Comment of the Moment: Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
As we indicated yesterday, quite a bit of discussion surrounding the themes and interpretations of the upcoming album Americana.
Here is the Comment of the Moment on More Developments on New Album Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse by Greg "A Friend Of Yours":
I've studied mostly the big points of history, the back story behind the various versions of these songs, but never understood the songs beyond their surface interpretations. Truthfully, I don't even know most of these songs, and was relying on the liner notes, and Neil being Neil.
Thos makes a very good point when he says: "music takes on a life of its own, often at odds with its author's original intentions, and it is unfair to judge a singer covering a song today because of what that song meant to someone in the past, or because of the kind of person who wrote it." However, Mother Nature on the Run makes the perfect rejoinder with: when a major recording artist is compiling an album reflecting upon the significance of Americana music, I expect that the liner notes should at least be truthful about the songs origin." This is a legitimate point, and I agree with it.
This makes the whole subject of Americana that much more interesting, and makes me ask myself the questions that have gone unasked in all this discussion: why did Neil make this album in the first place? What is his intent? Some more questions are: is Neil aware of the original song lyrics? Did he simply set out to give a fresh treatment to songs he holds dear, that bring him back full circle to his early days in Canada and with the Squires? Or is he trying to make a larger point? Does he feel that he is just making a contribution to keeping the songs alive, with the added dynamic of taking his turn adding another turn of the screw to an ongoing fish story, in the tradition of folk music? There must be a lot more questions I'm not thinking about right now besides.
I think it is controversial, and worth raising objections, but assuming that Neil is in fact aware of the first origins of these songs, I think it is his prerogative as an artist to put it out there the way he sees it, although I agree with Mother Nature on the Run that at least a few explanatory lines would be both wise and fair.
In the light of all this, I hope Neil does some extended interviews exploring his understanding of the songs, and why he chose to treat them the way he did. And I hope he will share his perspective if he too comes to find that he was not aware of the songs true origins. This is as fascinating a subject as I can remember surrounding any of Neil’s albums, and maybe even more so. I hope this discussion doesn't end here on TW, but that we hear much more along these lines. I know I for one will never hear Oh Susanna quite the same way ever again. THANK you, MNOTR.
A Friend Of Yours
Thanks A Friend Of Yours, This, MNOTR and everyone else who jumped in the fray.
Americana promises to make for interesting listening -- at the least.