Yet More Passion From A Neil Young Fan
So no sooner than we lament the decline of quality comments here at TW, than folks step up to the plate and deliver. So we say thanks to all of our dear readers and listeners and say again that we love you all -- both the passionate and dis-passionate Neil fans.
This week, we've heard from The Passion of A Neil Young Fan and The (Dis)-Passion of A Neil Young Fan where we highlighted some particularly passionate and dis-passionate opinions of long time Neil fans.
From The (Dis)-Passion of A Neil Young Fan by Greg " A Friend Of Yours" who said...
I think there are some interesting comments here, and in the end can’t argue with the fact that your “passion has waned greatly”, TopangaDaze. [see comment]We feel your passion A Friend Of Yours! Thanks for all of the words and we'll see what folks have to say when The Monsanto Years hits the streets. We have a hunch that the fun has only just begun and the best is still yet to come as we get behind the wheel, make that big shift and take a long, slow ride into that setting sun while the full moon rises with big birds flying across the sky.
I think you have a valid perspective based on your views, I guess my perspective is just different based on my views. In line with a lot of the criticism aimed at Neil tho, the gratuitous outpouring of which has reduced me to a dispassionate observer of TW these days, I would have to disagree with the notion that Neil fears his output “will be criticized, or worse yet, ignored”, or that he “can't face his increasing irrelevance”. I think this would be totally out of character for a guy who has never cared about these things. Besides, I think an argument can be made that Neil has never been more relevant, or less ignored, and that “too much output” has more to do with the numerous things he is focused on now, as compared to a more narrow focus in earlier years.
I think it still comes down to the fact that a lot of people just don’t get Neil- and I don’t say that I do, not truly. But at the very least, I understand this: “this” (whatever music it is that people are alternately praising or disparaging) is not a function of calculation on Neil’s part (yes, Neil has done not a few calculated things), so much as it is about what is happening right now in his life, mixed together with the reality that he can’t not do it. Neil fits the mold of a troubadour, someone who “sets verse to music”, and who must perform it for others because that’s who he is. Maybe his minimalist sensibilities rule him too much for some people’s taste, and don’t mix too well with a prolific output, but “throw away albums”? That’s what critics have said about any number of segments of the discography, and I agree with Dan1 that they will stand the test of time.
I was looking for a quote from Bill Shapiro about the troubadour angle, and came across one of my own comments from a while back here on TW, and after re-reading it don’t think I can improve upon it. A little long, and you have to fill in the blanks a little differently, but I think it’s still relevant. FWIW.
“Every now and then something prompts me to go back and reread the great Cameron Crowe Rolling Stone interviews. They always seem to provide a perfect perspective for the newest flavor of the moment controversy, as in the case of this blog. People very rarely change, or change their stripes. Maybe they have their lapses, and Neil is human for sure, but I’d be shocked to find out it was ever about the money. It’s about what’s happening right now- in his head, in his life, in the world around him. Is that really so hard to understand? People don’t understand something, they don’t like something, they don’t know- they freak out and start flailing about trying to make sense of something they’re not privy to. I’m not privy to anything either, but I rest my mind in the experience of what 40 years of Neil Young have given me, and it’s all about the music and the integrity. Money motive just doesn’t wash with me.
I don’t have anything more to say about the recent music- too much has been said already- other than to say that Thrasher is probably on to something by likening GD/LWW/CDII/FITR to the “ditch trilogy”, and in that event hold onto your hat for what might be coming next. Revisionism notwithstanding, I was there when it was happening, and clearly remember the gnashing of teeth in the music world over the impending demise of Neil Young, and the dismissiveness of the people who didn’t understand, who felt the need to save Neil from himself. Beyond this, Bill Shapiro of “Cypress Avenue” said it all when he likened Neil to a troubadour, someone who is compelled to perform for people. You might find someone like this playing to a local bar like as not playing to an “ocean of shaking hands”. It’s not about the money. As one blogger pointed out somewhere, heart rending and angst ridden youth produced heart rending and angst ridden music, but now having moved beyond these things, different things are producing different music- things like the deterioration of society, the degradation of the environment, war in the middle east, and the need for energy alternatives. Laced through all of it is the need for the artist, the individual, to make sense of it all and have something to say. There’s a need, and it ain’t pretty.
I’ll let the following Crowe excerpts say the rest:
“Every one of my records, to me, is like an ongoing autobiography. I can't write the same book very time. There are artists that can. They put out three or four albums every year and everything fucking sounds the same. That's great. Somebody's trying to communicate to a lot of people and give them the kind of music that they know they want to hear. That isn't my trip. My trip is to express what's on my mind.“
“I don't want to feel like people expect me to be a certain way. Nobody expected Time Fades Away and I'm not sorry I put it out. I didn't need the money, I didn't need the fame. You gotta keep changing. Shirts, old ladies, whatever. I'd rather keep changing and lose a lot of people along the way. If that's the price, I'll pay it. I don't give a shit if my audience is a hundred or a hundred million. It doesn't make any difference to me. I'm convinced that what sells and what I do are two completely different things. If they meet, it's coincidence. I just appreciate the freedom to put out an album like Tonight's the Night if I want to.”
“One afternoon during a tour several years ago, Young sat in his manager's hotel room. The phone kept ringing, tour crew members bustled in an out... and through it all, Young sat on the bed with his son Zeke, peacefully watching the news.
The broadcast was interrupted by an emergency bulletin. Pat Nixon had suffered a stroke, an announcer said over a filmed report of the sad and beaten Richard Nixon tearily moving through the hospital's revolving doors. After a time, Young got up and disappeared into his bus in the parking lot. Onstage several hours later, Young played the song he had written…“ (Campaigner)
"People don't understand sometimes," he says, looking down at a pencil he's toying with, "how I can come in and go out so fast, how I can be there and want to do something and then when it's over, for me it's over. To other people it's just a beginning. Sometimes that's hard for people to take. I can see how that would be. I just don't like to stay in one place very long. I move around, I keep doing different things . . ." He looks up. "Just different things."
It must be difficult, I wonder, to decide which impulses to follow.
"I only follow the ones I get," says Young. "And if it makes me laugh... I know it's a good one. Basically I've had a really good time, even though my songs have mostly expressed the down side. I like that there's a lot of humor in rock & roll now. A lot of people take me so seriously. They don't know what to do with me not taking myself so seriously anymore.”
"I've got a job to do, I've got to just tear down whatever has happened to me and build something new. You can only have it for so long before you don't have it anymore. You become an old-timer... which... I could be... I don't know.
"After all, it's just me and Frank Sinatra left on Reprise Records."
Does anybody doubt that Neil is laughing and having fun right now, or that something’s getting torn down in the process? Is it just too much to handle that the same man employing the same method that in the past produced something “musically pleasing”, is now producing music that is not “melodic” enough or “lyrically complex” enough? I think it’s time for everyone to take a chill pill, and give the guy a break. After all, it has to be pretty lonely sometimes now that Frank is gone.”
A Friend Of Yours