This Is Not For You: Following The Muse
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..."
btr. btc. btw.
So stand and be counted.