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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Comment of the Moment: The Great Lost Album of All-Time - Time Fades Away

RARE Yugoslavian Picture Sleeve, "Time Fades Away" 3:26 edit b/w "The Last Trip To Tulsa" 4:16 (NON-LP LIVE "B" side) U.S. promotional 45 (side 2 label), & RARE Japanese Picture Sleeve
Courtesy of Side Street Records

Some great comments on UNCUT Magazine naming Neil Young's "Time Fades Away" as the #1 Great Lost album of All Time.

We were going to highlight this little gem from Big Chief on why this isn't such a big deal or that TFA isn't all it's cracked up to be.

But then we got this comment by Mr. Henry:
Released in 1973, Time Fades Away is a reaction and reflection to the years immediately preceding. So many great musicians gone in their prime: Al Wilson; Jimi Hendrix; Janis Joplin; Jim Morrison; King Curtis; Duane Allman; Berry Oakley and Danny Whitten, who died within one week of each other in November 1972...right after the reelection of Richard Nixon. The drugs were getting harder and the war would never end.

During this period, Neil Young was creating a new kind of American music. The sound was totally new and different; also haunting and familiar. From his position in a "burned out basement" he was performing a synthesis of what had come before and what was yet to come. Remember that 1973 was the year of Wounded Knee and Brando refusing to accept his Oscar; the year when Watergate came to life; the year when everyone who could get there (including me) camped at a race track in Watkins Glen to just be together and listen to incredible live music that you wished would never end.

Neil Young was part of this world but his restless heart and soul could sense there was something else coming. Heeding the warning from Hank Williams who sang "In a world of greed and hate, will you wait 'til it's too late?", he willfully took a sharp turn and has never looked back. From our future vantage point, it seems impossible to imagine him doing anything different. As others have noted, Time Fades Away became the introduction to three of his greatest albums. It was his introductory Hobbit before launching a Lord of the Rings trilogy. In many respects, his music throughout the decade encapsulated the 70's, much the same as The Beatles and Bob Dylan had done for the 60's. All were Artists of the Decade for their respective periods and Neil often seems to be an American hybrid who has the best parts of these and other great artists.

Very interesting and revealing that Uncut has named Time Fades Away the Great Lost Album. Perhaps if the tapes for Tonight's the Night had not been saved (a truly depressing thought) or had never gone to CD, then this would be the one. It was Scott Young's favorite, and who knew Neil better? In many ways, these two albums run parallel with another masterpiece from that era, Big Star's album Sister Lovers, which I have listened to at least twenty times over the past few weeks.

New Music Express named Sister Lovers (aka Third) the #1 Heartbreak Album ever and it seems like Neil Young and Alex Chilton were having similar visions and emotions, making great music from their pain and trying to understand just what the hell had gone wrong. Alex was younger than Neil and had his greatest popular success at the same time Buffalo Springfield was going to be "the American Beatles". Both became dissatisfied with the music business and ambivalent about their desire for general acclaim. The way they dealt with this and the resulting music they made was totally different, but again you really can't imagine any different path for either one.

I'm sure that Neil has valid reasons for not putting Time Fades Away on CD and you can always have the great experience of listening on Vinyl. Bet those used copies out on Amazon and eBay and in the used LP stores are worth more now than they were a few weeks back. I also agree there are many of his songs where I'd prefer to hear other versions or recordings. Life's not perfect, but it will do until perfect gets here. I first played Time Fades Away as a college DJ and it sure wasn't like anything else...which was just great. And often when I hear it, I'm still eighteen years old.

Thanks Mr. Henry!

BTW, if you haven't already yet, contribute to our campaign of dismal futility by signing the Re-release Time Fades Away petition. Maybe if we reach 100,000 signatures someone will finally notice besides "the Rolling Stone Magazine of Europe" and UNCUT editor Allan Jones...

45 Single - #1184
Courtesy of Side Street Records

Just for kicks, we have over 14,000 verified* petition signatures thus far.

Here are 1st 20 from *5* years ago:

Looking Forward said 02/10/05, 2:57 am (verified)
Free TFA!

James Bigelow said 02/10/05, 2:31 am (verified)
Many of Neil's albums are mixed to sound a certain way. Time Fades Away is a first in that certain sound IMO. Don't Be Denied is reason enough to have this album. Please release this classic on CD.

Lone Red Rider said 02/10/05, 2:29 am (verified)
I know there's no multi track or stereo master you can use to do this right, but the HDCD you made a few years back is good enough!

Matt Bouchie said 02/10/05, 2:25 am (verified)
I support this petition.

stuart lindsay said 02/10/05, 2:14 am (verified)
I support this petition.

Piet Raedts said 02/10/05, 2:11 am (verified)
I support this petition.

Fred Tenisci said 02/10/05, 2:08 am (verified)
Time Fades Away is the only missing six lp that I was unable to find to purchase, and I'd love to have a recording of it.

Sharry Wilson said 02/10/05, 1:46 am (verified)
Time Fades Away way too fast. Help us fans take a Journey Through the Past. We love TFA!

Bonnie Mayer said 02/10/05, 1:18 am (verified)

Gene Harrold said 02/10/05, 12:45 am (verified)
It's time to release this edgy classic now!!

Chuck Doering said 02/10/05, 12:16 am (verified)
Mr. Young, I've read that you're not to fond of this album, but I hope you reconsider the decision not to re-release's a true classic! Your albums are like chapters in a book, but without Time Fades Away the story is incomplete.

Ian Campbell said 02/10/05, 12:02 am (verified)
Please release it, let it go ... NOW !!!

Ian Rosen said 02/09/05, 11:37 pm (verified)
This album is way too good to be unreleased. One of the best Neil Young albums.

r-n-rgrrrl said 02/09/05, 11:34 pm (verified)
Hi Neil, I'm a big fan of yours but i wasn't really aware of this album. Now after learning some mor about it, i'm dyin to hear it. Please Neil! r-n-rgrrrl in a doo-wop world

Tcheb said 02/09/05, 11:16 pm (verified)
Don't you get it people? Use reverse psychology. Neil, that album sucks! If you release it I'll burn all your freakin' albums!

Jose "raggedboy" said 02/09/05, 11:13 pm (verified)
Come on, please.

Jim McQuaid said 02/09/05, 11:05 pm (verified)
Yes, please release Time Fades Away. Even a CD would do. Peace, Jim Memory to Spare

Scott Sandie said 02/08/05, 8:58 pm (verified)
The album without a home......

Mike Cordova said 02/08/05, 3:06 am (verified)
Dear Neil Young, Please make Time Fades Away available for all of your fans. This album has so much: -proves that you were not out to make Harvest II, III, etc ad infinitem. -features one of your most important biographical songs, Don't Be Denied. -it was released in the unique format of live songs all previously unreleased. Let the public hear this most unique and important recording. Mike Cordova

Thrasher said 02/08/05, 2:41 am (verified)
Neil, Please release Time Fades Away! It deserves to be heard by all of your fans. Thanks!

You can see all signatures here.

*NOTE: The 14K+ signatures is actually about 5K below actual total. Approx 5K sigs have been lost over years as site changed hands and had technical issues. So the petition has gathered probably about 19-20K.

RARE White Label Promo - MONO
Courtesy of Side Street Records

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At 4/11/2010 02:20:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Muchas Gracias Thrasher and my most humble gratitude! Thanks also to Big Chief for his great comments and for being such a strong citizen of Neil Young Nation! Keep on rockin........

Congratulations to the BC Eagles and especially to Coach Jerry York...three championships in ten years!!! You and your great friend Coach Jack Parker make the winters in New England a pleasure...Long May You Run.

God Bless the brave miners of West Virginia and all their families and friends. The work that you do keeps the world going and you will never be forgotten.

Most heartfelt prayers and thoughts to President and Mrs. Kaczynski and to all our friends in Poland. God be with you.......

"...and though the tears rolled down my face, I wasn't sobbing or out of control. I just waited a bit, then turned back to the car, to drive off to wherever it was I was supposed to be."
Kazuo Ishiguro from Never Let Me Go

At 4/11/2010 03:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There’s a story Marianne Williamson told once about a scientific experiment conducted in the wild on a group of monkeys. The scientists were focused on a small sub group of the monkeys who appeared to be somehow disconnected from the rest of the group, displaying nervousness and anxiety, which led the scientists to conclude that the monkeys were depressed. In addition to speculating on the possible causes of this behavior, the experiment involved removing the monkeys to find out if they would be replaced by other monkeys, or if the overall percentage of “depressed” monkeys would vary. When the scientists returned several weeks later, they were surprised to find that all the monkeys were gone. Their conclusion was that the “depressed” monkeys had some sort of unique makeup that compelled them to function as an early warning sign of danger to the group, and that when they were removed there were no other monkeys of a like nature to replace them, to the peril of those remaining.

I’ve thought about this example before in connection to Neil’s music, and have meant to flesh it out a little more in the right context. No, I’m not likening him to a depressed monkey, but Mr. Henry’s concept that “From his position in a "burned out basement" he was performing a synthesis of what had come before and what was yet to come”, and “his restless heart and soul could sense there was something else coming” made me think of a loose theory of mine. I’m not saying it’s right, just that there may be some truth in it, namely that one of the things that makes Neil’s music so different and uniquely compelling, is that he seems to somehow be wired into the zeitgeist, or spirit of the age, and the Universal Subconscious, in a way that gives voice to unspoken, yet commonly felt emotion and intuition.

Mr. Henry gives an accurate description of a moment in time, but the truth is that it was only one particularly turbulent moment within an overall turbulent period of history, a speeding up of time encompassing most of the twentieth century, and extending even to the present moment, and our immediate future. Neil has consistently reacted to this speeding up of time, continuing right up to the present, repeatedly pointing out that: “I dreamed I saw the silver space ships”, “There’s a warning sign on the road ahead”, “Said the condor to the Praying Mantis, we’re ‘gonna lose this place, just like we lost Atlantis… the gypsy told my fortune, she said that nothing showed”, etc., etc. I think this is just one of many things going on, the most obvious of which being his personal experience, but that it is nonetheless a major component of whatever muse is at work in his songwriting.

The Canterbury House recording made me think of this too, with an otherwise cheery sounding Neil commenting that he has to work on writing some “up” songs, that for some reason he only has the “down” ones. This leads me to believe that Neil is aware that something else is going on. Time Fades Away is an interesting case in point. To my ear, there is a discernible mood to TFA, beyond even the obvious and immediate influence of Danny Whitten’s death, or the problems with the tour. Perhaps Whitten’s death resulted in both reaction and catalyst. Divorce, drug induced desperation, apocalyptic visions, yearning for the safety of the past, the healing effect of love, sin and the devil as stalkers, these and many other themes are at play, but not just as incidents and events, but as subterranean influences from which to form a conscious alert for the road ahead.

I’ve pretty well butchered the concept lurking around in my mind, and trust me, I know its pure speculation. There may be nothing more than my own personal interpretation going on, no different than a personal reaction to any given song, but this is what Mr. Henry’s comments brought up in me, and just some of the reasons why TFA means so much to me. Just some thoughts.

Greg M (A Friend Of Yours)

At 4/11/2010 12:21:00 PM, Blogger clark8114 said...

here ya go:

At 4/11/2010 12:52:00 PM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

"If you see my child
tell him please
send me a letter
You know a letter
it would mean
so much to me"
Pops Staples
Waiting for My Child to Come Home

Thanks Greg definitely hit the nail on the head! Neil is a true traveller in the "oversoul" (Emerson) and taps into the "collective unconscious" (Jung) in his best work.

Great story from Marianne Williamson...and so true in the world. Like dogs who can sense when an earthquake is coming, some folks are chosen to be the lightning rods and prophets. I'm wondering about the nervous Monkees...would that be Michael Nesmith or Peter Tork? (Ha Ha...just so you don't think I'm a totally serious drone!?)

Speaking of that, I was good friends with Peter's cousin Jeff my first year in college. And as we know, Stephen Stills auditioned for the show. So that makes we what, like only four degrees of separation from Neil?!

Anyway keep on the sunny side.....

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end."
Gilda Radner

At 4/11/2010 07:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm always interested in reading a deeper analysis of things and the comments by Mr Henry and Greg M sure make for a great read and are inspired insights into TFA.

At 4/11/2010 07:52:00 PM, Anonymous BigChief said...

In retrospect, I find it ironic how Neil for several years had attempted to distance himself from the success that Harvest had brought him when, if truth be known, had he not had the commercial success that came his way via Harvest, 'T.F.A','T.T.N', and possibly even 'O.T.B' wouldn't have been a topic for discussion here as Reprise would not have ever taken a chance on such a non-commercial effort. As it was, Tonights The Night was in the can for two years before Reprise reluctantly allowed its release. Without the artistic integrity that Harvest brought to the table, the 'Trilogy of Doom' would had never seen the light of day.I recall back in the days of the Beatles, waiting in anticipation for their next release with high expectations of what was to come and being blown away by the fact that once again, they were somehow able to re-invent themselves and produce a record that was fresh and new, leaving you to wonder what would be next. In light of this, I recall racing home with my new realease of 'T.F.A' as soon as it hit the record stores with great anticipation. After all, how could he top Harvest the way Harvest topped 'A.T.G.R' and 'E.K.T.I.K'? Well, needless to say, that experience of what I heard was the beginning of the ups and downs of what it means to be a Neil Young fan. Although in hindsight it fits nicely into his body of work as a whole, it is hardly 'Sgt. Peppers' answer to the 'Magical Mystery Tour'.Had it been his debut album, I doubt that we would even be having this discussion today.However, the success of Harvest certainly afforded Neil the artistic integrity to reluctantly force the record company to allow him the freedom to, at least for a short while, deviate from what would logically be considered a potential commercially successful formula and instead, allow Neil to follow his 'muse'instincts. On the stength of its predecessors, I didn't give up on Neil after the disappointment of T.F.A. And while O.T.B. pacified my need for Neil during an otherwise lackluster musical era of 1974, it wasn't until the release of 'Zuma' in 1975 that solidified my faith in Neil as an artist, convincing me that I was going to be a fan for life .. enjoying the 'high times' while patiently commited to waiting out the 'low times' as well, convinced by a time tested formula that for every 'T.F.A' there will soon be a 'Freedom' or 'Ragged Glory' soon to come around the bend. Yes, Mr. Jones,... that is a light at the end of the tunnel!

At 4/11/2010 10:00:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

Thrash. could you please,just once, give me the courtesy of replying to me personally at my gmail address or respond generally as to why you constantly delete everything I write.

There is nothing snarky or trollish in any of my comments I ever write AND if there is a hint of frustration in a comment, its putely just that..frustration, that you delete me so.

I only want to be part of the wheat, to comment and respond like the rest of them. its not too much to ask is it?

It just seems awfully one sided at the moment

if ya don't want me commenting just say, and I'll go and i won't waste your time or mine

thanks, doc

At 4/12/2010 12:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Chief, you make a couple really good points about the irony of how the success of Harvest paved the way for the unsuccessful releases that fueled Neil’s career about face, releases that otherwise would not have been supported by most record companies (in this respect, we should give credit where credit is due to Reprise and its executives, who really did respect Neil as an artist- there is ample evidence of their willingness to give Neil a long leash, even prior to Harvests’ mega success). I can also understand being underwhelmed by the ditch trilogy (DT), following as it did on the heels of EKTIN/ATG/Harvest. And I have no problem with your just not liking the album. In general, I know what you mean by “highs and lows”, but for me I never accepted the premise that TFA was a lesser album, that highs can only be appreciated relative to lows, or that the TFA's of the world are something to be stomached because they somehow pave the way for more palatable projects. Don't get me wrong, I've been lambasted before in this forum for admitting that I didn't initially like the DT when it first hit. And I know what you mean about Zuma seeming to be a stellar return to form, that’s how I also saw it on many levels. But by the time Zuma came along, I was over my initial disappointment, even though it took a while, and then many more years before I really appreciated the DT for what it represents to me now. But to the extent that we do, in retrospect, hearken back to the DT, TFA should not be underestimated for the tone it set for what was to come, both in terms of OTB and TTN, as well as for everything that has followed right down to the present.

TFA is a career decision that encapsulates many of the positive attributes we use to define why we hold Neil up to the level of admiration that we do, e.g. uncompromising, stark honesty, raw feeling and emotion accompanied by anti-slick production values- “damn the torpedoes and everything that the public, record company or music press wants, this is what is relevant and worth my effort, because this is what is actually happening in my life”. Like a lot of things we take for granted, we’ve lost our sense of just how revolutionary TFA was, because its spirit became the norm and so familiar to us. No one who really gave the album a chance and listened to it closely, and considered the timing of its release in the aftermath of the success of Harvest, should really be that surprised by anything Neil ever did subsequently. Perhaps that’s the biggest argument yet for the value of re-releasing the album: maybe the FITR/PW/LWW/Greendale bashers of the world would understand anew Neil’s straight ahead approach, and contribution to artistic prerogative. All the more fascinating that Neil does not appear to hold the album in any high regard. Could mediate against many of the things I’m saying. But like Big Chief’s take, it’s my take.

At 4/12/2010 12:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

None of this is to say that it isn’t o.k. to not like TFA, or that the point taken doesn’t sometimes trump the music, but in the case of TFA let’s not dismiss the music too prematurely. I can’t recommend a close listen enough. I will put “Journey Through The Past”, “Love In Mind”, and “The Bridge” alongside any heartfelt and emotional song Neil has ever written. These songs and their live performance in particular, stop me in my tracks every time. How about these lyrics?: “Fourteen junkies too weak to work. One sells diamonds for what they're worth. Down on pain street, disappointment lurks… All day presidents look out windows. All night sentries watch the moon glow. All are waiting till the time is right”. “Don’t Be Denied”, “LA”, “Last Dance”- these are kick ass songs. O.K., I admit it, “Yonder Stands The Sinner” does not make my stranded-on-an-island MP3 player, but you know, every rule needs an exception to prove it… My biggest complaint is that the album is just too damn short.

Anyways, just some more thoughts about TFA. Interesting, the more I read these comments, and the more I think about TFA, the more it all comes back to me. The more I’m transported back to the ninth grade, the more I remember how much this album meant to me. But then I remember the time a friend threatened to hit me if I sang “I will stay with you if you’ll stay with me, said the fiddler to the drum” one more time. Time to stop talking before I start repeating myself …

Greg M (A Friend Of Yours)

At 4/12/2010 12:30:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Look into his eyes and
you will see
that men are not alone
on the diamond sea
Sail into the heart
of the lonely storm
and tell her that
you'll love her eternally

Sonic Youth

When Will was born
the hill went wild
The orchard bloomed and
October smiled
As full of hope as
a Promised Child
and the books were balanced
for a little while

So sleep enough to dream
because things aren't what
they seem
No time
enough for me
So sleep enough to dream

John Dee Graham...
(True Believers...Por Vida!)

As ye reap
Ye shall sow
I've looked high
and I've looked low
Now I know that
I love my life

Todd Rundgren

Comes a time
when you're driftin'
Comes a time
when you settle down
Comes a light
feelin's liftin'
Lift that baby
right up off the ground

Neil Young

Congratulations Matthew.......

At 4/12/2010 01:55:00 AM, Anonymous Mr Henry said...

Thirty years ago this summer, I took a minor epic trip to NYC. It was the week before the Democratic Convention and the temperature never got out of the 90's. During this trip, I spent an entire day at MOMA where they were having the first ever Picasso full exhibition.

There were somewhere around 2,000 pieces and they took up the entire building. Works were organized by year and were really not too crowded together, especially considering the volume. Pretty much everything was there and it was completely intense and fairly overwhelming at times. The process involved was basically get there and go through the exhibit floor-by-floor, taking time as you wanted but not able to go back once you continue on.

Honestly can't recall the exact amount of time there, but it was probably in the five to six hour range. With some short timeouts factored in, I must have averaged one Picasso every ten seconds; reality was I would linger with some for much longer periods and experience others in more of a whirl.

Seven years later, I went to opening day of the Georgia O'Keefe first full exhibition at National Art Museum in DC. I was there four hours and the layout and process was very similar. Since it was day one of a huge art showing, it was jammed and you could only linger so long, even if you wanted to. The effect was much the same and I again found that I had a sea change in my understanding and appreciation of these great artists.

You might be thinking I'm telling you about this because I feel there's a comparison somewhere here with Neil Young...correctamundo!!! Develop a life's work by focusing as much as possible only on what you are currently doing. Live your life in the creation of your art and leave others with the experience that you've had doing so. They can choose to remember you or not, and to spend different amounts of time as they choose pondering what you produced and wondering what that might mean about you and the world that you were living in. Some of those fit together just right and some of them could have some pretty jagged edges and jack knife turns. Some might make too little sense to you and/or others and some might make too much sense...and that might be okay or it might be not...and that might matter or it might not. And your always glad that it does.

At 4/12/2010 02:00:00 AM, Blogger Homesick in Paradise said...

For those who can't find Uncut, I have posted the 5 page article on my blog. Of course, is there is an issue with Uncut, please let me know.


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