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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Comment of the Moment: 'Wolf Moon" - Neil Young and Promise of the REAL + PODCAST: Thrasher's Wheat Radio - 6/13/15

The Comment of the Moment is from the posting on NEW VIDEO: 'Wolf Moon" - Neil Young and Promise of the REAL.

In reply to TopangaDaze who said...
I think the commenters here who seem to like the song more than others aren't differentiating the song from Neil's overall political and ecological stances. They hear what they want to hear, and I too have been guilty of that at times when it comes to Neil. I know what he's trying to convey, but the song and "performance" never gets started.

Followed by (D.) Ian Kertis who said:


I don't particularly care whether anyone likes the song.

However, what I have to object to is the implication that if I like the song, it must be because I'm allowing my judgment to be clouded or impaired in some way. I've come across this attitude before elsewhere and have never agreed with it. We have different brains and different ears, so there's really no wonder if we don't hear this song the same, even have wildly differing responses. You seem to be assuming that all of those who like the song think in the exact same way, and I find that to be highly unlikely.

Why can't it just be a simple difference of opinion or taste? Why this thinking that there's necessarily something"wrong" (so to speak) with anyone who disagrees with us? I ask this knowing that I've been guilty of this thought pattern in the past. I would just like to think that we could be open to the possibility of differing judgment that isn't necessarily flawed judgment. If we want to have truly open dialogue here, I don't think that the way to go is sweeping declarations about what "those who like the song" *must* think; it's just painting in overly broad strokes and, in my opinion, doesn't particularly encourage one to come forward with an alternative view.

For the record, I said on the original video thread that the song didn't blow me away. But I really like some things in it. In my opinion, it has some good lyrics and some unusual instrumentation. Yes, I appreciate the ecological sentiments, but there are also other things. And if Neil's voice sounds fragile and a bit strained, I'd argue that it's not the first time. I've never listened to Neil Young for great vocals (although he does sing with passion). Go right back to "all in a dream" in After the Goldrush. I love that song, but if that isn't a strained vocal, I don't what is. Even during live performances in the '70s, he didn't sing it that high, as the Live Rust version will attest.

Mind you, the vocal on the studio version adds layers of pathos and striking uniqueness, but the point is that it's compellingly imperfect. And it's this lack of technical refinement which is part of what I'll coin the Neil Appeal. His unique approach to the guitar is a prominent example: I wouldn't call him a technical virtuoso. I've heard his solos referred to as barbaric. Yet they are often inspired and compelling in their passion and pure ethereal, almost transcendent expressiveness. You only have to watch any film of him hunched over Old Black to know that he's entering another world.

Now just recently I heard some classic Queen recordings and the clean, shining quality of Brian May's (excellent) guitar work sounded foreign, dare I say, almost sterile, to my ears. It was then that I realized how used to the growling, snarling, rumbling, fuzzy Neil guitar sound I have grown, and how unusual that sound. What Brian May does can sound great, but there are lots of rock guitarists out there who can deliver a certain kind of fireworks.

What Neil does is powerful in a unique way. I've never heard another guitarist play exactly like him and I don't know if anyone would be capable; he's had decades to hone his method, and a lot of it seems to come from expressive impulse rather than skill. I won't begin trying to describe it any detail here, but what Neil does with the guitar, and with many other aspects of his art, can behave as an art form in itself. It constitutes a potent and uniquely compelling--and often beautiful--creative expression.

And that, for me, is the Neil Appeal.

Thanks (D.) Ian! Well played Queen angle. (golf clap) enjoy!

Podcast from last night on Thrasher's Wheat Radio on Wbkm Dot Org, with Neil Young coverage, discussion and analysis is now ready for download here.

Don't be denied!

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At 6/15/2015 01:54:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Over analysed me thinks...I'll put on Jason Isbell & James McMurtry for some great song writing, Neil no longer holds it for me. Appreciate everything he's done and will do but I reckon he's well and truly in that ditch he alluded to all those years ago.

At 6/16/2015 12:22:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks, as always, for the acknowledgement. It's not the first time that I've been accused of over-analysis. I'm tempted to take that remark as a complement.

Maybe a more likely guitar comparison than Queen would be Stephen Stills. We have CSNY recordings of Steve and Neil exchanging solos. Stills is an excellent rock guitarist, but you can hear the difference between his more orthodox approach and the raw ferocity of many of Neil's solos.

At 6/16/2015 02:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second most of what Ian says.

For me it is all one song.

Fork in the Road does not move me like Harvest.

But Living With War and Greendale move me more.

-- Partly because he's a part of his time and still alive and creating in the present for the living.

I am interested in anything NY is interested in and anything he writes.

I don't have to agree.

I don't need to grade his work.

It is all part of the whole.

But I am thrilled he is engaged in his world and playing with the young, not just sitting back and resting on his considerable accomplishments.

And I think saving the earth is worth a record, and hardly a new passion for him.

I also find Wolf Moon lovely and touching.

At 6/16/2015 08:47:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Andy - Oh yeah, we really dig Jason Isbell & James McMurtry too. Definitely in the ditch spirit.

But analyze stuff is what we do here @ TW. It helps us more fully enjoy the musical experience.

@ (D.) Ian - Know that feeling. Nor is this our first time that we've been accused of over-analysis.

@ Keith - Agree with everything you write.

And you stated it exactly: "We're thrilled Neil is engaged in his world and playing with the young, not just sitting back and resting on his considerable accomplishments."

If only there were more like Neil and those carrying the torch and passing it off, what a wonderful world it would be...


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