Comment of the Moment: "Truly Timeless Music"
The Neil Young Comment of the Moment is from the "Optimal" Neil Young Fans thread awhile ago. Pinto (or Flounder) said...
My primary interest is in great music.
I am a "fan" of Neil Young because he has written and recorded more great music than any other artist of my fifty-six year old lifetime. And that includes Dylan, because, though this might be heresy, I don't really think a lot of classic Dylan has held up that well apart from its historic value as being the first of its kind - the electric folk in particular. But that's just me. (I don't listen to Highway 61 anymore.)
In one thoughtful post, Mother Nature wrote about time as the ultimate determining factor in artistic evaluation. I happen to agree. For me, to be truly timeless, a song or recording has to carry meaning for me at age 56, regardless of how much meaning it carried at 18. The most objective criterion I can use for this is simply to look at whether or not I still listen to it.
So, in that context, I still listen to everything Neil recorded from Buffalo Springfield through Live Rust. I still listen to Trans, certain songs from Hawks & Doves and Life, all of Freedom and Ragged Glory and Sleeps with Angels and Greendale, the various live albums, and certain songs from Broken Arrow and Mirrorball (especially I'm the Ocean), Silver and Gold and even Are You Passionate.
I don't listen to Prairie Wind or Chrome Dreams (like many of us, I had been listening to Ordinary People on boots for years, so I'm extracting it from the album as a special case) or Living with War. I did listen to them all, several times, but when it came time to set the Ipod for a trip, I eventually stopped playing them.
So, for me, they are not 'great music" by the simple definition that I no longer want to hear them. And because they have come consecutively, and because there's no guarantee that another Freedom lies out there in the future, and because the lyrics and music of the new "car" songs do not strike any kind of responsive chord in my "great music" genes, and because none of Neil's peers, the great singer/songwriters of our time, Dylan and Paul Simon and John Fogerty and Springsteen and even McCartney and Jagger/Richards are producing a lot of music that makes me want to listen, I think it is fair to ask some of the questions that have been asked of late in regard to Neil without it coming across as disrespectful or antagonistic.
I don't know why the popular music creativity well seems to run dry. Novelists and painters seem to improve as they age, but I can't think of a popular songwriter (or band) whose work has gotten better as they have crossed the threshold of adolescence/early adulthood. If you read about the psychological aspects of dream theory, the best guess (because no one knows anything) is that dreaming somehow helps the mind to integrate one's fears and desires into the subconscious in a way that enables you to deal with them without being paralyzed.
I think, maybe, that for the geniuses who compose it, rock and roll songs may have some of the same effects, of resolving fear and desire and, in the universality of all our shared fears and desires, they help us to do the same.
As we finally reach adulthood, we may have achieved all the resolution we're going to get and the dreams fade. What stays behind is the permanent record of that resolution and Neil, regardless of whether or not he ever again records anything I want to hear, has helped me resolve more personal conflicts than all of his peers combined.
So thanks for that, Neil and God Bless.
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