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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Comments of the Moment: Statement by Neil Young on "Children of Destiny"

"Children of Destiny" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real

Neil Young + Promise of the Real's new song "Children of Destiny" -- featuring a full orchestra -- has been making a bit of a splash this summer.

The new song's "patriotic" video seems to have really hit a nerve with some -- as we noted on the 4th of July -- managing once again to both polarize his fan base and inflame critics.

Inflamed and polarized to such a degree that Neil Young issued a statement essentially saying that he won't quit no matter what. All of which led us to Neil Young's Muse: The Passion, The Pathos & The 4%.

So here's a few thoughts from the other 96% of Neil Young fans. The Comment of the Moment is on Statement by Neil Young on "Children of Destiny" by Alex:
I get what he's going for and all, and it's fine as a kinda timely, immediate piece. And I suppose people these days, some lesser-aware Neil fans included, do kind of need a more direct message like this.

But I do hope he does throws a little more mystique on the next album, because I do empathize with the sense of boredom towards it, and I have to say I don't really dig the orchestra stuff so much because I'm just not into that old time...patriotic music shit to begin with, so it doesn't do anything for me when that style is referenced...that said it did work around the LWW project because it was all just more refined and focused and stylized.

I'm not especially worried about it because there's always something new and unexpected with Neil every couple months. But yeah, for real, I feel it would have been a lot cooler if he gave us something abstractly "funkier", maybe along the lines of Around the World.

I mean my favorite era of Neil as a personality is definitely the 80s. Trans, Rusted Out Garage, Everybody's Rockin...I feel like he's at his best when he's going full-blown with a concept and a "fuck you" drive. I saw My New Robot, and Texas Rangers for example, as a step in the right direction, and Earth totally stands up there with the classic live Neil sets, Overall the POTR era is pretty sweet I think though and there's not really anything to complain about, so you all should probably just kind of take this as a one-off and look at it in the immediate context and chill out.
In response, a comment on Statement by Neil Young on "Children of Destiny" by Scotsman:
Alex: I'm not sure people really do need a direct message. "Direct and simple" might make a big splash for a few minutes when it is new and shiny, but it's the beautiful spooky artwork that gets beneath our skin and really changes us in the long run. The best way to make a difference to people's attitudes is to make better art, to write more thoughtfully or with more feeling or more depth; not to shout louder or unnecessarily simplify the message.

Neil's most inspiring environmentally-themed record (Greendale) is also one of his most substantial, and that's not a coincidence. And again, he rose to the occasion with Crazy Horse.

Neil is an extremely able songwriter. He cares a lot about the subject matter. The new song is alright, but surely he can come up with something a little more substantial, something to really get beneath our skin? Anyone can make a nice sounding tune when they've got a professionally-trained orchestra waiting on their every move, in the same way that any celebrity socialite can put together a nice-smelling perfume with a team of experts. But the greatness of a song is based on a foundation a little deeper than that, something that can't be bought or manufactured after the fact.

Some people will tell me he is too old. I'd point out that Leonard Cohen rose to the occassion and wrote some of his most powerful music in his eighties, from his death bed. Now, I'm not particularly a Cohen fan, but he's proof that being old is not an impediment to creating great things.
Thank you Alex and Scotsman for your thoughts.

We appreciate most everyone keeping calm and offering well measured words here.

More on Neil Young + Promise of the Real's new song "Children of Destiny" .

Also, see A Happy 4th of July To All of Our "Children of Destiny": Some Commentary on Neil Young's New Song and Comments of the Moment:"Children of Destiny" by Neil Young + Promise of the Real.

For more, see Statement by Neil Young + Orchestra Video Version of "Children of Destiny" and Neil Young's Muse: The Passion, The Pathos & The 4%.

Official Music Video by Neil Young + Promise of the Real of "Children of Destiny"

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At 7/08/2017 11:39:00 AM, Blogger Art Carey said...

I'm wondering whether Neil's fanbase is growing, shrinking or staying about the same.

As a Very-unscientific experiment, I have worked this question into conversation whenever I've reconnected/interacted with friends or new acquaintances this spring/summer: "What do you think about Neil Young's "Peace Trail' album?"

Granted, like lots of old guys, my friends-base has shrunk significantly, but nevertheless I still have yet to talk with someone who has even heard of it...

At 7/08/2017 12:11:00 PM, Blogger Paul Dionne said...

Curiously, of late, since Children Of Destiny has come out, I see more than a one time comment the wish? the desire? to start comparing Neil Young to Leonard Cohen.

Is that apt? To my mind, no....

Cohen was a genuine poet since his youth. He spent sometimes years honing lyrics to a song. Hallelujah for instance, took about 3 years. He continued this pattern until he died. So age has nothing necessarily to do with creation.

However, as much as I love Neil Young, and I do, I truly do, I have not found attention paid to constructing a song, or lyrics in many years. Many years. It's well to talk about Neil, his muse, his creativity - it matters, but it's still not producing anything substantial. Children of Destiny is a one thought, one line knock off as just about everything has been for the last 15? years. And probably, maybe Neil does not have the ability to create great songs anymore. My opinion is that that is the case - sigh.....

paul dionne

At 7/08/2017 12:34:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

It depends on your criteria. If judged solely by album sales, clearly his fan base is shrinking as Peace Trail didn't even chart, or if it did, it was only for one week at the bottom of the charts.

If judged by ticket sales, they fare a little better, but even on that front Neil is struggling more and more to sell tickets. His Telluride shows should have been easy sell-outs, but I think they struggled to sell half the tickets. However, many recent shows have sold fairly well, so the concert sales have really been mixed results. Actually though, since the 80s his shows have always waivered between easy sell-outs and semi-sparse crowds, so I'm not sure that's a great indicator. I remember a basically empty Baltimore Civic Center in 86, but a good crowd a few weeks earlier in Virginia. Similar mixed results also existed into the 90s and onward...

In terms of influence and popularity with other musicians, I think Neil is as relevant as ever and maybe more so.

In terms of general popularity, he's always been somewhat unknown and/or overlooked, and I sense it's no better or worse today. People who know music still know who he is and generally like something he's done, but to the public as a whole, I think most people confuse him with Neil Diamond.

But, to answer your question in simple general terms, yes, Neil's fan base is shrinking down to the diehards, and he's even losing some of them for the time being. They'll come back around though after it's too late...

"Take my advice
don't listen to me"

At 7/08/2017 01:18:00 PM, Blogger tlc8464 said...

Well said.

At 7/08/2017 01:44:00 PM, Blogger Lloyd Walton said...

Viewing it from afar, I find the video almost Pythonesque parody. It could use some strutting majorettes though. I've always loved his strident sense of humour, like wearing white bucks with his Army Cadet uniform.

At 7/08/2017 02:22:00 PM, Blogger Mick Funz said...

That one part of Neil's fan base thinks political expression is mostly a matter of saying something, it doesn't matter what, against the powers that be, and the other side wants Neil to say something but with the appropriate language of 21st century, post-911, Trump President seriousness is not a Neil issue, it's likely an issue with the character of the Left, specifically.
Citing the positive responses of many casual fans as significant and then detailed, informed criticism of long time fans as "not getting" a bigger picture is just creepy, guys.
Do folks get that, because of half gestures and lazy ideas of freedom and justice and reason . . . we have Trump as president? Are some of us "not getting it" when we see that this cloudy version of Liberalism is part of the problem?
Neil's new tune is catchy though

At 7/08/2017 03:12:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Art - good question. Neil's fanbase we'd say as always been evolving. Picking up some, losing some all along the way through the years. You know, those who seem to split along acoustic/electric sets.

The trend these days seems to really be that while there's more music than ever before, it seems to mean much less to folks these days. Some of the magic has evaporated. But that's another story for another day...

@ Paul - yes, the Leonard Cohen references do seem to keep appearing especially w/ his recent passing.

Definitely, Cohen was a genuine poet. Neil seems to have evolved into this performance artist SLASH communicator over the years.

All of the films, books, cars, audio stuff, etc have been some sort of distraction from Neil's restless creativity and fear of being locked into a label. From ditch to ditch, across the middle of the road and hard turns at the forks.

@ TopangaD - thanks for anecdotes.

"People who know music still know who he is and generally like something he's done, but to the public as a whole, I think most people confuse him with Neil Diamond."

As frightening as that statement might be, we do see its legitimacy, sadly.

And it's never too late...

@ Lloyd - "Pythonesque parody". clever.

But for all of the supposed bombast, jingoism of the video seen by some, it all comes across as much more subtle than Monty Python. The contrasting color and B&W footage is quite effective juxtaposed with the lyrics creates a certain cognitive dissonance that seems to have subconsciously triggered a few out there.

@ Mick - Neil's new tune is catchy isn't it now? Glad you're enjoying it came back along here to drop a comment.

We're not trying to be creepy here, really. What would be the point?

have you ever observed us go a few rounds here with Jonathan over the years?

Jonathan would make a point using a hard Conservative or Liberal view. And we would suggest that seeing the world simply through this Republican SLASH Democrat view, or Red SLASH Blue, or Right SLASH Left. This dualistic worldview was a demonstration of his thinking being captured. Trapped in the duality of The Matrix. Once self identified with a label, one becomes like cattle in a pen. A prisoner of one's own mind to be used in the endless divide and conquer war. A tool to build your own prison.

free your mind, man. Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, as Bob Marley would say. Become independent of the duality trap. We think for ourselves. We question authority. Resist the powers that be. Sing truth to power. Never stop. Forward.

peace & love

At 7/08/2017 03:45:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Hey Mick, I sense your comment about the new song being catchy may be sarcasm, but keep listening and posting. What's perceived as terrible today often becomes catchy tomorrow and more relevant as the days fly past...

"Take my advice
don't listen to me"

At 7/08/2017 05:32:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The thing I love about music is that it differs to sport and music. If my football club (soccer) are doing bad and their manager is a fool I continue to support. If my political party has an idiot warmonger I feel i must still support the party. Music is different, a crap album and you can go and listen to something else. I came to Neil around Sleeps With Angels. I'm one of those guys in their late 30's early 40's you see at concerts who got into Neil through grunge. I couldn't believe this man was still so cool and relevant in his 50's, he blew me away. We are the guys who go to Neil gigs and get near the front just like we see Pearl Jam or the Foo Fighters. At the time I devoured his back catalogue and realised among the alchemy was some real mediocre stuff (years 81-89). So I chose not to listen to it or buy it. Old Ways and Everyones rockin just did not need to be in my record collection. Yet though the 90's and early 00's he remained cutting edge and interesting. I looked forward to his new releases and knew they would be great. Up to Greendale and Living with war I think he was still attracting young audiences to his new recorded music. Not his back catalogue which all alternative rock fans find eventually, but because he was still relevant, full of energy and producing great alternative rock n roll. I think for the last 10 years he has not been attracting new audiences and the music fans with a diverse appreciation of music to his recorded material. His gigs are still vibrant but his recorded music has lost its trade mark energy. I think what I am getting at is the litmus test of a good song is always, would this attract new fans? Alternatively, would music fans with a sophisticated ear who enjoy some of Neil's better work but are not fanatical in their appreciation go out and buy it? I'm not going to answer the questions as I think deep down we know the answers.
We can as listeners go elsewhere and still appreciate his back catalogue. We should though respect each other and respect the man.

At 7/08/2017 08:05:00 PM, Blogger Hbheel said...

You're all slipping or ignorant hahaha.....Neil is king!!! Nobody makes music like him's just sad in this push button age that nobody understands his greatness.....long may you run Neil!!! I'm overdue for some live Neil here in Carolina!!!!!

At 7/09/2017 05:20:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Hey how did I get dragged into this? I refuse to even listen to the new song...that's how lame I know it is...

At 7/09/2017 07:27:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Neil we don't want you to give up music just get your mojo back and stop writing these half thought out preaches sorry songs - we get the message - where's the inventiveness gone? I'm pleased many people love this dirge. Neil is speaking out and it's a hollow message from a man who has lost the plot coinciding when he lost his wife, farm and his quality control dept.

At 7/09/2017 09:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Dionne: My point wasn't to "compare" the songwriting of Neil and Leonard Cohen (I agree, they are quite different), but instead to use Leonard as evidence that advancing age doesn't have to have a detrimental effect on songwriting ability. It refutes the idea that Neil is too old to write anything up there with his best works. Hopefully I made that clear first time around.

At the end of the day, these guys are songwriters, not weightlifters or professional footballers or mountain-climbers. Cohen's body failed him eventually but he still had a sharp mind right until the end.

Inspiration may well be harder to come by as age increases (and the song count increases), but Neil certainly doesn't seem to have any lack of inspiration. I'm sure there are a few gems left for him to discover if (and it's a big "if") he's willing to dig deep enough to find them.


At 7/09/2017 09:29:00 AM, Blogger SONY said...

There's not a damn thing anyone can say that will interest Neil to do anything different than what he wants. Plain and simple. The songs he lets out come straight from his mind and heart and whatever is currently happening in his head and life. Nothing else. Is it different than before? No. and Yes. He's always done it that way, only realism sets in for old guys rather than the figurative topics, hopes and dreams of youth. He doesn't seem to tell the story between the lines as he once did, it's in you face and ears, and in your heart if you tag along. If not, big deal. I don't think he cares about that. He said so before early on in "Old Man'.The hourglass is getting low on sand. He's feeling that as much as wanting to instill this message to wake folks up to save the environment and 'right what we've done wrong'. It's not likely to swing back. He can't swing it back. He's seen too much.

At 7/09/2017 12:04:00 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Just a quick comment. Quality of the song aside, I really don't see anything in the video or in the lyrics that Donald Trump or a supporter of Donald Trump would be happy about. But then again, people don't always listen or watch very closely to such things. Good for Neil Young to get people a little riled up, I just wish it were with a more memorable song.

At 7/12/2017 12:43:00 AM, Blogger Lone Red Rider said...

People's minds change as they get older. I will likely never write a song the same as I did 20 years ago. Even though I think I am using the same method, it can't be the same because I am not the same. Parts of me are improving, parts are degrading and parts stay the same. Areas of focus change. Lament not the fact that Neil isn't writing the same sort of song he once did. Maybe we value the old stuff more than the new. Makes sense. In many ways we get duller as we get older. But sometimes a trickery arises to compensate....


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