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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Sun Green Was Right

Speaking of some of Neil Young's previous so-called "mis-fires" and the predicted "calamity" of the impending Fork in the Road we just thought we'd take a breath and step back.

But not too far. We won't go back to the disappointing "Time Fades Away". Or the baffling "TRANS". Or the un-Neil like "Everybody's Rockin'".

We'll start by going back to 2006's blisteringly negative "Living with War" reviews and reactions. The album was roundly panned and we've long maintained critics were not going negative over the music but the message. Singing "Let's Impeach The President" doesn't exactly make for a lot of friends in the mainstream media. But here we are three years later and Spain wants to arrest George W. Bush for war crimes.

But let's go back a bit further to 2003's so called disaster Greendale. As we've argued repeatedly over the years about the vastly underrated and underappreciated Greendale, the inconvenient truth of Greendale was that Sun Green -- and Neil Young -- were right.

greendale flag
We could point to a host of observations from Greendale that seemed a bit far-fetched then but now seem quite prescient. But we'll just point out this Greendale post where we referenced the impending collapse of Antarctica's Wilkins ice shelf. And as you see in the above video, Antarctica's Wilkins ice shelf has indeed collapsed.

So down the road when we're all driving electric cars, just remember 2009's silly little car album "Fork In The Road".

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At 4/05/2009 06:57:00 PM, Blogger Charles said...

The issue isn't whether Neil is right or wrong - the clear consensus is that Neil is on the mark vis-a-vis the environment, war, energy. I very much agree with Neil's take on things, and appreciate his dedication to telling the truth. My issue is that Neil could reach more people and shed more light on these issues if he would take a little more time writing songs - craft lyrics that really resonated. Honing his lyrics would really help get his message out; putting out songs that even many on this list find wanting does not bode well for the wider audience. But for all that, at least he's doing something about the big issues of the day, and I think we can all cheer him for that.


At 4/05/2009 07:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1) Living with war was a great act of patriotism set to good old rock

2) Greendale WAS strange -- and brilliant

3) Everbody's rockin is sheer fun

3) I just went and looked at about 30 of his albums on my shelf -- 90 percent were panned when they came out

4) He's an artist not a pop star and though he's always changing, his voice is the same -- original, brave, humane, funny

And, oh yeah, I have been listening FITR -- after all the hoo-ha it's fun

At 4/05/2009 08:20:00 PM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

"3) I just went and looked at about 30 of his albums on my shelf -- 90 percent were panned when they came out"

This seems to be a fairly common theme of late. In an effort, I think, to defer criticism of Neil's latest music, this convenient myth emerges that much of Neil's earlier work was not regarded favorably when it was first heard/released.

This is, very simply, false. For much of Neil's early work, up through say, Live Rust, Rolling Stone was the only national publication that seriously reviewed rock n' roll records. Most of those reviews are still available on the RS website and they are not only very favorable, for the most part (with the notable exception of After the Goldrush, which, ironically, is probably Neil's least debatable masterpiece) but a few of the reviews, especially Tonight's the Night and Rust Never Sleeps are classics. Even during the eighties, Rolling Stone never trashed Neil's Geffen work and Freedom received one of their first five star reviews, followed by another classic piece of criticism for Ragged Glory.
Robert Christgau gave Neil very favorable reviews through Rust as did most of the critics who matter and have lasted.
So say what you will about the new music, it is simply a falsehood to say that Neil was not appreciated in his own time.

It may be, instead, that the lukewarm reaction to the war and car songs is simply an honest critical appraisal... which does not make your personal artistic response to the music any more or less valid.

At 4/06/2009 01:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From Neil's Garage - NY times

By Scoop Asphalt
The Video premiere of GET AROUND, featuring ALL the music of "Fork in the Road" will be available at 12:01 AM PST Tuesday April 7, worldwide. This long-form video runs 43 minutes and was shot on a Texas Highway between La Grange and Austin shortly before "South By Southwest" extravaganza began in Austin.
GET AROUND will not be available anywhere else because of its long running time exceeding the capabilities of most major outlets. The long form video also will be available with High Definition Sound as part of a new Blu-Ray currently in post-production at Shakey Pictures.
The new GET AROUND Blu-Ray includes all of the videos made for Fork. Shakey Pictures hopes you enjoy taking a ride in Lincvolt with Neil as he sings the entire "Fork in the Road" album plus the additional bonus track, "Get Around".


At 4/06/2009 09:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are a ton of people still wanting Harvest every time out and dis on everything else Neil does these people have missed out on a lot of great music before and after harvest.I've been a NY fan most of my life, he has put out music I didn't really like when it came out years later you realize how good it was. You have to look at Neil as reporter sometimes his music has put a lot of issues out there over the years hopefully some people get it and it's a added bonus to enjoy the music too.

1) LWW was one of the most honest straight forward cd's ever recorded opened a lot of peoples eyes pissed alot of people of too.

2)Seen Greendale twice live best live show I've seen in the last 20 years.

3)Everybodys Rockin I haven't listen to in years but I remeber it getting played at a lot of parties at the time it is what it is a fun rockin good time.

At 4/06/2009 06:52:00 PM, Anonymous BIGCHIEF said...

...."Percy"?,(Percival) Neil, is that you? ... I know you must be droppin' in on this site from time to time!

At 4/06/2009 09:36:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny to see Thrasher mention Trans and Everybody's Rockin. Lately I have been thinking a lot about how they relate to what Neil is doing now, specifically, what if those were released today..How would the fans react, having all the access we now have to pre-release content? And how would Neil have used new media to craft the vision of those two albums? Fascinating fantasy scenario!!

Steve in Ottawa

At 4/07/2009 12:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Sun Green' and 'Be The Rain' are the best Neil Young songs since 'Hey Hey My My' and 'Rock'in in the Free World'.

At 4/07/2009 04:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Grandpa's Interview is right up there with Sun Green and Be the Rain. Those three songs form the trilogy of "the message" of Greendale. Privacy (and lack thereof); Consumerism; the lack of any real news organizations; plowing over the past; corporate greed, corruption, environmentalism and the need to save the planet for anotehr day..

Fork in the Road? I can hear the critics ("stick a fork in it"), and I think Neil is getting a little too narrow.. but, let's give him his due - he's earned it.


At 4/07/2009 04:56:00 PM, Blogger Matthew Lintzenich said...

I love Greendale and Living With War. They are beautiful albums to me, both in their messages and in the songwriting department.

People have different tastes, that's completely understandable - Neil is quite an experimenter, so obviously almost everyone is not going to like everything he does.

But for me, I am happy about Neil's slapdash garage-rock productions. They are everything that music is to me. Spontaneous, emotive, brilliant, and not fussy about details.

I love passionate people, and that's one thing that Neil is, and always has been - passionate, and his passion, and emotion, SHINE through on these oft-derided garage-rock albums, much moreso than on his more produced stuff, i.e. Prairie Wind (to reference a recent example) and CD2, which also had higher production quality, and more detailed songwriting.

I like those albums too, but it's his "hurried" and "slapdash" efforts that truly reveal an artist at work creating outside the lines, outside the box of commonly accepted ideas about good production and tight songwriting.

Not sure where I'm going with this, but I just wanted to state for the record that these types of albums have a certain appeal that ... while it might not be for everyone, personally I'm thankful to Neil for daring to buck the trends, and produce music that has a specific kind of appeal that I can get behind, and really resonates with my own feelings about music.

At 4/08/2009 04:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's face it: Musically, "Fork in the Road" is pure dross! Simple, unimaginative, monotonous music and slapdash slogan-style lyrics. I certainly don't mind a musician trying to get a "message" out, but it's a real shame when that passion becomes an excuse for releasing anything as long as it "tells the truth". I've been a huge Neil Young fan since I was old enough to buy records (and that's a long time!) - and my collecting mania has made me buy even "Greendale" and "Living with War" (at least they had one good song each) - but this will be the first album of Neil's that won't find the way to my shelf.


At 4/08/2009 12:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely on greendale. I love that record and still listen to it at least once every month or two. I think that album is brilliant, and it makes no sense to me that other people cant see that.

I think living with war is a really cool record. Some of the songs wouldve benefited from some "pondering time", and maybe one or two shouldnt have been on there and wouldve been replaced with something else, but overall that record has alot of feeling, which is what is most important. I still listen to this record every now and then, because it is stuff that needs to be said.

FITR, on the other hand, just isnt as good as a musical piece as the other records. Light a candle is great, Just singing a song is a good tune, cough up the bucks is cool, FITR is wierd as hell and really enjoyable, and I can also dig when worlds collide. I think the other half of the record just doesnt really work. But the message is what is important about this stuff, but I think neil's work with Lincvolt alone will get the message out and is changing things.


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