The Unbearable Lightness of Being A Neil Young Fan
Frame from film A Day At The Gallery
(Click photo to enlarge)
Soon after the release of the new Americana album -- as the usual accolades were being accompanied by the usual criticisms -- we posted on The Unbearable Lightness of Being Neil Young. In the post we tried to explain how it seems increasingly impossible to please many die hard Neil fans, much less the more casual fans.
Which brings us to the comment of the moment in response to the particularly harsh comment by tjphoto. From a comment by peter d.:
I feel a remarkable similarity in attitude beneath the argumentation of a lot of those who disapprove 'Americana'.
Maybe even similar to all of those who have disapproved of the latest album by Neil for the last 20, 30, 40 years now:
1. This new album is not as good as --enter any NY album from the seventies here--
2. In order to keep our love and respect it should have been as good as one of these.
3. Now that we feel he has failed to reach that level, we may curse and revile him, and if we desire, expand that to accusing him of bad intentions with us and all possible listeners.
4. It is an insult therefore that he dares to demand money from us helpless people who are almost too weak to resist this requirement. We consider this to be perhaps the ultimate proof for the fact that he is no good, a money-grubber, and an exploiter.
I suspect that there is a high percentage of people around 40-60 years old among them, people who were young / adolescent around the time RNS (or Harvest) was released. They probably are disappointed in the life they have led after that time, and long back to that time when they were young, untroubled and happy. The soundtrack of that time in their life was written by Neil.
Because Neil's albums from the seventies are about youth and growing up (he himself was an adolescent then, and in my opinion a late bloomer), those albums have made a deep impression on these people - and on all of us.
Later albums were about fighting to communicate with his son, trouble with the record companys, and more and more about happy times with the wife and family.
That may be areas not everyone can relate to...
So the generally recognized theme of growing up changed to a less generally recognizable story of Neil's personal life.
If there is one artist who can transport the 'nay-sayers' back to the feeling from their youth, it must be Neil 'cause he's done it before. The obvious fact he does not even try to do that, hurts deep in their hearts.
I may be a bit cynical, but I too can have a tendency towards such an attitude, so in a way I understand. But to cherish this attitude, will continue to make you feel miserable about yourself and others, I learned that much, amongst others from Neil. There's no reason, and it is pointless to blame any one for your life. You just have to live it, everyday. And everyday there's chances and changes in this world. Grab' em while you can.
For me, this was one of the songs from Neil I didn't like, right from the start. It took me years to chew on it, it's sombre melody and strange arrangement to me felt like a mistake on the smooth, sunny, and sharp rocking sound of Harvest, until I finally realised what it meant to me:
There's a world you're living in,
No one else has your part
All God's childen in the wind
Take it in and blow hard!
Look around it, have you found it
Walking down the avenue?
See what it brings,
could be good things
In the air for you.
Thanks Peter! Appropriate lyrics for our times.
Also, see The Unbearable Lightness of Being Neil Young and God Save The Neil Young Fans (& Thrasher's Wheat).