Comments of the Moment: Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
from album art for Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
(Click photo to enlarge)
Frankly, after running Thrasher's Wheat for over 15 years and almost a lifetime of listening to Neil Young's music, there are two things which we have found universal: 1) Neil never ceases to surprise, amaze, and confound us and 2) Neil fans never cease to surprise, amaze, and confound us.
So quite a reaction thus far to an album that no one has heard yet -- out side the Ranch crowd.
And -- based on the enlightening liner notes for Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse -- Neil fans are all over the map in their anticipation of the new album being released in June.
First, a somewhat typical comment from the naysayers and doubters crowd by karate-chop yoda:
Neil wouldn't be making albums with a children's choir if he had a friend who could tell him when he's pissing in the wind.
Children's choir = no redeeming musical value.
Just not good. I won't be buying this album. What a waste of a good band.
Naturally, that's the sort of comment that can get Neil fans -- shall we say -- spooked.
A comment from Sandy H.:
I live in the Ozarks. The "passing down" of folk music is a time-honored tradition here. It is a way of life and a demonstration of respect. It is especially cool to hear these traditional songs infused with a more "modern" interpretation.
The songs are therefore timeless.
Each new generation is made aware of the existence of this music, which otherwise might be lost. I am beside myself with anticipation of this record. After hearing "Old Susannah", I was completely stunned, shell shocked.
I can't believe there are still NY fans who are surprised at the fact that he is willing to take a completely unexpected turn.
A comment from BIGCHIEF:
Sandy, thank you for the thought provoking, open minded post which is quite a departure from what I've been hearing of late from people who have already drawn conclusions of what this record is going to sound like based on an album cover and a song list.
This recording has generated more controversy based on such limited information then any other NY record at this stage of release. People are so hungry for what their own perceptions of the perfect Crazy Horse record should sound like that they are setting themselves up for a major disappointment, guaranteed!
This will not be 'Zuma' revisited nor will it be 'Rust Never Sleeps' or EBKTIN.
Would the feedback drenched Crazy Horse fans feel any better about this record had he recorded it with the 'Oak Ridge Boys'? Such a limited memory we have when we consider how diverse Crazy Horse can be. Look at the difference the sound is on 'Lotta Love' from Comes A time' compared to the same laid back 'mountain' version on 'Year of the Horse'.
As a follower of Neil's career and his many diverse styles through the years, it shouldn't be a big surprise that Neil would choose a new path while delivering some 'old' songs. The fact that they are all covers not penned by Neil himself should also not be that big of a stretch.
This is a 'concept album' in the purist sense of the word. And then to be accused of social injustice, bigotry, racism, gender inequity, and violence by an individual who claims to be a 'fan' and gets it? That individuals Neil cred got revealed for what it is based on those comments.
This isn't going to be the record that epitomizes Crazy Horses return to greatness. They've always been great. With Neil at the reigns, the Horse is capable of taking Neil where he want's to go. However, you wont recognize 'Like A Hurricane' or 'Powderfinger'. That was a different time. This is now and in the 'big picture', this record will be just as significant in Neil's cannon of artistic expression as the others.
Just keep in mind, it took nearly 30 years for TTN to be appreciated for it's artistic relevance between EKTIN and Zuma. At least wait until you hear the songs until you draw any conclusions. Trust me, at this stage of his career, I highly doubt if this negative reaction based on a list of unheard songs is going to cause Neil to shelve the record and go into seclusion.
All of Neil's records through out his career had elements of 'Americana' influence and roots. I think Eddie Vedder may have said it best during his speech while inducting Neil into the R&R Hall Of Fame when he quoted a description of Neil's music as 'Mountain Funk'. 'Running Dry', 'Cripple Creek Ferry', 'Human Highway', to list a few of Neil penned Americana rooted songs.
This record is merely a concept Album in it's purist form of a collection of songs that best represent the spirit of the genre. The fact that this will resonate with such a diverse audience could introduce our hero to a whole new generation of listeners which in itself isn't a bad thing. Trust me, those of you who are hungry for 'Zuma II' will have your day. Remember the impact that Hendrix's 'Star Spangled Banner' had on the music world at that time.
A comment from Mr Henry:
I'll bet anything that Neil is getting a real charge out of all the consternation and conversation this new/old/new music is stirring up. Can't you just see him reading some of the comments and getting that funny smile?!
Another reason to kind of long for those good old days, back when you just bought the album and listened to it. But it is cool to know about this all ahead of time, and you can't put the genie back etc.
I am very psyched to hear this music and to hopefully hear some of it played live. Kind of Neil's version of the Harry Smith Anthology, with Crazy Horse as his band of choice. I'm sure that Harry would approve.
Liner notes are cool and should cause many to search further into the deep well of American music. Interesting mention of This Land Is Your Land and the "pre-existing melody" that Woody borrowed. It's from When The World's On Fire which is a Carter Family song. I always found it interesting that Woody took a song about end times redemption and used the melody to create a new national anthem.
The thought also occurred to me that Neil is going back further into the past, for both him and the music. And it is similar to what Dylan did and continues to do as he rediscovers and rejuvenates old music with new and new music with old.
So let's all just enjoy the new Spring and hope to see the tour date announcements that should be coming soon.
And I'll try somehow to get over my disappointment that no Dock Boggs songs were covered...maybe Americana II? I'll start working on the set list now....
Thanks Sandy, Big Chief, & Mr Henry for your comments.
As we said at the top, Neil fans never cease to amaze, delight and bring us joy.
For us, this looks to be another chapter in the journey thru the past.
We go forwards by looking back. With Americana, Neil has gone back to early Horse, early Stephen & early Squires.
It's all fascinating to watch unfold and we're just happy to be along for the ride.