Comment of the Moment: Tonight’s the Night - "The Dark Side"
Elton John and Neil Young
1973 - Backstage at the grand opening of the Roxy Theater, Los Angeles, CA before a Tonight’s the Night performance
As always it seems, lots of good commentary on that Ditch classic from the Tonight’s the Night: So Well Remembered post.
The Comment of the Moment is from Big Chief
Ah, the 'dark side'!
Everybody has one, and Neil certainly exposed his during the recording of this little gem. This wasn't something that one could even attempt to sit down and write without having to have experienced or at least observed what was going down in the sub-culture during that time period.
Written, recorded, and performed shortly after the deaths of both Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry, who by the way,was the brother of Jan Berry of 'Jan & Dean' fame, who was living out his own period of 'darkness' after his tragic car accident had ended his own illustrious career and ultimately his life.
While most of his peers at that time were still trying to ride out the wave of peace and love, Neil was one of the very few who were keenly aware of the consequences brought forth as a result of the 'Hippie Dream'. The short lived Utopia that was induced upon the youth, post 'summer of love', as a result of the seemingly innocent widespread consumption of marijuana and psychedelics led way to rampant abuse of far less innocent drugs such as Heroin, Cocaine, and the element of crime that ensued (Tired Eyes).
The soldiers returning home from the war certainly didn't get the 'heros welcome' that our returning soldiers enjoy today. So much had changed in the short time they were gone that most of them were overwhelmed with 'culture shock' upon returning (Lookout Joe). As the great visionary that he is, Neil captured the essence of societies ill's and created a masterpiece of a recording depicting the ups and downs of the drug culture at that time, along with some contrasting tunes offering hope and redemption (Mellow My Mind, New Mama).
This record stands alone, even among the other two 'Ditch' siblings, nothing else that Neil has done before or since can compare. This is one of those things that just happen, a moment in time captured like a photograph. Of all of his records, this defines what would eventually become synonymous with Neil Young, the irony that the only constant with Neil is change.
This record has all of the trademark elements of a Neil Young record, however, it would probably be a poor choice to play for someone during an attempt to gain a convert, especially on a sunny afternoon at the beach. Rather, around 2am after the ones who 'can't hang' have gone and those who remain have grown weary of whatever it was that had been playing, turn down the lights and crank this one up ... that's how it was meant to be heard!
Thanks Big Chief!
More commentary on that Ditch classic Tonight’s the Night: So Well Remembered.