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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Comment of the Moment: *28* minute "No Hidden Path"

No Hidden Path, London - 3/9/08
Photo by Dan on Flickr

Quite a bit of reaction to the YouTube video recently posted of Neil Young blazing through a *28* minutes version of "No Hidden Path" at Rock in Rio in Madrid on the 2008 Europe tour.

The Youtube video was posted in response to all of those who are beseeching the release of Trunk Show -- still unreleased on DVD 2 years following its one week limited theatrical run.

Here's one comment that really sums up what Neil is all about and captures what many see as his core creative work aesthetic. The comment thread keys off a comment that after viewing the YouTube video, it is simply amazing that this guy was pushing 65 when recorded.
"What is the wrong side of 60?" you ask.

Sorry, it was not intended to be obscure. For many musicians, anything _over_ 60 would be the wrong side. The evidence is everywhere. Reaming off some names without too much thought: Bowie, Jagger, Townshend, Santana, McCartney, Page, Osterberg, and dare I say it (hell yes, I do), Stills, Nash and Crosby.

Less unkindly, most of these people probably still do a good concert, and I don't doubt that most of them put some fucking hard work into it. The thing is, they're not going to provide too many surprises. And that's what sets Young apart from them and so many others. He still takes big risks, and he does what he's always done as a stage musician, which is to get something different out of the song every time he plays it - as someone put it, possibly one of the musicians I just maligned above (approximate quote): "Neil doesn't play a song the same way twice. Hell, he doesn't even play it the same way once."

The performance of No Hidden Path sums that attitude up, and apart from anything, he rocks fucking hard, not just in that song, but throughout a 2 hour plus concert.

He's by no means unique in being a good, old, musician. Remember the blues guys, quite a lot of them seemed to just get _better_ as they got older. But in the rock idiom? I really can't think of anyone else of Young's age pulling off the kind of concerts that he does. The man's a phenomenon.

And, to throw in an (unrelated to your comment) aside, I refuse to complain about his ticket prices, his side projects, his cussedness, his Archive delays, and everything else that seems to piss people off. For two reasons: one, that from what I can work out, he's a flawed but extremely decent human being who managed to become hugely successful and wealthy yet avoided becoming an arseholish egotist (I am looking in particular at Mr Sumner and Mr Hewson)[ed:?]. And more importantly, because when he's gone, he's gone. There'll be no replacement, and a $200 ticket will start to look like it was a damned good deal after all.

By the way, I'm in Asia, and the last time he played Japan was 2003. I've seen him once live, and that's it. Out here, we don't get to bicker over the cost of tickets. We watch the cat on DVD, not in some nice theatre.

If you'd like to see another stunning rendition of NHP, check out the 2nd part of 10/23/07 in Boston.


At 9/22/2011 05:53:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of months ago I watched this at home from a DVD. It blew me away, the performance had almost the same impact as when Neil played this at the RAI theater in Amsterdam and I was in row 9.
After watching this it should be clear to any one who has ears and a heart that here's a man who has single handedly pushed away the borders of rockmusic, crossed them and travelled into distant land. Leading us into territory unknown and unnamed.
I mean, how to describe this? Yesterday I saw Brian Wilson perform Gershwin and after a break playing two dozens of his great back catalogue. Really beautiful songs, and it struck me to notice how much influence Gershwin must have had on Brian. And of course Chuck Berry, doo-wop rythm 'n blues, the great American Songbook, folk songs like Sloop John B and Mary had a little lamb. Great, fascinating and very much enjoyable.
And here's Neil. He has this rock ' roll basement that carries his songs, but even this song alone shows that he crafts a complete unique and very personal, intimate, intense musical building on top of it. There's just one genre you can call it, it has been said before: it's Neil Young music. And that's all there is to it.
We're very lucky to live during his lifetime!

At 9/22/2011 08:00:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Anonymous in Asia - thanks for resonding man. I couldn't tell what you were driving at with the "wrong side of 60" phrase - now I get it & agree completely. I've said for years now that we as fans are so lucky that he's still here and he's still releasing new, excellent material and still touring. I've been blessed to see him several times in the past few years, including watching 'No Hidden Path' from the 1st row in D.C. back in 2007 - a night I will never forget - ever.

Neil's a force of nature - peace.

At 9/23/2011 06:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I confess if I'd known my comment would end up on the home page I'd have toned down the swearing. It's downright ugly.

No harm done, I hope.


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