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Sunday, October 02, 2011

Comment of the Moment: Neil Young's Best of the Last 25 Years

Neil Young @
2008 Berlin Film Festival
Photo by Hannibal-Hanschke

Quite a warm reaction to the recent post covering The Best of Neil Young of the Last 25 Years.

The blog The Unfinished Line surveyed Neil's songs from 1986's "Hippie Dream" up to 2010's "Love and War", and came up with a list of some essential Neil Young tracks.

Here's a comment from Jill :
I agree with a lot Christian`s choices although it is never easy to compile a list where Neil is concerned, and I find my favourites change over time anyway. I`m glad he mentioned `When your Lonely Heart Breaks`, such a really beautiful song and an all-time fave of mine. Personally I would have gone for `Love to Burn` from RG, for Neil`s guitar solos if nothing else.

SWA is without doubt a masterpiece, and I agree that `Change your Mind` is brilliant, but`Safeway Cart` is one that really grabs my attention every time I play it. Actually that whole album is amazing. `Prime of Life` is another of my faves.

`Goin` Home` yes, I see as the highlight of AYP, but it stands apart from the other songs being a CH rocker. From the rest of that album I would go for `She`s a Healer`. Or maybe `Mr Disappointment`.

I would go for `Falling off the Face of the Earth` from PW, although `The Painter` is also a lovely song . I well remember hearing that album for the first time and being move to tears with the sheer beauty and emotion of it.

Picking up on what MNOTR said about the songs flowing out of him so fast, that really is behind such a lot of what Neil has done in the past and still is doing (`don`t mess with the muse man!`) …he has so much creativity pouring through him that he has to write and record albums quickly and move on, he cannot spend too long on any one project or with any one band for too long. He has no choice but to keep up with the flow of creative energy and inspiration in order to keep it relevant and to keep it real for himself.

I know this has all been said before but it`s the weekend folks so please excuse me rambling.

Thanks Jill! No excuse necessary. :) peace


At 10/02/2011 03:18:00 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Gosh, I never imagined the day would come when I would see my `musings on the muse` featured as `Comment of the Moment` - it is indeed an honour, thank-you Thrasher! :)

At 10/02/2011 05:54:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

no, Jill the honor is all ours to you.

peace & love

At 10/02/2011 06:10:00 PM, Blogger Christian Gerard said...

"…he has so much creativity pouring through him that he has to write and record albums quickly and move on, he cannot spend too long on any one project or with any one band for too long. He has no choice but to keep up with the flow of creative energy and inspiration in order to keep it relevant and to keep it real for himself."

Couldn't agree more! Beautifully said ;)

At 10/02/2011 08:14:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

What is amazing for me is to see people of all ages attending his concerts. Do you know how that makes me feel?

1) I'm not alone
2) We're hearing the same thing
3) He must be a space traveler
4) Yes, Jill, he's still relevant

Honestly, when I saw him last -- there was a young girl about the age of 23 attending the concert all by herself. She and I walked into the concert hall together.

She had a spiral notepad so I thought she was one of the reporters from the newspapers. Turns out, she just loves his music. She heard LeNoise and wanted to write down afterward how she felt immediately following the concert because she didn't want to forget what it was like being in the presence of a real legend. She loved that song about "Love and War."

It was like, OMG!!!! This love for his music is REAL! The need to listen and to be in the company of his LIVE sound is for real.

I felt that way about Roy and Cash to tell you the truth. I felt that way about George and John. I'm sorry I did not write down somewhere what I felt like after hearing them play because I miss them soooo much right now.

There are very few people I get excited talking about the legacy of their work -- Neil is one. Bob Dylan is one. Joni Mitchell is one. Pete is another. I have a list. There are few people who have moved me in a way that no single piece of art or sculpture has moved me. Well, there was a sculpture that I saw that absolutely took my breath away but that's another time. Another dimension.

But I love that you gals & guys really get his music. That you appreciate it. That you respect every single lyric and note that he strings together.

That you want more.

At 10/02/2011 08:48:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

"He has no choice but to keep up with the flow of creative energy and inspiration in order to keep it relevant and to keep it real for himself. "

Very well said. Great post, Jill. The wonderful thing about this best of the past 25 years experiment is how it highlights the fact that there are so many gems on each album he's released, even on albums that are often considered flawed, or even dismissed utterly by most people. The magic of it is that they're not so flawed. So many people can point to different songs from different albums as favorites, and most of these albums went so far under the mainstream radar that most people have never even heard of them.

At 10/03/2011 12:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm more in Jill's vein than the original reviewer. Some of the shortest I like best. They get right to the heart of the matter. I come in on Harvest Moon.
HM: Natural Beauty
SWA: A Dream That Can Last
Mirrorball: What Happened Yesterday
BA: Scattered
Looking Forward: Slowpoke
S&G: Without Rings
AYP: She's a Healer
Greendale: Bringin Down Dinner
Prairie Wind: Falling Off the Face of the Earth
LWW: Roger and Out
Fork: Get Around
Le Noise: Love and War

At 10/03/2011 12:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And how could I forget from CDII the mammoth No Hidden Path.

At 10/03/2011 07:55:00 AM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

No Hidden Path.

What a great song, what great lyrics. He's becoming one with nature here. Maybe walking with ghosts here, you know? Thanking them.

To Whom is he talking when he sings, "And I feel my missing friend, Whose counsel I can never replace. Show me the way and I'll follow you today?"

The best part here, "And with you I feel no hidden path, no hidden path.."

Is he summoning up the spirit of a dead friend or paying homage to someone alive here?


Personally, I think he's finally reconciling with God.

At 10/03/2011 09:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My take on "No Hidden Path" is that the song is about his mother. He buried her ashes at the end of a path by the sea on his ranch. We'll never know, that's for sure.

one of eleventhousand

At 10/03/2011 12:43:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

Certainly there are a core of people in his life where his love and loyalty run very deep. Those are his "direct access" folks requiring "no hidden path."

I would hope his Mom would be at the top of that list of people with whom he shared a deep connection and trust.

It's unfortunate some of the stuff we read about his Mom thanks to "Shakey" makes her look mentally unstable, control freak. If my fucking husband left me for another woman I'd be fucking pissed, too.

Lot of it is just an opinion or observation about the way she was from people who could not be objective. Like, his first wife who never met her but formed an opinion about her just from what she was told? That doesn't seem fair. And then to put that crap in the book? Talk about misleading the readers.

McDonaugh took took too much license with Neil's life there making heroes and villians into people of his choosing and somehow inserted himself right smack in the middle as the poor protagonist overcoming this burden of writing a book about Antagonist Neil Young.

Oh Gawd, here I go 'bout that book... Astrid's book is much better.

At 10/03/2011 03:34:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Sure everybody loves RITFW, but El Dorado was his second wind and ticket into the pantheon.

At 10/03/2011 08:00:00 PM, Blogger BIGCHIEF said...

Back in the day, the U.S. 'SuperGroup' C.S.N.& Y. were often referred to as "The American Beatles". I'll take it a step farther and say that Neil Young is the American Beatles. As a solo artist, Neil has the attributes of each of the individual Beatles although his 'Yoko Ono' is 'Muse'. He has the romantic sensibilities of McCartney, the humor of Ringo, the spiritual insights of Harrison, and the quest for peace and truth regardless of the commercial consequences of Lennon. Neil's catalog of songs is probably second only to the Beatles as far as quality and relevance and standing up to the test of time. Maybe by now the Beatles are second to Neil. Am I biased? Neil has such a vast catalog of quality songs of which several, placed in the right hands, could have made many 'one hit wonders', as he did for the beautiful and talented Nicolette Larson. Time will be the true judge of Neil's position amongst the all time greats. However, the skinny kid from Canada who was advised to not attempt to sing has already become the envy of Dylan, McCartney, and Springsteen and a host of others.

At 10/03/2011 08:08:00 PM, Blogger BIGCHIEF said...

Jill, Your 'rambling' comment of the moment was beautiful and insightful. The only fault I find in it was that it could have gone on for ever and still held my interest. Good Job ... You must have been motivated by your own 'muse'!

At 10/04/2011 08:36:00 AM, Blogger Jill said...

Thank-you BC, that`s very kind of you. I`m not sure if I`m allowed to say that Neil is my `muse` as a they `re traditionally female, like a goddess, but he is certainly a huge inspiration to me, and to us all.

I love your comparison of Neil with each of the Beatles, you`re right he`s got it all. Yes you are biased , but I would say so are all of us here! I love the Beatles` music and still listen to my old records (I have Rubber Soul on my turntable right now), but I would say Neil has gone way beyond them, certainly as far as quality and relevance are concerned.

Neil has never been as mainstream as the Beatles were - he made sure of that when he ` headed for the ditch` - but that has given him so much more freedom to be creative and experimental, which, combined with his extraordinary drive and prolific output, has taken him to another higher dimension.

As you say, only time will tell how well his songs will endure, but even if he never recorded another album, if he decided to devote the rest of his career to writing or whatever, he would still be leaving behind a vast legacy of music for other artists to come along and discover and bring into the spotlight.

At 10/04/2011 09:14:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@BIGCHIEF - Lofty praise there putting Neil up there with the Beatles.
Not that we'd disagree or anything, but that's kinda the point.
For many -- if not most -- there is no comparing the 2. But in the final analysis, it's a very valid position when you like at Neil's body of work, diversity & influence.

Not that's we'd know, but I think most musicians admire Neil for sticking with the muse, staying true & having staying power. Still putting out very importatnt work 40+ years on. Not re-tread/greatest hits stuff. But genre busting thins like ... say ... oh... LeNoise.

@Jill - thanks. Neil's classics seem to have the right stuff to endure. Heck, if folks are listening to HoG a hundred years from now, that's a big legacy.

At 10/04/2011 09:47:00 AM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

I think BC did a great job ascribing Beatle attributes to Neil's genius.

Neil very much avoided the mainstream pop-music culture probably because it looked so much more dysfunctional to him. He didn't buy into that crap and he wasn't about to feed people that crap either.

For the first time, a musician really let us into his life. We started experiencing his rejection of the mainstream music culture through the images, words, and melodies he created in his songs and that weird movie he made JTTP.

It gave us "validation" as human beings. He gave us nourishment for our soul. He said, "it's okay to be different and to not always do what is expected of you." He used music to validate what we were feeling "as a humanity" at the time.

The same kind of validation & nourishment Dylan, Pete, Joni gave us through the songs they sang. The same kind of validation Fogerty gave to the guys & gals in Viet Nam when he recorded "Fortunate Son."

The Beatles & Stones gave us validation, too; I'm not saying they didn't. But their music provided a different validation &nourishment for the mainstream. There music is like "ice cream." Everybody likes ice cream, right? But I think George and John got tired of making "ice cream." And Paul, bless his heart, never gets tired of giving "ice cream" away. You can feel his "attitude" all the way through that documentary Jill mentioned. He just wants to make people feel better with his music.

At 10/04/2011 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Remember reading Carrie's story about how she was rejected by Neil for smuggling in sinsemilla to a concert because it jeopardized the safety of their child?

It must be an inflated ego (and money) that drives a person to think that laws do not apply to them. Or worse, going through life thinking money can buy your way out of any legal mishmash.

Isn't that how Spector ended up in jail? His ego and disregard for human life?

But maybe that's where we draw the line between Neil and Paul. Doing what's right instead of doing what you think you can get away with doing. (Because you know you can get away with it if you're a Beatle?)

Paul's constant run in with getting busted for pot when he was traveling with his kids. Man, if that's what ego & money buys you, that security where you have no regard for laws or the safety for your own children, I don't want it.

At 10/05/2011 10:43:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Neil Young, the perfect stranger like a cross of himself and a fox.

He sets a standard from which otheres are measured. And his versatility, his unpredictability, and his consistant inconsistancy set him apart from all others. He is multidimentional from every angle of view. He transforms and trandcends, and yet seems to come across as your best neighbor, your best friend and one to be trusted. He is genuine, intelligent,slightly calculated, mysterious, engaging, inventive, and among other things enjoyable, enlightening and a'muse'ing. I've thought and said it before, he is an artform all by himself. And nearly every new thing he does continues to prove it.


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