Comment of the Moment: Neil Young's Dreamin' Man
The Comment of the Moment is on Neil Young's Dreamin' Man by D.I. Kertis:
Following up on my comment about Such a Woman, I've finally heard the whole thing and have a chance to write about it.
My general impression is that this is a wondrous improvement over Harvest Moon and I can see why Neil was interested in this concept, as much as putting it out now--out of chronology--demonstrates the artistic impulse. Though there are many strong pieces on Harvest Moon (Dreamin' Man, Such a Woman, You and Me, title track, War of Man, and One of these Days being the highlights), it is only know that they are fully revealed. One of the key reasons why the acoustic, self-accompanied approach works so well with Neil's music is because what catches you to begin with isn't any complexity of melody or arrangement: it's all in the lyrics. Because the lyrics--particularly of the songs on records like Harvest Moon--lay bear the emotions of the songwriter, which are universally relatable emotions. Everyone relates--so it captivates everyone.
There is such power in these lyrics that to get rid of the trimmings of orchestras and overdubbed backing vocals actually clarifies and improves their great quality.
In addition, the sequence is now much stronger. Unknown Legend is a solid song but doesn't belong at the beginning--it's not that solid. Putting it there on the original Harvest Moon seems to be an example of the same in medias res approach Neil also took with Are You Passionate?, open with You're My Girl. In both cases, this made for less-than-brilliant sequence that, especially with AYP? damaged the overall experience (these days, as often as I listen AYP? in its original order, I also listen to it in the order shown on the cards on the back cover--minus the unreleased Gateway of Love--or a variant thereof.)
So I appreciate that Neil decided to revisit these songs as well as the sequence (which, if the Shakey biography is to be believed, was a nightmare in the first place) and that he was able to produce what I feel is a more listenable alternative.
On a separate note, as this is a CD only release, I don't see that it can be put in any future Archives DVD or blu-ray set. This, plus the fact that it's packaged differently than the other PS volumes (note the same, a record spinning) background on the sleeves of the previous four) leads to believe that we may not have to be concerned about having this sold to us twice...)
Thanks D.I. -- as always -- for the thoughtful and provocative comment.
More comments on our review of Neil Young's Dreamin' Man.