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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Comments of the Moment: NEW ALBUM: ‘The Visitor’ by Neil Young + Promise of the Real; 1st Track “Already Great”

‘The Visitor’
by Neil Young + Promise of the Real

With Neil Young announcing his latest new album titled ‘The Visitor’ -- and sharing the 1st preview track “Already Great” -- already the Neil fan based is being whipped into yet another bashing frenzy.

Funny, but it feels just like 2003 all over again with Greendale. (Recall early negative reaction followed by near universal praise.)

Or 2006 and Living with War.

Or 2009 and Fork in the Road.

Or 2015 and The Monsanto Years.

Still Living With War... and Yet More War To Come

Greendale - 2003, Living With War - 2006, Fork in the Road - 2009

Based on the single preview track of “Already Great”, the album ‘The Visitor’ is receiving all of the standard criticisms: Neil Young's "weak songwriting" (check), "too political" (check), and "lacking rhythm, melody and tempo" (check, check, and check).

A small sampling for the TW Comments of the Moment on NEW ALBUM: ‘The Visitor’ by Neil Young + Promise of the Real; 1st Track “Already Great”, first by Keith B.:
We can cherish the past but we cannot live there.

We have no right as fans to grade NY’s work or to insist that he be the guy we think he was or we want him to be.

For me it is more than enough that he is still here — participating, working, and creating.

I hope the band tours.
Among various responses, here is Topanga D.:
@ Keith, I agree and disagree.

As music fans and Neil fans, we certainly have the "right" to grade Neil's work. We've been grading it since day one, be it in terms of album sales, ticket sales, awards, commentaries written, hours and hours spent replaying the same track over and over, and in general terms obsessing over Neil's every new move and statement.

Neil has been both student and teacher, and in our self created classrooms, we have the right and obligation to test and grade Neil's work. When I grade his work, I find myself asking these simple questions:

How does it make me feel?
Do I smile, or laugh, or cry, or fear--am I moved?
Do I want to listen again? And again?

The answers for 40+ years have been: lucky and inspired and peaceful and enraged and interested and hopeful and sympathetic and motivated and introspective and alone and emboldened and a part of. And yes, and yes, and yes...

Neil's best work can rarely be graded solely on lyrical content or musical dynamism or virtuosity. His music has always been uniquely brilliant in its ability to transform varying levels of lyrical depth and singing and playing into a whole that's far greater than the sum of its parts.

This song is just sloppy and rushed and lacking creative passion to my ears. The music is "fine" for a one-off performance or listen, but nothing more. The lyrics and vocals and background vocals detract from the music rather than enhancing it. It's just not a good song. Just my opinion, and in no way am I writing off the whole album--it could be good or even great...

On your other point, I agree that we have no right to insist Neil be the guy we want him to be. That's what has always been great about Neil and being a fan of his. He does his own thing and it's rarely what we expect or what we thought we wanted.

And yes, I am happy Neil's still searching and working and creating, and I hope he tours this summer with the Promise of the Real. His last tours with them have been brilliant and thrilling, and there's no one I'd rather see live. Neil and the Promise bring the intense but casual off-hand brilliance every time!

"Take my advice
don't listen to me"
Thanks Keith B., Topanga D. and everyone else for your comments on ‘The Visitor’ by Neil Young + Promise of the Real.

There is a super irony at work here that seems to somehow escape a few out there.

These comments expressing disappointment regard a song titled “Already Great”. The song “Already Great” is the response to those complaining about America and the need for it to be "great again". Essentially the doubters here are espousing the President Trump position that "Neil Young Needs to Be Great Again."

As we mentioned above, we have all been through this over and over again so we just keep our head down and keep walking.

Literally, here is exactly what we blogged back in 2015 regarding The Monsanto Years and "It's too late in the game for subtle lyrics": Micah Nelson on Neil Young:
In fact, we here at TW responded to similar charges about the lack of poetry and mystery in the lyrics of his 21st century albums that we referred to as The Message Trilogy: Greendale, Living with War and Fork in the Road:

Recently, we wrote about how the initial consensus around Neil Young's Greendale and Living With War was that they were flawed and misguided. Our opinion was that Fork in the Road seemed to be falling right into the same mindset. But we maintain that the three works together actually constitute a cohesive trilogy that may just validate Neil's early 21st century work.

There's an intriguing arc between the three albums. With Greendale , Neil sounds the alarm that something has gone terribly wrong on a number of fronts. Living With War was a direct confrontation of the need for a call to action. Fork in the Road -- the 3rd installment of the trilogy -- reveals Neil coming to grips with the fact that first you recognize a problem, then you call out the need to address it, and finally you do something about it.
And the super irony -- to spell it out crystal clearly -- is that Neil has provided his own response to the criticism by front running it: Neil is “Already Great”. Fans can want another "Harvest" or "Rust Never Sleeps" all they want. Neil has moved on and some haven't yet.

Neil may no longer be young, fresh and vital as he once was but the heart still beats stronger than ever.

Say what you will, there is no doubt whatsoever that Neil Young is still as relevant as ever and Singing Truth to Power. Another gift from Neil. And we couldn't be happier. amen

Neil Young's Tweet by "The Visitor" (Message #6):
"I'm Canadian by the way, and I love the USA."
- The Visitor

More messages and analysis on "The Visitor".

Labels: , ,


At 11/04/2017 06:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11/04/2017 08:28:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Frankly I'm a bit surprised by all the negativity. I loved this new song after just one listen. Perhaps I'm just on the same wave length with Neil right now, but I think he's really on a great roll for the past several albums. Apparently I'm in the minority here which doesn't bother me since I have always been one who is drawn to music which marches to it's own drum. Everyone is entitled to their own taste, so I'm looking forward to this new album and if I'm the only one who buys it, then so be it.


At 11/05/2017 01:36:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I will be buying the CD, as usual. I find his work fascinating.

At 11/05/2017 02:01:00 AM, Blogger AnonymousCommenter said...

IMO "Already Great" is already great song! I really like the groove with PotR.

At 11/05/2017 02:02:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Dan, that will make at least two of us.

I'm currently holding out on any in-depth assessment, waiting for the rest of the record. Chords are *very* Neil-ish. Gotta love the first couplet ("I'm Canadian by the way..."). Still wondering who the Visitor actually is, of course. No title song. Eye-catching cover. All the more mystery.

At 11/05/2017 04:03:00 AM, Blogger Julie said...

Dear Thrasher,
I have been a fan of Neil and his music for many, many years. I like most but not all of his output; much of it I love; some I dislike.But the fact that I am a fan does not mean that I have to suspend my critical faculties. And the fact that the latest song contradicts the stance and attitude of the moron that you currently have as President does not mean that I have to like the song or that it is a good song.

I support Neil's opposition to GM crops - but I don't think much of the Monsanto Years. And I think that POTR is a mediocre band.

Does that make me less of a fan or someone whose views are wrong? They are just different from yours and others who visit the site.

What is good about this site is that there is a range of views from people who like Neil and his music - that's why we visit and support the site.

I think that the last work that Neil did that was to his usual standard was Psychedelic Pill - an album that I believe foreshadowed his break up with Pegi - followed by his involvement with DH and POTR in a desperate attempt to recapture his youth - and it's been downhill ever since.

Now that should get the fan base hot under the collar.


At 11/05/2017 07:24:00 AM, Blogger The Young Oslo Neil said...

Hmm....I listen yesterday to "drfting back" from Psychedelic pill. 27 minutes of crazy horse. I like it, but I think I would prefer
the whole of that acoustic intro that crossfades out. (Do it exist?) And I also think that the song would be more interesting with PoTR.
Anthony Logerfo – drums, Corey McCormick – bass guitar, has a groove that I think is important for Neil, they are good players, they are something in between Ralph / Billy and Chad Cromwell / Rick Rosas. Laid-back with a punch.
When I get concerned, it is about Neils voice. In both Children of destiny and Already greatI I am happy about him singing.
But on Monsanto Years, it was sadder. (Maybe he came from a cold, sounds like that on wolf moon.)
After so many years with loudness in backline and monitors. (He never use in-ear, that save the ears) in combination that the guy in one week turnes 72, it is no surprise if his hearing is not as it was.
So I am impressed, and i think the visitor will show us an album he has spend some time on making. Ok, many of you hate Children of Destiny, but you must agree the arrangement is not made in five minutes. It is three time changes during the song.
It is not like "piece of crap".

At 11/05/2017 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Shakeydave said...

i dont care what anybody else says....i love to hear new Neil anytime he wants to put it out, and i applaud him for doing it....keep on rockin Neil!


At 11/05/2017 05:11:00 PM, Blogger Hbheel said...

Shakeydave sums it up wonderfully for me!!!! Neil is King!!!!!

At 11/05/2017 09:50:00 PM, Blogger Johnny Magic said...

It's got a good beat and I can dance to it. Has a real good message too. I give it a 7. Can't wait to hear the rest of the album. I hope you're well rested Neil because anyone that still has any sanity left knows, Neil Young and POTR have been kicking ass in concert. Can't wait! Bring it Neil. We just love ya, we just love ya....

At 11/06/2017 01:20:00 AM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Hey, I think I must be in the minority of the majority:

I really like "Children of Destiny", but so far I just can't get into "Already Great" at all.

And maybe it's just me, but I don't see too much unnecessary negativity or mean-spiritedness here regarding the new song(s). For the most part, it seems to me most posts have offered fairly reasonable thoughts--some are just happy Neil's making music and don't really seem to care too much about the quality or lack thereof; some seem to genuinely like the new songs; some are critical at times (like me) because it's in our nature to compare and contrast and we try to separate the artist from the art; we say what we feel, be it good or bad. When Neil's music speaks to us, we say so; when it doesn't, we say so. It doesn't diminish our loyalty or our love of his music through the decades...

Regardless, I think virtually all of us here agree that Neil has provided us with a great multi-generational musical tapestry filled with magical highs and ultimately rewarding lows, just like life itself. He's given us memories that will last forever and he's introduced us to real and imaginary friends that will always be with us. At times he's brought us together in a unified voice and at times he's tested our resolve, individually and collectively. He's asked us questions that make us look inward, and he's asked us questions that quite often have no answers:

"How can you run when you know"?
"When will I see you again"?
"What is the color when black is burned"?
"Will I still be in your eyes and on your mind"?
"Will I see you give more than I can take"?
"Jesus where has nature gone"?
"Is it strange I should change"?

Here's hoping Neil keeps asking those questions, and maybe someday we'll be able to answer them....

"Take may advice
don't listen to me"

At 11/06/2017 02:45:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...


"Children of Destiny" certainly had/has a stronger immediate impact for me. Since "Children" will also be on the new album, my interest is piqued to see where the balance will lie for the rest of the songs between these two. It could well be that the best gifts from The Visitor are waiting to be discovered on December 1st. A preview is supposed to get people's attention without necessarily delivering the main course, right? "Already Great" at least gives me a smile, but I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of us Neil Nuts as a whole. The rest is waiting.


I read your appreciation of Neil and his music in your comments. Maybe we each have different ways of loving it, and discovering that is part of the joy. For me, Storytone and Peace Trail in particular have taken me on a good ride. The best parts of each of those albums convince me that there's much potential still in Neil's songwriting. We'll see where the Visitor goes. Heaven knows we've had some interesting detours in the past. It's part of the storytone.

At 11/06/2017 09:44:00 AM, Blogger Pat2963 said...

Never listen to anything on you tube or else
Until I got neil's music in my hands
And makes the KT88 burns.
By the way, the remastered of ORS 5 to 12 are terrific.

At 11/06/2017 01:37:00 PM, Blogger joe lookout said...

I like Children of Destiny, I really do not like Already great. The more I listen to it the more it disturbes me. I find it embarassing, cacophony, noisy. I must admit that I started appreciating Trans long after its release especially when, later on, Neil revealed that the use of vocoder dealt with Ben's 'problems'. do not know whether I will appreciate Already great later in the future, just hope that the rest of the album could be better......maybe another masterpiece......we'll see.....


At 11/06/2017 05:01:00 PM, Blogger The Young Oslo Neil said...

The 15. oktober 1970, Langdon Winner opens the review in ROLLING STONE this way:
"Neil Young devotees will probably spend the next few weeks trying desperately to convince themselves that AFTER THE GOLD RUSH is good music. But they'll be kidding themselves."

I remember my big brother and his friends did not need to buy "On the beach" and "Tonights the night", wasn't any good music.
First when Zuma came out, it was a bit back on track.

At 11/06/2017 05:44:00 PM, Blogger Doug Snyder said...

Neil could still sell out 3 nights at Carnegie Hall and have people waiting in line outside. Like it or not, he and his music remain large and in charge.

At 11/07/2017 03:06:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...


At 11/07/2017 02:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11/07/2017 06:19:00 PM, Blogger Doug Snyder said...

Ohh yeahhhh..

At 11/07/2017 10:03:00 PM, Blogger CFORD said...

Love this song! Groovy and original. 72 years old and killing it!

At 11/08/2017 05:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob Dylan said: "There's some songs buried on my records that are good songs that just aren't performed well, and then there's some songs that are performed well that aren't necessarily very good songs".

I think POTR are playing to their strengths on Already Great: they are MUCH better at this laid back boogie than they are the Crazy Horse-based jams, which in their hands routinely sound too robotic, thin and overly embellished. And there's an easy funkiness to their performance which they haven't demonstrated up until now.

So as with Children Of Destiny, the result is a good-sounding and well-performed colourful track built around a very slight song (at least, in isolation from the album it is destined for).

This is the problem with POTR (as a backing band) for me: they take emphasis away from the most crucial aspects of Neil's art: HIS performance, HIS songwriting, HIS focus and intensity. They add a lot of layers that don't actually help us get to the roots of the song. That's why the sparse Solo Storytone is a more moving and more haunting listen than The Monsanto Years (or indeed, Orchestral Storytone).

But perhaps the context of the full album will bring these new tracks to life. It's a little bit early to decide whether we like the album based on a couple of samples. Although in fairness this is only to be expected when preview tracks are released.

I'll say that the music so far sounds good, the remaining track titles are certainly imaginative and tantalising, and I hope the songwriting lives up to them. A wolf in sheep's clothing, rather than the opposite!.


At 11/08/2017 09:41:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks to all for your considered comments on Neil's latest.

@ Scotsman - good words there by Mr Bob. Probably applies to everyone in whatever line of work they do. We can say the same about our blog posts here on TW. Some hit the mark and some don't. Some are good ideas poorly worded or so-so perspectives maybe spiced up w/ a video or image.

That said, all of us Bob , Neil etc try and keep the wheat to chaff ratio as high as we can, but in the field of opportunity, it's always plowing time.

(We await the howls of indignation by combining bob, neil & tw in the same sentence...)

At 11/08/2017 10:17:00 AM, Blogger The Young Oslo Neil said...

Crazy Horse and Neil is ONE person. And Neil with Ben Keith is the other one. The last one does not exist anymore, and the first is maybe no longer operative. Neil with PoTR sounds more like many persons, you are right about that Scotsman. The trick is maybe not to compare with these well known and beloved persons. Maybe it is because the act is called "Neil Young and The Promise of the real"?
If it was only "Neil Young" one would not worry so much about these questions.
There's been a lot of records which those two persons has not been involved.
Anyway, these young people made Neil do whatever he felt to do on the 2016 tour. Everything from "Here we are in the Years" to "Revolution Blues".
I think Neil loves that freedom.
Another way to see it is to ask ourselves this question. Who would we like to make records with Neil? (if CH can't)

At 11/08/2017 10:46:00 AM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

This new song does very little for me. The one from a while back with the watercolors I liked. I forget the name. I would also love another tour. Wilco is no ones backing band. I wonder if POTR is getting tired of Ol Neil. How do you say NO to Neil Young?

At 11/08/2017 11:29:00 AM, Blogger The Young Oslo Neil said...

Wilco was stupid, it was meant to bring up imaginations.
I just wonder if PoTR is not perfect. What kind of musicianship would be.
For time being, I think PoTR i perfect.

At 11/08/2017 12:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Young Oslo: I'm a fan of many of Neil's bands, but the ones I like the most are those that succeed in pushing Neil (his songwriting, singing, guitar playing etc etc) to the forefront. Even a big 10-man band like the Bluenotes (one of Neil's best live bands) was successful in basically forming a musical picture frame around Neil, never sounding muddled or over-complicated, the horns punctuating Neil's solos, the funky bass and keyboards providing a rock-solid foundation. And more sparse groups like the Lost Dogs and the Peace Trail have proven themselves equally powerful.

With POtR, I find there's often too much going on in the musical pool for Neil Young to be able to rise to the surface. He tends to get buried under superfluous layers of sound, reduced in stature. I'm also not convinced that Lukas and Neil's guitar tones have mixed particularly successfully with each other, despite sounding fine individually.

As a band they do sound good on the new tracks, but for me there is the sense of listening to a underwhelming song that has been glossed up. Nothing terrible about that, but the strength of Neil's art remains in his performance and his songwriting, everything else being necessarly but not sufficient to create magic.


At 11/08/2017 01:31:00 PM, Blogger The Young Oslo Neil said...

I see what you mean. Its more a social club. I listen to the new once more, I guess it is Micah on that creative piano. It is a little crowded in the sound with those never ending congas. But Neil and Lucas has tidy agreement in the guitar department on this one. I really enjoy McCormick and Logerfo. Nils Lofgren comes to my mind, he had the nerve to be himself with Neil, I have the impression of Lucas being a strong and technical instrumentalist, but in respect he tries to adjust into Neils more primitive based playing. And it ends up neither bird nor fish. But this is the critical me, and I don't really wanna be that. Looking very forward to "The Visitor". To learn the songs myself and do them i our Oslo christmas shows. (we started up in 1991)

At 11/08/2017 02:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Young Oslo: I agree, the band do sound fine on this one. Overall I think the performance is enjoyable. I'm not sure it works particularly well as the promotional "single": it's a little slight when heard isolation, but it may well find its place in an album. One piece in a larger jigsaw puzzle.



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