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Monday, June 27, 2016

VIDEO & ANALYSIS: "Cortez The Killer" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real, Barcelona, Spain Concert - June 20, 2016

Here's a nice 18+ minute "Cortez The Killer" from Barcelona, Spain Concert of Neil Young + Promise of the Real on June 20, 2016 .

We made a comment that we were a bit surprised since "Cortez The Killer" was banned in Spain in the 1970's? Of course, we were quickly corrected by our oh so astute readers. "Cortez The Killer" has been played no less than 7 times in Spain, per the indispensable Sugar Mountain.

“Cortez The Killer”, was banned in Spain because it offended General Franco’s regime. In Spain, Hernando Cortez (or Hernán Cortés) is considered a national hero as the conquistador who conquered Mexico's Aztec Empire for Spain.

On to the Comment of the Moment by flyingscotzman:
Cortez is the perfect conclusion to these recent shows.

One thing you will very quickly notice about the setlist recently is that there are a lot of villains. People who may have started with good intentions but quickly became too powerful, too big, too dangerous.

We witness the betraying "men of power" in Mother Earth. The evil and spiteful corporations of Big Box and Monsanto Years. The "shadow man" of After The Garden. The fallen angel ("he's different now") of Western Hero. The restless rebel without a cause of Revolution Blues (in this context both a hero and a villain, perhaps). The "hate" being overcome in Love And Only Love. The oil-sucking vampire of "Vampire Blues". The "thoughtless plunderers" of Wolf Moon. The ominous, invading "white boat" of Powerfinger. The person "pushing the button" in Like An Inca.

And so on.

And then you have Cortez The Killer.

The summation and conclusion to all of this; a song about a man who was "not able to sleep well" (Neil's description) due to the crimes he committed. We see flashbacks of all these other varied antagonists who carelessly allowed greed to control them, to destroy their own peace of mind and the world around them. Cortez represents them all. He takes off his mask and reveals more than one face; and a mirror.

It's like Luke Skywalker finally facing Darth Vader; Harry Potter against Lord Voldemort. It's a proper cinematic climax, the type Young has so obviously been enamoured with for so most of his career.

As so often happens, Neil tells us a story with this tour, and Cortez brings this particular story to a befitting conclusion. Until the next time.

Thanks Scotsman. And one man's villain is another man's hero...


At 6/27/2016 10:00:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Some interesting observations here Scotsman. I also really appreciated your review of Earth. For some reason Amazon has been slow in shipping my copy and I won't get it till Thursday. I'm looking forward to hearing it and sharing my thoughts. Thanks for continuing to engage in the dialog here on Thrasher.

At 6/28/2016 12:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same for me Dan getting mine Thursday to. As a high school history teacher and growing up loving history Cortez was my absolute favorite. As a kid he was a conqueror and adventurer which made me fascinated with history. But it was my time in college where things changed about him and the Aztecs. In fact the song is the reason I started delving into his and other explorers backstories and the ones being conquered . Ended up being part of my thesis. In reality both sides were good and evil.

At 6/28/2016 09:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Thrasher, thank you Dan.

To those of you who are struggling to get into this record, my suggestion is just to give it time. I don't mean listen to it 15 times, pretending it's good. Just be patient with it, relax, listen to it a couple more times. Don't try to like it; approach it on its own terms. I'm convinced that its magic will gradually start revealing itself to you. You will get your money's worth, and more.

You can't think of this as a normal live album with animal noises bolted on. That will lead to disappointment. Once you accept the sound effects as a critical part of this record, rather than just an add-on, then the album will un-lock itself to you.

You know what? It's the little details that make this record so powerful. It's often been that way with Neil. For some reason a lot of people think of Neil as this heavy-handed artist who paints with broad brush strokes. When the truth is (like any model train enthusiast) he is a master of the little touches, the tiny details that make his albums seem less like a collection of songs and more like living, breathing entities. There are some clever touches here, and you are not going to notice or connect with them all on the first listen.

So be patient. As Dylan sang: "lessons of life can't be learned in a day". Believe me, there is magic in this album, so don't be dissuaded.


At 6/28/2016 11:41:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

I've now listened to it a few times and it's a solid work on multiple levels.

Obviously it's only as good as the songs, and at this time the only song that really misses the mark is "The Monsanto Years" but that's not too surprising. The song itself is incredibly weak and Neil doesn't do it any favors here with mediocre vocals, pacing and intertwined effects chopping it up.

As a statement I understand Neil's inclusion of the song here (with the other Monsanto songs), but it doesn't stand up lyrically or musically alongside the classic songs (or even the other newer songs).

Without "The Monsanto Years" I'd give the album a B or B+, and with it I give it a C or C+. Of course that will change after a few more listens, and "The Monsanto Years" may become my favorite song, though I'll admit i's highly unlikely.

Take my advice
don't listen to me

At 6/28/2016 03:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is presumptuous to grade another person's art, esp. NY's art.

But this record IS art -- true art.

I agree that it takes some real, and repeated listening and that the animal and earth sounds are not add-ons or special effects but part of the one, long song

-- Blessings

At 6/28/2016 05:23:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Well, Art is/was just a dog on Neil's porch, but I get where you're coming from Keith. Enjoy the art...

Take my advice
don't listen to me

At 6/29/2016 12:16:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Neil Young reveals he’s a Susan Boyle fan ‘She was great and she still is’ says Young of Britain’s Got Talent singer
Not sure where this belongs but made me chuckle - is Neil alright?

Neil Young has revealed he is a fan of Britain’s Got Talent singer Susan Boyle.

Boyle, who finished second to Diversity in the 2009 series of Britain’s Got Talent, had a No 1 album in the UK and US the same year with ‘I Dreamed A Dream’. The Scottish singer’s most recent album ‘Hope’ reached No 13 in 2014.

Young compared Boyle to Adele in Q, saying: “Some of Adele’s records are great. I think she’s genuine, she’s real. You can’t really get her to fit into the box. She’s a little like Susan Boyle. Susan Boyle was great. She still is.”

At 7/01/2016 10:19:00 PM, Blogger rhurley12 said...

I admit I was concerned ... animal noises? really? wt ... ?
I saw the Rebel Content show in Vermont last summer and it was pretty great but I don't remember any bats or elks or mooses ..

I admit I shoulda known the old man would have something up his sleeve ...

it's pretty awesome on Pono, there are times (LAOL especially) I think I'm hearing Johnny Barbata and Fuzzy Samuels "cooking" ...

but it's their own thing and the Nelson Bros are neither Danny, Stephen nor Pancho and it's all right ...

peace and love,
an old sound man


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