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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2012: #10 - Neil Young and Crazy Horse, 'Psychedelic Pill'

"Psychedelic Pill"
by Neil Young & Crazy Horse

(Click photo to enlarge)

Neil Young and Crazy Horse's 'Psychedelic Pill' #10 is on Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2012:
Appearing alongside his memoir and the history-lesson covers set Americana, this is as inspiringly strange as anything he's done. It opens with the 27-minute "Driftin' Back," a free-associating timeline that morphs from co ffeehouse folk to charred Crazy Horse jam. Feedback and flashbacks, sentimental and not, flow between inspired moments of old-coot humor ("Gonna get me a hip-hop haircut!"), all peaking with the 16-minute "Walk Like a Giant," a doo-wop noise-metal Sixties lament that goes out stomping. Like a giant, indeed.
Also, Rolling Stone has ranked "Ramada Inn" as 5th best song of 2012.

More reviews and reactions on "Psychedelic Pill" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

And speaking of sonic pleasures, also on Rolling Stone Neil Young's Pono Plans Take Shape With New Trademarks By Patrick Flanary:
The latest trademark applications, filed this month, refer to "cases for audio tuners, audio receivers, amplifiers, tape players, compact disc players, MP3 controllers/players, audio mixers, audio speakers in the nature of music studio monitors, microphones, audio speakers, compact discs, audio tapes, portable computers, antennas, phonographic record players, audio recording equipment," according to documents on file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
One small step closer to Archives Vol. 2?! We shall see...

Check out Pono Music - high-quality music initiative from Neil Young.

ps - if you're interested in road testing an early PONO prototype here's a 1961 Lincoln Continental up for auction on eBay Motors.

Some avid car collector has put less than 2,000 on the odometer and has kept it garaged with the rest of his collection. Master mechanic Bruce Ferrario has tuned up the engine, performed all needed maintenance and brought the overall performance and functionality up to Mr Young’s specifications.

Makes a nice stocking stuffer. :)

Happy Holidays!

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At 12/20/2012 10:37:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ramada Inn - 5th best song of 2012.

Good job rolling stone!!! Alabama Shakes gets the number one spot, so taste rules in 2012!!!

Too bad PP was released after the Grammy deadline. Lets see if Neil finally gets rock album of the year at the 2014 Grammys for PP (ya, right). Heck, Neil might release two more albums before then lol.

All of this just confirms what us believers have known all along - you fucking doubters just don't get it...might I suggest that the New Years resolution for all the doubters is to stop bothering us...feel free to visit it financially...use the links...but we'll take it from there. merry christmas to all.

At 12/20/2012 12:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

another shrill, desperate and insecure comment Anon. Bravo! I feel I "get" NY just fine. Its just that some material I reject as not very good. Lighten up, show some maturity and try not to be so threatened.

At 12/20/2012 03:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is VERY telling that after releasing Americana & promoting it with 'A Day at the Gallery' and the Sheppard Fairey paintings (you all remember how the paintings were going to be used "for the tour"), etc. - how many times did Neil & CH actually play any of those songs live? Once or twice tops I believe...

Then Poncho literally admitted in Suck-Ass Rolling Stone back last summer that he and the rest of the Horse really weren't into those tunes at all...

Whatever transpired(sobriety/WHP??) to bring forth PP is a gift to those of us who LOVE Crazy Horse...I thought 'Americana' had some ok tunes like 'Clementine' - but overall I stopped listening to it by July...

Anyway...I'd like to think that since North America got three legs of the 'Le Noise' tour that we'll get at least one more leg next year...but it isn't looking too good...

'Ramada Inn' is THE BEST song in a LONG doubt an auto-biographical tale of sorts about Neil & Pegi...intimately personal to reveal THE moment when the decision to stop drinking takes hold for good...just as 'Love and War' had some amazingly candid admissions of infidelity...

what an artist...what a great one else will ever be able to play with Neil the way Ralph particularly can play with him (Chrome Dreams II proves it)...damn it I miss Ben Keith so much though as a fan...the 2007 tour is forever stamped in my mind as top shelf live Neil(that leg had Ralph offense to Chad Cromwell who is fantastic also...

At 12/20/2012 05:23:00 PM, Anonymous herbsworld said...

the hood ornament appears on the cd/album cover for chrome dreams.
wish I wasn't on the naughty list.
OFW, there's always next year I suppose.
Merry Rustmas!
Happy Neil Year!

At 12/20/2012 09:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone is REALLY reading into Neil's lyrics a bit too much, eh?

At 12/20/2012 09:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone is REALLY reading into Neil's lyrics a bit too much, eh?

At 12/20/2012 09:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just think: if you were one of the powerball winners, you could just fly over on your private jet and pay cash for this really cool automobile.

money does not buy happiness, unless you are poor and unhappy about being poor...

At 12/21/2012 12:16:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

I submitted comments that were not posted on this and another page. What happened to them?

At 12/21/2012 12:52:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

I don't think "that's enough!" on Ramada Inn signifies that the husband is quitting. He says it has he "pours himself another tall one." It is structurally interesting, though, to end the song that way. It's a conclusive statement without really finishing the story and is a strong cold ending. Lyrically, it's one of the better points of Ramada, along with the "she loves him so/he loves her so" refrain. Overall, the song has a really cool jamming groove and some strong vocal melody and harmonies. I'm especially fond of the chorus. But I don't quite see it as the standout.

I prefer what I refer to as the minimalist rock poetry of 'She's Always Dancing', which features one of my favorite quatrains from Neil ever: "She wants to live without ties to bind her down/She wants to dance with her body left unbound/She wants to spin like she lives in her own world/She wants to dream like she was a little girl." That's a beautiful portrait. Songs like this are really all about how the cryptic but visceral imagery ("She likes to burn"; "From palm to palm") intermixes with the artistic guitar passages, and in this case I think it works brilliantly. I'm also surprised that 'Walk like a Giant' isn't being considered the standout. That for me is Crazy Horse approaching sound art. I was thrilled and excited by it. I can't remember hearing something with this dark yet love-filled expressive quality since Sleeps with Angels--almost twenty years. For me, it's easily the best, most amazing, and epic thing from Neil since No Hidden Path on CDII. And the lyrics are pretty strong, a universal message even though we know Neil is probably thinking of a specific time and place. I especially like the last verse.

For me, the highlights are: Driftin' Back, Psychedelic Pill (version one), She's Always Dancing, For the Love of Man, and Walk Like a Giant--the latte three making up my favorite continuous block of the album. The ideas and feelings behind Driftin' are so cool. To me, it's like Neil's mantra: "Blocking out my anger/Blocking out my thoughts"--See: he's doing it on purpose: it's about feelings rather than thoughts, about finding a transcendent state that gets ride of the earthly thoughts that bog down the mind too much at times. Yes, it's Neil's mantra and especially as he seems to have partially improvised it in the studio, I doubt he had to pay The Organization 35 bucks for it.

I'm also growing exceedingly fond of the title song, even though it's attracted a little criticism. I like the distortion--I think it helps give the song feeling and character and the alternate mix suffers a little for not having it. The title song is about "looking for a good time" and people who do precisely that. I love that message. It's incredibly important to be positive, to look for a good time. And it's a real treasure when we meet people in our lives who embody positivity, joy, and enthusiasm for life. Beautiful.

That's not to downplay the other songs, either. Virtually all of the songs have at least one or two lyrical gems embedded (I love the line in Twisted Road using the similie of "Hank Williams chewing bubble gum"and Born in Ontario is a really fun one with a couple of great couplets that come out of nowhere). It's just that those tracks I listed have really been the great standouts for me thus far.

As far as the Pill getting in Rolling Stone's top ten--nice! Wasn't Le Noise in the top twenty as well, in 2010? I liked that one, too, maybe even more than this one. At this point, I've come to trust my taste and my instincts on many things, including this.

At 12/21/2012 09:30:00 AM, Blogger Old Black said...

Ramada Inn is a great song. The lyrics, by themselves, have little meaning without the context of the performance. I listened to it several times yesterday on a road trip and it is absolutely haunting.

I cannot think of another song by another artist that expresses the heartache of "mature" people, sticking together through thick and thin. "She loves him so," - just an amazing affirmation of what it means to go through life as a couple.

Obviously, it won't be easy to relate to this song if you are 20 years old and think you have the world by the short hairs. But for those of us who have seen more years and miles than they care to contemplate, it cuts right to the quick of life and the continuity of relationship with one's spouse through all the good times and bad - and a recognition that not all goes (or ends) smoothly. But the constant of life, the elemental core, is "She does what she has to" "He does what he needs to". We do what we have to in order to keep it together and keep moving on.

A truly profound song (in the context of Crazy Horse's peformance).

It is because of songs like Ramada Inn that Neil Young is still relevant at age 67. He still has something to say to all of us and it ain't "Look how great I used to be."

At 12/21/2012 09:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who think I'm REALLY reading too much into the lyrics that I referenced - consider that during many live versions of Ramada Inn he has changed the lyric to "one more tall one" as opposed to "another tall one". Did you read Waging Heavy Peace? Come's about Neil deciding to get sober...

And perhaps you should re-visit Love and War if you think I'm reading too much into that one also...good grief it's blatantly obvious that Neil is admitting his own mistakes (infidelity)...

At 12/21/2012 11:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

from David Byrne, to Jon Anderson, to many others: yes, you are reading too much into the lyrics.the sound of a word is as crucial as the meaning of a word (to quote Byrne and Anderson).

My two favorite NY&CH songs of all time are now Ramada Inn and Over and Over - great songs, great guitar work.

Merry Christmas everyone. And thank you Neil for the journey this year - the ups and downs...

At 12/21/2012 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

is it, "she loves him so/she does what she has to." or "she loves him so she does what she has to."

only neil knows.

At 12/21/2012 03:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dominic, I am using the former for my interpretation. the latter would not make sense (to me) when he splits the she and he later in the song (ie. he does what he needs to because she loves him??).

At 12/21/2012 07:57:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Old Black--Ramada Inn has a great feeling behind it. And the guitar passages have amazing groove and expressive power to them--vintage Crazy Horse. I'm not denying any of that. It's jus that as far as the lyrics, other expressive styles probably just appeal to me more. My tastes are a little odd sometimes.

At 12/21/2012 08:09:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Dominic and Anonymous@3:49 PM, that's one of my favorite passages of the lyrics. I like the choruses in general. I think the beauty of it is that you can interpret the phrasing and structure either way. The first two times "She loves him so", is by itself, then it leads in to "She loves him so she does what she has to." Rather clever structure. So it can be taken both ways at the same time, since I don't think it really even signifies a great change in meaning, just a different way of expressing it.

About the previous interpretive disagreement, I could be wrong. "That's enough!" could mean many things at once. I do like that take. Also, I think "he does what he needs to because she loves him" make some sense: "He does what he needs to because [he knows] she loves him"--does that work? In other words, he does what he needs to because of what her love means (and the inverse).

What I really love in this one, though, are some of the guitar passages...

At 12/21/2012 09:47:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

What an exceptional Year 2012 has been for music! Here is my top favorite list but there are at least as many more that I could add in here.

Banga....Patti Smith
Tempest....Bob Dylan
Psychedelic Pill....Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Americana....Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Black and Blu....Gary Clark Jr.
Play Some Fucking Stooges....Matts Gustafsson & Thurston Moore
Signs & Signifiers....JD McPherson
Blunderbuss....Jack White
Celebration Rock....Japandroids
Boys & Girls....Alabama Shakes

At 12/27/2012 11:09:00 PM, Anonymous SandCowgirl said...

What a wonderful year it's been...thanks, TW, for a great year in review!
SandCowgirl (Tami C.)

P.S. Arkansas Girls still <3 Crazy Horse... :)


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