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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More Developments on New Album Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Geronimo in a 1905 Locomobile Model C
Photo Wikipedia
(Click photo to enlarge)


Well, much discussion, anticipation and speculation regarding the news on the album cover art and track listing for Americana, the upcoming release by Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

The album cover design has a fascinating back story.

The Americana cover is based on a photograph of Geronimo driving a car on June 11, 1905, near Ponca City, Okla. The car is a Locomobile, and the Indian in full headdress to Geronimo's left is Edward Le Clair Sr., a Ponca Indian. When Geronimo died in 1909, he was buried in the vest.

Apparently, according to album notes, the Americana cover was rescued from the 2010 warehouse fire from an earlier design in 1975. The faces of Neil Young, Billy Talbot (Geronimo), Ralph Molina, & Poncho Sampedro were pasted over the original photo for a cover that was never used.

Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse


More from Neil Young's official website:
AMERICANA is collection of classic, American folk songs. In their day, some of these may have been referred to as "protest songs", "murder ballads", or campfire-type songs passed down with universal, relatable tales for everyman.


But -- without so much as a note being heard by anyone outside the Ranch crowd -- the album already seems to be coming under criticism:

  • unoriginal, uninspiring Americana covers
  • using a children's choir
  • songs with titles like "God Save The Queen" smacking of "pro imperialism"
  • exploitation of the Native American


A comment by thezumaband:
Seems a bit premature and in some cases ideologically biased to be judging something that hasn't been heard yet.

Lighten up, folks.

And take a listen to the acoustic version of "Oh Susannah" from the Bridge concert. He's doing a dramatically different take on these iconic songs of his/my/our 50s childhood. They should be particularly heavy given the electric treatment.


"Oh! Susanna" (Live) - Dave Matthews / Neil Young - Mtn. View, Shoreline - October 23, 2011



Neil Young wearing Geronimo T-shirt - 2004
"Geronimo - My Heroes have always Killed Cowboys"
(Click photo to enlarge)


More on album cover art and track listing for Americana.

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94 Comments:

At 3/20/2012 09:00:00 PM, Blogger Sandy Horne said...

Well, as far as I'm concerned, Neil is in the driver's seat and I am just along for the ride. I will go wherever he wants to take me. I was at Bridge School and saw Oh Suzanna both nights. I am beyond excited to see what they have come up with!! thanks TW

 
At 3/20/2012 09:35:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is probably Neil's reaction to all the people whining about his songwriting the last 15-20 years

 
At 3/20/2012 10:43:00 PM, Blogger punkdavid said...

With all this talk of Geronimo, I found this interesting tidbit:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geronimo#Alleged_theft_of_skull

"Six members of the Yale secret society of Skull and Bones, including Prescott Bush, served as Army volunteers at Fort Sill during World War I. It has been claimed by various parties that they stole Geronimo's skull, some bones, and other items, including Geronimo's prized silver bridle, from the Apache Indian Prisoner of War Cemetery at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Alexandra Robbins, author of a book on Skull and Bones, says this is one of the more plausible items said to be in the organization's Tomb."

 
At 3/21/2012 12:07:00 AM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

Why didn't they leave Geronimo & friends in the picture? A cut and paste on Mt. Rushmore would be more appropriate. At least it wouldn't stink from the hypocracy being preached these days.

 
At 3/21/2012 04:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MNOTR, that is what happened to the album "Deep Purple In Rock" back in 1970.

 
At 3/21/2012 07:11:00 AM, Blogger MARIAN M. said...

Thrasher:

I agree with Sandy Horne, I'm just along for the ride....

I wish people could relax just a little bit and wait until we have the piece of art in our hands before commenting on the content.

Many thanks to Neil for wanting to preserve something good for our children and generations to come!

I'm anticipating a great gift come June 5.

Always happy when it comes to Neil,

Marian M.

 
At 3/21/2012 08:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

MNOTR, if you could be so kind, can you please list the organizations that deal in a positive way with the issues you are concerned about, that try to improve them, and detail your involvement with each?

I certainly don't want to read your anger with Neil Young's choice of band name and album artwork/songs, and then find out that you yourself do nothing but complain about it on the internet.

I would really hope that is not the case, as that would actually be 'hypocrisy'.

 
At 3/21/2012 08:39:00 AM, Anonymous Keith Burris said...

I also agree with Sandy, and Marion. This is going to be a tremendous record. And great fun. Lets's count our blessings and hope for a tour

 
At 3/21/2012 09:31:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

MNOTR tends to be quite vitriolic towards this new record. Yesterday she called the title of Neil's book "bullshit".

Whatever.

Oh and just because something is on Wikipedia doesn't make it true...

 
At 3/21/2012 09:42:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher said...

Sandy & Marian - thanks for stopping by and having some faith.

"And, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

 
At 3/21/2012 09:45:00 AM, Blogger Old Black said...

Geez! It's JUST an album cover - it's not a statement on man's inhumanity to man or Europeon enslavement of First Nations. It's a cool cover.

 
At 3/21/2012 10:05:00 AM, Blogger WBKM.org said...

What I am hearing in my head, imagining what this band will do to these songs...well it's just driving me nuts! A British reviewer once said that Neil and CH are "like the rusty hinges on the gates to Heaven". That still says it fine for me...so saddle up, and sure, Geronimo, you can come along too if you'd like...

 
At 3/21/2012 10:30:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

@Anon, I apologize if my comments tresspass upon your fanatic love for Neil and everything he does. The band's name, cover art, and choice of songs are superfluous.

I also apologize if you read "anger" in my tone. Anger is a foreign emotion to me. On the contrary, I am observed to be fun-loving, caring, tenacious, giving, compassionate, and hard working.

Since you asked, I am a work in progress like most humans. I am guided by work ethics and practices which clash directly with the cultural hypocracy about which I speak. Since you asked, I work on behalf of humanity promoting self-sustainablity, goodwill, compassion, non-violence, and responsible safekeeping of our planet.

Why did they cut and paste their faces into the Geronimo and his friends? It removes the signficance, humanity, and light-heartedness of the people in the photograph.

 
At 3/21/2012 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Dug said...

Grow up everyone, Its just a freakin album. This is just an album, thats all. Music can't change the world. The content on this site is dimminishing.

Anywho, I'm looking forward to the album. And I don't give a flying frogs fatass if the album is good or not. I got bigger problems in life than worring about Neils music and his choice for Album covers.

Having said that history says the album will sit in my player for weeks on end. Keep up the good work Neil.

Dug

 
At 3/21/2012 11:45:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

@JONATHON,

Vitriolic?

Just because I referenced "Waging Heavy Peace" as a bullshit title? Does he think he's Mother Teresa or Gandhi or Dr. King, Jr.? It's not my nature to believe everything people write about themselves especially when I've observed there are many sides to the telling of history.

What made Dr. King, Jr. a great man was the work he did in the area of civil rights. His writings, his speeches, and his efforts speak for itself. Mark Twain held off releasing his auto-biography because he wanted time to be the test of his contribution as a human being.

Neil is a survivor who had the dumb luck to stay in a business that devours and shreds people into pulp. Instead, it made him rich so could continue pursuing what he likes to do. More power to Neil and fans. Fortunately for Neil, it's good that memory has it's own failing qualities. And he has lot of retelling of the inconsistencies that were pointed out by previous biographers. Nothing like wanting to set the record straight so everyone can be on the same page, right?

I love the music he's made over the years and I do believe most of it has had a positive impact on our cultural precept. But I am not blinded by a loyalty or love for something or someone just because they wrote good music and maybe changed lives in a good way. Even though I firmly believe his heart has always been in the right place, in my book the ends do not justify the means. I'm not judging him or anyone else. I'm just saying I'm suspect of anyone carefully crafting their life history. To the victors go the spoils?

 
At 3/21/2012 12:09:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Looking at the cover art one more time, I almost see it as a parody of Americana or how most perceive it. It's the only part of life we can control. Families sitting around a campfire or parlour, singing songs, having fun, and afterward return to the dysfunction defining their life.

Kumbaya! Because it's what we do best when we can't do anything else!

 
At 3/21/2012 12:31:00 PM, Blogger punkdavid said...

Teh interwebz: It's serius bizniss.

 
At 3/21/2012 12:45:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

You are right PunkDavid!

I think the comment of the moment is this one:

At 3/20/2012 12:20:00 PM, theloner said...

~HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!

 
At 3/21/2012 01:55:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Ok MNOTR my apologies...but the shoe seems to fit reasonably well...you seem angry...I'm picturing Kathy Bates' character in the movie 'About Schmidt'...an obscure reference I know...lol...

Why is Geronimo wearing a top hat?

 
At 3/21/2012 02:16:00 PM, Blogger MARIAN M. said...

Thrasher:

I always stop by first thing in the morning before work! You always brighten my mornings!!!

I only comment when I feel I have something worth saying.

God made man to love and to be loved.... I'm sorry for people who spend their days never happy and always complaining about something.

Unfortunately, I know too many people like this.

That's why I always try to keep my comments positive and loving.

Keep on rocking!!!!!

Marian M.

 
At 3/21/2012 03:09:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Americana:(n)..a 2012 Neil Young album;(v)..like singing the same old songs, and twisitng the words in a different way; (adj) the mindblowing expectation of armageddon, the second coming and the apocalypse rolled into one.

Panned by critics and fans alike before a single note was heard.

 
At 3/21/2012 10:03:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

Ditto on Sandy Horne and Marian M. Plan on buying the CD unheard, and in great anticipation of which direction Neil has headed, like I have with every album starting with Harvest. I've never been disappointed, and after a while never surprised.

A Friend Of Yours

 
At 3/22/2012 03:57:00 AM, Blogger peter d. said...

I fear the most... those who say they are never angry.

"It's not my nature to believe everything people write about themselves..."

Someone said that... or something like that.

 
At 3/22/2012 06:30:00 AM, Blogger asg said...

I have a better title for Neil's auto-bio...NOT SHAKEY, JUST RESTLESS...

AND I'm kinda surprised at you Neil fans who haven't yet figured out that Neil does what HE wants when HE wants if HE wants...NOBODY ELSE'S opinion matters

 
At 3/22/2012 07:42:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

LOL Jonathan! Geronimo is wearing a top hat because the invitation read "black tie."

 
At 3/22/2012 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Peter, Anger is an end result. It's never been about the destination, it's about the journey. Anger is just a destination - so I work on the journey. Sure we make mistakes on the journey, but don't try to re-write the journey to justify how you arrived at the destination.

Actions in my book always speak louder than words. Words, words, between the lines of age...

 
At 3/22/2012 08:22:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Maybe I'm a little disappointed at the album concept. I thought Crazy Horse (the band) would be doing something more original. Instead, I hear echoing down from the mountain top, All Hail Sesame Street, God Save The Queen, Gitalong Little Doggies, and Yeehaaw.

Well Yeehaw back.

 
At 3/22/2012 09:10:00 AM, Blogger Jasper Shields said...

Perhaps it will sound a bit like Neils take of "Home on the Range" from the soundtrack, Where the Buffalo Roam?
Seems like the same genre anyway

 
At 3/22/2012 09:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been a Neil's affectionate for 30 years and
I am sadly ready to get the nth bullshit album... I cannot even remember when I heard his last worth to be bought record... was it Mirrorball?
It is sad when people worship an old elephant for what he did in the past.

 
At 3/22/2012 10:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

His last worth to be bought record was Le Noise. And we prefer to think in a loving way that he is an old dinosaur. Not an elephant. Having said that , elephants are cool family animals. Humans think it's okay to kill the complete population of elephants in Cameroon. That's what's happening right now while we are talking about something none of us have listened to.
Peace and love and Crazy Horse!

 
At 3/22/2012 10:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on, folks. When Dylan did "Good as I been to you " and "World Gone Wrong" it was not only artistically successful, it rejuvenated his writing and his best work in twenty years came shortly after ,

Springsteen does Pete Seeger and the general reaction was positive. You would think after forty some years we would maybe realize that Neil Young has a better idea of what Neil Young needs to do than we do. (not to mention that NO ONE HAD HEARD A NOTE OF THIS YET).
Pinto(or Flounder)

 
At 3/22/2012 10:03:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops, his last worth to be bought record was A Treasure.

 
At 3/22/2012 10:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't wait to blast she'll be coming around the mountain while my neighbors are booming I'll blow you with a bang.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:06:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

The difference is that Springsteen did "sessions" of Pete's work. It was a tribute to Pete's artistry as a folk legend, social activist, and historian. The difference is that Springsteen's fans didn't get on a bandwagon AFTER saying "look, it's just music, folks." That would have been offensive to Bruce and Pete, don't you think?

Americana music isn't "just music" and cute cut and paste. It tells the story about people, their hardships, and struggles. Unless of course you're being ironic.

Cut and paste over a great American leader and warrior is like cutting him out of "Americana" which is exactly what white people have been doing ever since the first Europeans landed on our eastern seaboard.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:55:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Susannah
Oh, Susannah
This song written by Stephen Foster was originally performed on September 11, 1847. The Americana version was arranged with a new melody by Tim Rose and was originally performed by The Big Three in 1963, and updated by Tim Rose and the Thorns in 1964. This band did a lot of arrangements of folk songs that were changed to be rock and roll songs and called folk-rock. Tim Rose was one of the pioneers of folk- rock. Much of the music of Americana is based on this idea.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clementine
This American folk ballad is believed to be based on “Down By The River Liv’d a Maiden” by H.S. Thompson 1863. However, it is usually credited to Percy Montrose, 1884 or Barker Bradford from about the same period. The Americana arrangement extends the folk process, using many of the original words and a new melody. The song tells the story of either a bereaved lover recalling his lost sweetheart, or a father missing his lost daughter. In both cases the daughter has drowned in an accident. The song is now famous as an American children’s song. The verse about Clementine’s sister has been omitted from most children’s versions. This verse has different meanings depending on whether the point of view of the singer is taken as the lover or the father.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:56:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Dula
This folk song, writer unknown, is based on the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster, who was stabbed to death with a knife in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Tom Dula, a confederate soldier returned from the war and Laura Foster's lover, was convicted of her murder and hanged May 1, 1868. Grayson, mentioned in the song, was instrumental in supplying information to the posse that eventually found Dula. Dula had another lover, prior to his leaving for the war, named Anne Melton. It was her comments that led to the discovery of Foster’s body. She was charged with murder but was acquitted based on Dula’s word. Dula’s last statement on the gallows was “Gentlemen, do you see this hand? I didn’t harm a hair on the girl’s head.” Anne Melton died insane a few years later. The Americana arrangement is from The Squires with a new melody and the original lyrics.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gallows Pole
This centuries-old folk song, writer unknown, probably originates in Finland. It is about a woman condemned to die and telling the hangman to wait because someone was coming to rescue her with either money (gold) or information proving her innocence. The folk process enhanced this over the years and it has had many interpretations. The Americana arrangement, which assumes the condemned is a man, is based on Odetta’s interpretation, now an enduring American folk classic.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get A Job
A song about a man who has not been able to find work, and is assumed lazy and a liar by his woman, “Get A Job” is included in Americana because it is a genuine folk song with all of the true characteristics. This song was written by Richard Lewis of the Silhouettes, although credit is shared with the whole group because they did the vocal arrangement. The hit recording performed by The Silhouettes was released in 1957. The Americana version follows the original arrangement.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Travel On
“Gotta Travel On”, adapted by Paul Clayton and others from a British folk tune, was recorded by Billy Grammer in 1958. His version is an American classic. The song tells of a man who has to keep moving for a variety of reasons, all common with American life. The Americana arrangement is based on Billy Grammer’s version with some lyric changes.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

High Flyin’ Bird
Written by Billy Edd Wheeler, this is a folk song performed by The Company in 1964. Stephen Stills was the lead singer. The song is about freedom, life and death. The Americana arrangement is based on The Squires’ 1964 version.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

High Flyin’ Bird
Written by Billy Edd Wheeler, this is a folk song performed by The Company in 1964. Stephen Stills was the lead singer. The song is about freedom, life and death. The Americana arrangement is based on The Squires’ 1964 version.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus’ Chariot (She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain)
Written in the 1800s based on an old Negro spiritual, this song refers to the second coming of Jesus and “she” is the chariot Jesus is coming on. Some interpret this as the end of the world. Others have said that “she” refers to union organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones going to promote formation of labor unions in the Appalachian coal mining camps. The Americana arrangement continues the folk process with a new melody, a new title and a combination of lyric sources.

 
At 3/22/2012 11:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Land Is Your Land
This folk song was written by Woody Guthrie in the 1940s to a pre-existing melody as a response to “God Bless America” which Guthrie was tired of hearing. The lyrics Guthrie sang varied over time, but the lyrics sung in the Americana version were in the original manuscript of the song.

 
At 3/22/2012 12:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wayfarin’ Stranger
This 19th century folk song is about a soul traveling through life, perhaps envisioning the end approaching. The Americana arrangement is influenced by the Burl Ives 1944 recording, with the same words and melody.

 
At 3/22/2012 12:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Save The Queen
Written in the 18th century with possible melodic roots in the 17th century, this anthem has been sung throughout the British Commonwealth and may have been sung in North America before the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence in 1776, which rejected British sovereignty. The Americana arrangement draws from the original melody and changes some melody and lyrics in the folk process, also adding lyrics of the same melody taken from “My Country ’Tis Of Thee”, in recognition of the war of Independence and America’s transition to freedom.

 
At 3/22/2012 12:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

STAY TUNED TO HEAR THE FIRST SONG SOON

 
At 3/22/2012 12:18:00 PM, Anonymous karate-chop yoda said...

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.

 
At 3/22/2012 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

"Cut and paste over a great American leader and warrior is like cutting him out of "Americana" which is exactly what white people have been doing ever since the first Europeans landed on our eastern seaboard."

Did you ever stop to think that maybe placing yourself onto someone else could be a form of respect and admiration? The pasting isn't onto Hitler, etc., it's onto someone Neil obviously respects, unless someone can step forward and show me otherwise. Same thing for the songs, they are traditional forms of commentary that retain present day relevance. If Neil and the Horse think they can breathe new life into them, I'm ready to hear them out. Anyways, I think Neil would be howling if he saw some of these comments.

A Friend Of Yours

 
At 3/22/2012 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Tim Clark said...

God save The Queen. Well he is Canadian after all.

 
At 3/22/2012 01:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from some rabid fans, most people regarded Le Noise as basically unlistenable. If I ever put that album on while riding in the car with my buddies, there would be howls of protest within the first 45 seconds. It wasn't always this way . . . .

 
At 3/22/2012 01:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All the fans will buy this album because Neil is there favorite charity. Some kid will get this dvd for his birthday and wonder WTF, my Da (or Mum) spends more time with this old dude who looks like the cat in the hat than he does me. Screw you, Neil Young, you ruined my birthday!

 
At 3/22/2012 01:46:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Maybe this was the forshadowing of the current reactions?

Some see life as a broken promise
Some see life as a endless fight
They think they live in the age of darkness
They think they live in the age of light

It's a angry world
And everything is gonna be alright
Yeah it's a angry world
Yeah it's a angry world

Some see life as hope eternal
Some see life as a business plan
Some wish some would go to hells inferno
For screwing with their life in freedom land

It's a angry world
For the business man and the fisherman
It's a angry world
And no doubt everything will go as planned

Yeah it's a angry world
Yeah it's a angry world

 
At 3/22/2012 02:03:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Greg,

Showing respect for the family and friends of a great American hero, great warrior, and leader would be cutting and pasting an image of himself and bandmates around the figures in the photograph like the Beatles did on their cover. Sorry, Neil doesn't get a free "go pass" from Mother Nature on this one just because he wrote a song using my name. How would Neil like it if some band doing a tribute to Neil Young's family songs and cut and pasted their images into that picture of him driving his car with Peg & Ben?

Respect, man. Show some respect.

 
At 3/22/2012 02:09:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Sony, I don't think anyone is angry here. Personally, I think it's rather comical that people don't get the irony.

If it's "just" cover art, "just" a song, than that's what it is, right? So if it's "just" an album, then there is nothing special about it? So Neil apparently doesn't give a flying pig what he puts out because afterall it's just music, folks.

Did you know that Peter Seeger took an ax to when Dylan showed up at a folk festival with his electric guitar?

 
At 3/22/2012 02:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow... I've been away for a few month's and this has turned into the anti-Neil site. At least when we were criticizing Fork in the Road we had actually heard some of it. And Mother Nature- what happened? You used to be an eloquent voice of reason and now you're a shrill, self-righteous pain in the rear. Neil has been recording with a group called Crazy Horse for over 40 years and now it's an issue? Neil had been using native American imagery in his songs since Broken Arrow and now, suddenly, he 's desecrating them? I'll check back after we've actually heard the music to see if everyone has come to their senses, but I'm not holding my breath.
Pinto(or Flounder)

 
At 3/22/2012 02:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Show some respect for the HORSE. THe HOLLY HORSE IS BACK. And now, let's wait !

 
At 3/22/2012 05:32:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Maybe it's the fact that I skipped Spring and headed straight into Summer. I've got summer perennials out with the crocus and bulb plants that have been out since December. Weird, huh? No one is talking about that, either.

Where is Spring? Come'n' around the mountain I hope and driving 6 white horses...

 
At 3/22/2012 07:46:00 PM, Blogger Thos said...

The reason I am currently in an 'angry world' is cos every time I come here the oh-so-perfect holier-than-thou MNOTR is having a whinge about something else. If it's not how disgraceful it is that Neil young has to hold a benefit to make folks think of the disabled kids, or that the British still rule the northern tip of Ireland, it is now that he is apparently disrespecting someone who has been dead for over a century. And then tries to make out that we are pessimists because we aren't growing bulbs in our gardens...

And now Neil young is evilly rewriting his own history because he is writing an autobiography! Which you haven't even read!

Get lost MNOTR, your passive aggression is tedious and hypocritical.

Ps: thank you VERY much to the anonymous poster who has put up background info to each track, sounds both fascinating and very promising!

 
At 3/22/2012 08:50:00 PM, Blogger Ringmaster said...

I see that Neil could be taking a giant dump on his guitar and people here would still be calling it a masterpiece. Oh well...
There is a good reason why he hates his own fans.

 
At 3/23/2012 10:42:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

I have no control. Thos., over what you or other people read into my comments. I have long been a supporter for the work at the Bridge program. I'm sorry if you feel guilt from supporting a superior program.

Reconciliation is a painful process to anyone who wanders willfully into it. Whether it's in regard to the history of first nation or Catholic Irish.

Someone once wrote that freedom from guilt and influence is the greatest liberty. Unfortunately history tells us that liberty comes at the expense of other people.

 
At 3/23/2012 07:16:00 PM, Blogger Matthew Lintzenich said...

ONCE AGAIN, 90% of the ignorant, stupid, hateful, disparaging comments come from "Anonymous" posters.

These comments are filled with complete ignorance, and absolute stupidity. If I were these anonymous people, I would be embarrassed to reveal myself too. Idiots.


I guess MNOTR brings up a somewhat interesting point, but I think that she is missing the whole point of the album cover. I think those 4 are supposed to be the band. So, they've superimposed the band into a historical picture. "Americana" Get it?

It's not an attempt to undermine the legacy of Native American culture by altering history, or erasing people from photos. You are looking way, way, way too deeply into something and interpreting it in a way that it is pretty damn obvious that it was never meant to be interpreted in.

I don't mean to be offensive, particularly not to Mother Nature... I very much value your posts on this site MNOTR, but I think you're... I don't know, projecting or something, and totally tripping on this.

As for all the anonymous scumbags with their hateful drivel... blehhhh, you people need to get lives, and maybe a bit more intelligence.

There's my rant.

I love you Thrash and Thrashette!!! Thanks for your continued dedication to this awesome site and to Neil and his muse!

 
At 3/23/2012 10:45:00 PM, Blogger BIGCHIEF said...

Once again Thrasher, thank you for your site and the effort you put forth in giving us a forum to express our thoughts as diverse as they may be at times, that's truly the modern day spirit of Americana. MNOTR, As for the cut and paste photos, I really think the sad irony is how the great warrior, Geronimo, was forced to live in a 'gated community' otherwise known as a reservation. And to make matters worse, was put in this position as a 'photo op' I'm certain, as an example to his fellow warriors that he had peacefully submitted to the ways of the white man. I'm certain that he would have much rather been allowed to remain free to live the life of a free red man where the Buffalo roamed rather then to be dressed as a white man in a top hat on an 'iron horse'. That was the beginning of the end for the Native American way of life as they knew it and they have never recovered from the lies and broken treaties. So that was the real injustice as I see it. But as far as to criticize Neil or Tom Wilke's, the artist behind the concept for the 'art' which was actually made in the mid seventies for another album that was shelved, I think were making much of nothing. Through out history, there's been too many injustices against mankind to begin to list here, nor is this the proper forum to even attempt to do so. however, as far as injustices are concerned, I think pasting a bands pictures over an old photograph and re-recording a few American classic songs would fall very low on the scale of relevance of injustices against humanity. We need to lighten up here and just enjoy the music for what it was intended to do, promote harmony and happiness and create an atmosphere where fun and good times can be had for all. I've heard many accusations aginst Neil over the years, but social injustice, bigotry, violence, gender inequity, and racism has never been mentioned in the same sentence as his name from what I can ever recall, until now.

 
At 3/24/2012 05:22:00 AM, Blogger Thos said...

Exactly my point. I'm not saying you're a bad person MNOTR, I suspect you are a very good person - but your recent posts seem to be just trying to guilt-trip people who have different opinions to you or who interpret things in different ways. You can easily state your (mostly valid) opinions without trying to make others feel bad for not having that same opinion.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing this!

 
At 3/24/2012 10:27:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Thos., Thanks for that response. Nothing beneficial to humans can be accomplished through guilt trips. Hopefully it's done out of love and respect. On the other hand, I can't possibly imagine what I wrote that would guilt anyone. Am I shaming people by observing the richest country in the world can't provide free public education for kids with disabilities? Am I shaming people because there are families of first nation status living in poverty & valued only when they dress up in feathers to put on show? My gripe about the photograph is just the tip of the iceburg, really. It's not just Neil, really. It's this entire cultural practice perpetuating itself generation after generation. I notice it because maybe I'm closer to it.

 
At 3/24/2012 11:02:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

BigChief, Do you really think a guy like Geronimo had to be coerced into sitting in a Cadillac? Or wearing that fancy hat?

He's a goddamned human being.

What fricking human being do you know wouldn't be razzle dazzled by such a beautiful piece of machinery?

What kind of notion is that thinking that first nation are against progress or advancements in technologies? They were as intrigued and curious just like any other human being. In fact, some of the women said, screw this tanning shit, I'm getting that durable Army Canvas.

 
At 3/24/2012 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

MNOTR, I have been struggling to understand where you are coming from exactly, and of course sometimes the written word just adds to the confusion of people trying to analyze the exact nuance of what someone is trying to say. It can't be true I don't think, but sometimes it seems that you see the past as a vast black hole, with nothing present but the abuses you rightly point out. I myself have spent a lot of time and energy dwelling on these things, to the annoyance of just about everyone around me. But I have learned over the years that this is just one part of the story. Life is a mystery in myriad ways, and therefore a challenge sometimes to view in a positive light. I think it is more than possible tho, whenever there is a good faith effort.

Let’s just take the age of 19th century American expansion as an example. No one needs to defend the position that western expansion, and economic growth in general in America, was one of the darkest periods in all of recorded history, or that this darkness was perpetrated almost exclusively by white Europeans, fresh off their equally dark machinations in Europe and elsewhere, and preceding their even darker 20th century activities. One can easily make the case that white people, and white men in particular, have been the proximate cause of nearly all of our troubles. One can also make the case that this blight of historical events is a ramp up to an inevitable cataclysm, of both natural and human proportions,, but let’s leave that alone for the present. The point I would like to make is that simultaneous to all these travesties, there has yet been a subtle and admittedly slow progress of the human heart and mind, in spite of it all, and in fact, because of it all. You are the perfect example.

Getting back to the 19th century, tho, the evil of slavery was ended in part because of good hearted people who stood up to demand its abolition. Now, you can make the argument that the Civil War was fought for reasons having nothing to do with slavery, an argument I myself have advanced, and that the issue of slavery was used as a contrived pretext to war, but that does not diminish the fact that white people still stood up for the morality in the issue, and created a substantial break from the past in this respect. Is that to say that the guises of slavery, racial discrimination, and prejudice went away? Of course not. But even here, white people stood up in various ways to support blacks in their effort to push the process of civil rights forward, a process that still needs pushing forward. I’m 53, and can remember my first interactions with black people. We didn’t even know what to say to each other, hell, we couldn’t even understand each other from the standpoint of language. But over the years I have worked alongside, gone to school with, and become friends with black people. We’ve been able to communicate with each other in many deep and profound ways. Does that mean I am free from prejudice, and an enlightened being? No, again, but I like to think I’m improving. Likewise, I did not vote for Obama, for the same reasons I didn’t vote for McCain, (again we’ll leave this alone for the present), but I was overjoyed when he was elected, and wrote so to all my family and friends, not only because of the moral and historical imperative it represented, but also because of the fact that there were so many Americans who had grown past all the reasons we all grew up believing it would never happen. This is an indisputable thing, even in the midst of its opposite reality in this country.

 
At 3/24/2012 12:34:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

As far as our history as a nation in the genocide of American Indians, and the cultural abuse and neglect that has been present right up to the present, what can I say? It’s still there in any number of ways, and I am a part of our failure as a nation to redress these wrongs. But this does not make me someone who has actively taken part in abuse, or someone who is attempting to consciously white wash (no pun intended) our collective guilt and shame as a people for what we have done in the past, and are still doing to a lesser degree in the present. It does not diminish the respect I have for native wisdom and world view, e.g. the recent activity of the Hopi. In recent years, I worked with a native American woman who works with reservations throughout the US and Canada to introduce the cultivation of industrial hemp on native lands. It didn’t get off the ground because of legality issues, but we still tried, and we still may be able to create like projects in the future, if we could as a nation get our collective heads out of our collective asses. When I was younger my friends and I used to get in shouting arguments with some of our parents, and with teachers in school, who wanted us to just “grow up and accept the past, there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s done.” We were trying ineffectually to make the argument that as a country we never learned from this experience, that we were still guilty of the things that caused us to treat the Indians in the way we did, in our treatment of any number of issues, including the Vietnamese, and right up to our present treatment of Middle Eastern Arabs even as I write. O.K., we haven’t overcome these things yet, and perhaps never will, in the absence of a cataclysmic change in our conditions as a species here on earth, but does this mean that you or I haven’t changed in the process? I don’t believe that.

Getting back to the genesis of this whole discussion- Americana, I don’t see how the musical treatment of traditional folk music, as a way of continuing into the present a basis of protest, and the raising of a reminder of cultural and human deprivations, etc., that you yourself, Mother, have raised, is somehow a detraction, or insensitivity on Neil’s part. Isn’t he raising once again to the ears of anyone who will listen, the very arguments that you have been making in your life, and have been trying to do something about? How is shining a light on a past that, yes, was replete with wrong, but which was also occasioned by right, a denial or excusing away of the wrong? Do you really believe that this is Neil’s intent? I don’t think that you can justifiably make that case. I think you know that Neil has been sympathetic to the American Indian, both in song form, and in his personal actions. “Waging Heavy Peace”? I have no idea exactly what this means, but I’m willing to wait for the book to come out, and read it first, to draw my own conclusions. Maybe it will be as you intimate, vainglorious and self aggrandizing, who knows? But why assume the worst? Has this man not accumulated enough moral and kind hearted capital to afford him some form of benefit of the doubt? I think he has, and don’t believe that it makes me a sycophant.

mnaxi ssibill

 
At 3/24/2012 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

Maybe what I am saying can be reduced to just this: why assume the worst? Maybe I should have spared you my long windedness, it’s a personal flaw sometimes, but I’m just trying to get at the heart of what you seem to be saying, and maybe contribute a different perspective. This country, as emblematic of its past, is far from perfect. But you and I, Neil, this world are also not perfect. We make our mistakes, but we also learn from them and attempt to do better. Sometimes we are successful at it, and sometime we do better all by itself, and not as a dynamic of personal failure.

MNOTR, I hope you take my comments in the light they are intended, and forgive my inadvertent attribution to you of anything that is not true. I also hope you forgive my imperfect ability to pinpoint accurately what I am trying to say, or what you have been trying to say. Sometimes words are not enough, but we can try, right?

A Friend Of Yours

 
At 3/24/2012 05:09:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Maybe at the core is telling the truth about our Americana history. That's all. Let's be honest. For example, in the liner notes. Did you see the reference in "My Country 'Tis of Thee?" Shouldn't it read:

"My Country 'Tis of Thee" is in recognition of the War of Independence marking the end of British rule for the new American colonies and the beginning of land encroachment and genocide of the culturally diverse-indigenous population.

I guess that photo is in the public domain now so people are free to do as they please with it. It's part of that liberty and freedoming clause ringing in our ear.

 
At 3/24/2012 06:58:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

You write that the liner notes for God Save The Queen could be: "'My Country 'Tis of Thee' is in recognition of the War of Independence marking the end of British rule for the new American colonies and the beginning of land encroachment and genocide of the culturally diverse-indigenous population", but couldn't you also see it as the note concludes: "also adding lyrics of the same melody taken from “My Country ’Tis Of Thee”, in recognition of the war of Independence and America’s transition to freedom." To me this means that the thrust of the song may be ironic (I haven't heard the song or seen the lyrics), because the very use of the song turns it on its head by emphasizing the rejection of royalty, and the embrace of independence and freedom.

Now people can quibble about what we as a nation have done with this independence and freedom- you can count me as one of those, but then maybe that is exactly what Neil is doing by holding the heels of the present condition of the country up to its original ideal, thereby placing himself firmly in the tradition of folk music as protest. I don't know. I find it hard to believe, tho, despite his Canadian roots, that Neil is pining away for a return to some idealized form of monarchy, which again points back to some form of irony.

Is it really possible that the man who wrote Peaceful Valley Boulevard, and Pocahontas, has now just suddenly forgotten the truth of American history you refer to? Do we have to preface every point of view with a restatement of a history that has never been in dispute, not by Neil anyways, or most people here on Thrashers Wheat? To me it is the very recognition of these historical truths that underpin the use of these folk songs as protest, to juxtapose our present condition in the context of traditional music, which was itself protesting the truth of our history in America.

We could go 'round and 'round with this, but let's just leave it with the question of intent: is Neil putting out an album using the construct of folk songs to glorify an indefensible history, or trash the memory of Crazy Horse? I just don't see it. Is the particular use of a photo an indelicate way for the band to create solidarity with a giant from the past? Perhaps, but again I ask, why assume the worst?

A Friend Of Yours

 
At 3/24/2012 09:17:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

It's the "America's transition to freedom" that's misleading. Freedom and independence for whom? Women? No. Slaves? No. Indigenous? No. Loyalists? Hell, the one's that weren't butchered or hanged escaped into Ontario. Freedom and independence for white males only.

I don't think I'm assuming the worst. I'm advocating for the truth. Cutting Geronimo out of his photograph is exactly what the white European culture has been doing for the last 300 years. Singing songs promoting white superiority is exactly that. Go ahead and sing it. It's not intentional, I'm sure. For along time, people didn't understand why the Confederate Flag was offensive to some. Give Neil some slack because he's been sympathetic to the first nation because of the song's he's written? Why that's patronizing him!

 
At 3/24/2012 11:13:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

I've read and reread the notes several times, and just don't see a thread of white supremacy. Among other subjects, I see men who feel they have been wronged, men caught up in circumstances beyond their control, a slave perspective, a women's criticism of her man, another women's advocacy for union rights, and various issues pertaining to freedom. Maybe it needs to be pointed out to me, where is the white supremacy? The omission of a blow by blow enumeration of all the wrongs committed by white men amounts to the denial of all these wrongs, wrongs which no one is disputing? On what basis can it be said that Neil is antagonistic towards native Americans? An edited photograph, which Neil has thus far not commented upon? I can't speak for anyone but myself, but until I hear compelling information to the contrary, I'll reserve judgement.

A Friend Of Yours

 
At 3/25/2012 10:35:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Greg, As a student of early folk music, I understood "Oh Susanna" was initially a hateful white supremist song. Omitted from the song is this stanza which was performed in blackface mocking African-American slave history:

"Jump'd aboard the telegraph and trabbled down de ribber,
De lectrick fluid magnified, and kill'd five hundred Nigga.
De bulgine bust and de hoss ran off, I really thought I'd die;
I shut my eyes to hold my bref--Susanna don't you cry."

We re-write our Americana the same way - we omit or exclude what doesn't serve our purpose and move on. Just like what Wilkes did with the photograph. Was it intentional? Of course not. It's just ignorance, that's all. There's a lot of things about which I am ignorant. I don't know the first thing about reading music and I really don't want to learn.

 
At 3/25/2012 10:50:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Thanks Matt. I am tripping big time here because it's a subject matter dear to my heart. I'm with Sandy about preserving the songs of our early Americana history. I'm not asking the liner notes to be a historical document. I'm asking that they be truthful about the songs origins.

 
At 3/25/2012 11:07:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

The liner notes for "Oh Susanna" should begin with, "Originally performed in blackface stereotyping newly freed slaves..."

I'm not asking for a historical document. Just a few line telling the truth about the song's origins and why it survived as a favorite children's song.

 
At 3/25/2012 11:30:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

It also presumed that "Gallows Pole" quickly assimilated into Americana because watching hangings and lynchings were considered a form of public entertainment documented in photographs, personal letters, and newspaper articles.

 
At 3/25/2012 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Odetta recorded this song as a reminder about the harsh reality for American men of African ancestory murdered by lynchings and hangings.

There are photographs of townspeople outside of Indianapolis gathering to watch a lynching/hanging as late as 1950. The atmosphere in the photograph is one of a picnic going on. People eating cotton candy and smiling over the hangings.

http://withoutsanctuary.org/main.html

 
At 3/25/2012 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

it is is unfortunate that the meaning of these songs is completely lost in the liner notes. But that's what you get when you have people delving into delicate subject matter about which they know nothing.

I don't believe Odetta or Judy Collins or Pete Seeger sang these folk songs "just because they were favorite children songs."

 
At 3/25/2012 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Thos said...

Songs, and folk songs in particular, take on a life of their own once written. Some people who sang or heard 'Oh Susanna' may have been actively racist, adding verses or mocking black people. Others saw it as a children's song without any racial context. One song can have many different trajectories, but you seem to suggest that we merely focus on the negative ones.

If we follow your argument, then anyone who covers Paul McCartney's 'Blackbird' should mention that it inspired the Manson killings in the liner notes to their album.

Or that the Velvet Underground should never have written 'Heroin' because, actually, that drug ruins a lot of people's lives, and there are still those who live with the injustice of losing a loved one to drugs, and they may find it offensive or upsetting.

Or when Neil Young sings ''I've seen your black man coming round / Swear by God I'm gonna cut him down'' he is meaning it literally, and is therefore a racist.

Just singing a lyric didn't mean you believe it, and not mentioning every single aspect of a folk song's long and varied history in a paragraph doesn't make you ignorant or deliberately misleading. I think you are being very unfair to someone who has openly challenged racism throughout his career.

Best wishes, thos.

 
At 3/25/2012 12:46:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Thanks, Thos. for your response. The difference is "Oh Suzanna" was written mocking Americans of slave ancestory. His significance as a songwriter is that he captured the essence of post-Civil war bigotry and racism in his songs. Remember? Foster de-humanizes Americans of slave ancestory why Twain tries to "humanize" Jim in "Huckleberry Finn." I think that's 5th grade American History circa 1960s.

 
At 3/25/2012 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Thos said...

Ah, I am both too young and non-American so have not heard these terms before! However, I do stand by my comments; 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. Wagner was anti-Semitic; John Lennon treated his first wife very badly; Sid Vicious murdered someone; Miles Davis made racist statements... But their music exists beyond them and their flawed personalities or opinions.

Even the British nursery rhyme 'ring-a-ring of roses' is about people dying of the plague in the Middle Ages (''Atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down), and in that context is insensitive and flippant. But really it is just a children's song now. If 'Oh Susanna' doesn't contain racially charged lines now, then it should not be considered a racist song in my opinion.

Thos

 
At 3/25/2012 01:24:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Thos., you know Emmylou sing's "My Old Kentucky Home" which is one of Foster's classics. It's a beautiful song. Does that make her a racist? Of course not. Does that mean she shouldn't sing "My Old Kentucky Home" because Foster dehumanizes Americans of slave ancestory in many of his other songs. Of course not.

But 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. The mockery and bigotry of "Oh Suzanna" maybe be all forgotten in in meaning 2012, but it should be noted somewhere in the liner notes that the writer successfully captures the prevailing post-Civil war sentiment of bigotry and racism of newly freed slaves.

 
At 3/25/2012 02:08:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

The scat-like singing in "Get A Job" captures perfectly the emotion in our Americana history when racial discrimination limited opportunities for many American men of color causing family social rifts.

Yip yip yip yip yip yip yip yip
Mum mum mum mum mum mum

 
At 3/25/2012 02:13:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 3/25/2012 02:23:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Throwing Odetta's name or using a negro spiritual doesn't mean you've captured the struggle and hardship that people of color endured while breaking free from the stereotypes that limited their economic mobility.

Please tell me ya'll get that much. The liner notes, no offense, pretty much whitewash our Americana past. It erases the real importance and significance of these songs.

These songs are like a "snapshot" into our Americana history. The songs tell us about the way we lived, the way we thought, and the way we treated other people.

I was shocked, really, when I read the liner notes because it told me nothing about real Americana.

 
At 3/25/2012 02:43:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Wayfarin Traveler captures inhumane living conditions of American Industrial Revolution. Chances for survival were so slim that people found comfort in singing songs about dying or "meeting my Savior" rather than enduring one more day among the living.

 
At 3/25/2012 02:49:00 PM, Blogger Thos said...

Well again, you are treating history as if there is a single line of events with each event causing another. There is no 'real' Americana, there can only be one person's version of it based on their understanding and experience of it. There are many states in the USA, and there are many peoples on the USA, and there are triumphs and tragedies written into every page of every person's life, background and family history. It is not true to say that everyone who chooses to sing a song has (or should) researched it and that they are responsible for previous interpretations of it.

Please understand that I am NOT suggesting that terrible racist things didn't happen in the past, at a personal, local, state and national level - but that is just my point - these events were caused by some people in some places in some jurisdictions at certain points in the past, and thus, while we may be able to generalise to some extent, we are not able to construct a 'real' version of the history of the USA into which these folk songs have a single and specific meaning. They mean different things to different people based on their differing experiences, all if which are valid interpretations (see the long running debate about the meaning of Powderfinger for example).

I'm not trying to blindly defend Neil Young here actually, more expressing agreement with Roland Barthes 'Death of the Author' concept. Context and background info are not necessary to enjoy or be challenged by art, and in fact may work best shorn of the concept of authorship altogether.

It's all the same song anyway!

Thos

 
At 3/25/2012 05:09:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Good point, Thos. But background and context is definitely a requirement for "Americana."

The background IS our collective past and the context is defined by specific events that tell a story about Americans. The question is from what point of view do we tell the story?

Certainly not all people in Alabama were bigots or practiced racial discrimination but there were enough who prevented the economic mobility for many Americans of slave ancestory. That Do we believe Martha Mitchell's "Gone with the Wind?" over documented history?


Certainly not all people in New York supported the inhumane living and poor working conditions of the immigrant population but there were plenty who stood by and did nothing. That is documented history.

Well ... the songs tell their own story if we're willing students of life. My point is that the liner notes say nothing about the significance of the song as it relates to our Americana History. "Get A Job" is a perfect example of a song that emerges in the late 50s about the struggle of African American males who can't find a job while the rest of the America (mostly white) is experiencing an economic boom. Wayfarin Traveler reveals a time in America where the future is so bleak for this weary traveler that they would rather be crossing over into the Jordon. Jesus's Chariot is about religious fundamentalism that promises redemption from slavery only after death. Gallows pole is folk story about when people attended executions as a form of entertainment. Only until Odetta sang it, do we understand the crueland violent end to which so many African American men suffered. Oh Susanna was written as a minstrel show in blackface where blacks were racially stereotyped.

And this is not about defending Neil's honor or trashing his love for folk music. This is about if you're going to assume the role as a messanger you better get the message right.

 
At 3/25/2012 07:28:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

THANKYOU! Now I finally understand what you're saying! I wish that you had started out with this, it would have saved us both a lot of time and energy. And thank you, Thos, you make some very good points that I'm sympathetic to. I never knew until just now how ignorant I have been on the subject of folk songs, at least these ones. 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, MNOTR 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 MNOTR 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

 
At 3/25/2012 08:51:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

While I think there is a time and place to tell kids about Christy Minstrel shows (hehe -- my kids didn't believe it!) I thought most adults learned the origins of "Oh Susanna" while in grade school. I mean Stephen Foster is a well-known American song-writer but it's not that hard putting two and two together. While I don't think we can project our understanding of racism today into a historical context, what is very clear is the obstacle that bigotry and racist views created for Americans of slave ancestory during post-Civil War right up into the first boycott. Throwing Odetta's name out there without explaining why "gallow poles" is significant to our shared American past should be addressed as well.
Clearly if you didn't make the connection, Greg, I don't expect others have.

 
At 3/25/2012 10:45:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Greg, does it also make sense to you how this falls under the insensitivity of sandblasting "Mt. Rushmore" on sacred hollowed ground when they started that project? At the time we didnt consider how it could be offensive. Only with this gift of hindsight do we begin to understand this white cultural supremacy that permeated our beloved Americana -- at the consequence of people we treated as inferior no less. Perhaps it was cruel to say earlier that they should have superimposed their faces like on Mt Rushmore -- the offenses of our beloved Americana -- I just expected a guy like Neil to at least show the same insight and sensitivity he brings to his own Americana masterpieces.

 
At 3/26/2012 01:42:00 AM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

Growing up a white American male, at best I have only been able to approach an approximate understanding of what it must be like to be black, Indian or female. I have tried my best, but have necessarily fallen short. Recently, I have read about the deep offense that Mt. Rushmore represents to the native Americans of that region and, coupled with my own understanding of the shortcomings of the four depicted figures (especially TR), I have begun to understand just how inappropriate the monument is. But here we enter upon a historical truth- the winners write history, and in the case of America it is white men who write it. One of the first objectives of winners is to control myth, and to lay out the road map from which to justify… anything. The peoples over which the victors trample? Let the devil take the hindmost.

Yes, white men told their story from their own perspective, and who in telling their own story is going to make themselves look bad? But stories are just that, they evolve in the retelling. Future recitations take on the sensitivities of the times and the tellers. Maybe this is where I am hoping to hang my hat. At a certain point, Oh Susanna had to shed the demeaning nature of its original content because it could not withstand the evolved consciousness. In other words, they couldn’t get away with it anymore. A tenuous achievement, but progress nonetheless. And so, here we are in the twenty first century, that much further removed from the original telling of this chapter of Americana- that much more safer to bring to the retelling contemporary sensitivities. In this light alone we are able to trumpet our sterilized view. But still, the past remains.

So yes, Neil must couch the newness he brings to the subject in the context of the old. He must demonstrate his knowledge of the cultural limitations involved. Expanded liner notes, or in depth interviews, we’re all ears Neil. And while you’re at it, could we get a rationale for the cover photo?

A Friend Of Yours

 
At 3/26/2012 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Greg, Personally, I don't think Neil has any interest about talking about "Americana." He's been singing about it for years.

All he wanted was to sing the songs he remembered when he was kid (in all it's glorious whitewash no less -- hehe).

That much has been made very, very clear.

 

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The Supergroup of the 20th Century



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