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Friday, November 06, 2009

Comment of the Moment: "Neil Young's Imperfect Nature"

The Neil Young Comment of the Moment is from "Neil Young's Imperfect Nature" by Greg M (A Friend Of Yours):
Anon 1, no one should be calling you an idiot because the last several albums didn't strike a chord with you. Several of them clanked with me at first, too, even though I like them a lot now. I have some questions for you and Chris, who is also underwhelmed: Accepting that Neil can do whatever he wants, do you agree that what he has done of late is consistent with the approach he has taken to his music his entire career? Do you think that it's the same approach, just with less than pleasing results? Or do you think that the music is different because somehow Neil has changed?

I think it's the same approach, which is to create a musical interpretation of the present moment or whatever present stage of life he's in, all with a minimalist take and utilization of whatever is at hand approach in terms of performance. For me, this explains a FITR- it's a drier subject matter. Or a LWW- "No one else is talking about it, I'm not keeping quiet anymore, I'm going into the studio now with just the emotion and the message, and I'll use whatever I can get my hands on now, but I'm not going to think about it too much." The same thing happened with "Let's Roll", which was sent out to radio stations with no explanation or description, before it ended up on Are You Passionate.

I guess my question is: is the distinction between the approach and the end product being missed, with no understanding of Neil's throw it up against a wall and see if it sticks approach, which sometimes works and sometimes doesn't? You may or may not like this approach, but if it's not being taken into consideration, then it's easier for me to understand peoples criticism. The upshot I'm getting from a lot of criticism in the last several years is that people think that Neil has somehow changed, and I just don't see it. I think he's the same, and circumstances- his and the worlds as a whole- are just simply different, therefore the music is different. Just a theory of mine.

Anyway, most of my frustration in the last several years is not that people don't like the music here and there, just that they've turned their dislike into attack, and I just don't get this. Another post said it all: "'How could people get so unkind?'" For me, the source is the same, and the output varies depending on circumstances. I have no problem with people questioning the output, but not the source. Neils integrity has always been a big reason why I am a fan, and I've learned to take the "good" with the "bad", even though admittedly, I like it all. That makes me a sycophant in a lot of peoples eyes, but I don't know, I place my trust in Neil, and somehow the music just always seems to grow on me.

Greg M (A Friend Of Yours)

Thanks Greg, AFOY!
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At 11/06/2009 10:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's the same approach with less desirable outcomes. i think most people would agree that neil's best songs were written in the 70s. he was a young man with a lot of confusion and pain. now he's an old man who seems very content.

like it or not, misery breeds great art. complacency does not.

At 11/06/2009 04:07:00 PM, Anonymous ShittyHorse said...

Well put Greg. I can not say how many times I've disliked something of Neil's and it's a wonder to me how he could go from this to that, but because of this question I always give the music time. Usually, Neil turns out to be right and a song I didn't like, I suddenly love. That's the beauty of music, its always there, it kinda grows with you. Something thats relevant now may not be tomorrow but it could be again the day after. Neil puts out whats relevant to HIM now, so it's not always what we want to hear. Sometimes he's right on, and it's great when he is, but thats not really important. Neil has an outstanding amount of material, it boggles the mind really, so how can you always like everything all the time? It's not human nature, and those who say they love it all, all the time, are either posing or are not in touch with their feelings and taste.
Yes, Neil's interests change but what Neil does hasn't changed, how he creates his music, his approach, etc. hasn't changed... We've changed, the times changed. Thank god Neil does what he does because we would not be discussing him like this. I still believe Neil is as relevant as he's always been and I hope he has a lot more music left in him.

By the way, anyone catch Stephen Stills on Howard Stern last week?
I never realized how far gone he really is. Still talented but his age is catching up to him.


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