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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Does Neil Young owe you his hits? No, he doesn’t.

Neil Young w/ guitar "decoration"*
A Day On The Green, Hunter Valley, AUS - Mar 9, 2013
Photo Gallery by Miron "Stub King" M. - Picasa Web Albums
(Click photo to enlarge)

Long time readers of TW know for some time now we've been challenging the "Neil Doubters". Oddly, on the just completed leg of Neil Young and Crazy Horse's Australia & New Zealand Alchemy Tour, the essence of "The Doubters" was revealed in all of its inherent contradictions.

Which brings us to this blog post which picks up on the "The Doubters" phenomenon and offers some advice. From Does Neil Young owe you his hits? No, he doesn’t. | Meadowlake Street by Nick Milligan:
[This negative reaction] brings up the debate on what an artist owes the audience for the price of their admission.

Isn’t buying a ticket to see an artist perform… just that? As long as they perform with conviction, haven’t they done their job? Seeing an artist like Neil Young – who is a legend in his own lifetime and continues to write fresh, influential and vital rock recordings – is, as I mentioned, a privilege. Does an artist owe the audience their most popular songs? The short answer is “no”. The slightly longer answer is “of course they fucking don’t”. For personal reasons, it’s momentous to see and hear an artist perform a song that you have some emotional connection with. But those moments are special and rare. Your admission fee does not guarantee them. You have no right to demand them.

To all the people that thought Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s show was “self-indulgent”, I’ll let you in on a little secret. All creativity is, by nature and definition, self-indulgent. Every live act you’ve ever seen is self-indulgent. The whole process of writing, recording and performing music is about self-indulgence. Every touring act is self-indulgent. Fair-weather fans, who buy tickets to see artists with the expectation they’ll hear all their favourite songs and have a nice little sing-along, need to pull their heads out of their arses. They need to get a grip on reality. They need to take a long walk through the hall of mirrors.
Thanks Nick! Nailed it.

More from Does Neil Young owe you his hits? No, he doesn’t. | Meadowlake Street by Nick Milligan and the story of Neil's guitar "decoration"*.

Also, see more on obligations to audiences on Artistic Freedom and Commerce.



At 3/24/2013 02:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really? Is it really so much for me to ask to hear Southern Pacific. I mean, really? Play SP, Mideast Vacation, and Hang'n on a Limb and then play all the rarities you want LOL. I want the hits...and nothing else...

At 3/24/2013 02:37:00 PM, Blogger astrololee said...

My My Hey Hey..l agree with everything you say...l mean seriously...Neil and Crazy Horse could have played "God Save the Queen" all night long and l bet each time they did, you would have heard different riffs, solos and "lol" even words!
l went to all Australian gigs and each night was different, even with mostly the same setlist...differing towards the end of each night and not once did l cone away bored, dissatisfied or pissed off because they hadnt done this or that!
In fact after each gig l left elated, on a high and fckn much so l still have not "come down" even yet and not likely too for the rest of the year....NOTHING compares or even comes close to seeing these guys all perform together, so tight, totally in sync with each other with an understanding and awareness of each other that only years of experience. can belie!
All gigs were fantastically performed with passion, enthusciasm and ferociousness that is sadly lacking from a lot of younger bands..and believe me lm old but still get to around 20 bigger concerts.a year plus other smaller gigs in clubs and pubs!
No Neil does not owe you a damn's the other way around...l owe him and these guys for giving me a life filled with words that personally mean a lot to me, melodies that have woven a pathway to my heart and soul and have become part of my psyche and who l have am today. Neil has been in my life, throughout my troubled youth and even more stressful early adult life. l owe them for probably saving my life from despair and depression on many occasions. Neil and Crazy Horse have given me a life worth living to the full...the passion in the music that these guys have created has put me in touch with other souls whom feel the same, for which l am externally grateful. Long live Neil, Frankie, Ralphie and Billy....l owe You and l can only repay you guys by saying Thank's not enough but believe me, it's said with "Rustie" love...wooohooo!

At 3/24/2013 04:46:00 PM, Blogger TonyACT said...

Nice sentiment, possibly conveyed a tad harshly.

Doubters gonna doubt, let them complain while we enjoy the show.

I honestly don't think there are that many of them and we have all been successfully baited by a clever group of internet trolls.

At 3/24/2013 07:54:00 PM, Anonymous Nick Milligan said...

Thanks for the shout out Thrasher's Wheat. I had to vent about the doubters. I'm glad so many people out there feel the same way. Long live Neil! :)

At 3/25/2013 09:50:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

You have to give the "doubters, Haters and Anons" some credit. Most of these people dedicate more time to hating Neil than loyal fans do liking him. lol The "doubters" spend more time online writing bad reviews and opinions than any normal person would devote to anything positive. You have to be pretty damn loyal to a cause to pay for albums and concert tickets just to confirm your dislike for someone. I'm not a Justin Beiber fan and have not purchased anything of his. I can't imagine torturing myself at his concert. Most "Doubters" can quote every Neil lyric, chord and nuance. Fans, simply like Neil "Because" It's the Doubters that do all the real work ;)
If Neil took requests from every single fan at a concert and played every single song... People would complain his hair looked thin.
Hate the doubter but respect his dedication. lol

At 3/25/2013 10:12:00 AM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

Wishing a Happy Birthday to the incomparable Cecil Percival Taylor! Eighty four years old, still with us and still playing the music of the spheres. Twenty four years ago, I experienced the most transcendent music of my life, watching and listening to Cecil play a solo performance on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Sitting on an elevated chair less than twenty feet away, I looked over his right shoulder for more than two hours while he played the piano like no one ever has or ever will again. More than two hours, no break, exploring and extending the boundaries of music. A truly profound and spiritual experience that remains with me throughout my life. It really is all one song.

"Taylor has devoted his life to the higher, spiritual reach of magic, and the sense of privilege we experience in hearing him is reserved for magicians who do what no one before them thought to do and what no one after them will do as well."
--Gary Giddons

"Life is short, but Art is long...."

“What we do we do in spite of the forces that don’t want us to do it. Everything should be fun.”
--Cecil Taylor

At 3/25/2013 10:23:00 AM, Anonymous The Zuma Band said...

From "Shakey" about the "Tonight's The Night " tour (almost 40 years ago)-

" 'The more people (the audience) would act like howling monkeys, the more it would vindicate his point of view. It was like 'Waddya here for, ya f*%ckin' assholes? I'm gonna stick somethin' ya don't even want right in your f#*kin' face, and you're still gonna be here"....

Things spun totally out of control at the Bristol Hippodrome....The impatient crowd grew more and more rowdy, until Young got so perturbed he stormed off....The audience went nuts, and (Elliot) Roberts had to plead with Young to finish the set before a riot started.....recalled (Nils) Lofgren, "..The intensity was outrageous. All this for an audience that was hoping this was a bad dream and any minute we'd do 'Cinnamon Girl.' "

.....On a chaotic audience tape you can hear the crowd- what's left of it- getting more and more intense. "Piss off!" someone screams. Young plays on, unconcerned. "Elvis has left the arena, ladies and gentlemen," he drawls, tinkling away at the piano.

At 3/25/2013 10:43:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Nick - very welcome. Nice piece of work and happy to blog here @ TW. :)

@ZumaBand- excellent point. the doubter have always been along for the ride. Altho what was happening back on TTN was certainly more understandable. Folks today should have a much greater awareness of what to expect at a Neil concert today than back in 1972.

@Mr H - thanks. Will have to check out some Cecil Percival Taylor sometime.

In the meantime, we're remembering Jason Molina: 1973 – 2013.

@dean - "Hate the doubter but respect his dedication."

well played, Dean.

At 3/25/2013 12:32:00 PM, Anonymous Proud Doubter, TW in San Jose, CA said...

still at it stoking the fires again eh ? Maybe youre the biggest troll, Thrasher Wheat. You seem obsessed with the topic. I just wanted a better record than PP. Because I dont greedily gobble everything the guy puts onto a spoon , ok Im a Doubter. As a long time NY fan the record bores me to near tears with its re-hashed and dreadfully tired melodies. Or the lyrics ? "Me and some of my friends, we were tryin to save the world" or this beauty "Poetry rolling off his tongue Like Hank Williams chewing bubblegum Asking me 'how does it feel'?" Cringe worthy. Even the lyrics could be forgiven if the melody had a spark of NY that didnt smack of 14 other songs from him. For years he made good to great records with a few misses in between. In the last 14 years or so hes beginning to out number the good ones with, lets put it kindly, not too good. My gripes are different than those who go to recent CH shows and are disappointed by a lack of acoustic or familar tunes. Thats like not doing any homework at all. Thats completely their fault.

At 3/25/2013 01:16:00 PM, Anonymous p.michael quinn said...

Thanks Nick, and Astrololee - your last paragraph speaks so much for so many of us.

At 3/25/2013 08:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with some of what Proud Doubter has to say. Thrasher isn't really about being evenhanded, though, so might as well give that up. I still appreciate the site. It gives me some good news. But the bias is severe. Just understand that going in.
I like PP, and I don't agree that, overall, the last 14 years are "not too good". Americana is one of my favorites. Are You Passionate was great except for the stinker in the middle. The solo album was good except for Lanois' lame effects. Many great songs on the records in between.

At 3/26/2013 04:11:00 AM, Blogger winterlong said...

What astrololee said .
Long live true NY fans, and like minded souls.
Not harsh at all.
Just true.
oh, and love what you wrote too Nick Milligan.

(you don't have to be an official 'rustie' to be one with them in spirit.) :-)

At 3/26/2013 06:02:00 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

This is an excellent blog site - my favorite reading on the internet, and for that Thrasher I thank you. But mate I would love it even more without your orchestrating the tiresome phony conflict about doubters vs real NY&CH fans. Please give it a rest mate, at least for a while if you're able to.


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