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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Electric "Natural Beauty" - Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Hamilton, Ontario, 1996-10-31



Here is a live version of "Natural Beauty" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse in Hamilton, Ontario on 1996-10-31.

What is unique here is that this a rare, electric version of the standard acoustic "Natural Beauty".

A rather lengthy, leisurely meandering version that we came across recently that clocks in at 12:00+.

Interestingly, the lyrics reference "Amazon" around 5:36. Sort of a harbinger of what was to come both in terms of destruction of the rain forest, as well as, retail landscape.

But, hey, we're just a dreamin' man...

More on Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 1996 tour and the "Year of The Horse".

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13 Comments:

At 6/06/2017 06:36:00 PM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Despite being a huge Crazy Horse fan, I think this is one of those songs that is best suited overall to the solo/acoustic format. And of that type, "Dreamin' Man '92" is as good a version as any, dreamily performed with beautiful harmonica playing.

Some context is needed for this 1996 electric performance, too: the rest of the band thought Neil was going to play Cortez, which was the usual song at this point in the show. The opening chord of both songs is the same. So it was as much a surprise for the band as the audience.

Of all the ways to spend your evening, there are few things better than listening to a good audience recording of peak-career Neil Young and Crazy Horse (1976-1996). Something from Old Princeton Landing 1996, for instance, accompanied by a refreshing beverage, of course. Cheers!

Scotsman.

 
At 6/06/2017 06:47:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan Neal said...

The electric version of this song has been haunting me for two decades. Sure, it's a mess. The Horse doesn't know what they're doing. Neil messes up the lyrics. And the very end of the song is an awkward disaster, with the Horse adding on a "to nature" when of course the song ends on "like a monument." Neil probably launched into "Fuckin' Up" right after this in response to the cacophony. But despite all this, Neil singing this with Old Black and the harp is so epically glorious, beautiful, and huge, that this version immediately lodged itself "somewhere deep inside of my soul" when I first heard this on bootleg tape in 1996, and it's literally one of my favorite Neil bootleg tracks of all time. The last two minutes of harp and electric guitar sends me into the stratosphere like it did when I was a teenager and first heard this. I really hope Neil tries this one again. This is the most transcendent, spirit-swelling, and tear-inducing bootleg track of them all, IMHO. Electric Natural Beauty. Those three words together have sent chills down my spine for twenty years. -Morning Son

 
At 6/06/2017 10:11:00 PM, Blogger Syscrusher said...

Ah my second ever Neil show. The first was just 2 months before In Barrie. This may just be my favourite concert I've ever been to. Very psychedelic and dreamy is what I recall. My boarding school actually let us organize this as a school trip, chaperoned by the school cook.
I loved what I heard. I was already crazy into Neil but I hadn't yet heard Broken Arrow the album, and I had no idea I was hearing what might be the only electric versions of Needle and Natural Beauty.
If I could go back and experience this show again my current self might sit back and take it all in, try to savour it, appreciate it. But I've never been so into it and unhinged at a concert as my younger self was that night. Coulda been the mushrooms and beer combo I suppose.
Thanks for posting!!

 
At 6/07/2017 05:18:00 AM, OpenID flyingscotzman said...

Nothing "wrong" with this 1996 version at all, I just feel it works better overall in its original solo-acoustic form. 1996 was more haphazard than the previous Horse tour, but still featured some great performances from time-to-time. Crazy Horse as a backing band have rarely sounded better. Though of course this completely unrehearsed version of Natural Beauty wouldn't be the best or fairest example of that.

Bob Dylan opened for Neil at one of the European gigs, and much of Neil's singing for the rest of tour was clearly influenced by Bob's idiosyncratic off-hand style (what works for Bob does not necessarily work for Neil).

The Cal Expo show from 1996 is an odd one that I really enjoy. "Odd" because it starts off rather mediocre, but something suddenly clicks into place towards the end; things get serious. Cracking versions of Dangerbird and Rockin' In The Free World in the encore. Dangerbird is on Year Of The Horse. Other than that I think the early OPL shows from March-June are the most exciting I've heard.

We are very lucky to have so many great recordings of Neil and Crazy Horse at their peak, beautiful music that could so easily have been lost forever but is now captured for us to enjoy for a while longer.

Scotsman.

 
At 6/07/2017 07:39:00 AM, Blogger joe lookout said...

That's great!!!! Started with Cortez and switched to Natural beauty!!!!!

 
At 6/07/2017 09:37:00 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks so much for posting! This was the first Neil Young show I ever saw - I lost my starting position on the highschool football team to go to this show because I had to miss practice to drive to Hamilton from London (likely the best compromise I've ever made). I brought a friend and we were both shocked about 3 things: 1) the length of all the songs and the song endings, 2) That Crazy Horse would play a song from Harvest Moon (this one), 3) That Crazy Horse played Pochahontas (my jaw absolutely dropped on that one).

Of course, other than the 3 or 4 albums I had at the time that concert was my real introduction to Neil Young. None of these things would surprise me now, but seeing/hearing them for the first time sure was an experience.

Can't wait for Hitchhiker this summer - keep the archives flowing in the meantime though!

 
At 6/07/2017 10:39:00 AM, Blogger adrianfish said...

A week before, NY had performed The wonderful Natural Beauty twice at Bridge but solo. So it was recent in his mind but what level of preparation with Ch...? Find the 23.9.92 San Diego version of NB....that's the one...a yell at NY the night before at LA by me.,.the unnerving stare back from NY and then served up marvellously the next night.

 
At 6/07/2017 11:14:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@ Scotsman - Thanks for context. Good call on the false Cortez start and the setlists.

Agree with you on those OPL shows being priceless.

We're always looking for suggestions here @ TW so you have a fave to share, drop us a link.

@ Morning Son - yes, the combination of Old Black and harp is as you say so eloquently: "epically glorious, beautiful, most transcendent, spirit-swelling, and tear-inducing track".

Glad we could send some chills down your spine today!

@ Syscrusher - so you made Barrie show? Cool. So did we with the famous electric "Needle & Damage".

It's these reinventions of plugged and unplugged which we find so fascinating about Neil's music.

@ Scotsman - oh yeah right, kind of forgot about Dylan opening for Neil. So you think that might have really influenced Neil's singing? Interesting.

If you have a good Cal Expo link, pls share.

And right that we're so lucky to have so many great recordings of Neil and peak Horse. Starting about 1993 fwd, tapes finally started to become reliably decent.

@ joe lookout - yeah, quite a switch. surprise.

@ Tom - your welcome and quite an initiation for 1st neil concert. So the best compromise ever? wow, pretty cool it all worked out. Crazy Horse playing Pochahontas is another link we need to search out too.

@ adrianfish - it would be interesting to compare this version of NB w/ 23.9.92 San Diego version. Is that one shorter than Hamilton? Just wondering how much improvisation took place or whether it started to get a little tighter?

 
At 6/07/2017 02:36:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

@ Thrasher, here is a link to the Crazy Horse version of Pochahontas from Year of the Horse. I have no idea which show this was from (but I think it actually says on the album) but I know it's from the 1996 tour.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pm7-TdJ5dDI

Would absolutely love to hear the version from the Hamilton show if it's out there.

 
At 6/07/2017 11:38:00 PM, Blogger Lone Red Rider said...

Amazing in a craptastic sort of way!
Yes, the band gets totally confused at the beginning and starts to play Cortez.
Love it.
Hamilton was special.

 
At 6/08/2017 10:30:00 AM, Blogger Doug Steiner said...

Chords for both songs are very similar as is the strumming.

 
At 6/08/2017 10:33:00 AM, Blogger Doug Steiner said...

Don't think it's a false Cortez start that turns into Natural Beauty. I think it was always Natural Beauty. The chords and guitar rhythms for both songs are similar, even in their original, recorded, and officially released forms.

 
At 6/08/2017 01:00:00 PM, Blogger joe lookout said...

Well, the audience started clapping and yeahing clearly thinking it was Cortez......maybe not even Neil&Co will ever remember!!!!!!!!!

 

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