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Monday, October 27, 2014

First Listen: Neil Young, 'Storytone' : NPR

Storytone by Neil Young

(Click photo to enlarge - check out license plate closeup)

Neil Young's newest album Storytone can now be fully streamed on First Listen: NPR. Both Orchestral and Solo versions are available. [NOTE: This stream available in U.S. only. Check specific country media sources for alternative streams.]

Neil Young's newest album Storytone is now set for a November 4, 2014 release and available to pre-order on (For those keeping track of such things, this will be Neil's only 35th studio album release, not including live, comps, etc. slacker)

Track List:

Plastic Flowers
Who's Gonna Stand Up?
I Want To Drive My Car
Say Hello To Chicago
Like You Used To Do
I'm Glad I Found You
When I Watch You Sleeping
All Those Dreams

Storytone was recorded live in the studio with a 92-piece orchestra and choir. Production by The Volume Dealers (Neil Young and Niko Bolas), recorded and mixed by Al Schmitt with additional co-production, arrangements, orchestration, and conducted by Michael Bearden and Chris Walden.

Here's an early review from, Neil fan Eric Thiessen posting on Ruesties | Facebook
Re: Neil Young's new album - Storytone

In a lot of ways, this is Neil's strongest start to finish album since Harvest. Don't laugh, I submit that those days back in 1972 were the last time his muse was this strongly affected by falling in (and out of) love. Writing and singing about love without being too sappy is a difficult thing to do, but Neil manages to successfully dance along that thin, almost invisible line without falling off.

He performs each song twice-once solo and once with the orchestra and each approach is appealing in it's own way-for me, there really is no "better" version. The lyrics mostly give a lot of space to the joyfulness of his new love, while there are also some references to his old love and his standard of late mentions of mankind's mistreatment of Mother Nature.

Sonically, the whole album is a treat, as he goes from his trademark Dylanesque harmonica and acoustic guitar singer/singwriter persona to singing a little jazzed up blues to the starkness of his quavering voice as it is wrapped in a lush coating of violins ala Harvest's A Man needs A Maid.

For me, Storytone is a winner. I bet you might think so too.
Thanks for posting Eric! We're looking forward to comparing the two versions of the release.

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At 10/27/2014 04:18:00 PM, Anonymous ed said...

I went back to the pono music store
They gave me four more
They told me at the door
It's a piece of crap

At 10/27/2014 05:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One really good song here "When I Watch You Sleeping".Other than that neither solo or orchestra versions can save this album.

At 10/27/2014 06:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This site is getting to be like the rest of America. No more of the freedoms we've had in the past. Everything that is an inappropriate comment ( not with the liberal agenda of this blog)is blocked. How we've become so un-transparent. It's time for you to shut down this website because it's not about Neil's music anymore it's is about agendas. So sad.

At 10/28/2014 12:38:00 AM, Blogger Knowledge Nomad said...

Just listened to both versions of the album. The solo renderings stands together much more cohesively than the mischmash of the orchestral and big band arrangements, and there are some songs here with enduring quality.

Once again, Neil unfortunately prices himself out of the my preferred format of vinyl. I do not know of any other artist whose vinyl is over 4x times the price of a their CDs. The only recent Neil vinyl that was priced at industry standards was A Letter Home. What's up with that?

At 10/28/2014 11:15:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@29108632-5e24-11e4-af0c-e33038cdd5a8 - say what?

At 10/28/2014 12:00:00 PM, Blogger Old Black said...

I think there are three pretty good songs here - "Plastic Flowers", "Like You Used to Do" (this, IMHO, was the best song), and "When I Watch You Sleep" (nice harp and a "Come's a Time" feeling to it). I agree that the solo version is more listenable.

At the risk of reading too much into the lyrics, "Like You Used to Do" seems to be his message to Pegi. I think I get it. As women get older, they can lose their spontanaity and desire - more so than men. As a man, you begin to feel old and useless - unwanted. Then, you discover new, younger love and that rarified feeling of being desired. Those old feelings of the first months of a relationship jolt you with endorphins and you write songs that, outside of that context, come off as quite trite and embarrassing.

Neil has been an example to me of how to grow older without growing irrelevant and nostalgic - to always keep moving forward. But the falling apart of his marrage of over 30 years scares me. The answer to "How to make love last" is "love doesn't last - move on". For me, this message is not another step forward but a step backward. Gettin hard for me to relate.

At 10/28/2014 12:55:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...


At 10/28/2014 01:11:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Conservative Neil Young fans have a hard time dealing with Neil being an environmentalist and general lefty, so they blame Thrasher instead. Ha!

At 10/28/2014 03:35:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The person talking about agendas kinda has a point. Thrasher turns on comment moderation when he gets his feelings hurt, ironically at the same time he posts the subway singer arrested story. Kind of hypocritical to me, but that's just MY opinion. I'm not speaking for anyone else.

If you don't think like Thrash, or you get on his bad side, he might not post your opinions. I know this from experience.

So in that regard, this site is controlled, just like America. Freedoms are dwindling away. But hey, Thrasher can control this site any way he sees fit cause its his site! Isn't that how it works? In America? I never bow to the thought police - no matter which side they're on.

The new album is worse than that phone booth crap. Hopefully Daryl is into loud guitars?!

Pono Neg - cause it's better to righteous than old!

At 10/28/2014 05:24:00 PM, Blogger electricwest said...

The evening I spent with Neil Young
October 21

Every once in a while an event takes place that I feel I should share...this is one of them.
Anyone that knows me knows that the relationship that I have with Neil Young and his life/music borders a bit on obsessive. I'm a huge fan. I have listened to his music for many years and have seen him in concert dozens of times. Through something called PonoMusic I got an opportunity to have dinner with and spend the evening with Neil. An evening I will never forget.
It all started with Happy Hour. This was spent with about 30 or so other like minded people that came to enjoy the evening talking with Neil and listening to music on our new PonoPlayers.
About an hour into the evening Neil was in the house....A greeting line soon formed and everyone there got the chance to talk music, take pictures, and spend some time with a true musical legend. He was very cordial, unrushed and seemed to be in a great mood.
We then all sat down for dinner. Neil made a short speech, thanking us all for coming. After something to eat Neil made rounds to the tables to once again talk and sign autographs.
PonoMusic and the new player that Neil is the driving force behind was the reason for this gathering. We all got a new player and Neil signed the boxes that they came in.....and anything else that you might happen to want him to sign. He was very approachable, in good spirits, and truly took all the time anyone wanted...... A real joy!!
After dinner and dessert Neil once again mingled amongst the folks that had come to hear the new HD digital music on our "PonoPlayer". He stayed and talked to everyone that wanted to talk. As long as they wanted to talk. He never made anyone feel hurried. He took pictures with everyone and gave of his time unconcerned with the days events. He was ours for the evening and that is exactly what we all were hoping for!!!
After about (3) hours he and his lifelong confidant Elliot Roberts bid the group a pleasant evening and he was gone....

One check removed from my bucket list.

This could change the way you listen to music and you can thank my buddy Neil for it....

Long live Neil Young

p.s. Storytone came on the PonoPlayer I got. I love the full orchestra. You can hear every instrument CLEARLY!! Very Cool

At 10/28/2014 05:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he meant more that the fact that comments need to be moderator approved puts a bad taste in his mouth. Basically you can't talk shit about Neil's music and have to temper your criticism or else your comment won't show up.

At 10/28/2014 06:34:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Old Black - interesting perspective. frankly, we're still processing the whole saga. You may be right on "Like You Used to Do". One can hardly imagine what might come next.

@ Matthew L. - we try not to let those still trapped in the left/right duality bother us and only hope someday they can open up to all of the possibilities.

@Old Neg - our friend, we do hope that you're able find some thing positive, some where. be well.

@ electricwest - thanks for sharing your PONO experience with Neil. Sounds like a memorable evening... in more ways than one. :)

At 10/28/2014 08:01:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks Thrash for posting my thoughts. I do appreciate you. You still throw gobs of great Neil stuff out there, even if it's filtered at times. I'll try to be more positive.

electricwest. I'd love to be able to afford an evening with Neil. But it's never going to happen. Cool story though.

I'll listen again to this Storytone but damn, I guess I'm not ready to be old.


Old Neg (not so righteous)

At 10/28/2014 09:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This record is a marked improvement from the last few records on a musical level, yet the content is ultimately so off-putting can't imagine the long-term fan listening to this more than once or twice.

On the environmental theme, Who’s Gonna Stand Up is little more than a series of bumper sticker slogans strung together.(Or as Colbert spoofed, "tired clichés".)The orchestral arrangement, in trying to give it heft and elevate its message, only serves to make it sound preachy and sanctimonious. (Neil singing it with his guitar in Philly, with passion and his trademark intensity, and using a call/response [who’s gonna stand up (him)/and save the earth(us)] was much stronger as an effective rallying cry – could see the stripped down version effectively used at environmental events.)
The songs about Daryl are downright cringe worthy – here is a 70 year old man who dumped his wife of 36 years for a much younger, and by all accounts,a total flake. Who knows how much these sentiments are real and how much the singer is imagining what he wants it to be. Reading the story below of Neil actually playing a Daryl love song on stage this past weekend in front of Pegi, his children and her friends is reprehensible, almost cruel. As Neil slams the door shut on his past life – the ranch, the cars, the Bridge school show – hope for his sake Daryl is worth it.

At 10/29/2014 12:47:00 AM, Blogger vvvv said...


Neil left Pegi? Wow, do you have some inside information that none of us are privy to?

Maybe listen to the lyrics to "Like You Used to Do" and consider the fact that maybe it was Pegi who wanted out, before you come on here and condemn him for things you don't know about.

And you accuse him of sanctimony? Hypocrite.

At 10/29/2014 11:03:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@sunlightforever - hey, we know this is a delicate topic and trust folks to handle sensitively.

In the meantime from our rustie buddy Harry O.:

"Regarding Neil playing "I'm Glad I Found You..." -- the most significant lines in the song are the first two, not the refrain. "So many people don't understand what it's like to be like me, but I'm not different from anyone else." I generally feel like he chooses to express his current state of mind at his shows. I thought it was fine for him to play it, just like it was fine for Pegi to sing "Starting Over" -- bold artistry is great stuff!"

At 10/29/2014 08:41:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

This is as raw and vulnerable as I've seen Neil on any album since at least Harvest Moon and perhaps ever ... his earlier work, even when deeply personal, contained much more obscured lyrics ... the evolution of his lyrics becoming less abstract has been many years in the making and on this album he lays it out there in an amazingly personal way ... the intimacy in moments on the album is stunning ... few artists are putting themselves out there today, let alone in the second half of their careers ... the two formats is just an amazing bonus ... both are beautiful in their own ways and the album overall is very solid ... the songs also play well live as we saw in Boston/Philly ... some of the trollish comments are becoming downright offensive ... we all like some of Neil's output more and some less but the deep negativity is inappropriate for a site where fans congregate to share and celebrate Neil prolific output ... Its like, find something you love and go focus on it, do yourself and all of us a favor, if you hate Neil or his output man you're in the wrong place. I look back on this year and am moved by the two albums Neil has put out, the intimacy of the live solo acoustic shows, and all the other stuff thats been thrown in ... Neil's vitality and vibrancy as an artist is poignant and is a privilege to witness .... Long May He Run ... one more thing, I loved how on 'A Letter Home' he told his mother he still has a lot of work to do down here ...

At 10/30/2014 11:44:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I kind of agree with sunlightforever. Neil's acting like a love struck school boy and it's not becoming of a 70 year old man. And it would sure seem like Neil left Pegi. He's in love! God, he's even dressing better. He's all giddy. If Pegi dumped him, he's sure taking it well. But who knows, she seems pretty happy herself. She's probably had it up to here with the "muse".

I remember when I was young and every Neil record was an automatic purchase. No more. His lyrics becoming less abstract has been going on for many years now and if I wanted orchestras and big bands, I'd be listening to Tony Bennett. Jackson Browne just put out an excellent album if anyone just wants to listen to some really good "old school" music while we wait to see where Neil lands next.

But hey, a happy and productive Neil at this stage of the game is still awesome! We are blessed in that regard. Some of this new stuff is hard for me to listen to but its all still intriguing. I thought the Daryl songs were cringe worthy too and I don't think he should of played that "glad I found you" song at the Bridge show but that's Neil for you. He has tunnel vision it seems. Impressing Daryl was more important than what the kids thought. You don't leave a marriage of 36 years and then rub the new girl friend in everyone's face. Funny the things that offend people....or not.

We'll see 6 months down the road when the ranch is gone and Daryl flakes out how good Neil is feeling about everything. David Crosby probably should of kept his mouth shut in public, but I think he was right. Time will tell.

This phase will pass and hopefully Neil will fall back into something a little more conventional. Maybe not. It's not the first time he's gotten way out there but he usually comes back. Gotta love his energy though and I might not snap everything up that he does anymore but I'll sure be watching for the next move and I'll go see him perform any chance I get (unless it's with an orchestra and he doesn't play his guitar and charges 100 bucks for nosebleeds). Does that mean I shouldn't post here because I don't like Storytone?

It's not easy being a Neil fan. Never has been and it's getting expensive too! Good to know that Neil's just like us. Yeah right. I still love him so though. Ramada Inn, now that's a great song!! Hope Billy's fully recovered so the real Horse can ride again soon.

Old Neg

At 10/30/2014 02:02:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

FYI - Here's the story behind Pegi's Starting Over song.

"'Starting Over' just came through really fast – the words. That was after I went to a memorial service for a friend of mine who had lost his wife after like 50-some years of marriage. He put together this beautiful thing, but then it was just too stunning to think, Well, now what? How do you go on? And my friend Anthony Crawford wrote the music for that one. I'd gone to L.A. for this event and then came home and the band was there. I showed him the words and the next day he had a melody for it."

At 10/30/2014 05:03:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

It's not clear from your comment what provoked this reaction in an otherwise peaceful thread. To be honest, it seems like it's coming out of nowhere and could be taken to sound obnoxious. Either way, there are nuances with "freedom of speech". This is Thrasher's playground, so he makes the rules.

At 11/05/2014 06:39:00 AM, Blogger SHJ said...

OK, so I've been a fan quite for a long time. I joined up in the early 80's and to me anything from Old Ways onwards is "new". Hehe. I like that. Old Ways was the first album that I bought from the record store as a brand new release from Neil Young. What I wanted to hear was After The Goldrush or Zuma and what I got was orchestral country. Still, that album cost me a good portion of my weekly allowance and I played my moneys worth out of it. I never really enjoyed it though. I still don’t. I’m hoping the archives will release a different version.

It’s all one song though. Sometimes it has a particular flavor but underneath it’s Neil and that's all I need. I have rather a lot of his music in multiple formats and am soon to start again with highest definition versions when my signature NY Pono arrives (Too Excited!). So it goes without saying that as soon as a new album is released (or archive or bootleg) I'm onto it PDQ. It is also pretty certain that I'll be playing whatever it is rather a lot.

That doesn't mean that I'll be happy about the new music straight away. Enthusiasm for Neil’s fresh output typically takes a while (like with Broken Arrow) and sometimes I’m not sure it will (like with Are You Passionate). I may be a big fan but I’m not immune to preference or prejudice.

Storytone is it though. Storytone is the one. I haven't heard a new release of Neil's that has affected me as much as this for a very, very long time. Freedom probably. Perhaps Unplugged. Maybe never. I am talking about the Storytone (Solo) release here. I haven't managed to play the orchestral version more than a couple of times as I keep re-playing the Solo version.

I thought A Letter Home was Neil exposed in the raw but I was wrong. Storytone is the most fragile, emotional and beautiful set of music I have heard from him. It reminds me strongly of the delicate pieces from Time Fades Away or Tonight's The Night. Think The Bridge or Borrowed Tune. It transports me back to the acoustic half of The Hammersmith Odeon set in March 2008. There is no higher praise.

Maybe after another dozen spins the music will become more revealed and less revered to me. Maybe the Orchestral version will take over. Who knows? You can be sure I’ll be enjoying this more than I have for a long time – learning the melodies, soaking up the lyrics, unraveling the layered meanings and listening to that voice. The tracks are in a terrific sequence; they pull me through and make me start again just like a piece of vinyl needs to be flipped over.

I’m getting Goosebumps. It’s absolutely fantastic.

Neil Young: I’m Glad I Found You. Long May You Run.


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