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Sunday, January 01, 2017

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: The Best of Thrasher's Wheat's 2016 Posts

Photo via Rusted Moon

A few days ago, we compiled our annual listing of news -- Neil Young 2016 Year in Review: The Year of The Wheat -- of that which we found most interesting and notable.

Admittedly, it was difficult to find a coherent theme of the key Neil Young events but they were there for you -- our readers -- those who have opened up the tired eyes in a year that shook the world.

For many, 2016 was a terrible year which could not end soon enough. David Bowie... gone. Prince ... gone. Leonard Cohen ... gone. Leon Russell ... gone. And the list goes on of those who've joined the great gig in the sky. Gone but not forgotten.

As we have warned for years, citizens around the world, feeling abused by the establishment, decided to take their power back in various forms and fashions. From BREXIT to Standing Rock, flawed regimes and policies are being replaced rapidly. Just prior to the U.S. election on November 9, we saw surging hope and change coming once again. From our perspective here at TW, we saw as positive the fact that the nominee Donald Trump was well along in the process of destroying the Republican Party. Trump's election and subsequent fallout are speeding up the destruction of the Democratic Party, as well. And after the election, the hysterical and clueless mainstream media grasped at straws only to ensure the imminent demise of Big Media and the rise of alternative media, such as, this blog that you are reading now.

2016 was the year it all got REAL and became "The Year of The Wheat". 2016 was a trifecta (ending the corrupt 2 party monopoly and corporate information control propaganda matrix) which opens enormous potential to create new political and social movements, as well as, new communications platforms and networks. So much chaff (fake news). So little wheat (truth).

We thank all of our readers and supporters for making our little blog - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a part of your daily routine. [NOTE: Thank you notes have now been completed and delivered. Check your SPAM folder if you do not receive email or let us know.] This brings us to a topic near and dear: fake Neil news -- something we have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake Neil news laughable, after all every single article on this blog is backed by facts and links to outside sources, we find it to be a dangerous, slippery slope, that with Obama's recent signing of the "Countering Disinformation And Propaganda Act" into law - forces are being arrayed to implement internet censorship in order to "protect" us.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press is precious and must be protected. Discernment is the answer to "fake news" -- certainly not censorship.

So without further ado, here are the posts that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of comments or page views, during the past year.

Neil Young's "Earth" (cover)

Comments of the Moment: The Synchronicity of Neil Young & Thrasher's Wheat

Photo via Rocker Paris


Neil Young Archives Volume #1
Neil Young Archives Volume #2: "Nearly completed and should surface in 2017"

"Like A Hurricane"

"Give Peace A Chance"
Paul McCartney and Neil Young

With 2016 behind us, what's in store for 2017?

Neil says he taking 2017 off to work on projects. We'll see. We don't know and we do not pretend to be able to predict the future. Are eyes wide shut or do the tired eyes open to see the looking glass illusion being shattered in the Big Shift? Predictions from the "smartest people in the room" are consistently wrong. We merely observe, try to find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising and then blog it.

Finally, we wish all our TW readers the best of luck in 2017, with much success in every avenue of life; we bid farewell to 2016 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Thrasher's Wheat will be here each and every day - to help our readers sort through the Neil Young news and separating the Wheat from the Chaff.

Without you, our dear readers, this blog would not exist.

The truth is that while we always try to represent, interpret and explain events as they happen objectively and in real time (a challenge which at times is literally painful) we may not get everything right or accurate, but we try.

We try to do as well as we can within the confines of our modest staffing, infrastructure and financial capabilities. Unlike media behemoths and "titans" of industry, many of whom have infinitely more in resources and outside "access", our existence is only possible if you - dear reader - keep coming back. Incidentally, and contrary to various amusing rumors, TW does not, and has never had any financial, political, or any other affiliation or relation to an external entity or organization; no we are not funded by Warner Bros., no we are not on Neil's secret payroll, no we have never raised one dollar of outside funding. From day one, all our revenue has been through advertising, and your kind donations.

Which, simply stated, means that we write what we believe in, even if it is ultimately proven to be dead wrong. And always remember: there is no such thing as "absolute truth."

Which is not to say readers should accept everything, or anything, at face value. Quite the contrary: as we have warned since the very start, our main intention, while informing readers, has been to make them think critically - to present a different side to things, even if it is ultimately dead wrong. For pete's sake, this a blog after all, not some established pillar of the fourth estate with editors, sub-editors, reporters, journalists, crossword puzzle makers, back office, and so forth.

This should be nothing new: for those still unfamiliar, here is a brief excerpt from our "full disclosure" policy, which we hope most of you are familiar with:

The reality is, critical readers should read analytic posts and the rest of Thrasher's Wheat with the blanket assumption that the author (The Thrashers) is totally "conflicted." (Phrased more logically, that the author stands to benefit from being right- imagine that). This turns the conversation to the content, and away from the author, the author's biography and the contents of our bank account. This (the content) is, of course, where the focus should be. If you still get something out of our writing with the assumption that we are "invested" in our position and stand to gain personally from you believing us, well, we've done our job. If not, then our being "unconflicted" isn't going to change the fact that we have a weak argument or poorly reasoned prose.

However, no matter how the growing conflict within the media's fourth estate/"fake news establishment" turns out, we would like you - our reader - to know that we have survived this long, over 20 years since our modest start in 1996, in the process clocking in millions of page views, thousands of comments and hundreds of reader submissions. And for that, from the entire staff (1.5 very part timers) here at Thrasher's Wheat, we thank all of our readers and supporters with all of our heart and soul. You guys are way better than silver and gold.

thrasher & thrashette
(Thanks to The Tylers for some of the suggested phrasings!)



At 1/02/2017 08:53:00 AM, Blogger José from Paris said...

2017 01 02


Keeo on rockin !!

José Paris

At 1/02/2017 03:15:00 PM, Blogger mark said...

>> Discernment is the answer to "fake news" -- certainly not censorship.

......... +1

At 1/02/2017 04:47:00 PM, Blogger Steve Rust Downunder said...

TW you rock

At 1/02/2017 08:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to you all, and thanks as always to Thrasher for another year of putting up with my comments.

A couple of people were curious about what I thought about Peace Trail. So here are my impressions, fittingly messy and unpolished and honest.

It grabbed my attention from the first listen. And it's a GREAT sounding album. How would I describe it? It's the audio equivalent of a 3-dimensional image. Eccentric, funky, full of character, well-performed. An engaging mixture of fragile, bare-bones performances and colourful overdubs. Varied song arrangements that keep surprising (and often delighting) the listener.

Let's be clear here: NO ONE other than Neil Young could have possibly made this record. And I love how low-key it is, slipping under the radar. No ridiculous TV appearances or hype, just "here's the record, take it or leave it". You'll notice that Neil Young in recent years (consciously or not) only tends to aggressively promote his poorer ideas to the general public: confidently allowing the stronger ones to stand for themselves.

Now, it's true that Neil still struggles to get fully "in the zone" with his lyric writing; it just doesn't flow as easily or as impressively as it once did for him. That's the result of taking the easy "first take" route too often in the last 20 years: the songwriting muscle hasn't been stretched, so it has atrophied. Regardless, he still gets into that flow of unconscious lyric writing a few times on this album, and when he does, the payoff is substantial. He's still got enough instinct left to pull it off. And even when he doesn't strike gold, there's a vividness and aliveness and sincerity to the writing that makes it work.

He reaches out to you, and you can't help but reach back. And, like magic, a connection is made.

I quite enjoyed the live POTR versions of these songs, they were solid and soulful enough; but he clearly made the right choice recordings these songs with a different band. It's more exciting, more funky, more rock 'n' roll. Less laborious. It's no coincidence that David Briggs (a man who has been dead 20 years) gets a "special thanks" on this record: there's an openness and spaciness to the sound that is very Briggs-esque. And what Briggs would have thought of these songs is anyone's guess; but regardless, some of his spirit is captured here in the bare-bones "no nonsense" sound and colourful overdubs.

And unlike most of the recent POTR gigs, this studio record is 100% Neil Young. Which is a good thing, in case that needs spelling out to you. There is literally NOTHING superfluous on this record. No excessive guitar noodling or extra layers of sound counter-productively filling in those beautiful gaps. Everything here is functional, designed to bring the songs to life and then get out of the way.

(Continued below)

At 1/02/2017 08:16:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


This record is pure Neil Young, with all his eccentricities and idiosyncrasies. If anything lets it down (other than the now obligatory hit-and-miss lyric writing), it's that he doesn't quite go deep enough, often enough. On the last Crazy Horse album, particularly on Giant and Ramada Inn, he laid bare some of his deepest hopes and fears and dreams and emotional struggles. Peace Trail is a good album, but it doesn't draw blood to the same extent. It doesn't get to the emotional roots in the same compelling way. It's more relaxed. And that's perfectly fine: not every album has to do that. But the very best ones generally do.

As always, my opinion can change with time. But like Neil Young, I have a certain fondness for gut instincts, and my gut instinct here is that Peace Trail is a charming, low-key album overflowing with personality and vibrancy, engagingly performed by a funky band.

And finally, a word of praise for his vocals. On most of Earth and The Monsanto Years his singing voice sounded frail and strained, as he struggled to make himself heard over far too many poorly-arranged instruments. Everyone bashing away with abandon. It was a mess. Here, with a more sympathetic backing group, his voice genuinely sounds as good as it did twenty-five years ago. That might sound improbable, but of course, magical things tends to happen when you are around Neil Young. And more than a few of them can be experienced on this record. So don't overlook it.


At 1/02/2017 08:30:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks all for the positivity and encouragement.

@ Scotsman - Happy New Year and thanks for dropping off some serious wheat to get the year rolling along.

As often the case with Neil releases, Peace Trail can take a few listens to start getting into the groove.

We're looking forward to future visits in 2017.

Be the wheat.

At 1/03/2017 12:13:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

@ Scotsman lovely review of a below par record but I admire your fortitude. There's been alot of chaff. With all these words I'm amazed that the influence of DH is never mentioned - all very odd because she is in the mix somewhere.

At 1/03/2017 09:54:00 AM, Blogger José from Paris said...


LP PEACE TRAIL Bckorder this week ....??? outstanding



At 2/15/2018 01:23:00 PM, Blogger José from Paris said...

Good evening
At the start Train Of Love Paris 19h25 .... my post Valentine's Day does not seem to be recorded it does not matter just in reminder another title of Neil Young that I like Such A Woman for st valentine this seems good to me .....?
Jose of Paris


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