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Sunday, December 13, 2009

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.

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At 12/13/2009 01:11:00 PM, Blogger D.I. Kertis said...

Not quite sure what Mr. Anonymous (12/13 @ 2: 20 PM) is on about. The Comment of the Moment module would seem to me to be an example of spotlighting, so to speak, rather than censorship.

Anyhow, thanks again for publishing me, Thrasher. For once I don't have a whole lot to say, other than that I'll be listening to Dreamin' Man again at some point today.

At 12/13/2009 02:04:00 PM, Blogger D.I. Kertis said...

Actually, wouldn't you know it, something did just occur to me. All this talk about Harvest Moon as a sequel to Harvest (not to mention Silver and Gold and Prairie Wind being brought up as additional entries in this perceived series) bothers me a little. Now, I can see the similarities between Harvest and 'Moon', in terms of both musical and lyrical content. In fact, they're almost like flip sides of the same coin at times: while Harvest represents the search for durable relationships, Moon is the result when a soulmate has at last been found. But these themes and emotional journeys are all over Neil's work. Spirit Road is a different style but it can be interpreted as making a similar statement. In other words, Harvest and Harvest Moon are hardly the only Neil Young albums to deal with this subject matter. There is the similarity of title. Well, we've also got Rust Never Sleeps and Sleeps with Angels. And there's the Kurt Cobain connection between them. Some glib critic could come along and claim, based on that, that those two albums are somehow linked in way the rest of Neil's body of work isn't. I think it's high time to wise up and stop parroting everything we read in the paper, let alone websites like this. Don't get me wrong, TW is a great fan site, but it is just that and pretty much any judgements we make Neil's work are only our speculations. None of us know what goes on in that man's head (which is probably a relief in some respects.)

I don't like it when people try make sequels or especially "trilogies" out of certain albums in an artist's catalogue. It's almost as though someone says, "Well, I really like these records so there must be some special link between them."

Hello? Aren't they *all* intrinsically linked in that they come from the same mind and soul? The same voice? All of Neil Young's albums are part of one body of work--still in progress--and should be viewed that way. I'd say the same of any other artist's work--songwriters; poets; painters; filmmakers. It's all connected by who they are--it's all drawn from this wonderful deep pool of feeling and thought that seems to be in the mind of ever really artistic person human society has ever known.

So of course Harvest and Harvest Moon are connected--so is the "Ditch Trilogy". So is all of Neil's work. It's the same man talking about all the things that have happened in his life. It's that dreamin' man, processing all the real events through his dreamin' mind.

At 12/13/2009 02:47:00 PM, Blogger andrea1bianco said...

Dreamin' Man is a necessary release. Finally we can listen to the great songs with an appropriate sound and in the right context. Harvest Moon itself contains some great songs(From Hank To Hendrix, One of These Days, etc), but the first, digital sound seems now terribly dull and flat.The great musicians and singers involved seem to play in a distant, different room from the lead singer.I can undestand the initial Neil disdain for the digital tecnology( some echo also in the Natural Beauty words). I hope that also Harvest Moon can be remastered in the future. For now, I'm waiting for my Dreamin' Man copy.
Andrea." So Tired"
p.s.Anyway, at the beginning, I've loved much Harvest Moon and I've played it over and over.

At 12/13/2009 02:53:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

Thanks again D.I.

Yeah, disregard that comment you referenced. It's been deleted.

Not sure what that was about either? Guess some folks aren't really able to comprehend how this works.

Very odd, indeed.

But glad to see that you get it.


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