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Thursday, May 03, 2012

Some Thoughts on New Video "Oh Susannah" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Music Video for "Oh Susannah" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
(Click photo to enlarge)

Tuesday's release of a video for "Oh Susannah" , from the upcoming album Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, has been well received by fans based on early comments.

Obviously, one of the most surprising aspects of the video is what it isn't. That is to say, this is not a music video of a bunch of old guys rockin' out in a barn somewhere in Northern California but rather a simple video bringing a deeper meaning to an old Americana folk classic.

Here's what Jill has to say:
I love it, song and video, and I`m just so glad to hear the Horse back in action.

When I first watched it my initial reaction when the little boy lit up his cigarette was to shout “no, don`t let him smoke it!!” But that`s how it was, and Neil has never been one to shy away from the truth or from controversy.

I think there`s also a message here that even when times are hard, especially when times are hard maybe, making music is always there as a comfort and an inspiration, that`s where these old songs came from and what links us together. I loved the version Neil did with Dave Matthews at Bridge last year, but I think this rocks even more, and the beautiful vocals of the children`s choir give the song a lift at just the right time.

Brilliant stuff as always, and I`m looking forward to hearing the rest of the album.

Another comment from by jephman:
Say what you want about Crazy Horse but Neil got the sound he wanted.

Unconventional? Yes but no band to this day can really mimic that sound and confuse it with another band. The members of Crazy Horse aren't full of themselves which made it easy for Neil to work with and get what he wanted.

There will come a day when the genius of this man is heralded for all his contributions from the unplugged acoustic type sessions to Crazy Horse. He was also very good with lyrics which ranged from heartfelt love songs to insightful sarcasm. Either way his music was something you could have some fun with and somehow you could tell he would be just a great person to know.

It appears that the film is from documentary footage of the Dust Bowl/Depression era 1930's. Such footage captured an often unspoken reality of widespread poverty in American life at the time.

So for those who might fail to see the connection between the Depression era 1930's and today... well look around. It's not a pretty sight. The reality of life in Americana has not changed for the better, for all too many of whom live and struggle under very harsh, brutal conditions.

The fantasy world portrayed on your TeeVee is in no way, shape or form anywhere close to what the world is truly like. Today, we are living John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath and the ghost of Tom Joad surrounds us.

Here's a comment by Matthew L. in response to some of our thoughts:
Good assessment on the meaning of the video.

Kind of fits with Neil and the band putting their own faces on the concept of Americana. The troubles and struggles of life continue unabated, and, as Americana in general tends to reflect the less glamorous realities of everyday life in early American history, it projects very well right on top of today's realities. A lot of the iconography has changed, but many of the basic struggles of living continue. We focus so much on glamour, that we miss the reality around us.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Indeed. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

We await additional videos from Americana. And we think we'll continue to be pleasantly surprised by Neil's unconventional approach to conventional Americana.

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At 5/03/2012 10:10:00 AM, Blogger wardo said...

I'm still getting used to the "re-ac-tor" sound, but I'm still curious about the rest of the album.

As for the video, I love the message -- if your kids are too hyper, give 'em some smokes!

At 5/03/2012 04:17:00 PM, Blogger Jill said...

Thanks Thrasher for featuring my comments here, it`s an honour!

I`m wondering too what we we`ll be seeing next from Neil, more videos from the same source, or something completely different. Whatever it is, we know it will be thought-provoking and done with intelligence. And actually I don`t think I`d really object to seeing `a bunch of old guys rockin' out in a barn somewhere in Northern California`! Lol.

At 5/04/2012 07:52:00 AM, Blogger La Johnson said...

Try listening without the video - less impressive the fiml certainly enhances the song - that's a concern

At 5/04/2012 08:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First thoughts are that OS is rather dreary.

At 5/04/2012 12:02:00 PM, Blogger Matthew Lintzenich said...

The first time I heard it was without the video. I played it 10 times and rocked out to it. It sounds great to me, man, I love it. Of course, I'm not looking for something perfect and tight and totally "together" sounding either. I love the somewhat unrehearsed sounding, loose, chaotic beginning and the way the song seems to come together as it goes, until by the end they've got the Horse galloping along - it's so perfectly imperfect, which is exactly what Crazy Horse is known for: Being on the verge of epic stratospheric ascension and total, chaotic collapse at the same time. It's beautiful. Life and death, creation and destruction all wrapped up in one. It's Crazy Horse.

At 5/04/2012 12:53:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

Thanks, That's a very accurate description of Crazy Horse!

Anyone knows what kind of dream is on Neil's hat?

Doesn't look like a Hippie Dream.

At 5/04/2012 02:32:00 PM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

I do hope Neil and the Horse are in the studio:

earlier today I was listening to the Beastie Boys.
Volume up.

At 5/05/2012 05:10:00 AM, Blogger BIGCHIEF said...

You know, I'm actually impressed that Neil included the 'smoking boy' and didn't bow down to politically correct pressure. Not to mention it was fitting in representing that era. Back then the tobacco companies didn't put all of these chemicals in the tobacco as they do today for whatever reason. I know many elderly folks who have smoked well into their 90's without and ill effects from smoking. There are so many more threats against our health these days from pesticides as well as chemicals used in everyday household cleaning agents. the common weed killer 'Round Up' has the same ingredients as 'Agent Orange' used commonly in the military to kill foliage. I'm not surprised one of the first comments most people have been mentioning is the boy smoking.

At 5/13/2012 01:15:00 AM, Blogger D. I. Kertis said...

Judging from that video footage, Neil is not romanticizing the past here--which, you know, does fit with the whole concept he mentioned about highlighting the similarities between America's problems when these songs were first played and the ones we're facing now. I have to admit that the smoking kid makes me squirm a bit, but it's definitely best not whitewashed over.

Musically, I have only good things to say about the songs I've heard so far from 'Americana', though I'm actually even more interested to hear Neil and the Horse's takes on 'Gallows Pole', 'This Land is Your Land', and 'Tom Dula'. After hearing 'Jesus' Chariot', I suspect 'Clementine' should be interesting as well, and 'God Save the Queen', especially after all the (in my opinion) unwarranted brouhaha about its appearance on the track list.

I've actually gotten to be more and more interested in folk music as time goes on. When I say folk music, I don't just mean the American, either. I think it has a lot to do with the notion of it having been created by people in a pre-mass media age, trying to amuse themselves. So they had to be more creative themselves, because they couldn't just access other people's art and entertainment so easily like we can today. If you listen to folk songs not just from America but from European history as well, they have their unique conventions and forms, signs that they were originated by every day people, not "artists" in the sense that we often think of them today. My fascination is also partly because this is music of the people: commonly owned art. Many of the songs on 'Americana' we all take for granted the right to perform again and again, to come up with our own variations/evolutions of per the folk process. It is lovely to think there is art and music that a whole community (the whole human community, really) can own and have creative domain over, that we can share and each take our own angle on. Folk music, at some level, seems to represent such a free spirit of art and creativity, and can be incredibly culturally and historically rich. Because these were often songs written by or from the perspectives of everyday people, they tend still to resonate with the common man even today. Especially in songs with universally applicable ideals or messages, there is a great potential for music (or art of any kind) to bring people together, bring about sharing, cooperation, potentially sparking even more creativity and art.


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