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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps: Burning Out, Not Fading Away | Music Videos Deconstructed

Neil Young's Rust Never Sleeps & Human Highway

Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps captures a moment in history where rock’s old guard was bumping up against the aftermath of punk. 

Greil Marcus' wrote in his 1993 book "Ranters & Crowd Pleasers: Punk in Pop Music" on selecting "Rust Never Sleeps" as the most important album of 1979:

"Divided equally between graceful acoustic reveries and viciously hard rock, this was a sneak attack on entropy, its explicit subject. Up against the most reliable and unpredictable rock 'n' roller of the decade, entropy never had a chance --- at least while this album was playing."
From Music Videos Deconstructed :
And so it is that in 1978 we get a short-haired Neil Young singing about how “it’s better to burn out than to fade away/rust”, a line which alongside Pete Townsend’s “Hope I die before I get old” captures the rock n’ roll ethos (not to mention punks ‘anarchic’ nihilism) pretty perfectly. In two versions, one acoustic, the other bludgeoningly electric, of one song ‘Hey Hey, My My’ (Out Of The Blue/In To The Black) Young filters the current zeitgeist, preceding the line above with “The King is gone but he’s not forgotten, this is the story of a Johnny Rotten” referencing the death of Elvis, the arrival of the Sex Pistols and all that seemed to represent in one killer line.

And whilst the ambient resonance of punk is most obviously referenced in ‘Hey Hey, My My’ it is every bit as evident in the trashy blast of ‘Welfare Mothers’ and the pummeling drive of ‘Sedan Delivery’, the latter’s verses delivered at positively breakneck speed by Crazy Horse standards. The entire electric part of this performance is loose limbed and slightly ragged. The music ebbs and flows, with Young acting as the conductor taking his band up and down at will. Together they make what might be labelled in England as a glorious racket.

More on Music Videos Deconstructed . (website defunct. full article below)

 neil young crazy horse rust never sleeps film movie concert

Burning Out, Not Fading Away: Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps 

March 12, 2016 by Paul Brown 

We take a look at a classic concert movie which captures a moment in history where rock’s old guard was bumping up against the aftermath of punk…

The late 1970’s were a strange time for the generation of rock royalty that had emerged so brightly from the previous decade. No longer the vanguard, the likes of Dylan, the Stones, The Who et al found themselves increasingly out of step especially when the twin explosions of punk and disco shook the cultural landscape to its core.

Neil Young weathered that particular storm better than most. In part this was because Young had never really been in step with his own generation anyway. Although he may have began his career in the 60’s with Buffalo Springfield it was in the 70’s that Young really flowered, releasing a string of albums that have become his core works. To this end Young surfed that high wave over and through the shifting sands beneath.

The other factor was that with Crazy Horse he had for some years been playing music which had the same un-technical, shambolic air that many an untutored punk band was currently pedalling. Crazy Horse were absolutely not musos, and in another life would have been lucky to have gotten a job with anyone else of even half Neil Young’s stature. Indeed, Young had cause to defend his backing group’s abilities to his peers on more than one occasion. When he told CSNY colleague Stephen Still that he played with them because they had soul, Stills replied “My dog’s got soul Neil, I don’t want him in my band”.

Young was right though, what Crazy Horse lacked in chops they made up for with feeling, and it’s that which Young prizes above all else and was what most delighted him about punk, which he was quick to embrace and support. In an interview at the time he said “I like that music because the people making it are alive. And they don’t give a shit. They don’t care about being number one. They don’t care about a great sounding, polished product. What they want is guts, and a good beat”.

And so it is that in 1978 we get a short-haired Neil Young singing about how “it’s better to burn out than to fade away/rust”, a line which alongside Pete Townsend’s “Hope I die before I get old” captures the rock n’ roll ethos (not to mention punks ‘anarchic’ nihilism) pretty perfectly. In two versions, one acoustic, the other bludgeoningly electric, of one song ‘Hey Hey, My My’ (Out Of The Blue/In To The Black) Young filters the current zeitgeist, preceding the line above with “The King is gone but he’s not forgotten, this is the story of a Johnny Rotten” referencing the death of Elvis, the arrival of the Sex Pistols and all that seemed to represent in one killer line.

And whilst the ambient resonance of punk is most obviously referenced in ‘Hey Hey, My My’ it is every bit as evident in the trashy blast of ‘Welfare Mothers’ and the pummeling drive of ‘Sedan Delivery’, the latter’s verses delivered at positively breackneck speed by Crazy Horse standards. The entire electric part of this performance is loose limbed and slightly ragged. The music ebbs and flows, with Young acting as the conductor taking his band up and down at will. Together they make what might be labelled in England as a glorious racket.

It’s with an acoustic performance we begin though, and slowly too. The first minutes of the performance see the ‘roadeyes’ setting the stage to the slightly disjointed strains of Hendrix’s ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and the Beatles’ ‘A Day In The Life’ for Young to emerge childlike from a box to sing ‘Sugar Mountain’ followed by ‘I Am A Child’, songs as sweet as any he has ever written. As he carries on through this section there seems to be something almost incongruous about these songs in light of what you know is to come. This is the spoonful of sugar, sweetening things for the heavy medicine Crazy Horse are about to bring.

It’s only when he launches in to the acoustic ‘Hey Hey, My My’ that the atmosphere starts to bristle a little, and only when the band launch in to searing versions of ‘When You Dance You Can Really Love’ and ‘The Loner’ that we get down to business, the latter rocking much harder than the version on his eponymous debut, and all the better for it. Indeed, fuelled by punk’s noise Young was rocking harder than he ever had. Long time Young associate Joel Bernstein would later recall of the Rust Never Sleeps tour “It was incredibly loud, unbelievably loud” and adding how in one L.A. show the entire guest section including Ahmet Ertegun and David Geffen left during the second electric song, such was the pummeling effect of the volume.

Contrarily enough the highlights come when all concerned slow the pace a little and relax in to songs that have become staples of the NY&CH ouvre. ‘Powderfinger’ and ‘Cortez The Killer’ give them a chance to stretch out a bit, with Young’s incendiary solos taking center stage, but it’s ‘Like A Hurricane’ that really soars, howls in fact, and is also the point in the concert where Young sails closest to the kind of mega-stadium ROCK that punk was trying to get away from.

And it’s his inbuilt sense of the contrary which shines through strongest on Rust Never Sleeps; acoustic troubador and hard-nosed rocker, at once both sharply in tune with the times and yet always resolutely marching to his own beat. He would lose his way a bit in the 80’s but only by steadfastly refusing to compromise his artistic drive. It’s an ethos which colours his entire career, and is how he’s managed to remain wholly contemporary without ever being even slightly fashionable. And it’s how in 1978 he was able to flourish where others floundered as a new era dawned.

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At 3/18/2016 05:11:00 AM, Blogger new design said...

His greatest album

At 3/18/2016 09:34:00 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Of all the cool visual aspects of that show my favourite is Pancho's Montreal Canadiens jersey.

At 3/18/2016 03:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3/18/2016 03:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NY went to Pluto or to some strange planet far far away a long time ago to create this masterpiece . In other words this is the ultimate, greatest and most important album of the seventies. No rock n roll album has come close to this master work for me.

At 3/18/2016 04:42:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

General Mills to start using GMO labeling nationwide

At 3/18/2016 07:32:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

I'd put 'On The Beach' with Rust

At 3/18/2016 08:35:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Funny, a while back here I posted a list of my top 10 or 20 Neil songs. I listed 3 from Rust (Hey Hey, My My & Thrasher & Powderfinger), and commented that it surprised me because I never mention Rust as my favorite album.

I've just always felt that Ride my Llama, Welfare Mothers and Sedan Delivery aren't particularly strong songs. Not terrible mind you, just average at best (though Sedan Delivery has grown on me over the years).

That being said, I still consider it a great album, primarily because of the "Rust" concept and the oft quoted "it's better to burn out..." sentiments, combined with the brilliance of Thrasher, Powderfinger, Pocahontas, etc..

"How I lost my friends, I still don't understand"

Take my advice
don't listen to me

At 3/18/2016 11:17:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

"RNS" is a true classic,and I absolutely LOVED the speed and ferocity of the electric songs...our Neil was kicking rock in the ass and making it sound exciting again.Tip of the hat to Neil,AGAIN !!!:-)

At 3/18/2016 11:23:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

"RNS" is a true classic,and I absolutely LOVED the speed and ferocity of the electric songs...our Neil was kicking rock in the ass and making it sound exciting again.Tip of the hat to Neil,AGAIN !!!:-)

At 3/18/2016 11:28:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

A great performance. As albums go, I'm kind of a sucker for the acoustic stuff, so I'd personally would put After the Goldrush up there, and On the Beach as Andy mentioned--not to even get into Harvest or the other two albums of the Ditch Trilogy. RNS is a strong album, but it followed from a decade of sensational output, and because RNS is post-Decade, I think it sometimes gets a little forgotten when discussing "classic" era Neil Young. Hard to choose a favorite here, although this one is clearly iconic.


In another post, on another day, I'd probably have a spirited defense for Ride my Llama. I didn't always feel that way, but it's grown one surprisingly. I wouldn't say it's top tier Neil, but maybe second tier, and after a while of digesting all the hits and the ones you liked initially, sometimes the songs you overlooked in the past can seem fresh in comparison and come to life in unexpected ways. I do also think Welfare Mothers is effective for what it is, though I'd recommend the Weld recording for the full experience. I've always interpreted it as predominantly a compassionate commentary about single mothers, broken families, and socioeconomic disadvantage. And the anchoring riff is one of my favorites. Sedan Delivery… would need an entire post of its own. It's always been somewhat of the weak link of RNS for me, and still the least appealing thing on side 2. But again, even if you ignore the lyrics entirely, it can be an exhilarating track. Side 2 of RNS, in hindsight, is the prototype for Neil's and Crazy Horse's experimentation with grunge (something which, in my opinion, wouldn't fully come to fruition il the '90s with Ragged Glory and Sleeps with Angels), and while all the electric songs are laying that groundwork, Welfare Mothers and Sedan Delivery are particularly striking for how far they go in the proto-grunge direction.

At 3/19/2016 01:28:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The 70's was the decade Neil Young music really seeped into my soul.
Like the decade before when the Beatles hit America, Neil's music slowly
took over my mind. You folks know what I mean.

So here we are 5 decades in and he's still keeping us all roused up about
all kinds of stuff!
Which makes his assault on Monsanto so particular to me and a lot of others.
Check out this, my hometown is getting in the fight too!

For years the local news broadcasts say every summer that deformed fish are found
in the river, don't eat them! This is Oregon! We can't eat the fish?! Who's the culprit here?
Well, guess who.

RNS was and is the best comeback to Disco and Punk....ever.
Neil is full of comebacks! And now he's fearless with his new endeavors and his band is too.

And I can't say enough good things about POTR's recent release.
The last track on the CD is like a time machine for me.
It really was like that, for a time. And I was there.

At 3/19/2016 07:06:00 AM, Blogger downbutnotout said...

The near perfect album,as above my all time playing favourite.

At 3/19/2016 08:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, we all know RNS is a good album, and the RNS film is even better.

But here's something that I bet you haven't watched in a while: Weld. And ideally you need to find the pristine 2-DVD transfer of the laser disc - the clips on youtube are in very rough quality and may spoil the experience.

As good as Rust is, Weld is better. Neil's guitar playing is more eloquent, he's more energetic, Crazy Horse have improved immeasurably. The guitar playing is as beautiful as it is vicious. And you've got the cream of the Ragged Glory songs thrown in for good measure, performed to a standard that they never would be again. This is Neil Young, undiluted, at the top of his game as a performer.

I suggest you cancel your plans for the rest of the day (the wedding can wait) and go and watch it now. The only downside is it will make much of what Neil has done electrically since then seem somehow inferior. The "diddly diddly diddly" stuff from the electric sets of 2015 will seem particularly laughable in comparision.

Alas, such is the price of great art.


At 3/19/2016 12:13:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

I recently played Rust Never Sleeps, Ragged Glory, Sleeps with Angels, and Psychedelic Pill back to back and was amazed at the consistency of the four albums. All four were raw, emotional, and honest works. The Horse plays with fire and grit as Neil explores the universe on Old Black. I felt with each album Neil and the Horse grew as a band, both sonically and lyrically. It really is "all one song".

At 3/19/2016 06:05:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I take extreme umbrage at any criticism to Sedan Delivery. Watch the enclosed link
to opening of Rock in Rio 2001. Absofrigginlutely Incendiary! This song kicks so much ass. some much better than the droning and plodding Cortez or overrated Hurricane

At 3/19/2016 06:39:00 PM, Blogger David said...

The truth is that with only a few exceptions, all of his songs are my favorite NY songs. Thank G--d we have been able to age with him and him with us. By far the only remaining one remaining from the beginning. He tells us about life and ourselves as he tells us about himself, as he has always done. Lucky us!

At 3/20/2016 12:52:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@w san jose CA--

No umbrage intended to be taken. It is a hell of a rocker. As far as the words go, it's one of those where I feel that Neil was going for something… but I'm not sure what, and it's easy for that to throw you off at first. I remember a solid version of Sedan Delivery from the Year of the Horse live album (recorded 1996-97). Rust and Weld got tons of praise, but Year of The Horse is an album I come back to every once in a while, believe it or not. Good versions of Barstool Blues and Danger Bird, and I have always liked Slip Away from the Broken Arrow album. Broken Arrow (album) is generally overlooked. It has its problems, but Big Time*, Loose Change, Slip Away*, and Scattered (Let's think about Livin')*, and the beautiful acoustic Music Arcade, are all powerful songs I return to. As an album, Broken Arrow probably seems directionless, slow, and maybe even shapeless to many listeners. And it may actually be all of those things at times (not to mention how weird the title is for anyone who's aware of a certain song that closes the album Buffalo Springfield Again), but some good music still comes out of it andy it is one of those albums I wish people would revisit now and again.

At 3/20/2016 05:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

W san jose CA:

I agree Sedan Delivery is a great song, but Hurricane "overrated"? Cortez "plodding"? Not sure what to say about that. I can recommend a Psychiatrist.

Ian Kertis:

Broken Arrow's title was inspired by the recent death of David Briggs. In other words, the arrow wasn't broken up until that point. Overall I think the album has some great songs, and it's certainly not as bad as contemporary reviews indicate.

Neil claimed that his intention with this album was to quickly "get one under my belt without Briggs", but unfortunately Broken Arrow sets a new precedent for the years to come, with often lazy songwriting, sketchy performances, and a general feel of being half-baked (and therefore unfulfilling). The mastering of the album doesn't do it any favours either, with a brittle sound that is a little hard on the ears.

Year Of The Horse took a very inconsistant tour and condensed it down into a pretty good live album that included some of the more unusual songs. It's not ground-breaking like Rust or Arc Weld, and the performances are variable, but it's certainly a lot better than no live album at all (I'm not sure the same can be said about Road Rock). I often enjoy listening to it.

Dan Swan:

Sleeps With Angels is fantastic. Nice to see it get a mention.


At 3/20/2016 12:38:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

I've always felt that "Cortez" is Neil's most restrained, professional and mature guitar work. In other words, it's simply boring to my ears. I still like the song thanks to the lyrics, and will admit that occasionally the song soars in live performance (but not consistently).

"Like a Hurricane" is a masterpiece of playing with the perfect fogged out dreamy lyrics to match. What completely separates it from "Cortez" is that it's instantly recognizable. That airy fluid first note or two says it all and you know what you're about to get. "Cortez" on the other hand has no distinctive tone or riff--in concert, I don't initially know what song it is until he "plods" along for a minute or two. Then I say oh yeah, it's "Cortez" and I start looking forward to those first words "he came dancing across the water" to transport me.

While I don't love "Cortez" I still consider it to be one of his most important songs, even though the guitar playing is "plodding" (sorry Scotsman).

Sleeps with Angels fits right in there nicely amongst Neil's best albums. In many ways, it grows more powerful every time I listen as it reveals new nuggets of emotion lyrically and especially musically. It's quite varied and the pacing keeps the listener on his toes.

Of course I must have at least a little gripe, and that would be "Trans Am" and "Piece of Crap"--why he included these 2 songs I'll never know. They're stylistically and thematically out of place while being generically disposable tunes. Still though, they're "not so bad" that I ignore them when they come around. SWA must be played from beginning to end...

Take my advice
don't listen to me

At 3/20/2016 12:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Topanga: check out some versions of Cortez from 1991. It's often been a bit dull in recent years which might be putting you off, but pretty much every version from 1991 is a masterpeice of guitar playing that I think will win you over, a perfect blend of lyrical beauty and sheer terror.

I like your observations about Sleeps With Angels. But I do think you need to reconsider Trans Am and Piece Of Crap. The Trans Am in the song is clearly "built to last"; it rolls on through everything, even an earthquake. Whereas Neil's fax machine that inspired the song is a "piece of crap" that breaks down immediately.

The theme of death and decay is interlaced throughout the album with that of resilience and rebirth (Prime Of Life, Change Your Mind, Train Of Love etc) and Trans Am and Piece Of Crap together represent the two extremes, leading perfectly into album-closer "A Dream That Can Last".


At 3/20/2016 01:09:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Scotsman, and TopangaDaze:

You both make valid points, and I enjoy reading your comments every day here on Thrasher. You are both incredibly passionate Neil fans, so thank you both for being here.

I find both Cortez and Hurricane essential Neil epics, and I think both benefit immensely in the live environment. I really don't feel that prodding is necessarily a negative thing, especially on Cortez. For me anyway, it draws the listener into the song. Cortez is a dramatic story, and musically it takes it's time, and for me it works. Hurricane is more of a emotional song and Neil has his heart on his sleeve, so the song just soars out of the gate with raw emotion. Neil's catalog is full of long extended works, but these two are essential for me.

.... and yes Sleeps with Angels must be played from beginning to end.

At 3/20/2016 03:19:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Scotsman: Interesting points about "Trans Am" and "Piece of Crap" and their roles within the themes of SWA. I'll have to think about it a little bit, but will definitely do so the next time I listen to the album.

I'll take your advice and re-visit the Weld tour material. If memory serves, I liked the live album when it came out (but not as much for his classic tunes). I saw the tour @ the Capitol Center in Maryland, though it was not my favorite by a longshot. The arena wasn't full and it just seemed a little boring (but loud).

I applaud your staunch reverence for the Weld timeframe, but I think our paths meet at that point in time for different reasons. You consider it perhaps his greatest moment with CH while I tend to think of it as the beginning of the end of the NY/CH magic. For me, the playing on that tour lost its "melodic fluidity" and started becoming sludgy, grungy, droning and tedious (though with moments of transcendence).

I think his last great live playing with CH was in 86/87, but clearly it's all subjective. I may change my mind after listening to and watching some more of the Weld material. Perspective has a way of changing opinion..

I've ranted over this before, but to me, I no longer have much if any interest in seeing Neil with CH because the style has changed so dramatically. I think the talent is still there overall, but their (his) goals have changed. The playing is now largely free form noise/distortion basically going nowhere. Self-indulgent without the "musicality" or artistry...

I'll always hold their music in the highest esteem, but as with everything, there comes a time when the balance shifts.

Dan: Good description of Cortez!

Take my advice
don't listen to me

At 3/20/2016 06:24:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Lots of insightful comments by the intrepids here @ TW.

Funny how a ~40 year old album sparks more passion that say something like -- oh say -- Storytone?!

Actually, we think it just says how landmark and revolutionary RNS was back in 1978.

In many ways, punk was to the 70's what grunge music was to the 90's.

Both grunge and punk were relatively short lived musical genres that had a much greater impact than their sales, radio play, and concert performances would indicate. However, critically, both genres were both hailed and disparaged as either the future of rock or an indication that rock was dead.

RnR will never die. Go ask Neil. Remember what the dormouse said?

At 3/20/2016 10:15:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hurricane isn't overrated. I sort of misspoke there. But as time goes on my tolerance for NY stretching out some songs gets less and less. Just end the song already, please. the way they lower the keyboard for Frank Sampedro is clunky too. It used to make Duck Dunn a comsummate musician by any standard loose his mind in concert. I also like Broken Arrow and YOH Live . I was fortunate to see what I think was one of the only versions of Over and Over in concert Lake Tahoe 2012. a great tune you hear little about.

At 3/21/2016 01:18:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...


Thanks for the insight on Broken Arrow. You're right that the mixing/mastering didn't necessarily help it. It's not even a "muddy" sound; it's more… spacey, with the vocals obscured. Neil sounds lots and not in control at times. Maybe that's the point. As you said, the songs are of a varying quality, but there's a handful of very good ones in there. Like other stuff deep in Neil's catalogue, they unfortunately tend to get buried.

As I've said before, I think Neil has had a number of strong albums since 2000. I find that most of the albums following Broken Arrow avoid its formlessness and sense of the artist being lost. If anything, I'd say Neil's vision has gotten stronger in some cases these last few years (beginning with Greendale) than it's been in a while, and for me, the songs have been fairly consistent in quality most of the time. When I say "consistent", I do, of course, make some allowances depending on the style or mode Neil seems to be in for a given project. I'm not saying they all sound alike, but that for my tastes, many of his recent songs are up to a high standard. They don't replicate the past, but they really shouldn't.

As to Road Rock, I usually don't venture beyond the 18-minute Cowgirl in the Sand (one of my favorite songs in any version), and possible the long version of Words (Between the Lines of Age), since that's one of my unusual favorites from Harvest.

Topanga: I agree, word for word, with that description of Like a Hurricane. Certainly not underrated by me.

Also, I agree with all of the praise for Sleeps with Angels: an excellent album that I'm glad to see getting its due. Trans Am and Piece of Crap are outliers, particularly the latter, to the point that some people like Piece of Crap and almost nothing else from the album. Apart from POC, the rest of the album is often unlike your average Crazy Horse record, which only means that it extra points for doing something really different and doing it well. Trans Am is another song I could spend a whole post on. It doesn't necessarily fit with some of the others on the album, but I would not be too quick to dismiss it. Whereas POC is pretty straightforward and unsubtle, I think there's a lot going on with Trans Am. The lyrics span American history and economics, from covered wagons to "global manufacturing", and at the end, the Trans Am is broken down (only one headlamp burned out if memory serves) but apparently salvageable, and "there's good money in it for you and me" if we come to the rescue. And all of this from the man who would eventually tackle the auto industry in the development of cleaner energy. To be clear, this is a multi-layered song (and narrative), and it's taken me several years of listening to get this far with it, so, like I said, don't abandon it (or any song) too quickly.

At 3/21/2016 02:37:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Funny how a ~40 year old album sparks more passion that say something like -- oh say -- Storytone?! - not really Storytone doesn't have the songs and sits with LOW & FITR as lightweight and dispensable.

Broken Arrow lacks any 'great' songs in fact I haven't played it for 10 years. When you look through your collection of Neil Young records which ones do you regularly dig out? Now let's be honest here - RNS has the songs it's as simple as that.

I'm off to ride my llama from Peru to Americana

At 3/21/2016 06:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

w san Jose CA:

Very fair point, thanks for clarifying. I do agree that the best versions of Cortez, Hurricane etc etc generally aren't the very long versions. As TopangaDaze will correctly guess, my favourite versions of both are from 1991, where they regularly tended to sit around the 8-13 minute mark. There was a discipline to the music in that year that I really appreciate. The instrumentals were long and epic, but within an established form, a self-imposed limitation. It made them more intense.

And definitely, when these songs go on for much longer than this, the guitar playing tends to become less and less vital. We've all heard 22-minute versions of Hurricane that would have benefited from having 8 minutes of noise shaved off.

Thrasher, Andy Walters, Ian:

I actually have a soft spot for Storytone. The trick is to ignore the orchestral version, which sounds nice and all, but really adds nothing of value to the solo versions.

I think all the recent albums since Americana have had the foundations to be really good albums. The concepts are more interesting than anything between 2005 and 2011. The problem that remains is the lyric writing. It's just not that good for large parts of these albums. And so the songwriting muscle is consistantly being allowed to atrophy, because it's never being given a true workout. Anyone can write down the first thought that pops into their head. The skilled part is turning it into a decent song.

But there's an honesty to Storytone: even when the songwriting is a bit clunky, there's the real sense of someone communicating their innermost feelings to you, and the music is perfectly matched to that feeling. This is not "Neil the environmentalist" or "Neil the Pono salesman" or "Neil the anti-GMO". This Is the Neil the person. He's not hiding, and that gives the album a huge advantage.


At 3/21/2016 07:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The theme of Trans Am is resilience. It's got less to do with cars than it it has with people, life, death, and Neil Young. It's a metaphor.

Time and time again on Sleeps With Angels you will experience people and things dying (or decaying), some quicker than others, and then often coming back in some form.

The Western Hero is destined for history, but the song he lives in mutates into something new (Train Of Love). The girl in Driveby is murdered, but her spirit lives on (A Dream That Can Last). Kurt Cobain is overwhelmed by the pressures of his life, but he's "always on someone's mind".

It's an album of balance. Prime Of Life and Change Your Mind have an accompanying nightmare in the form of Blue Eden. For every Dream That Can Last there is a Safeway Cart at the other end of the scale.

Even the Trans Am breaks down eventually, of course. But the driver is still alive. And so is Neil Young.

And, for a while at least, so are we.


At 3/21/2016 12:20:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Brief update: I've listened to and watched some material from Weld/'91 and I'm pleased to report it's much better to my ears than I'd remembered. I still think it was the beginning of a "significant" downward stylistic shift, but I must admit that the playing was quite good with matching energy levels.

That's one of the great things about this site and being a Neil fan in general. There's so much material to plow through that when new was perceived in a certain way and then gets filed away for various reasons, but then becomes fresh again upon changing perspectives.

Thanks Scotsman, Ian, Andy, Dan, San Jose and of course Thrash.

Now it's time to move on to "Trans Am" with renewed vigor and insight. We'll see...

Take my advice
don't listen to me

At 3/22/2016 12:28:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

this warm up show at the Trocodero SF CA 05081997 is really great. a full dress rehearsal. Sedan Delivery @ 29:20 smokes, during sex. the beast with 2 backs is writhing! . can we have a link please of just favorite Sedan Deliveries? lol lets start here please Thrasher.

At 3/31/2016 06:50:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Rust Never Sleep is easily Neil's greatest work.
Without it, there's no THRASHER!
Rock and Roll can never die as long as Neil Young music lives.


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This blog supports free speech!

Demand justice for Aaron:
Support "Aaron's Law" and inquiry into his prosecution

(... he didn't kill himself either...) #AaronDidntKillHimself

Induct Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Please Help Support Independent Media &
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The Hypocrisy of the Mainstream Media

It's Been Called The
"Missing Link" in the Ditch Trilogy


Sign the Release "Time Fades Away" Petition
Join The 10,000+ Who Have Already Signed


Neil Young Appreciation Society

Sugar Mountain

Neil Young Setlists
Rust Radio


Bands Covering Neil Young songs


Official Neil Young News Site

The Bridge School

The Bridge School Concerts
25th Anniversary Edition

**100% of Proceeds to Benefit Bridge School***

The Essential Neil Young

Fans Favorite Neil Albums

Top 50 MP3
Neil Young Song Downloads

Top 10 Best Selling Neil Albums Today
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Neil Young Songbook Project

In the fields of wheat

"Children of Destiny" will NOT be harvested
However, the chaff will be burned by unquenchable fire

Neil Young + Promise of the Real

Europe 2016 Tour Dates

2015 Rebel Content Tour

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Alchemy Concert Tour Reviews

Fall 2012 N. America Tour
Spring 2013 Australia/New Zealand Tour
Summer 2013 Europe Tour

Europe Summer 2014 Concert Tour
Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Thrasher's Wheat Radio Supporters Go To Europe

Neil Young Films

2010 MusiCares Honors Neil Young

Features Elvis Costello, Crosby Stills & Nash, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Ben Harper, Elton John, Norah Jones, Lady Antebellum, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Keith Urban, and others.
Proceeds from sales go to MusiCares,
which helps musicians in need of
financial and medical assistance.


"There's more to the picture
Than meets the eye"



Neil Young FAQ:
Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker
"an indispensable reference"

Paul McCartney and Neil Young


"You can make a difference
If you really a try"

John Lennon and Neil Young

"hailed by fans as a wonderful read"

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:
The Supergroup of the 20th Century

Director Jonathan Demme's Exquisite film "Heart of Gold"

eddie & neil
Eddie Vedder and Neil Young

Revisiting The Significance of
The Buffalo Springfield

"The revolution will not be televised"
... it will be blogged, streamed,
tweeted, shared and liked
The Embarrassment of Mainstream Media

Turn Off Your TV & Have A Life

"Everything Is Bullshit" +
"Turn Off The News"
Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)

Neil Young 2016 Year in Review:
The Year of The Wheat

Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain and Neil Young

Neil Young's Feedback:
An Acquired Taste?

Young Neil: The Sugar Mountain Years
by Rustie Sharry "Keepin' Jive Alive in T.O." Wilson

"the definitive source of Neil Young's formative childhood years in Canada"

neil & joni
Joni Mitchell & Neil Young

europe 1987.jpg

Bob and Neil

So Who Really Was "The Godfather of Grunge"?

Four Dead in Ohio
kent state
So What Really Happened at Kent State?

The Four Dead in Ohio

May The FOUR Be With You #MayThe4thBeWithYou


dissent is not treason
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism

Rockin' In The Free World

Sing Truth to Power!
When Neil Young Speaks Truth To Power,
The World Listens

Emmylou Harris and Neil Young

Wilco and Neil Young


Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young


Elton John and Neil Young

Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young


The Meaning of "Sweet Home Alabama" Lyrics

Neil Young Nation -
"The definitive Neil Young fan book"

What does the song mean?

Random Neil Young Link of the Moment

Bonnie Raitt and Neil Young

I'm Proud to Be A Union Man


When Neil Young is Playing,
You Shut the Fuck Up

Class War:
They Started It and We'll Finish It...

A battle raged on the open page...
No Fear, No Surrender. Courage

"What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees?"
Full Disclousre Now

"I've Got The Revolution Blues"

Willie Nelson & Neil Young
Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize

John Mellencamp:
Why Willie Deserves a Nobel



Love and Only Love

"Thinking about what a friend had said,
I was hoping it was a lie"

We're All On
A Journey Through the Past

Neil Young's Moon Songs
Tell Us The F'n TRUTH
(we can handle it... try us)

Does Anything Else Really Matter?

"Nobody's free until everybody's free."
~~ Fannie Lou Hamer

Here Comes "The Big Shift"

Maybe everything you think you know is wrong? NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS
"It's all illusion anyway."

Propaganda = Mind Control
Guess what?
"Symbols Rule the World, not Words or Laws."
... and symbolism will be their downfall...

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
Be The Rain, Be The Change

the truth will set you free
This Machine Kills Fascists

"Children of Destiny" - THE Part of THE Solution

(Frame from Official Music Video)

war is not the answer
yet we are
Still Living With War

"greed is NOT good"
Hey Big Brother!
Stop Spying On Us!
Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

The Achilles Heel
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
~~ Bob Marley

The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?


Show Me A Sign

"Who is John Galt?"
To ask the question is to know the answer

"Whosoever shall give up his liberty for a temporary security
deserves neither liberty nor safety."

~~ Benjamin Franklin


(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul

the zen of neil
the power of rust
the karma of the wheat