post. So here's all I have to say...


"Don't need no side effects like diarrhea or sexual death" might be my favorite line out of the whole album. When I first heard it I wondered if I heard it right, when I went back, I freaking loved it. So relevant and true, that entire song rocks so freaking hard...

Anyways, my point is, we all like and get different things from Neil's music. Have our own relationship with someone we'll probably never meet, literally lived our lives with this guy providing the soundtrack.

Unfortunately it just seems like some people follow Neil these days on this site because it gives them something to bitch about, a way for people to vent frustrations or whatever. And then for people who think Neil owes them more, something better, like he hasn't given enough? People that believe this might possibly deserve a fuck you.

So for all of you who want to dis on Thrasher for getting so fed up that he started this thread, maybe you should think for a second how you'd feel if you created a site like this, which obviously takes ridiculous amounts of time, dedication, and energy to keep going. Then to have it filled with negativity, or straight up Neil bashing on a daily basis.

From the time I've spent here, I've never felt the point was to worship Neil unconditionally, but he should have earned your respect. For people to come here and say all this crazy shit about "Neil sucks now" or "he's ruining his legacy" or whatever the hell, it's all junk.


At 3/18/2009 10:52:00 AM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

It might be helpful (and a source of great joy) to do what I did this morning. Go to:

and read back through the years. Regardless of what it's become, Rolling Stone once mattered. Pre-Internet, pre-MTV, it was the only national publication that took rock n' roll as seriously as it deserved. The essays (they are way too eloquent to be classified as mere reviews) on Tonight's the Night and Rust Never Sleeps should be preserved as national treasures. You may be surprised (pleasantly)to see that American Stars... and even Trans were taken very seriously (and favorably.) You will probably be amused that Goldrush was pretty much trashed. (I remember that review very well. Goldrush was the first album I bought when I came to college in the fall of 1970. I had probably listened to it 1000 times before the RS review came out, and, being young and of less than full confidence in my critical faculties, this review was kind of shattering.) RS redeemed themselves with their later reviews.

A few minor responses:
I'm pretty much tired of this whole thing, too. I've tried to back out with some grace a number of times, but Thrasher continues to post these "battle" topics and I figure if he can say the same thing over and over, I can post the same general response over and over. Petty, I know, but, what the hell, it's only bandwidth and there has been some genuinely insightful writing on these threads, once you wade through all the crap.

Through all the verbiage, though, I have yet to see anyone engage the topic that started my responses - examining what happens to popular artists as they age. There has to be a reason why none of our rock heroes can write songs as well as they did in their youth. I have said from the beginning, and repeatedly, that Neil has aged better than any of them, better than Springsteen and Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell and Jagger and McCartney and exactly everyone else who used to write great songs except maybe Dylan. But the decline is still there and Thrasher explicitly supported this when he wrote that we might wait a long time before another "classic" Neil Young recording.

As I've written many times, I'm thrilled that people are still having a meaningful artistic experience with Neil's current music. I'm not. And I'm not the only one. And it has far less to do with Neil than with the greater subject of the decay of art as expressed in the work of the greatest talents of the late 20th century.

Sure there are other topics of importance, war and the environment and the economy and they will either get fixed or they won't. But in the worst case, if we're gathered in our caves with hand-cranked MP3 players, I don't think we're going to be listening to Fork in the Road or Magic or Songs from the Cape Man and I'd like to know why.

At 3/18/2009 12:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There has to be a reason why none of our rock heroes can write songs as well as they did in their youth."

From Hawkey Pierce:

"I've seen too much to ever be wide-eyed again."

Maybe it aint' them, maybe it's us. Maybe it's them and us.

Foreigner's 'Feels like the first time' was quite monsterous when I was 16. As was most of the Rock and Roll floating through.

Now? for some reason, I need reasonable progression of lyrical pursuits. The turning of the phrase works quite well too.

Old fogeyism is contagious to the sender and receiver.

I think 'music' arrangement and melodic formations continue to grow for most of the performers out there. They get better chops.

Tough to stay 'forever young' in the story telling.

Just a thought. or 2.

At 3/18/2009 12:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


If you don't like the new shit, listen to the old shit. It's really that simple.

Bashing his current work is pointless. If you've been to a concert lately, you'd know he still breaks out plenty of classics and still rocks out as hard and every bit as good as he did throughout his career.

Despite what happens with the quality of new music artists produce as they age, I can think of very few "hippie days" rockers, or musicians from that era in general, that still brings the same juice to the stage that Neil does. He's not a nostalgia act, he goes out there and straight rips it or plays the mellow songs to damn near perfection on a nightly basis.

So again, concert wise, it's every bit the experience that it's always been, with the exception a couple new songs you might not like. When he's playing 20-30 songs in a night, I think this can be forgiven.

As far as recordings, I'll repeat. If you don't like the new shit, listen to the old shit.

At 3/18/2009 12:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All you folks out there bitchin'.Like I said earlier.You all probably have a buttload of boots.Music and video.I can count on one hand the amount I have.You know why?Because sound and vision DOES matter to me.So a person like me that doesn't really have any bootleg material (and I'd like to think there's more than a few of us) should be the one's crying about The Archives not being out yet.Am I crying?No.Am I disappointed?Yes.Can't wait to hear and see stuff from the '76 Crazy Horse tours.And yes I've seen the stuff on Youtube but it's just not the same.See ya.
The Mugwump

At 3/18/2009 01:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've also been curious as to why a lot of great songwriters (McCartney, Jagger/Richards, Springsteen, Paul Simon, Pete Townshend, Ray Davies, Van Morrison, etc.) seem to run out of creativity and inspiration as they get older.

I think it comes down to the fact that young artists have a set of characteristics and circumstances that lend themselves to the creative process. These include energy, restlessness, intellectual curiosity, a sense of rebellion against what's come before (politically, artistically, etc.), and, perhaps most importantly, a simple ambition to make a name for yourself in the music business, against great odds.

As artists get established and successful, these motivating factors tend to recede into the background. There's also the undeniable fact that having a family tends to, ahem, rearrange one's priorities.

Finally, I think there's something to be said for the concept of artist fatigue. For example, I like the early records from groups like REM and U2, but I have no interest in buying their new music, regardless of how much critical attention it receives. I'm burned out on those groups and it really doesn't matter to me if a new CD is called a "return to form", etc. Is is possible that some of the people who are criticizing Neil's more recent music are suffering from a mild form of Neil fatigue? Just a thought.

At 3/18/2009 03:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post DCB. I'd add sex and and a desire to connect with people who will value you as well.

Sex is pretty self-explanatory as to why the emotional power of a young man's expression would be different than that of a middl-aged man. By middle age most people are either in a relatively stable and comfortable relationship and write from that perspective or they come across as rather pathetic if they write about longing for or pursuing young women in the way a young man would express it.

The connection aspect is similar to that as well. Many popular musicians write about not fitting in, being from the wrong side of the tracks, being misunderstood, etc. That resonates from one young person to another. a sixty-year old speaking that language to a fifty year old wouldn't especially if the 60 year old is in the twilight of a hugely successful career and the fifty year old has grown past teenage angst-- as he should have.

Very few popular musicians even get to confront that because most are in fact relegated to nostalgia shows if they are still active at all by that age. The ones who endure change in the way they express because they have changed as people.

A lot of the original audience has changed as well. It's called growing up.

The tension in Neil's writing is now almost all "external" in that it is about political issues. Before the tension was largely sexual romantic, and personal.

The lack of personal tension (can't think of a better term off the top of my head) might explain why "aging" rockers are viewed by many as less relevant songwriters than they were when they were young.

Maybe Dylan is the exception because his life is still pretty far from typical and stable on a personal level and he remains more confused and angst-ridden than all the others (being a better writer inherently doesn't hurt either, of course)

---Not Above Suspicion

At 3/18/2009 03:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now we're getting somewhere.
I like the 'external reference' as oposed to the 'deep inside myself, but I'll get out somehow'.

This IS an analytical site!

At 3/18/2009 07:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God forbid you give your opinion on a BLOG of all places!
Ok AK what are you gonna school me in GG Allin... MAC? No Thanks! Don't presume to know what I know. I'm talking about a band that has mattered! Built to spill is fine but they've been around what? over ten years now and their not exactly setting the world on fire. And just because they've been active doesnt mean shit...Nelson has been active since the 80's and who gives a shit? Are they great too?
I know there is good music out there, being made everyday but why must we search? What happened to the radio? The music used to come to you! Have people stopped giving a shit? What happened to when a new Rock song came out on the radio that was just so fucking awesome and an entire generation could collectively just know and say "yeah this is fucking great!" Seems to me the last time this has happened was with Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" I'm no snob and I'm not proud. I wont profess to be one of these guys who can only listen to bands on Indie Labels and say fuck what everyone else listens to. I'm a pop-rock guy I guess; I like my rock with a melody and a hook. No matter what Neil Young does he always delivers the melody. I'm not old. I'm under 30 but I don't hear anything spectacular lately from a new band. Blame it on the music business I guess...and its not for lack of trying either. I feel like this generation is really missing something...not that they've noticed. Their too busy with guitar hero to learn to play real guitar.
I'm willing to hear more examples of how I wrong...really but I don't need to be attacked for liking what I like. And neither should anyone else.

At 3/18/2009 08:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

blame it on the industry? blame it on yourself shittyhorse. you're under 30 dude! you aren't even old enough to know when radio ruled! mtv ruled your generation. and that sucked too. you sound like a full of shit old man the way you talk. there are plenty of kids out there making music. so spare us the generalizations because they are wrong as fuck.

i'm glad the music industry is dead. it's actually easier to find good, new music these days. it's all at your fingertips. if you are too lazy to look that's your own fault.

shittyhorse, i saw nirvana in 1990 before they hit it big. yeah, they were great. i also saw boris last summer, they kicked my ass just as hard if not harder than nirvana did. so don't tell me it's not there. you just want someone else to do the heavy lifting for you.

At 3/18/2009 08:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose since I'm relatively "new" here I wouldn't know who the artist is or who the hero's are. I just can't help but think I'd be coming up with nothin' on this one.

Rollin' through...

ON, Canada

At 3/19/2009 10:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


you're wrong. and you're welcome.

At 3/20/2009 11:50:00 AM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

Some really good writing on the "artist" fatigue (and "listener fatigue") topic.

Also hard to argue with the "if you don't like the new stuff, listen to the old stuff" advice. One just wished for good new stuff from the same people that gave you the good old stuff.

It's not hard to figure how the lyrics would transform with age. It's OK for a young man to write about "sailing heart ships through broken harbors." You hear an old man write a line like that and you just want to slap him and tell him to grow up. (The old guy is much more likely to be mourning the day he lost half the value in his 401(k).)

What doesn't follow quite as logically is why the ability to write memorable melodies would dry up as well. I have a lot of friends who stand up hard for the current work of Dylan and Springsteen. My usual response is to ask them to hum me one of the songs.

To me, the starting point for a song is the melody. A great melody can redeem pedestrian lyrics every single time. I love, love love, "See the Sky about to Rain" but it's 90% because of the melody and 30% about the title and minus 20% about "...played a silver fiddle. Played it loud and then the Man, broke it down the middle."

Neil and Paul Simon and Paul McCartney were probably the greatest melodists of the current age, but none of them can write a melody these that comes close to their greatest work. I guess you can chalk it up to "artist fatigue" but that seems like a circular argument to me - they can't do it anymore because they can't do it anymore.

I agree 100% that Neil has more juice left than any of his contemporaries, but the reasons why there's less juice in all of them continue to be elusive.

Thanks for the discussion, though.

At 3/20/2009 12:06:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Hi Pinto (or Flounder),

Thanks for all the followups.

I'd like to declare a truce on this topic. I appreciate where you're coming from on this topic.

Initially, I may have lumped your comments into the 4% Club. But after re-reading, I think I can say that you're not who I thought you might be.

My offer still stands about publishing a post you write on older works like "Will to love", "I'm the Ocean" and "Depression Blues".

Also, apologies for the course language. Just quoting PJ lyrics.


At 3/20/2009 01:20:00 PM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

Truce is good and apologies for times when I may have overstated things. Thanks for the kind words. Looking forward to future discussions.

I'd like to write about "I'm the Ocean" especially. I had a brief second career as a newspaper journalist. I liked the writing part, but hated the research and, especially, the editing part where all the good stuff got spiked.

Done properly, the "Ocean" thoughts would be done with a significant amount of background research. That's a lot of work. I'm pretty lazy. Time will tell.

"Will to Love" is another story. Most of the background is in Neil's own words in "Shakey" so that would be more a matter of personal artistic impressions. "American Stars.." is rarely considered among Neil's major works, though it's not generally frowned upon. It just kind of sits there in the middle of "Zuma" and "Comes a Time" waiting for "Rust."

I've been browsing a collection of Christgau's reviews of 70's albums. He gives "Stars" a B+, mostly because of the first side. He says "Bite the Bullet" is Neil's best song since "Tonight's the Night." He downgrades Side 2 (sorry to use vinyl terminology, buts that's the way Neil programmed the album and it's the way many of us first heard it.), saying "Will to Love" finds Neil masturbating in front of the fire while imagining himself a fish.(That's a funny line regardless of how you feel about the song.) He says "Hurricane" is inferior to the version he recently saw Neil play live.

I feel pretty much the opposite. I think Side one is minor Neil, except for "Bullet" which I hate. Side Two, basically "Will" and "Hurricane" is major, major Neil. "Will" is one of the rare stream of consciousness songs that holds together all the way through. Compare it to "Series of Dreams" and I think it comes out ahead on every count - better melody, better lyrics (although part of that has to do with Lanois' production on "Dreams" - he sacrifices Dylan's lyrics for production values. Briggs and Neil produce the hell out of "Will" but never subvert the lyrics.) What emerges is a totally original vision. It calls up the spirit of "Expecting to Fly" but magnifies the metaphor into something primal and universal. I never get tired of listening to it.

I have no interest in discussing various versions of Hurricane. The first time I saw it performed, on Saturday Night Live, it was wonderful. The first times I saw it live were on the Rust Never Sleeps tour and it was wonderful. Ditto the recordings and subsequent live performances over the years. A perfect song that has, to the best of my knowledge and experience, never been recorded or performed badly.


At 3/20/2009 03:22:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks P or F.

The invitation will always be open. Looking forward to your article.


At 3/20/2009 11:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh, I luv it when you kiss and make up!It makes me all warm and gooey!Lover's tiffs are funny things..I was gettin' a bit worried about you Pinto, floundering along like that!
I really get concerned when you guys all start mass debating... although it always seems to conclude with a Happy Ending!

Now seriously, I soughta told a fib as to why I'm in Hawaii....I was actually invited by the US government!
As a doctor, I have been heavily involved in the research of cryogenetics in Australia. My research has been noted worldwide as I am pioneering the process of body "Re-thawing".
Unbeknownst to a lot of you 'wheaties', your government has had a major concern with the quality of your Presidents over the last few terms. For the last 100 or so years, your past Presidents have been secretly 'cryogenically' stored..thats right folks..'Snap frozen'!
With the current state of your nation, it has been dcided to thaw out a past president with the hope of pulling from the archives(very topical!)the most appropriate president that could possibly pull you guys out of the shit so to speak. So.. they want me to 'break the ice'on that past president...
Hence my current project..."Lincvault".....Sony Bono is getting involved since he was a past governor and has penned a little song for the occasion.....
"I've got you Abe".
I'll keep you posted!
P.S. These Hawaiin coctails are lethal! Blog ya soon Luv Dip

At 3/21/2009 12:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr Dip, full marks for persisting with trying to be the funny man around here....but to be honest - you're not real funny. Sorry man, someone had to say it.

At 3/22/2009 09:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks anonymous,
I only needed someone to tell me,.. it's only taken 64 comments!
I knew if I started talkin' politics I wouldn't need much burley for a bite! some of you Americans take life so seriously sometimes... I was only tryin to lighten up some PRETTY heavy bloggin goin on.
Yeah 'anonymous' I failed 'humour school' dismally....I might try the anal ,serious, repetitive approach...yep thats the way to go!
P.S. Which anonymous are you?..I soughta get confused with so many of you with the same name.
P.P.S Hawaii is beautiful !!

At 4/23/2009 07:17:00 PM, Anonymous D. I. Kertis said...

4%? I have to say that's pretty funny, although we have no way of knowing who voted, or exactly how many, do we? It still seems pretty clear that, for all the complaining and ranting, those who dislike the new material really are in a minority.

I'm finding most of these boards to be reasonably chaotic-- Thrasher and and P (or F) constantly going from readying the cannons to calling a truce and back again, Dr. Drip trying to be funny, and more "Anonymous" posters than you can shake a stick at, let alone reply to. It's fairly entertaining and some good debating gets done every once in a while

This is an interesting site for a Neil Young fan and I think I'll stay around for a while now that I've found it. One request, though: could we possibly get some discussions going on the Geffin Years and Neil's '80s music? I think that could be very interesting and perhaps move things away from the FITR backlash debacle for a time.

At 4/23/2009 07:29:00 PM, Anonymous D. I. Kertis said...

As an addendum to my previous comment, I'd like to suggest a few specific topics for Geffin Years discussions. Sorry, I only thought of them after I clicked "Publish Comment":

. Favorite ( or least-bad as the case may be) Geffin album?

. Favorite Reprise album of the '80s?

. What do you think about Trans?

. What do you think about Landing on Water?

. Life: did it show that Neil still had some? (In other words, who thinks the 1987 album "Life" was the first sign of a so-called return to form after that string of weird, experimental "genre albums"? I do.)

. What do you like/dislike about Neil's experimental '80s material?

. Hawks or Doves? The two contrasting sides of Neil's 1980 album: what are their merits, which one do we prefer, and why?

. What's the consensus on Neil releasing a song in which the only lyrics are "got mashed potatoes/ain't got no t-bone"? What are peoples' opinions of" Re-Act-Or" in general?

I don't intend to be presumptuous towards those who work their tails off to keep this site running by submitting ideas; I just want to throw them out there for consideration. I think it would be nice to see this site go in a different direction from the FITR battle at some point soon.


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