Comment of the Moment: Thoughts on “Thrasher”
Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, 04/02/2014
Photo by Jeff Allen
(Click photo to enlarge)
The Comment of the Moment is from Thoughts on “Thrasher”: Neil Young Last Performed 36 Years Ago by setlistthief:
The reemergence of Thrasher reminds us that the best songs are alive and changing. So it is with the 2014 performance.Thanks setlistthief! Yes, quite eerie and prescient the lyrics of “Thrasher” relative to today's times. Certainly the hallmark of great art -- timeless.
When Neil first wrote and performed this song he was in his early thirties-a time when most of us finally feel like we're grownups. Indeed, Neil had already seen so much life and death, joy and tragedy up close. Thrasher seems to be a reaction to all that; the CSNY breakup. Danny and Bruce's deaths, the birth of his kids, Carrie, the longing to get away from it all. The song is full of metaphor and imagery like no other NY composition, describing childhood memories, dreams, life and death. Indeed, every line is precious, not a word wasted, following a chronological narrative from young to old. How Neil at a tender young age could write those words and set them to a simple, gorgeously rendered melody true to a traditional folk song structure is beyond astonishing. It is truly unique.
But now the song looks back over a life. In that context, it becomes something else, a chronicle, a memoir. That's what makes it alive.
"But me I'm not stopping there,
Got my own row left to hoe
Just another line in the field of time
When the thrasher comes I'll be stuck in the sun
Like the dinosaurs in shrines
But I'll know the time has come
To give what's mine"
My God. Those words in 2014 mean something completely different than they did in 1978. But the meaning hasn't changed at all, either.
ps - And another thing...we think of Neil Young's songs as intensely personal, but ultimately what he writes is incredibly universal. Who hasn't watched westerns on their mama's TV? Who hasn't watched eagles and vultures soaring in the western sky? Who hasn't wondered how they lost their friends? And how many of us aren't becoming aware of our own mortality?
For me the most poignant line is "I was feelin' like my day had just begun." Sung by a man pushing 70, it serves to remind me how much more I want to accomplish in my life. With all his acccomplishments of the last decade (going back to Greendale) imagine how Neil Young feels.
More Thoughts on “Thrasher”: Neil Young Last Performed 36 Years Ago.