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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Comment of the Moment: "On the Beach is the greatest album I've ever heard"

"On The Beach" Ad with Neil Young Facing Camera

Over the years, we here at Thrasher's Wheat have been involved in more than a few little miracles (see here, here, here, here, here, here and here for actual TW miracles randomly selected).

And it is these serendipitous synchroncities with our dearly loved blog readers which powers us ahead, day after day, week after week, year after year, and decade after decade.

Which brings us to our latest TW Comment of the Moment on Charles Bradley Covers Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" | The Strombo Show which will power us along through the weekend and our lifetimes ahead:
Hey Thrasher,

I appreciate it's a bit of a struggle during the sabbatical so maybe some of us out here need to help.

I've visited this site pretty regular for many years and contribute very occasionally but I appreciate the work you do and the information and dialogue on here.

So to the point. A friend suggested I could re-engage with music if I tried listening to new acts and then I might find I could feed in some of my favourites. He was correct. So I've been listening to lots of work in the last few months - you name them - all the greats - I've re-visited them.

A week ago I got to On the Beach and I realised it's the greatest album I've ever heard.

I was raving about it to my wife and she threw it out there. If you have to delete all Neil Young albums and keep only one then which one? Well for me it's On the Beach. Then she asked about individual songs. We broke that down into acoustic/piano/electric and I chose Tell me Why, Love in Mind and Hurricane (early versions).

So throw it out there. Ask the same questions of the TW community - let's get a dialogue going.

Hope this is helpful. Keep up the good work.
NOTE: This comment was removed by original poster and has been re-edited for sensitivity. Please excuse this as a jumping point for discussion.

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At 5/20/2017 12:00:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

OK, we'll play.

Rust Never Sleeps is the greatest album we've ever heard.

Probably obvious to our long time readers as the album contains what we feel to be Neil's greatest song: "Thrasher".

We've seen and heard the song "Thrasher" performed live 3 times:
It's been almost 40 years ago since we first heard Neil Young perform the song "Thrasher" on the 1978 Rust Never Sleeps tour on October 7 in William & Mary Hall at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. In retrospect, it was an unforgettable moment. A moment that we eventually came to believe that we would never, ever experience again in our lifetime.

After 1978, Neil would never play the song "Thrasher" again... that is until 2014 when we were enthralled by our second & third "Thrasher" experience in Philadelphia on October 8 & 9, 2014. It was a long time coming, but it was oh-so worth the wait. For us, a miracle of sorts. Obviously, the song “Thrasher” is quite special to us and we've long considered the song to be Neil Young’s lyrical magnum opus - rich with poetry, metaphors, themes, allusions, and symbols. In one of our very first posts to the Rust list back in 1993 we attempted An Analysis of the Meaning of the song Thrasher Lyrics.

And it is the duality of RNS that we cherish so much. The duality of acoustic and electric. The A side & the B side. Plugged and unplugged. The gentle and fierce all in one package.

Neil Young's 1979 "Rust Never Sleeps" marked a major shift in artistic direction for both Young and the entire music industry. "Rust Never Sleeps" signalled Young's recognition that that there was new force in music -- namely punk -- and that the face of Rock-n-Roll would change forever.

The opening acoustic track "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" and the closing electric track "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" continue a theme of bookending albums with a "plugged" and "unplugged" version. Young pioneered this approach with the bookends of 1973's Tonight's The Night with the title track which opening acoustic and concluding electric. This unplugged and plugged approach was used again on 1989's Freedom's "Rockin In The Free World" acoustic and electric version. The unplugged theme would later become a phenomenon in the 1990's with MTV's Unplugged series where artists showcased their "acoustic" versions of well known electric hits. It was considered quite clever back then. Of course, Neil had moved on by then and when he was asked to perform on MTV's Unplugged a running joke was that Neil would probably plug in his acoustic tunes.

"But me I'm not stopping there,
Got my own row left to hoe
Just another line in the field of time
When the thrashers comes, I'll be stuck in the sun
Like the dinosaurs in shrines
But I'll know the time has come
To give what's mine. "

We still see the vista. We still hear the muse. We continue.
Godspeed. Thank you Neil. Mahalo.

At 5/20/2017 02:48:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Greatest Album: After the Goldrush

This is the album that's the true Neil sampler. You get it all here, the classic acoustic strumming, the heartfelt piano ballads, the forlorn country tinged works, the electric rockers, the melodies, the lyrics, the personal and the political. Not a bad song in the batch, though I admit you have to be in the right frame of mind to truly "enjoy" Oh, Lonesome Me, and Neil loses a point or two for playing a cover tune! And some may not like the unfinished feel of the song "snippets" of Till the Morning Comes and Cripple Creek Ferry, but I find them endearingly catchy and melodic.


Tell Me Why
After the Goldrush
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Southern Man
Till the Morning Comes
Oh, Lonesome Me
Don't Let it Bring You Down
When You Dance I Can Really Love
I Believe In You
Cripple Creek Ferry

Just drop the needle (or press play) and enjoy it all from the opening strumming of "Tell Me Why" until making way for the Cripple Creek Ferry..Butting through the overhanging trees....Make way for the Cripple Creek ferry....The waters going down it's a mighty tight..squeeze....

As for the rest of the exercise (with an added twist):

Greatest Acoustic Song: Old Man
Greatest Piano Song: After the Goldrush
Greatest Electric Standard Song: Barstool Blues
Greatest Electric Fuzz/Distorted Song: Hey Hey, My MY (Into the Black)
Greatest Electric Extended Jam: Down By The River

Well, it's 2:45pm eastern time--by 8:30pm, all of this could be completely different, so, as always:

"Take my advice
Don't listen to me"

At 5/20/2017 04:16:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Topanga D. Good call on After the Goldrush. Both album and song are definitely on the top shelf of our desert island in the sun.


At 5/20/2017 05:01:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Greatest Acoustic Song: AMBULANCE BLUES
Greatest Piano Song: BIRDS & THE BRIDGE
Greatest Electric Standard Song: STUPID GIRL
Greatest Electric Fuzz/Distorted Song: Hey Hey, My MY (Into the Black)
Greatest Electric Extended Jam: SOUTHERN MAN 4-WAY STREET



At 5/20/2017 05:39:00 PM, Blogger joe lookout said...

Ok folks.

Best album: Rust never sleeps no doubts since I consider Thrashers the best acoustic song, Powderfinger the best electric song while Hey Hey My My is the essence of rock! These three songs take the listener to a different level into a microcosm made of sounds, images and visions which catch up with your body and your mind. Thrashers and Powderfinger are perfect screenplays for movies.
Best piano song: Stringman, the more I listen to it the more I love it.


At 5/21/2017 01:07:00 AM, Blogger mark said...

....... my folks had a patio umbrella just like the one on the cover.
.... it succumbed to the high altitude sunlight years before the record came out
....... i'd not realized my that folks were actually sorta hip till i saw that
.... and now i'm livin' out here on the beach
......... but those seagulls are still oughta reach

At 5/21/2017 02:11:00 AM, Blogger herbsworld said...

Greatest Album: Zuma
Greatest Greatest Hits Album: Decade
Greatest Live Album: Live Rust
Greatest Boxed Set: Archives Vol. 1 (Blu Ray)
Greatest Song: "Horse Back". The almost 40 min Jam that took my world by surprise announcing, well, you know. (Also Greatest Video)

Greatest "Live" "Moment": (Thanks Australian dude for leaving during the H.O.R.D.E. fest & giving me & mine yer 3rd row, center tix). Yelling out for "Down By The River", having Neil throw me the famous "Neil death stare" - if you've ever been on the receiving end of THAT, you KNOW what I mean, then, DBTR! Poof, mind-blown :)

Greatest Stripper Song: Motorcycle Mama

At 5/21/2017 07:21:00 AM, Blogger Syscrusher said...

Greatest Album: Rust Never Sleeps
Greatest Acoustic Song: Thrasher
Greatest Electric Song: Down By The River
Greatest Piano Song: Such A Women
Greatest Inbetween Band Song: Helpless
Greatest Vocoder Song: Computer Age

At 5/21/2017 12:01:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Agree 'Horseback' fantastic

At 5/21/2017 01:08:00 PM, Blogger ps said...

Greatest acoustic song...Ambulance Blues
Greatest electric... Change your mind

At 5/21/2017 06:05:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

With apologies to all of the Horseheads out there (and I am definitely one of you) best live backing band (out of over 20 shows attended):

Booker T And The MG's. One can't claim otherwise unless you've seen both live.

At 5/21/2017 08:39:00 PM, Blogger pleasetakemyadvice said...

Best Album: On the Beach
Most Underappreciated Album: American Stars n Bars
Best Acoustic: On the Way Home
Best Piano: After the Goldrush
Best Electric: Revolution Blues
Best Bflo. Springfield: Nowadays Clancy Can't Even Sing
Crazy Horse: Cowgirl in the Sand
CSNY: Country Girl
The Ducks: Mr. Soul

At 5/22/2017 10:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hawks n Doves is the most important album(not the greatest or even his best) in my life.

At 5/22/2017 11:55:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks to all for comments.

@ Tim - In all sincerity, please tell us why Hawks n Doves is the most important album in your life.

You can post a long comment here in multiple chunks if you'd like. Or email us.

Seriously. the H&D songs like Capt Kennedy are woefully under listened & discussed. Likewise, "The Old Homestead".

The TW platform awaits....

ps - this invitation is open to all on any NY subject as well.

At 5/22/2017 02:02:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Everyone here made some fascinating lists with magic on every single one.... but for me; I'm no fan of best of lists for Neil or any other artist. Time and space will continue to evolve what "Best" is. For me as far as Neil Young or any other artist I admire is concerned.... "It's all one song".


At 5/22/2017 08:05:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

It's all one album! No?!

Well, Tonight's the Night edges out After the Gold Rush on my list.Lookout Joe with his hip drag queen and a side walkin' street wheeler laying his burden down is about the most animated lyric I know. And as for me, just speaking out in new york (SONY), I'm looking for your love to carry me through. You're holdin my baby, and I'll be holding you! I'll be a searcher, I'll be a fool. I'll spend a long time coming to you!

And that's just a smidgeon of it all.....Neil definitely loaded that econoline van on Tonight's the Night. Can never get enough of that one.

At 5/22/2017 10:35:00 PM, Blogger borninontario said...

Best is always in the eye of the beholder. For me the best Neil things are the albums/songs that carried me into adulthood, through new challenges/experiences, or made me pick up the guitar or cry for someone in my life. Albums: After the Gold Rush, Tonights the Night, Comes a Time, Harvest Moon. Songs: Tell Me Why, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Cowgirl In the Sand, Comes a Time, Thrasher, Hey Hey My My, You and Me, One of These Days, The Bridge, Philadelphia, Ramada Inn

At 5/23/2017 07:16:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

It sure would be great to have a fully re-mastered version of On the Beach....the quality of the CD from 2003 is awful.....

At 5/23/2017 09:44:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...


Neil is releasing the last two Original Series Box Sets on C.D. and are scheduled for release in early September. The remastered vinyl sounds outstanding so I'm assuming the C.D. will be the same.


At 5/23/2017 09:49:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

September 8th to be exact, and the pricing is very reasonable.

Official Release Series Discs 5-8 (4CD) $37.99

Official Release Series Discs 8.5-12 (5CD) $41.89

....on Amazon.

At 5/23/2017 08:32:00 PM, Blogger Joe Werfelman said...

Best Album Rust Never Sleeps
Best song. Thrasher
Best record with crazy horse. Ragged Glory
Best tour Acoustic 1970-71
Best tour Electric. Weld 1991
Best overall tour 2016 Promise of the Real
Best Unreleased Album. Chrome Dreams
Least known about unreleased album
Island in the Sun
Best CSNY TRACK. Country Girl
Hidden Gem CSNY Feel Your Love
Best unreleased song Live To Ride
Least favorite album. Everybody's Rockin
Least favorite tour Neil and the shocking pinks 1983
Favorite Neil road story. According to many
people here in northeastern pa in 1986
Neil had a show with the horse in Bethlehem
Pa. He had been in Nazareth Pa visiting
the Martin guitar factory there.
The story goes the bus broke down and so
Neil apparently was hitchhiking. Nazareth
and the Bethlehem arena are only about
Ten miles. Somebody picked him up drove
him to the arena and got a free ticket

At 5/23/2017 08:52:00 PM, Blogger Philippe 7 said...

My older son just turned 33. Over the years he's become a bit of a fan of Neil - although not as exclusive and biased as daddy, far from it. I never tried to influence him, honest ... he would have been more likely to be put off by all the Neil music he heard at home as a kid. But his tastes in music just naturally evolved, from death metal backwards to Nirvana, backwards to Pink Floyd, backwards to ....yes, Neil Young.

On the Beach is his favourite album. When I asked him why, his reply was : "there is not one note missing, nor one note too much's just ....perfect" .

Made me want to listen to the album again. "listen", not hear as background music....sit down, turn the volume up a tad, close your eyes and listen. I think I understood what he meant. It's most obvious in the darkest songs Vampire Blues or On the Beach. Not one note missing, not one note too much...

At 5/24/2017 12:09:00 AM, Blogger Columella said...

I've been a long time proponent of "On the Beach", although I've been gravitating more and more to "Tonight's the Night" of late, meaning no disrespect to any of the other greats everyone has listed. And the other day, I picked up a used LP of Decade and been spinning that... But for now, let's say OTB is the one I'd save.

Favorite song: Words, without a doubt the best song Neil's written.
Next Favorite: Hmmmm. Maybe Albuquerque. Or Southern Man. Or Winterlong. Or Soldier. Or Campaigner. Or Powderfinger. or T-Bone. or Cowgirl. It's hopeless....but the ironic thing, to me, is that none of my favorite songs is on my favorite album....

At 5/24/2017 07:25:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Anybody got the DVD Audio of OTB - some great photos there on the tour bus around 1974 and in 5:1 ?

At 5/24/2017 06:54:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

After the Gold Rush has always been my favorite for many years. So much so that I'm playing it on piano and guitar.😎

At 6/02/2017 07:51:00 PM, Blogger Yakaru said...

Okay, late to the party, but here goes.

Best non-existent album: The audio of the songs on the film Year of the Horse (the eponymous CD had a heap of tracks not in the film, but the selection that Jarmusch put in the film has a unity that the CD is lacking... although the CD had some great individual tracks, like the electric Human Highway -- fantastic.)

Best 5 albums: On the Beach, Tonight's the Night, Zuma, EKTN, Goldrush

Albums that were great when I wasn't expecting it: Psychedelic Pill, Ragged Glory

Albums I only appreciated much later: Trans (listen to Gary Kasparov talking about AI -- Neil said it first, more or less -- I need you, like ugly needs a mirror. But Kasparov et al have nothing as touching as Transformer Man or cynical as Sample and Hold);
--Silver & Gold (I'm looking for a job, I don't know what I'm doing, my software's not compatible with you -- some hate lyrics like that, but no one complains about Hooker singing someone's callin me on my telephone. And to use it in as heart-breaking a song as Sharpshooter....)

Album with the highest number of superficial "everything's gonna be alright" love songs: Tonight's the Night (usually Neil's love songs have a darker edge, but TTN has 3 that are only positive: Speakin' Out, Mellow My Mind, New Mama -- this is always said to be his darkest album, and it is too, but find another album with 3 happier *great* songs than these)

Album that most needs to be on a list for some reason: Time Fades Away

2 songs that best sum up Neil: Fuckin' Up, Tell Me Why

Songs worthy of Dylan: For the Turnstiles, Barstool Blues, Thrasher

Song Dylan couldn't have written: Pardon My Heart

Song Graham Nash couldn't have written: Stupid Girl

Greatest duet: Speakin' Out (Neil piano, Lofgren guitar)

Greatest 4 note melody (by anyone, ever) Cortez (I don't think Neil wrote this -- I'll suspend my atheism for a moment and say that the melody exists eternally somewhere in the cosmos and Neil just brings it down into hearing range occasionally for us to listen to with him)

Deepest lyric: All your dreams and your lovers won't protect you/ They're only passing through you in the end/ They'll leave you stripped of all that they can get to/ And wait for you to come back again. (It's a mundane country & western verse until life forces you to notice the third word.)

Greatest short lyric: Got mashed potatoes, ain't got no T-bone

Greatest line: Gonna get a hip hop hair cut (You don't think that's a great line? Go on, explain why it isn't)

Greatest few seconds of music: the opening notes of Tonights the Night


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