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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

An Attempt To Explain The “Difficult” Neil Young Records | Vinyl Me, Please


Where The Buffalo Roam
Soundtrack w/ Neil Young

Have you ever been in that situation where you're trying to explain Neil Young's catalog and it becomes increasingly clear that the other person just doesn't "get Neil"?

If so (and we know we have all been there before) then here's just the trick -- the handy guide: An Attempt To Explain The “Difficult” Neil Young Records from Vinyl Me, Please.

Here's the chapter on soundtracks by Neil Young, including the Where The Buffalo Roam gonzo film on Hunter S. Thompson:

Ever one for confounding his audience’s expectations, Young followed his 1972 smash hit Harvest with the movie Journey Through The Past. It’s an experimental documentary that patches together backstage footage, live performances, television appearances, news footage and other strange clips into an abstract retrospective of Young’s career. Featuring performances by Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and notable solo cuts including a rambling 16-minute rendition of Harvest’s “Words”, it also includes weird non-Young cuts such as The Tony & Susan Alamo Christian Foundation & Chorus performing part of Handel’s Messiah and a random Beach Boys instrumental, neither of which were excluded from the vinyl soundtrack release. Rolling Stone called the record “a depressing combination of sloppy music and verbal filler” and declared it “the nadir of Neil Young’s recording activity.” It was never released on CD.


Young’s next foray into the world of the soundtrack was an even scrappier affair. He provided the incidental music to Where The Buffalo Roam, the 1980 flick in which Bill Murray played the gun-totin’, drug-poppin’ gonzo author Hunter S. Thompson. Its soundtrack features classic tracks by Hendrix, Dylan and others but, in true gonzo spirit, Young’s seven contributions add up to less than 10 minutes of music and mainly consist of him playing creaky variations of “Home On The Range.”

Young’s film-score masterpiece would come fifteen years later with his collection of music from “and inspired by” Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man. The album includes snippets of the film’s dialogue and its star, Johnny Depp, reading extracts of William Blake’s poetry. But Young is the true star of this disc, having improvised the music alone, using mainly his electric guitar, with occasional passages performed on acoustic guitar, pump organ or detuned piano. While unquestionably among Young’s weirdest ever moments, Dead Man is also one of his finest idiosyncratic achievements, on which he crafted a distinctly eerie atmosphere that invites parallels to ambient music, post-rock and the melancholic drone metal of groups such as Earth, yet all the while remaining definitively, unmistakably Neil.

More albums explained on An Attempt To Explain The “Difficult” Neil Young Records from Vinyl Me, Please.

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11 Comments:

At 9/07/2016 09:30:00 AM, Blogger Dominic Holdem said...

neil young is not for everyone. hell, sometimes he's not even for me (fork in the road, cough cough). i feel no need to explain art to others who are unreceptive to it. if that were the case, we'd all love everything.

people who don't "get" neil young aren't "doubters". they're not the "4 percent". in the end, who gives a flying fuck??

 
At 9/07/2016 11:35:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

Dominic - we share because we care. namaste

 
At 9/07/2016 11:41:00 AM, Blogger Pocahontas said...

Exactly, you either like Picasso or Tennessee Williams or Hemimgway or you don't. There are many great 20th century artists. Neil is better than Dylan in my opinion but I know many who would disagree. I certainly don't give a flying fuck.

 
At 9/07/2016 01:17:00 PM, Blogger Nate said...

I don't have time for people who don't get it.

 
At 9/07/2016 05:12:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Difficult is that the right description?

 
At 9/07/2016 05:24:00 PM, Blogger Pocahontas said...

How about experiments that just didnt pan out? Maybe Monsanto Years will sound better in 30 years the way TNT and Trans did. Sometimes he's ahead of the curve. Sometimes he's just just an epic fail. Lucky for him he can take those chances. Most artists can't afford to

 
At 9/07/2016 08:38:00 PM, Blogger John Tewks said...

I like Pocahontas's 30 years theory. I doubt Trans was too appealing even to new wavers back in the early 80's but today it sounds amazing! Or is it just me. Although none of the difficult stuff that is the subject of this article does anything for me yet! :-]

 
At 9/07/2016 09:17:00 PM, Blogger Arthur said...

I've found a very cool Neil related geography video over on good ol' YouTube for us.
It's from a drone flying over California Highway 35 Skyline Blvd from an area called Windy Ridge. The video says it was windy. No surprise considering the name of the area!
Skyline Blvd runs along the spine of the Santa Cruz mountains running south down the center of the peninsula. Neils Broken Arrow ranch is just a few miles north of where this was filmed and is what I consider Neil Young country. I lived at the bottom of these hills for most of my life and know the area well. When we found out he bought a place up there where he can park on a hill, well, he's in our fucking back yard??!!
So you can imagine how a Neil fan like me felt! I could write a book on this but, I won't.
Here we are now in 2016, Neil's living in some LA canyon with his girlfriend, and I'm watching way too much CNN. No more fucking TV for me! I'm going nuts!
And along comes this video. It's got a lame song the first 5 minutes than no audio at all. It's a sixteen minute video and I've found that Driftin' Back works really well with it. Probably Harvest, Harvest Moon or Comes a Time stuff will work well too.
So leave the audio off and put on your favorite song(s) and get a Danger Birds eye view of what I will always consider Neil Young Country. You should see it at night with a Harvest Moon....or a Wolf Moon....

Click here for take off........> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGHFLzZmX3c

 
At 9/08/2016 01:00:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@Arthur - thanks for the suggested link. And accompanying soundtrack suggestions, as well!

Yes, definitely a very special area of our EARTH.

We'll check it out.

And if someone does add a new soundtrack, drop us a link and we'll post here on TW.

 
At 9/08/2016 03:19:00 PM, Blogger Arthur said...

Thrasher, I'm very happy to share this here and I'm glad you appreciate it too!

Neil's first solo effort with Whiskey Boot Hill etc...should work well too.

For those who won't ever get to this part of the EARTH, I hope this will illuminate visually how Neil's music has always resonated with nature.

I don't know who the person is who filmed this, but it sure has sparked my joy and interest in Neil's music even more, especially to those years back in the early 1970's.

Around 1972 I pulled into Vista Point with my 1962 VW bug. There was just one car parked there, a late 1940's model Cadillac. It was late evening and dark. We got out of my car and I turned to look at the cool car sitting there. It fired up it's engine and backed out........

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGHFLzZmX3c

Anything on EARTH for sure would go well as a soundtrack....as the crow flies...

 
At 9/10/2016 08:13:00 PM, Blogger (D.) Ian Kertis said...

@Dominic Holdem--Is that "cough, cough" as in Cough up the Bucks? (Terrible joke, I know.)

@John Tewks--No, it's not just you on Trans. I think it's one of Neil's strongest albums of the '80s. And simultaneously one of his most flawed. From what I've read, the final product is really parts of two albums smashed together. The three "regular" (non-vocoder) songs were dropped in from a previous album rejected by Geffin. I'd have liked an entire, complete concept album of the electronica stuff, although Like an Inca is obviously a classic with its connections to Neil's other epic, Hitchhiker, which carried an almost mythical status for decades until it was finally recorded on Le Noise (2010). As it is, Trans to me feels like great piece of work with perhaps a few pieces missing or incomplete. Neil has said as much, too, possibly in Shakey (the bio Neil fans sometimes treat as a Bible of sorts).

I guess the important thing with all of these "unusual" albums is to try something new. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes you don't really know if it worked until 20 or 30 years later. When you choose a path (as Neil has) based on intrepid experimentation and the relentless pursuit of fresh ideas, you're likely to hit a few bumps (or forks) in the road. But I also think it's worth the risk to try to new stuff. As the truism goes,you never know until you try. You can repeat what you know you're capable of over and over again, but where's the value in that? Sure, it's cool that you can do it with one hand tied behind your back, but the goal shouldn't be to show off--or constantly repackage the greatest hits. Plus, it's very subjective: what works for one person might fail miserably for someone else. Using that logic, one can hope there's something for everyone in Neil's vast body of work. But I'm not holding my breath. Some people don't get Neil. And some people don't get Dylan--I was one of those for quite a while. So, live and let live. And keep creating.

 

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