Comment of the Moment: Defending Neil Young's 'Are You Passionate?'
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The Comment of the Moment posits the case for defending 'Are You Passionate?' from the post Neil Young's "Ditch Quadrilogy" Re-Re-Release Coming by Ian:
On the Beach is my favorite "ditch" record, particularly side 2, and particularly the title song and Motion Pictures).Thanks for the memories Ian. Yes, you are passionate.
Also, See the Sky About to Rain is incredibly overlooked in my opinion. Even so, Time Fades Away, which I have a good second hand vinyl LP of, has definite moments for me: Journey Through the Past, The Bridge, and Love in Mind are beautiful acoustic tracks. I've always liked the urgency and attitude of Yonder Stands the Sinner. I do think TFA has attained a mythical/legendary status partly due to its lack of consistent availability over the years, and it's possible that the reputation would be impossible for any album to live up to for some people. Nonetheless I'm glad to hear it's being made more widely available. I love vinyl myself and in any event, I think a petition to release anything on CD is a little out of date. Indeed, Neil may be choosing now to rerelease TFA on formats other than CD because CDs are finally becoming obsolete and he feels that the current formats, including both his Pono system and the resurgent vinyl, are the best showcase for the album.
@Joseph Werefelman: Good point about Le Noise. I'd have thought Fork in the Road would be a much likelier target, recalling the virtual rioting that took shape on this very blog back in 2009.
For most of the less-loved albums, I could point out at least a couple of worthy tracks. I'll probably go to my grave defending Are You Passionate?, which I find a really interesting experiment with soul and Motown sounds. A while ago, I called She's a Healer as soul-grunge, a description I still adhere to, and could point out a handful of others: the title number, Two Old Friends, Mr. Disappointment, Differently, and course, the Crazy Horse interlude Goin' Home, complete with Ralph Molina's impression of Native American battle drums. Add in a couple of highly textured numbers that seem tailor-made for lovemaking (When I Hold You in My Arms, Quit) and Be With You, a shot of soul almost straight out of Sam & Dave territory, with just the right seasoning of gospel to fit an album that I'm sure is partly Neil's ode to the legacy of African American musicians on popular music of the last century, and there's an album that covers an impressive breadth of feelings and themes.
I admit, I wish APY? weren't so overshadowed by Let's Roll. The song was likely an instantaneous response to events (particularly the tragedy of Flight 93) at the time, but understandably leaves mixed impressions years later in a world that is not only post-9/11, but also post-Iraq invasion and still deeply entangled in the Mideast. However, NY's performance of "Imagine" at a 9/11 benefit show, not to mention Greendale and the 2006 CSN+Y Freedom of Speech US tour, should reaffirm that our Neil's heart is in the right place. I like to think that the anguish of Are You Passionate? (the song) and the earnest peace-seeking of Two Old Friends are more nuanced, temperate counterpoints to the bombast and bellicosity of Let's Roll. It could even be that the specter of 9/11, as presented directly through Let's Roll, is part of what gives AYP? (the album) emotional thrust. It shows how harrowing things can get "in a world that never stops turning on you", and lends deep credence to the central, urgent insistence that "We've got hold onto something in this life".
It's really a shame that AYP? is often dismissed as A) Another simple genre exercise and B) A series of repetitive, sappy love songs interrupted by a brief outburst of uncharacteristic flag-waving, when it may actually be one of Neil Young's most emotionally honest and unrestrained albums since the psychological depths of the Ditch era this thread is celebration, while still managing to be a (mostly) entertaining and even fun tribute to the sounds of '60s soul.
We recall on the 10th Anniversary of the release of Neil Young’s Are You Passionate? album your mentioining the alternate track listing on the post-it notes on back cover. You found that this re-ordering of tracks makes the album darker and heavier.
Intriguing and we need to try and re-shuffle the tracks sometime on our PONO.
In the critics' game of "Hits & Misses", Are You Passionate? often falls into the category of "Misses". But is it finally time for a re-evaluation, like much of Young's back catalog that is classified as "Misses"?
Over at Ultimate Classic Rock Matthew Wilkening thinks so with the article "Neil Young’s ‘Are You Passionate?’ Turns 10 Years Old".
As the camouflage, rose and romantic portrait on the cover art indicates, the lyrics on many of this album’s 11 songs deal with familiar themes of love and war.
Young had toured with the famous instrumental R&B group [Booker T & the M.G.’s] as his backing band way back in the early ’90s, but it was nearly a decade before they released a record together.
Just in case you’re not clear who he’s working with, Young works musical quotes from the band’s 1969 hit ‘Time is Tight‘ into two tracks on the record — ‘Be With You’ and album opener ‘You’re My Girl.’
The Memphis Soul legends’ tight grooves and inherent professionalism provide an interesting contrast to Young’s untamed guitar on many of the songs, even if his vocals seem oddly polished on a couple of tracks.
More of Ultimate Classic Rock | "Neil Young’s ‘Are You Passionate?’ Turns 10 Years Old" by Matthew Wilkening. Also, see Are You Passionate? by Neil Young:
Albums In Order Review Series by Mike "Expecting 2 Fly" Cordova.
As for trivia, the album's title is a homage to The Jimi Hendrix Experience 1967 album "Are You Experienced?". Also, the back cover lists song titles, all of which appear on CD except for "Gateway of Love". Go figure.
Speaking of passion, see The (Dis)-Passion of A Neil Young Fan.