Winter Wheat by John K. Samson: Heavily Influenced by Neil Young's On the Beach
As noted in a recent interview with John K. Samson's, his new album Winter Wheat is heavily influenced by Neil Young's 1974 album On the Beach, both in sound and concept. Incidentally, both albums have three songs with "Blues" in the title, including "Vampire Alberta Blues".
"I would like to say overtly and directly what I've always felt: That fossil fuel extraction is not tenable, and there's no future to it, and that once a place is destroyed, it is destroyed," Samson tells Exclaim! "You can't bring it back. I'm opposed to the pipelines and the tar sands, and I feel like I want to be direct and open about that.
"It's a broader song than I generally make, but again that was inspired by the way [Neil Young] can make these broad, painterly political songs, and also make these detailed, emotional songs. So I wanted to try that out."
Addiction to computers and mobile technology is also referenced in at least two Winter Wheat songs, "Carrie Ends the Call" and "Select All Delete." Inspired by personal experience as well as a book by Vancouver writer Michael Harris called The End of Absence, Samson addresses what he feels is a need to be more mindful of how much attention we give to our devices.
"I've had some very difficult times with screens, to the point where I've had to actually shut down a lot of my access to them," he says. "I do think it's a failure of the psychological and psychiatric world that it isn't recognized as an addiction, officially. They're always quite slow and careful and deliberate in labelling something as addiction, but the DSM-5 doesn't include it, and I think it should.
"I think it's incredibly obvious to most of us that this is an actual addiction, and there needs to be more open and forthright discussion about it. I feel like anyone who does bring it up is shouted down as a luddite.
I don't feel that way.
There are wonderful things about screens and the Internet, and it's democratized and empowered so many fields and so many people, but I do feel we have to be aware of the drawbacks and the very real erosion of some people's mental health due to these advancements."
Also, see other musicians influenced by Neil Young or... 50 Reasons Why Neil Young's Music Matters.
Be the Rain, Be the Change. Be the Wheat.