Comment of the Moment: Sleeps with Angels - "It's like a room full of mirrors"
The Comment of the Moment is from the Complex Sessions videos regarding Neil Young & Crazy Horse's album Sleeps with Angels by Unknown:
Sleeps with Angels was the first Neil Young album that I bought myself as a teenager, and I still consider it as one of the best (if not *the* best) that Neil has ever created. I always thought it was quite undervalued in Neil's catalogue. Everything on this album seems to be in its place, nothing seems to be random. It's like a room full of mirrors, with references to so many things.
Of course, there's the obvious reference to Kurt Cobain's death and suicide note, that appears to have been a trigger for Neil to fall into Tonight's The Night - like dark mood. To which you find a reference in the black CD/LP label.
Musically it's some of the finest tracks that Crazy Horse has ever recorded. Not the easy forward-rocking Ragged Glory and also not the pot-induced one-song Broken Arrow, and not the convincing minimalism of Greendale, but a very versatile collection of songs where each song transports a different mood, but which at the same time does not fall apart, they still manage to come across as one album.
The album is also very interesting structurally. Blue Eden seems to be the dark center of the album. It picks up the theme from Change Your Mind ('embracing, distorting, supporting, ...') and musically leads to Safeway Cart. And references Driveby ('you feel invincible, it's just a part of life'). From there one (going backwards and forwards) songs somewhat mirror each other. Western Hero and Train of Love are the same song with different lyrics. Trans Am and Driveby have a very similar 'feel' to me. My Heart and A Dream That Can Last are the beginning and ending of the album that feel a little bit like child's songs/lullabies that wrap the enclosed darkness in peaceful tunes.
In all this well-produced darkness, Piece of Crap stands out as a .. well, piece of crap. But what a great rocker that is... and it nicely captures the feeling of that mystical generation X. Probably the best punk rock song ever done by Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Only years after I bought it, I figured out that the picture on the inside of the CD which on first sight did not really reveal much except pixel mess (maybe a building and a road?) was a picture of Neil in sunglasses.
One oddity that I remember was that the CD came with an additional sheet of paper with all the lyrics translated into german (at least here in Germany.. would be interesting to find out if there have been translations to other languages as well?). Certainly useless (lyrics like this can hardly be translated), but at the same time supports the general theme of a 'concept album'. Obviously somebody found the lyrics so important that they needed to be translated for the audience. I have never ever bought an album with translated lyrics.
I am very much looking forward to the new Neil Young and Crazy Horse material. Sleeps with angels gets me in the right mood.
More on The Complex Sessions directed by Jonathan Demme.