The Story Behind Neil Young Joining R.E.M. On Stunning 'Country Feedback'
Here's a favorite memory we've highlighted before -- R.E.M. & Neil Young on "Country Feedback" from Bridge School Benefit in 1998.
This performance is -- without a doubt -- one of R.E.M's finest of one their most loved songs.
Which -- naturally -- would also make this one of our favorite tracks on the Bridge School Concert 25th Anniversary package set.
Also, one of our all time favorite Bridge moments occurs at about ~1:10. Watch it and feel the sheer awe of Michael Stipe as he takes in the moment.
Michael said it best, "I need this, I need this!"
Neil Young's acoustic lead on the song is just so simply stunning in his most achingly acoustic, hauntingly-beautiful-spook-in-the-muse transcendence.
The DVD playing through the ol' hi-fi stereo at "11" is well... in the parlance of our times... just freakin' awesome.
Also, don't you just love the smile from Peter Buck. Then the way Neil gives Pete a nice quick hug right at the end. And how about Neil's beard from back then? Grizzly. :)
Here's the backstory on the video above from rollingstone.com by Gavin Edwards:
The personnel at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, on October 18th, 1998 were somewhat different: With Berry having left R.E.M., Joey Waronker was playing percussion and Ken Stringfellow handled bass, while Scott McCaughey (on piano) hid in the shadows, like Mills. Lurching around the stage in sneakers and a fedora, with a thick mountain-man beard, was Neil Young, soloing on acoustic guitar. Young lost himself in the song, spending long minutes exploring its bittersweet tang, and playing a chiming, melancholy solo. Slightly over four minutes on record, here the song stretched on for nine glorious minutes.
As "Country Feedback" began, Stipe sat down on the stage, gazing up at Young, absorbed in the mood he was creating, chewing on his knuckle. When he stood up, he poured his heart out until his voice cracked, holding notes until he appeared to be in physical pain. "It's a love song, but it's certainly from the uglier side," Stipe has said. "It's pretty much about having given up on a relationship."
R.E.M. greatly revered Neil Young: Their final album, 2011's Collapse into Now, included the song "Me, Marlon Brando, Marlon Brando and I," which was more about Neil Young's "Pocahontas" than it was about Brando. "It's about me going to Neil Young for advice," Stipe said – not that he ever actually had, but he was confident that if he ever had to, Young would have stepped up to the occasion.
During this performance of "Country Feedback," Young gave the best advice possible. He didn't say a word or sing a note, but he played guitar with such authority that it seemed to provide moral clarity. By the end, lost in the music, Stipe could only shake his head.
More on 25th Anniversary 2011 Bridge School Benefit Concert.
ps - "Ambulance Blues" the same night wasn't bad either.
btw, be sure to check the camera transition @ ~1:30. Sheer brilliance and beauty.