Comment of the Moment: TFA - The Greatest Lost Album of All-Time
Time Fades Away
Reprise 45 Single - #1184
Courtesy of Side Street Records
Still getting some really great comments on UNCUT Magazine naming Neil Young's "Time Fades Away" as the #1 Great Lost album of All Time or -- as we like to say -- the "missing link" in the Ditch Trilogy.
Here's another Comment of the Moment on Time Fades Away's impact by Greg M (A Friend Of Yours) responding to Big Chief's comment about whether TFA is significant at all:
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.
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)
Thanks Greg M!
More on the "missing link" in the Ditch Trilogy.