Music Video: "Downtown" - Neil Young with Pearl Jam
Neil Young with Pearl Jam on "Downtown" in the music video on YouTube.
Pearl Jam and Neil Young have quite a long history dating back into the early 1990's. But the only recording Neil and Pearl Jam did together was the Mirror Ball and Merkin Ball albums.
From a Neil Young interview in MOJO Magazine with Nick Kent:
- Q. This brings us neatly to the subject of Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder.
I can't help wondering whether you truly sympathise with Vedder when he moans on and on about the price of fame. Doesn't it all come with the job?
Neil Young - The way most people seem to regard Eddie - it's a little out of perspective.
No matter what he says, it all gets taken down and quoted back at him.
Who else do you know who's his age and going through the things he's going through because he just wants to make music for a living and travel around a bit? Hopefully though, he'll get used to it. People will get used to him being around and they'll leave him alone a little more.
Recording Mirror Ball was like audio verite, just a snapshot of what's happening. Sometimes I didn't know who was playing. I was just conscious of this big smouldering mass of sound.
The whole record was recorded in four days and all the songs, barring Song X and Act Of Love, were written in that four day stretch. I played Act Of Love with Crazy Horse in January at The Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame.
Then, the following night, I played it with Pearl Jam at a Pro-Choice benefit concert and the version was so powerful I decided there and then to record it with them as soon as possible. On a purely musical level, this is the first time I've been in a band with three potential lead guitarists since The Buffalo Springfield. Plus there's Jack Irons, their drummer, who was just unbelievable. He just played his ass off on every take at every session.
I can't say enough good things about him.
I didn't even think about recording a whole album when we went in to cut Act of Love. I had two days with Pearl Jam initially. Two days and just two songs - that wasn't enough for me so I had five written by the time I went in. Recorded five of them, left one out. Then I came back for another two-day session with two more new songs. Plus I re-recorded the fifth one from the first session again. Then the day after that, I wrote another two new songs. Throw Your Weapons Down - maybe. Maybe not, tho' there's a large part of making this new album that's pretty foggy... (laughs)
Another musical connection on "Mirror Ball" involves Led Zeppelin which got us thinking recently with the photo of Jimmy Page and Neil Young in 1974. When Young was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on January 13, 1995 he joined Led Zeppelin onstage for an all out guitar duel with Jimmy Page. Performing a 10 minute "When The Levee's Gonna Break", Page and Young traded licks in what turned out to be a remarkable moment in TV rock. Later that year, Neil wrote the song "Downtown" about that historic night in New York City. From the lyrics "Downtown":
- Jimi's playin' in the back room
Led Zeppelin on stage
There's a mirror ball twirlin'
And a note from Page
Like a water-washed diamond
In a river of sin
Goin' down like a whirlpool
When you get sucked in
Let's go downtown
Which brings us to the downtown connection and Danny Whitten (1943 - 1972), who wrote the Crazy Horse song "C'mon Baby Let's Go Downtown".
But that's another story for another day...