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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Neil Young: Still Singing Truth To Power

As usual, lots of to and fro here and there in the extended Neil Young rustie universe.

We've seen this cycle before where between albums, tours, etc., fans get restless with our favorite polymath. What's next? What happened to that planned release? Neil's working on a film. Or a book. Or a car. Or a new audio technology. Or marching against GMO's or pipelines or some other injustice.

We have all been here before. And we know who still has the courage to sing truth to power, now don't we? Why? (Hint: There's Corruption on THE HIGHEST FLOOR (and most of the floors below, as well.)

Which brings us to a recent comment by TopangaDaze who said on the post Neil Young's Statement on Standing Rock and Dakota Access Pipeline:
Not that Neil or Thrasher need me to come to their defense, but in a good way, they are who we thought they were. Sometimes music dominates, other times social awareness is central, and sometimes the two meld together beautifully.

Recently Neil has been propelled and compelled by various factors that have dominated, informed and driven his musical output. Repetitive, yes; boring, yes; well thought out, no; lyrically sharp, no; musically evocative, no; popular, certainly not!

At his peak, Neil was mysterious, quixotic, captivating, intellectually challenging and musically primitively complex.

Okay, those days are largely gone, but:

we still have our hero delivering dynamite live shows
we still have our hero doing what he wants to do
we still have our hero asking questions & speaking out
we still have our hero pissing us off
we still have our hero
we still have our hero

Keep listening, it's worth it.

You can choose from any period beginning in the 60's through today. Keep listening--you'll hear things. You'll hear things you never heard before, even though you've listened hundreds of times before. You'll hear things you didn't believe then, but do now. You'll hear things you didn't want to hear then, but need to now. You'll hear things you loved then, but don't now (and vice versa).

Neil's writing the final chapters of his journey. It's always been about war and peace, and love and hate. It's always been about dreams and nightmares, and hope and despair. It's always been about escape and imprisonment, inside and outside. It's always been real, it's always been about him, it's always been about you, it's always been about me, it's always been about us.

Whether I like what Neil's currently doing or not, it tells me something. It tells me how he's changed and continues to change; It tells me how I've changed and continue to change.

I will listen to Peace Trail when it comes out on December 9th, and I will continue to visit this great community led by Thrasher.

Has it been worth it? Yes.

Has it changed? Yes.

Will I continue to pay attention? Yes.

Take my advice
Don't listen to me
Thanks Topanga D.! We're NOT going to take your advice. ;) Afterall, it's all about YOU & me.

Show me the way and I'll follow you someday... until we cross over after "The Big Shift"...



At 11/30/2016 02:33:00 PM, Blogger TOM said...

Well said and spot on...

Oughta be added to the Masthead, Thrash...

At 12/01/2016 07:13:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Neil is still doing what he wants and I am grateful that he is. At the Desert Trip gig in Indio he was the only artist to feature new songs, such as Peace Trail
Keep on rocking in the Real World Neil!

At 12/01/2016 10:24:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

I apreciate the thoughtful post here by Topanga. I agree with the sentiment whole heartedly. Although I've never thought of Neil as a hero, I certainly feel he is one of the most important songwriters and artists of the past 100 years. I've been following his career since Buffalo Springfield and can't think of any other solo artist in that time (with the exception of Dylan) that has been so many things to so many people for so many years. I personally feel that much of his resent output has been incredibly inspired work and as was mentioned in the above post, may not be appreciated by many for years to come, but this has been one of the aspects of Neil's career for decades that keeps his fan base so captivated. Neil has always created from his heart, and will continue to do so, and I for one feel this has been his greatest gift to his art and for his fans.

At 12/01/2016 02:20:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Repetitive, yes; boring, yes; well thought out, no; lyrically sharp, no; musically evocative, no; popular, certainly not!

well said.....

& yes of course I'm glad Neil is still out there.....despite what I post here occasionally.....

At 12/01/2016 06:39:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

The wind and the muse blow where they will.
It's those that grab the energy that travel the farthest.
That's Neil. That's life.That's awesome.

At 12/01/2016 07:44:00 PM, Blogger mrtew said...

Great post. Someday when NY is gone we'll look back if we're still here and ask why we didn't pay more attention while he was around. But I object to the statement that he's "writing his final chapters". I'm 20 years younger than him but 71 isn't THAT old! His most amazing output was over the span of a "Decade" and he could definitely last another 10 or 20 from now, which at his normal pace could be over 20 more albums! If he gets back down to the business of actually trying to write interesting and beautiful music he could easily release enough amazing stuff to put any other artist's lifetime output to shame even at this point. Even though he didn't ask my advice I'd say "Neil if you have an important cause that you want to let your fans know about, write a compelling song about it for your next album, along the lines of Ohio or Alabama etc but don't beat us over the head with it with every single song album after album while ignoring melody and love and musical creativity. Being a NY fan isn't supposed to be a test of your fan's patience and faith!"

At 12/01/2016 08:58:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Hey John, sounds like we're the same age and likely have similar views about Neil. I still hold out hope that Neil can and will release another "classic" album, but it is getting late. I meant no disrespect with my "final chapters" comment, but 71 is realistically speaking old for a rock musician.

I'm only 51 and have found myself shying away from or being unable to do things that once came naturally to me. We all handle age and time differently, and Neil's recent tours have indeed seen him singing and playing with youthful exuberance.

Regarding your comments "advising" Neil, well, I hear you and believe me, Neil knows what you (and we) want to hear. Sadly, for the most part I just think at this point in time his gift of lyrical melodic writing that once seemingly flowed through him has frozen. I still hear flashes of magic in his most recent works, but they are few and far between. Age however hasn't taken his willful defiance, so it seems as if he's determined to write and record song sketches without polish or refinement.

The news that he may not be touring in 2017 is hitting me fairly hard, though I suspect (and hope) he'll hit the road at least to some extent. If not, 2017 doesn't appear to hold much musical promise in Neil land.

At moments like this, I often think of the quote: It's never too late, but it's later than you think...

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

At 12/02/2016 08:47:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Topanga-- Storytone really had some moments for me and based on the songs I've heard so far from Peace Trail, I'm hopeful of some fresh songwriting again this time. As I posted somewhere on this site, streaming services now have Peace Trail (title song), Show Me, and My Pledge. Show Me is a straight protest number, but My Pledge and Peace Trail have a number of things going on and I do like what I hear. (Of course, the other track we've had for a while is Indian Givers--obviously and heavily topical.)

~A Metamorphic Rocker

At 12/02/2016 11:47:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

@ Ian, I also enjoyed much of Storytone as it had several heartfelt fairly well written songs and arrangements.

Regarding the new album, I just listened to "My Pledge" for the 2nd time and "Peace Trail" for the 1st time.

"My Pledge" is a decent song, and as I mentioned before, it really sounds Greendale-esque to me in terms of song writing and vocal delivery. It could have been a very good track, but Neil muddies it with auto-tune and distracting background vocals competing for our attention.

"Peace Trail" has initially struck me as one of Neil's better recent tunes. Musically and lyrically it's solid if not great. Like most of Neil's work, it will likely grow on me, but unlike much of his recent work, I enjoyed it right out of the gate!

Still hopeful, but as always...

Take my advice
Don't listen to me

At 12/02/2016 03:04:00 PM, Blogger LP Fonthill said...

I agree with everything on the original post that started all these comments. Very fortunate to be still listening to new music from the Man.
Neil's biological clock is ticking, he knows it and so do we, that's why the albums seems rushed. He just wants to get out as much as he can
Before its all over. As for the cancelled 2017 tour. That's alright. He can rest up and maybe, just maybe he would work on the Archives
Volume 2 and get it out. If your a dreamer looking for the next " classic album" the archives volume 2 is it. Listen to it and then we all can go for the big sleep.

The world is turning.....

At 12/05/2016 01:33:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Topanga, I'm glad I'm not the only one to get something out of Storyone. It's been treated a little unfavorably, especially following up Psychedelic Pill in people's minds. For me, the important tracks are Plastic Flowers, Say Hello To Chicago, Tumbleweed, and All Those Dreams. Those are the songs I found especially fresh, inventive, and even, in places, genuinely exciting. (I'm referring here to the full orchestra/band versions, as I think those arrangements suited the material very well.) When I Watch You Sleeping also gets a mention for some good lyrics, although it was one of the songs on the album where, for me, the orchestra seemed superfluous. It was basically another country-accented Neil Young folk number, but with violins on top. In other words, not enough to come across as a fully orchestrated number with an arrangement that has life and character of its own, but enough to register as "overproduced" when I'm mentally comparing it to the acoustic band arrangement my brain expects from Neil.


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