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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The 10 Best Neil Young Deep Cuts | Rolling Stone

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So what's your favorite Neil Young deep cut? Certainly, lots to choose from -- from obscure to relatively well known.

Recently, Rolling Stone conducted a Reader Poll and asked the question. From The 10 Best Neil Young Deep Cuts | Rolling Stone by Andy Greene:
Tabulating the votes required a lot of judgement calls. It was a no-brainer to toss out votes for "Old Man" and "Cinnamon Girl," but "Cortez the Killer," "Powderfinger" and "Sugar Mountain" presented a minor conundrum. They aren't hits in the traditional sense, but the latter two appear on Decade while "Powderfinger" is his second most-performed tune (behind only "Cinnamon Girl.") We ultimately felt they were simply too famous to count even though they all got a ton of votes. Feel free to blast away in the comments section if you feel those were bad calls.
Well Andy, can't say that we see any bad calls on the Top 10.

"Expecting to Fly" (#10) ranks up there with "Broken Arrow" in terms of complexity with the mixing and orchestral arrangements.

And who could argue with readers #1 pick of the song "Thrasher"? We're particularly fond of the song ourselves and still somewhat in a state of bliss after hearing it live for the 2nd time in our life last year.

But what's up with the mis-spelling "Trasher"???

See full list at The 10 Best Neil Young Deep Cuts | Rolling Stone by Andy Greene.

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At 6/04/2015 12:18:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Deep Cuts mean different things to different people, but this Rolling Stone list is pretty solid. I do however disagree with 3 or 4 of the picks, and here's their list and my opinions:

1) Thrasher (best song Neil ever wrote)
2) Ambulance Blues (certainly one of the top 5 songs he ever wrote)
3) Don't Be Denied (no argument here-powerful and moving song in every way)
4) Revolution Blues (one of my favorites--great disturbing/satirical lyrics)
5) Albuquerque (First bad pick. It's a good song, but not even top 5 from Tonight's the Night. Roll Another Number, Mellow my Mind, Tired Eyes, Speakin Out and New Mama are better deep cuts.)
6) Pocahontas (Great--uniquely Neil lyrically)
7) Danger Bird (Tough call, but doesn't belong in top 10 in my opinion. Maybe top 20 though)
8) Vampire Blues (Doesn't belong--it fits well in context on a great album, but frankly is thin lyrically and nothing special musically)
9) On the Beach (Can't strongly disagree, but Motion Pictures may be a better choice)
10) Expecting to Fly (Okay pick, but I'd go with Broken Arrow in a similar fashion)

Clearly Mr. Greene and/or the fans think very highly of On the Beach (as do I), but I think this list tilts way too heavily towards that album.

Barstool Blues!!!! How is this song overlooked here?

If I could hold on, to just one thought, for long enough to know....

At 6/04/2015 12:20:00 AM, Blogger Ross said...

I like the list, but what's a "deep cut"?

At 6/04/2015 04:26:00 AM, Blogger La Johnson said...

The Old Laughing Lady
Running Dry
Tell Me Why
Love In Mind
On The Beach
Borrowed Tune
Through My Sails
Opera Star
Rapid Transit

Anything from 2000 onwards???

At 6/04/2015 07:39:00 AM, Blogger Seamus Mc Donnell said...

i didnt know this was going on to be fair.
perhaps its because my first album was harvest moon onwards would askew my own personal favourite 'deep cuts' selection a lot.

does deep cut come from vinyls more inner songs(PYISICALY) on the actual LP?

At 6/04/2015 08:59:00 AM, OpenID Ed said...

Rolling Stone is shit

At 6/04/2015 10:09:00 AM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

The most amusing aspect of the poll was where, as it was first published, the writer had On the Beach as the closing track and Ambulance Blues as the first cut on side 2. It has since been edited (badly - see the On the Beach comment.) but speaks to the depth of Neil Young knowledge at RS these days.

At 6/04/2015 10:28:00 AM, Blogger Lloyd Walton said...

CHANGE YOUR MIND, I'm sort of surprised didn't make the list. That's OK. For me, that song has a deep etching in my soul as a soundtrack to a wild late night ride through a violent thunderstorm while crossing the Valley of the Gods, somewhere down in in Utah, I think.

Crazy Horse's piercing drum and guitar riffs hit perfectly in time with the brilliant lightning flashes which backlit the stone monuments off in the rain blurred distance. It was an interval of sound, light, time, and eternity all coming together. After we made it through, we stopped, got out of the car and gave an offering of thanks.

Every time I hear CHANGE YOUR MIND I'm back in the Valley of the Gods.

Check it out folks. It's all in the notes, and in the spaces between the notes.

At 6/04/2015 10:44:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

These type of lists are just too subjective and personal. Having said that, how can anyone exclude the one song that was so misunderstood but completely explains the demise of his marriage for 36 years? From the emotional, incredible lyrics (just reading them proves Neil can be subtle when he chooses) to the drum beat changes that are genius, Billy's bass sound, to that incredible guitar lead! Ramada Inn should and will go down in history!

At 6/04/2015 10:47:00 AM, Blogger Old Black said...

I can really argue with any of them. Innaresting how many are from On the Beach. Hard for me to consider any of them "deep cuts" because I love them all. My votes:

1. Natural Beauty
2. Roger and Out
3. Borrowed Tune
4. Too Far Gone
5. Albuquerque
6. Ramada Inn
7. Southern Pacific
8. Barstool Blues
9. See the Sky About to Rain
10. Don't Cry No Tears

At 6/04/2015 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Old Black said...

The "best from 2000 onward....?

1. Ramada Inn
2. No Hidden Path
3. Here for You
4. Roger and Out
5. Flags of Freedom
6. Be the Rain
7. Goin' Home
8. The Painter
9. Walk Like a Giant
10. Living With War

In retrospect, Living With War was a pretty good album. But it's a bit sad that it's a struggle to come up with 10 songs you want to hear more than once in the past 15 years.

At 6/04/2015 10:57:00 AM, Blogger Michael said...

1. Prime of Life
2. Bag Fog of Loneliness
3. White Line
4. Old Country Waltz
5. On the Beach
6. The Restless Consumer
7. She's a Healer
8. Surfer Joe & Moe the Sleeze
9. Captain Kennedy
10. Look Out for My Love

At 6/04/2015 11:48:00 AM, Blogger Liz Dennis said...

Drive back, borrowed tune, hurricane, are you passionate, theme from dead man, coming home, piece of crap,vampire blues, theme from dead man, dont be denied, theme from dead man, and theme from dead man

At 6/04/2015 11:51:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Absolutely agree about Change Your Mind--great stuff both lyrically and musically.

We're all dedicated fans here, but to the vast majority of casual fans and/or general music fans, Neil's career basically ended in 1979 with Rust Never Sleeps. When you look at it, it was an incredible body of work in a 10 year period and it does clearly outweigh his work of the last 35 years. How could it not?

That being said, basically all of his stuff beginning with Hawks and Doves can be considered Deep Cuts.

I've become a curmudgeon the last couple of years, and find Ramada Inn, Walk Like a Giant and No Hidden Path to actually be among Neil's worst stuff ever. It just bores me to tears (both on record and live). Poor melodies, inferior song writing, and repetitive self indulgent playing. (I know I'm in the minority--just my opinion.)

Without much thought, my more "recent" favorite Deep Cuts (as of this minute) could be:

Razor Love
Without Rings
Silver and Gold
Distant Camera
Flags of Freedom
Shock and Awe
Hangin' On a Limb
Unknown Legend
Wrecking Ball
Crime in the City
Hippie Dream
Mideast Vacation
This Old Guitar
Love and War
Twisted Road
(Greendale Album)

Since 2000, I feel that Silver and Gold, Prairie Wind, Greendale and Living with War are overall very good cohesive albums.

This is all subject to change tomorrow, just like Neil. Is he pro-gmo yet?

At 6/04/2015 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Liz Dennis said...

Drive back

At 6/04/2015 11:57:00 AM, Blogger La Johnson said...

Old Black, indeed this is a struggle. To, TopangaGaze another curmudgeon here! I thought it was just me that found those songs so uninspiring....just boring.

At 6/04/2015 12:01:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

For an even more esoteric poll, how about Neil's best consecutive group of songs on an album (minimum of 3 songs):


Looking for a Love
Barstool Blues
Stupid Girl
Drive Back
Cortez the Killer

Killer stuff!!

At 6/04/2015 01:39:00 PM, Blogger ANDREW BYROM said...

Don't Spook the Horse - now that is a proper deep cut and much under rated.

At 6/04/2015 01:46:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

When I Hold You in my Arms - especially the live Crazy Horse versions you can find on YouTube. The Are You Passionate version is pretty good too though. I also have a fond place in my heart for Big Time from Broken Arrow.

At 6/04/2015 02:20:00 PM, Blogger Lloyd Walton said...

You are all so right, in the sense that music can be so subjective. How could I not put BIG TIME up near the top of the list when I actually am, still living the dream we had,
for me it's not over ?

At 6/04/2015 02:52:00 PM, Blogger kahunasunset said...

Here's my top ten deep cuts (for what it's worth):
The Losing End (When You're On)
Motion Pictures (For Carrie)
Danger Bird
River Of Pride
Little Wing
Lost In Space
We R In Control
Cocaine Eyes

From 2000 onwards:
Without Rings
Goin' Home
Sun Green
Be The Rain
Flags Of Freedom
Spirit Road
No Hidden Path
Angry World
Ramada Inn
When I Watch You Sleeping

At 6/04/2015 09:18:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@ All - This is a pleasant surprise to see the passion for the deep cuts.

@ TopangaDaze - nice rundown and commentary. Yes, Motion Pictures might have been a better choice.

@ Ross - With Neil, it's pretty much anything that wasn't a "hit".

@ La Johnson - yes, deep cuts post 2000 seems thin although lots of options.

@ Seamus - no, deep cuts aren't really a physical thing as much as metaphorical.

@ Pinto (or Flounder) - back again?! The RS guy Andy Greene seems fairly Neil knowledgeable as these things go.

@ Lloyd - CYM is certainly a great one from the 90's, no argument.

@ Unknown - Yep, Ramada Inn might just go classic someday...

@ Old Black - good list with a wide range of catalog.

@ Michael - those are VERY deep cuts.

@ Liz - theme from dead man is an interesting choice and might just go into obscure cuts category.

@ ANDREW - good one with Don't Spook the Horse. Need to dig that up and give it a spin.

@ Tom - Big Time from Broken Arrow is definitely worthy.

@ kahunasunset - Little Wing is really excellent and overlooked on an overlooked album.

Thanks again to all for the comments. Love you all.

At 6/04/2015 10:35:00 PM, Blogger John Tewks said...

I'd say almost any song from Greendale would qualify as a best deep cut from after 2000! And same for the albums Broken Arrow and Mirror Ball from just before. They all sound the same and all fantastic. And the songs High Flying Bird, and Walk Like a Giant, This Old Guitar, Mr. Disappointment, Razor Love, Without Rings, Philadelphia, Scattered, Interstate, are my favourite "deep" NY tunes from the last decade and half. And the movie Greendale is the best of his "Deep Flix"!

At 6/04/2015 11:13:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

I was surprised that this post didn't initially get any comments. It's certainly a good topic which leads to great thoughts and memories. Again, virtually everything Neil did in the 70's was very good to great in retrospect, but it's been nice seeing and thinking about his more recent work as well.

In a way, being a Neil fan is a Deep Cut in and of itself. The more open and willing you are, the deeper the insight and reward. To me, his best work always requires many listens and eventually the songs simply become a part of you. As much as I tend to criticize his more recent work, "Looking Back" since 2000 one can still see and hear alot of moving music.

It's a razor love, that cuts clean through...

At 6/05/2015 12:54:00 AM, Blogger (D.) Ian Kertis said...

First of all, let me just chime in that Thrasher is a brilliant song, and it's a good choice for the number one spot in that, at least for me personally, it's somewhat unexpected. Otherwise, though, the list is a little narrow. Considering just how much of Neil there is out there, it's a little "On the Beach"-heavy for my tastes. And I like that album a lot: it may be my favorite of the Ditch trilogy. But Vampire Blues? I do love the title song (would argue for it over Motion Pictures-- not that we're arguing) and I understand Ambulance Blues being there. I'm generally a deep cuts kind of guy and as Topanga pointed out, our definition of Neil Young's deep cuts is probably different than most people's; apart from Rockin' in the Free world and Harvest Moon, the only two post-1980 songs on Greatest HIts, the stuff most people are aware of is over thirty years old. So there's a whole slew of stuff I'd like to see given a little more attention, but I'm not surprised that it's not happening. Here are some of mine, no particular order. I'm especially intrigued with the idea of rounding up great deep cuts from the last fifteen-twenty years. This list is focused on the recent years, but trying to hit each decade:

Slip Away
Music Arcade
Words (Between the Lines of Age)
The Great Divide
Touch the Night
Violent Side
Love and War
Are You Passionate?
She's a Healer
Mr. Disappointment
For the Love of Man
Two old Friends
When God Made Me
Without Rings
Payola Blues
Light a Candle
No Hidden Path
The Way
Safeway Cart

Almost the entire Sleeps with Angels album, which I regard as a wholly brilliant piece of work, might as well be on my list. but I have to give special mention to A Dream that Can Last, one of the greatest album closers ever and a beautiful and uplifting song that I've taken inspiration from any number of times. There's nothing else like that I know of in Neil's catalogue (except for My Heart, its sister that bookends the other end of the album) and it constitutes a master stroke. The whole motley assortment of musical ideas going on--Ralph Molina's monotonous ball-and-chain, heavy footstep drumbeat, the gliding and sometimes giddily dancing tack piano, and intermittent flourishes of the second piano, ranging from an ominous, discordant rumble to coloratura skipping across the melody, completely coalesces. It might sound like a mess on paper, but when I hear them, these seemingly disparate elements produce a profoundly unified whole of music and an astonishing image of the struggle between despair and hope.

At 6/05/2015 08:57:00 AM, Blogger Soldier Steve said...

So many deep cuts in Neil's catalog, impossible for me to keep it at 10.Here's mine
Goin' Back
Light A Candle
Journey Through The Past
Hold Back The Tears
Sail Away
Lost In Space
Inca Queen
Feel Your Love
Cocaine Eyes
Over And Over
You And Me
Big Green Country
Slip Away
Red Sun
Distant Camera
Are You Passionate?
This Old Guitar
The Painter
Natural Beauty
I'm Glad I Found You
Ramada Inn
Music Arcade
Angry World
Spirit Road
The Losing End
Big Time
Peaceful Valley Boulevard
Love And War
The Ways Of Love
Too Far Gone
Flags Of Freedom
The Old Country Waltz
Goin' Home
Here For You
No Hidden Path
Be The Rain
Falling From Above
Roger And Out
Prisoner's Of Rock And Roll
The Restless Consumer
Living With War
Drive Back
Opera Star
Surfer Joe And Moe The Sleeze
Sun Green
Two Old Friends
Without Rings
She's A Healer
Touch The Night
Violent Side
Jesus Chariot
High Flyin' Bird
Sedan Delivery
I'm Goin'
Old Ways
My Boy
Box Car
Ever After
Bad News
The Big Room
Ain't It The Truth
This Old House
For The Turnstiles
The Bridge
Safeway Cart
Days That Used To Be

At 6/05/2015 09:07:00 AM, Blogger Ross said...

Mid-east Vacation anyone?

At 6/05/2015 09:47:00 AM, Blogger Pinto (or Flounder) said...

Very surprised that Will to Love is not mentioned. Beautiful recording and nothing remotely similar in Neil's (or anyone else's) catalog.

Also gently amused at Thrasher's defense of the RS writer who didn't know the song sequence on side two of On the Beach. Remembering the heated, indignant responses to criticism of Neil's post-Greendale recordings and his demands for one's "bona fides" before being allowed to venture a less than glowing opinion. I guess the bona fide standard is lower if you write for Rolling Stone.

At 6/05/2015 09:56:00 AM, Blogger Lloyd Walton said...

It is great to see how his music touches our hearts in so many ways. Every time I hear MY OLD MAN, I tear up. I was a fan of his old man since I was a kid. I can see him out walking in the fields by Cavan. Then I think of my old man doing the same, now gone. Then I think of my son singing MY OLD MAN, about me. Yea, that song just tears me up. It isn't a wide screen epic. It's a lets go into the corner and have a quiet heart to heart.

At 6/05/2015 10:36:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Hey Ross, I mentioned Mideast Vacation--always loved it:
I was Rambo in the disco, I was shootin' to the beat.....

(D.) Ian Kertis: Nice thoughts and good list. About a year ago I pulled out Sleeps with Angels for the first time in several years. Great stuff for the most part, though Trans Am and Piece of Crap seem out of place and disjointed to me.

Pinto, I'd definitely include Will to Love, but I focused my list on the "recent" stuff.

Soldier Steve, sounds like you may have come up with an alternate version of Archives, and in some ways a more innaresting one...

At 6/05/2015 11:03:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Just realized how under represented Neil's solo debut album is.

Last Trip to Tulsa (not mentioned)--better Dylan than Dylan to me..
If I could Have Her Tonight (not mentioned)
I've Been Waiting for You (not mentioned)
What Did You Do to My Life? (not mentioned)
Here We Are in the Years (I think it was mentioned once or twice)

This is a very solid overall album: Love, Yearning, Ecology, Fantasy, Death--our hero pretty much laid out his roadmap for us all early on.

At 6/05/2015 11:15:00 AM, Blogger Old Black said...

Looking again over this post, I began reflecting on all of the cuts on Prairie Wind. That album does not get the attention it deserves (maybe because he didn't tour after releasing it). Many have listed songs from Prairie Wind as favorite deep cuts. That is a beautiful album - great musicianship and great lyrics, delivered wonderfully. I remember when it came out - I wanted to learn how to play every song. "When God Made Me" is amazing. I love the line, "I try to ignore what the papers say, and I try not to read all the news". After 9/11, that was me all over. And "Here for You" - if you've ever sent a child off to college or whatever, you know exactly what he's feeling.

At 6/05/2015 12:24:00 PM, Blogger setlistthief said...

I’m sorry I missed this post initially. I’ve definitely got some opinions on what goes on this list! Being a Rustie is hard, there is so much great material to draw from. So, I just listed a bunch of songs that immediately came to mind. In no particular order:

Razor Love (cuts clean through…)
Change Your Mind (don't let another day go by without the magic touch..)
When You Dance, I Can Really Love (you made it show…)
I’ve Been Waiting For You (for such a long time now…)
Slowpoke (wear all your clothes and do what you do)
Ordinary People (… they're takin' it one day, one day at a time)
The Painter (If you follow every dream you might get lost)
Thrasher (how I lost my friends I still don’t understand…)
Ramada Inn (Every morning comes the sun, and they both rise into the day…)
Pardon My Heart (if I showed that I cared)
Sixty to Zero (…this minstrel who came to court on a charge that he blew someone's head off because his amp was too large)
Scattered (when the music calls I'll be there…)
Falling From Above (a little love and affection in everything you do…)
Over and Over (and the moon is shining down…)
Campaigner (even Richard Nixon has got it…soul)
The Old Homestead (why do you ride that crazy horse?)

And there is so much more.

At 6/05/2015 12:25:00 PM, Blogger setlistthief said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6/06/2015 02:44:00 PM, Blogger Bud said...

Here are my selections for Neil's ten best tunes:

1) Expecting to Fly
2) Sugar Mountain
3) Down By The River
4) Southern Man
5) A Man Needs a Maid
6) Words (Between the lines of age)
7) Cortez the Killer
8) Like a Hurricane
9) Harvest Moon
10) Albuquerque


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