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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

More Thoughts on The Return of “Thrasher” by Neil Young After 36 Year Absence


Neil Young
Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, 04/02/2014
Photo by Jeff Allen
(Click photo to enlarge)

For some, the return of “Thrasher” into Neil Young's setlist after a 36 year absence rivals the rarity of the impending ‘Blood Moon’ Full Lunar Eclipse Tetrad during a Cardinal Grand Cross in The Chinese Year Of The Wood Horse .

So naturally, much chatter among Neil Young fans about the reemergence of “Thrasher” during Neil Young's solo run Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles, CA. The song “Thrasher” by Neil Young was last performed in concert 36 years ago in 1978 on the Rust Never Sleeps tour.

So why now? Was there any particular motivation of Neil to perform this rarity in 2014 in Los Angeles?

Just before performing the “Thrasher” encore on the 3rd night in Los Angeles (April 1), Neil Young said:
"This song, uh, you know, I did it, I haven't done it that much in my life, because, at a very vulnerable moment I read something about it. Just like the worst fucking review I've ever read. So, for all you reviewers, if you feel like your words don't mean anything, you're probably right. In that case.. in that case, they were damaging. So, anyway, we uh .. I think I got this uh.. I think this is the one here, I hope so.."

(Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/roel-van-dijk/bad-trasher-review-rant-neil Thanks Roel!)

So just what review from the past caused Neil to ditch “Thrasher”?

It does not appear to have been a review in a major publication at the time after surveying coverage in Rolling Stone, TIME, New York Times, etc. All reviews were very positive of the tour, album and film with none referencing “Thrasher” negatively.

From comment on Comment of the Moment: Thoughts on “Thrasher” by Pieceofcdap:
@Matthew: he might be refering to the infamous Time Magazine review of 1978, which compared Young's and Bob Dylan's shows that year. Reviewer praised Young but thrashed Dylan, then on his Elvis-inspired Budokan-tour, which seems to have upset Young very much. According to Cameron Crowe in Rolling Stone ("The Last American Hero", feb. 8, 1979) he thought it was "irresponsible journalism" and "Disco attitude". Might make sense, since he obviously never played Thrasher again, until now.
Roel van Dijk on Rusties | Facebook speculates:
I think there is a good chance that review is in Archives Volume II. I suspect they came across the review while going through the material for the next Archives, and Neil decided to try the song again. Just guessing here.
And since when did Neil Young ever care about reviews? We found this to be quite puzzling especially given the earlier AMBULANCE BLUES and with the lyrics “So all you critics sit alone ”.


Neil in book "Shakey" by Jimmy McDonough on reviews
(Thanks Ralf!)

As for the timing of "very vulnerable moment", Richard B. hypothesizes that in the summer of 1979, when both the Rust Never Sleeps album and film were released, Neil and Pegi were coming to terms with Ben's illness.

Our thoughts? Well, for us at the moment, the significance of Neil Young playing “Thrasher” for the 1st time in 36 years is that the song was directed at all of the PONO doubters out there.

So will PONO be vindicated similar to Young's solo career without CSN? In the immortal lyrics of Young's most "Dylanesque magnum opus":

But me I'm not stopping there,
Got my own row left to hoe
Just another line in the field of time
When the thrashers 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.





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16 Comments:

At 4/15/2014 05:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHY NEIL BROUGHT BACK THRASHER IS ANYONES GUESS MAKES ME WISH NEIL
WAS MORE FOCUSED ON MAKING NEW MUSIC
RATHER THAN PUTTING HIS ENERGY IN OTHER PROJECTS. HOWEVER AT 68 MARRIED AND RICH THERE'S NO BAD LUCK OR LOST THE GIRL SONGS TO WRITE.
AS ONE GETS OLDER THE SONGS DONT COME LIKE THEY USED TO OTHER THAN DYLAN,MCCARTNEY and BRIAN WILSON NO ONE IN THEIR 60'S OR 70'S IS WRITING GREAT SONGS ANYMORE MAYBE
THE REVITALIZATION OF THRASHER HAS
NEIL RECOGNIZING HE'S MOVING ON WITH OTHER CREATIVE ENDEAVORS SUCH
AS PONO,ENVIROMENTAL ACTIVISM AMONG OTHER THINGS. TIME WILL TELL AND NEIL CERTAINLY MAY BE ABLE TO CREATE NEW MUSIC IF THAT IS WHAT HE WANTS TO DO. BACK IN THE DAY WHEN NEIL WAS WRITING SONGS BY THE DOZENS THAT HIS WHERE HIS ENERGY FOR SOME TIME IT HAS BEEN DIVIDED BETWEEN MAKING MUSIC AND OTHER PROJECTS, AT THIS TIME MAYBE THE OTHER STUFF HAS TAKEN OVER FOR NEIL AND MAYBE NEIL
IS THINKING THAT HE MUST MOVER FORWARD DOWN A SLIPPERY SLOPE ON THE TWISTED ROAD. NEIL'S REPUTATION IS ON THE LINE WITH PONO IF IT DOESN'T DELIVER WHAT IT
HAS PROMISED THE BUCK STOPS WITH NEIL
STILL THERE IS NO ONE BETTER TODAY IN A ROOM BY THEMSELVES WITH ACOSTIC INSTRUMENTS IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE THEN NEIL.












A

 
At 4/15/2014 05:46:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Thanks A!

Good points on other projects vs the music. We think the other projects like PONO, Lincvolt, etc allow NY to recharge his music.

ps - inside voices, pls
namaste

 
At 4/15/2014 06:04:00 PM, Blogger timothy fontenot said...

Back in '79 when I first bought RNS's my college roommate was this boozing and gambling Hank Williams Jr. idiot who couldn't understand(comprehend) a song like Thrasher. He ridiculed me for listening to that song; as he said at the time longwinded winey crap. It made me love it even more. My ex hated it to. That made it my favorite all time song .So to think NY stopped playing it because of a critic, just doesn't sound like something he would do.

 
At 4/15/2014 06:53:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Hey, listening to Neil tell the story, you know sometimes something hits ya and it makes it's mark, and the mark stays. The instant pain might recede, but that native response is always remembered.

I remember this hot gal in high school, liked her man, ended up next to her at a function, said hello, she said "I never knew you were crossed-eyed". That was that. See, it's still here. And I ain't seen her since.

(there was a bit of solace later...my schoolmate buddy united with her a few years ago....dropped her like a stone)

I'm glad Neil brought Thrasher back for our fun, and let us in on why it's been so long.

 
At 4/16/2014 09:40:00 AM, Anonymous Michael1984 said...

To quote a friend of mine "guessing what Neil Young is thinking, or what he's going to do is a fools game. Just ask CSN, Ritchie Furray and Crazy Horse." Somehow this quote is especially appropriate when discussing why Thrasher is back in the set.

 
At 4/16/2014 09:55:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@Tim - agree, that it doesn't seem to make sense that NY would be influenced by a critic, but hey, listen to what he said in the clip above.

@SONY - sometimes things just work out in the long run...

@Michael1984 - agree that it's a fools game and we admit it ... we're fools. Game on.

 
At 4/16/2014 09:56:00 AM, Blogger setlistthief said...

I remember reading that review (but I thought it was in Newsweek). I also remember reading sometime later about Neil's horrified reaction to it-that his show was somehow superior to his friend and mentor's.

I won't pretend to get into Neil's head about why he dropped "Thrasher" for so long. There are many other songs he hasn't played in 36 years...or ever. ("Hey, Babe," how 'bout it, Neil?) But it's certainly a thrill when they do come back!

 
At 4/16/2014 10:44:00 AM, Anonymous Pieceofcrap said...

Nice topic. As to Neil's supposed indifference towards reviews, I wouldn't take his word for it. Watch the great clip in Archives I where he reads from a 1970 review criticising his solo acoustic show: "watching Mr. Young is about as exciting as watching your nails grow". Neil and friends share a nice laugh about it, but it suggests there's more to Neil and reviews that meets the eye...

 
At 4/16/2014 06:13:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Setlistheif - good call. I had the songbook out with Hey Babe the other day, first time messing with it. Not that hard but the feeeeellllllll, oh man, that would be fun to have him throw that in soon. Ya know, he could play 3-5 nights a week at the ranch, everyone could come to him. Kind of a Ramble, like Levon Helm did out this way for a long time on Saturday nights. That'd get me to Redwood!

 
At 4/16/2014 08:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know. Ben Keith's pedal steel is such a big part of what makes that song great, I'd be surprised if Neil decided to play it for the first time ever, without Ben.

- vertigone

 
At 4/16/2014 10:59:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

I'm a dreamin' man, yes that's my problem.

It wouldn't be the same without Ben.

Still fun to play though.

 
At 4/16/2014 11:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd still love to hear it, regardless. I'm surprised he's NEVER done it live. I would really like to know how he decides his setlists. Another great mystery.

- vertigone

 
At 4/18/2014 06:41:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Setlistheif & Sony:

Cool little song, but I don't think Neil is gonna play it without Ben Keith.

There are so many gems. I'm always a bit dissapointed when Neil plays the obvious choises (like Everybody Knows, Cinnamon Girl and Old Man). Mix it up a little more after every tour. Would love to hear songs like Alabama, For the Turnstiles (actually heard that one on the electric guitar in 2008!), Revolution Blues, Soldier and I'm the Ocean. Man, what a back catalogue.

 
At 4/19/2014 03:06:00 PM, Blogger John Logan said...

Wow how incredibly lucky I was to witness this - and to see this from the first row! Long May You Run Neil...

 
At 4/19/2014 11:48:00 PM, Anonymous doubter said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXVwedqwQVI

this Sedan Delivery is hard to find. but it proves why its their best song. get off!

 
At 4/22/2014 12:43:00 AM, Anonymous Hollis said...

So went to Neil Young pumped up and ready to hear him play at the Chicago Theater April 21st. Called the theater and was told he plays from 8:00-9:10 then from 9:30 to 11pm. Well......that didn't happen. Show started at 8:20 and with the 20 minute break was over at 10:20pm. WTF. I'm a total Neil Young fan yet he only played a handful of song I knew. No Cinnamon Girl, no Needle and Damage Done, tons of his older hits I was expecting to hear.....I could go on and on about how disappointing this show was. Ya what songs he played were good but would rather hear his stuff. Thank god I didn't pay a ton of money or I'd be more upset. Guess he had better things to do than please his fans like go home to bed and take his geritol and drink his h2o. This show sad to say sucked. HUGE disappointment!!!!!!!

 

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