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Friday, March 05, 2010

Comment of the Moment: Neil Young at Olympics Closing Ceremonies


Nearly universally, Neil Young at Olympics Closing Ceremonies was considered to be the highlight based on reviews and commentaries we saw here and here.

Naturally, not everyone was on-board with yet another career highlight peak. We single this comment out specifically, not because it was representative, but because of the reaction it provoked.
I'm a big Neil Young fan and an admirer of the work and obvious dedication that goes into maintaining Thrasher's Wheat. However, there does appear to be a tendency towards uncritical hero worship on this website. Praise is a lot less meaningful when it's offered reflexively.

In that spirit, I offer a somewhat different view of Neil's recent work from the website of singer/songwriter Robbie Fulks:

"Did you see him on the Tonight Show last Friday? My 12-year-old, the handsome and brilliant Preston, watched alongside me in stunned disbelief. Preston goes for a fair range of styles and decades -- Jason Mraz, Blue Oyster Cult, Kanye West, Dead Kennedys, Eric Johnson -- but none of it bears a remote resemblance to an elderly dude in a Hawaiian shirt blinking and twitching and strumming a guitar. "Oh my God," he said, "even you're better than this, Dad!"

I don't know an awful lot about the fellow (though I know a lot of his songs well enough to play and sing them -- he's one of those high-prestige Baby Boomer artistes whose products I find I don't need to buy for pretty much the same reason I don't buy recordings of snow shovel noises to put on speakers on my front lawn)..."

This is obviously an uninformed viewpoint, but it does serve to remind us that not everybody thinks Neil is a God. Neil would probably prefer it that way.

We'll just say this. Never, ever, in all the years that we've been editing Thrasher's Wheat have we seen such a false equivalency. The very attempt to balance Neil Young's performance of "Long May You Run" at the 2010 Olympics Closing Ceremonies and a 12 year old's impression of watching Conan O'Brien, is well... just not really worth bothering to analyze.

As Glenn Greenwald would blog, "Could a false equivalency be any more trite or vapid than that?"

But boy did the comment spark a reaction. Here's Peter D. from Holland's response:
You know, the real 'problem' (if you can call it that - to me it's more of a blessing rather than a problem) is that there's a lot of people who think Neil's a rockstar, some famous artist in the music scene. And therefore they judge his output and the things he does / doesn't just like they judge any other star or artist, like (no offence in any way) Aerosmith or Michael Bublé or whoever.

But he's not. It's just the fact that Neil has kept his personal integrity (his being) in EVERYTHING he records or does / doesn't that sets him apart and puts his music in a complete different place. It's just TRUE. Nothing more. You can take it or leave it, but it will stay the same: TRUE, in every meaning of the word.

There's not many who have achieved this in a business that forces everyone that's in it to be what others want you to be and to do what others want you to do.There's a lot of 'em who died trying to cope with that…

Everybody's Rockin is one of many albums that was not recorded for the sake of selling as many copies as possible. Come to think of it, I think none of his albums were. Not even Harvest itself. Neil didn't know it was gonna be his hitalbum, and if he did, he certainly did'nt aim for it. He steered out of the MOR when he found out.

And yes, that's irritating sometimes: to see someones work judged by all the wrong measures.

But hey, you can't blame people for not seeing what seems to be so obvious to us. They just don't get it. Sorry for them.

And I'm not pointing at anyone who posted on this page, this is just a general observation. It took me quite a lot of years to learn this from Neil. I wasn't happy from the year he put out RE-ACT_OR up until the Blue Note's.

They're all out there, his records. And they all have some place where they fit in. It's a fascinating musical biography.

Peter Dees (Holland)

Thanks Peter!

"Love And Only Love"

Long ago in the book of old,
Before the chapter
where dreams unfold
A battle raged
on the open page,
Love was a winner there
overcoming hate
Like a little girl
who couldn't wait.

Love and only love
will endure
Hate is everything
you think it is
Love and only love
will break it down
Love and only love,
will break it down
Break it down, break it down.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction." MLK

"And when the dawn breaks I see my fellow man/ and on the flat-screen we kill and we're killed again/ and when the night falls I pray for peace/ try to remember peace."

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At 3/05/2010 06:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And yes, that's irritating sometimes: to see someones work judged by all the wrong measures.

But hey, you can't blame people for not seeing what seems to be so obvious to us. They just don't get it. Sorry for them."

Thanks, Peter, for pointing out the obvious. I've known this, but never really learned it. It's not a battle worth fighting. I also can see the part I've played for way too long in: "toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction." It's time to move on, and focus on the light. Don't know why the detractors have always managed to get to me. It says more about me than anything else. It's time to just be content with having Neil to appreciate, and let all the rest go.

Greg M (A Friend Of Yours)

At 3/05/2010 06:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is well & fine.

But here's a question: Who else today could have stood in Neil's shoes on the olympic stage?

Clapton? dylan? Paul M.?

Setting aside the made in Canada requirement.

It's a very short list to pull off something like that solo. Lots of pressure.

numbers on the side

At 3/05/2010 07:07:00 PM, Anonymous SONY said...

Now I'm going back to Canada
On a journey thru the past
And I won't be back
till February comes
I will stay with you
if you'll stay with me,
Said the fiddler to the drum,
And we'll keep good time
on a journey thru the past

At 3/05/2010 09:28:00 PM, Blogger TomCrac said...

Big Neil fan, hence my attendence...I would have been happy to see RUSH play a number or two. How about a never expected or heard collaboration...Graet talents surely could have pulled it off.

At 3/05/2010 09:29:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was really hoping for Ian Tyson
to do "18 Inches of Rain" at the closing....:>) Naw!
What I actually would have loved to see is Neil and Ian do "Four strong Winds" together. I hear Neil wore out a jukebox long ago listening to that song.
What you see is what you get though, and Neil Young anywhere live is just a heck of a lot of soulful fun!

As for me..."I had life once but my job ate it."

At 3/05/2010 10:24:00 PM, Blogger Sound Style Sun said...

I just dig it, I don't question it, I take it as it comes. It's Neil in full uniform! dig it!

At 3/05/2010 11:00:00 PM, Blogger Annie said...

Neil Young is like sushi,either you love it or you loathe it.There's no in between.If you happen to love it it's heaven , if not it's just stinkin' raw fish.I wish my best friend would feel, let's say ,On The Beach like i do but it just won't happen and that's just fine.Hey Neil!I've got the title for your next album:California Roll.

At 3/06/2010 06:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said I agree and have had the same wish to see Neil & Ian doing 4 strong winds.

"What I actually would have loved to see is Neil and Ian do "Four strong Winds" together. I hear Neil wore out a jukebox long ago listening to that song.
What you see is what you get though, and Neil Young anywhere live is just a heck of a lot of soulful fun!

As for me..."I had life once but my job ate it."

I didn't loose my life for 20years to a job I lost one of most magical parts and have been trying to get that same feeling back since Chrome Wheeles 2. but can't. In those 20years the times I would hear Neils stuff on the radio going to a meeting, site, funeral etc it would bring back memories mostly good than bad times I had at the same releaving stress and preasures and reminding where my feet stand. When my days are dark I do admit I reach for Neils CDs Neils music is like a transporter that trnsends time. I was really lucky that I was born when I was.

"there's a cold wind,
Blowin' through my mind
Show me the way
But I'm holdin' on to the threads of time
And with you I feel no hidden path"


He knows his audience!!! and does it so poeticly simple, it's mind blowing. time to roll another number.

On another note I think Van Morrison would do a great Superbowl or Olympic moment that might come close to Neils thing, especially if he does something from Astral Weeks

At 3/06/2010 06:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrasher, you are so right when you say "false equivalency" here.

Would anyone expect a Pepsi-drinking 12yr old to appreciate a fine vintage wine, aged in oak?

Would you base your judgement of a painting by Van Gogh or Monet (also mavericks in their time) according to the opinion of a 12yr old?

Neil has spent almost 50 years maturing, refining and crafting his art, and while his recent appearances may appear simple to some, to those who understand and appreciate Neil they represent a lifetime`s dedication to his muse, unerring truthfulness and pure soul.

Long May He Run!


At 3/06/2010 12:15:00 PM, Anonymous swansong said...

Thank you Greg M for your insightful post. I too have learned that one must choose ones battles carefully. Your words reveal wisdom rarely seen today, and I can see you have chosen the path less traveled... Be the change you want to see in the world and the world will change.

At 3/06/2010 11:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I applaud your willingness to post comments that go against the grain ... 'ie' comments that don't simply pat Neil on the back for anything and everything he does. But this comment where a father quotes his "brilliant" 12 year old son is a bit pathetic ... not to be personally critical, just that the fact that this 12 year old listens to a "broad" range of music including Kayne West doesn't in my mind give him any particular expertise ... as such, I'm not sure what relevant point the author was making ... I think its fair to say that its a given that not everyone one in the world loves or appreciates Neil Young ... just take a look back at the comments when he put out FITR and when he played those tunes live or plug in probably half his albums/tours and you would have gotten lots of critical comments ... we sort of love him because he's sincere and authentic which is why perhaps Hollywood (Grammies, ect...) doesn't love him ... if we agree that not everyone loves him (did FITR even sell 100,000 copies?) then what is author adding ... going back to the criticisms we used against former critics I would say to this author that criticism is appreciated if its actually thoughtful ... On that note, I thought Neil's appearance at the closing ceremonies was a huge highlight and well deserved ... At the same time the version of Long May You Run was better on the Tonight Show but going back to a comment Neil made once about his epic SNL gig when he sang RITFW, its kinds hard to step up cold and really rock out ...

At 3/07/2010 12:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PRAIRIE TOWN - (Randy Bachman)

Born and raised in a prairie town
Just a kid full of dreams
We didn't have much but an old radio
Music came from places we'd never been
Growing up in a prairie town
Learning to drive in the snow
Not much to do so you start a band
And soon you've gone as far as you can go...

Winter nights are long
When summer days are gone
Portage and Main fifty below
Springtime melts the snow
Rivers overflow
Portage and Main fifty below
Portage and Main fifty below

All the bands in a prairie town
Try to out-do the next in line
Learning records out of Liverpool
Dreams of England on their minds
On the other side of Winnipeg
Neil and the Squires played The Zone
But then he went to play
For a while in Thunder Bay
He never looked back and he's
Never coming home

Just a band from a praire town
Sometimes we'd drive from coast to coast
One call from L.A and we'd pack and fly away
But in our hearts we're always
Prairie folks
Looking back on a prairie town
People ask me why I went away
To fly with the best sometime you
Have to leave the nest
But the prairies made me what I am today!

I don't think Neil could have said it better.

At 3/07/2010 10:50:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

Ok, so I just watched James Taylor
do a little rememberance song at the Academy awards..hmmm

Nice, but I would of loved to of seen Neil perform something that could of been just as apt from his vast repertoire...Maybe "You and Me"or "Motion pictures" I don't just would have been a nice touch.



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