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Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Unbearable Lightness of Being A Neil Young Fan (Or: God Save The Neil Young Fans ... & Thrasher's Wheat)

Fans Before A Neil Young Concert
Coburg, Germany - 08/23/08
Photo by Henning Rosenbusch

As we have observed before -- after running Thrasher's Wheat for over 20 years and almost a lifetime of listening to Neil Young's music -- there are two things which we have found to be nearly universally constant:

1) Neil Young never ceases to surprise, amaze, and confound us, and
2) Neil Young fans never cease to surprise, amaze, and confound us.

A Personal Note by Neil
(via Neil Young Archives Times-Contrarian)

In a startlingly candid and heart wrenching post on NYA, Neil Young writes that it was a "rough night" in Detroit last week. The Neil Young solo concert at Fox Theatre, Detroit, July 3, 2018 was live streamed for Neil fans around the world and what should have been an evening of pure delight became something far more disturbing as rowdy fans disrupted the proceedings with their selfish and boorish behavior, lacking even the basics of Concert Etiquette.

"I said solo...they said acoustic" T-Shirt
2010 Neil Young Solo Tour

Back in 2010's Neil Young Solo Tour, the t-shirts in the lobby had the words: "I said solo. They said acoustic." Seldom has a concert t-shirt more succinctly expressed a concert sentiment.

Which brings us to the unbearable lightness of being ... Neil Young. Or -- if you will -- The Unbearable Lightness of Being A Neil Young Fan.

Neil Young
Frame from A Day At The Gallery
(Click photo to enlarge)

We've often argued that a Neil Young concert is almost like being part of performance artist workshop. As if almost anything could happen.We attended both of the recent Chicago shows, we spoke to a lot of folks before and after and heard quite a range of opinions and expectations. Could probably say a lot about that but will pick up another comment about how your expectations going in often set your experience. Following Neil's career is about not setting expectations. It's about expecting the unconventional. When we read comments like this, this and this, we seriously wonder how a "fan" could be puzzled, bewildered or disappointed by a concert. The fact is that's a chance and a risk you take when you're a fan. If you can't handle it, then maybe you don't belong in the room and this is not for you?

We long ago came to the conclusion that there seems to be a huge divide between fans who are comfortable with Neil following "The Muse" and those who steadfastly refuse to allow Neil's creativity to deviate from their own desires.

It has all been quite fascinating. Here's a brief rundown on some posts which generated hundreds and hundreds of comments between impassioned Neil fans around the world:

- The Myth of Washed Up Neil (140+ comments)

- So Who's Really Washed Up? (30+ comments)

- Yonder Stands The Sinner (25+ comments)

- Life in the Neil Young Cocoon (15+ comments)

- "Fork In the Road" - New Video! (70+ comments)

- Those New Songs: Falling From Above (80+ comments)

- Comment of the Moment: Yonder Stands The Sinner (40+ comments)

- A Battle Raged on the Open Page: Can You Change Your Mind? (30+ comments)

- "Optimal" Neil Young Fans (10+ comments)

- Comment of the Moment: "Chaos Is Good" says Neil Young

- Doubters: There's A Hole in the Neil Young Fanbase (19+ comments)

- The Essence of "The Doubters": Neil Young & Crazy Horse Concert Reviews (40+ comments)

From a report on Neil Young & Crazy Horse concert at A Day On The Green, Hunter Valley, Australia, (Mar 9, 2013) "Drunk Yet Sensitive Aussie Fans Storm Stage at Neil Young Concert":
The mood of the evening was summed up by Lucy Blight and her sister, Drusilla, as they contemplated a musical world and (now former) idol they found confounding.

"Well, he doesn't look like he did 40 years ago, and that is certainly unsettling. I mean, every time I play my Neil Young collection (consisting of "Harvest" ) the songs are just the same, so why can't he do that? You know, get a brown wig and a buckskin jacket and just make everything like 1972" said Lucy, with a wistful whine.

Added Drusilla, sniffling, "I'll admit, I did try "Comes A Time" but it had that creepy song. "Look Out For My Love," so no more of that wild new stuff! Reminded me of Bobbie McSchwetty, my beau back then who I had to get a restraining order against. But I ended up marrying him! Of course, he doesn't look at all like he did in's like he was eaten by an even drunker and immensely fatter version of himself."
A priceless riot that definitely helps us back off the ledge.

Neil Young Concert
Coburg, Germany - 08/23/08
Photo by Henning Rosenbusch

Labels: , ,


At 7/09/2018 12:52:00 AM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

i want that shirt

At 7/09/2018 05:52:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Some of you fans may be stuck in a certain way of seeing Neil Young. Or on a certain album or a song, I love just about everything Neil has ever put out. If I don't love it, I like it. Only a few duds. But there's no accounting for taste.

For instance, Fuel Line and Johnny Magic from Fork in the Road. Killer tunes! If you don't like them, I feel sorry for you, because these songs rise up and wail! They rock hard. Not to mention that Neil lays bare the phones bailout of the Obama post-Bush era. Later I learned from Wikileaks that Obama had Citibank choose his entire cabinet for him! Oh, he also became George Bush Lite and rainedmore bombs and deported more immigrants than W, and expanded surveillance ( see "Snowden").

What is it with some of you "perfectionists" ? I love Neil's diversity. He reinvents himself constantly and yet mines the rich bounty of songs he hath wrought! He's got unreleased volumes that eclipse most other artists.

And he is still performing with an intensity, skill, and emotion like a great man half his age. What he does with the Nelson boys & PotR is fantastic. And NYCH & solo! What a flurry of activity we have enjoyed recently. So many great live shows streamed, also! Many thanks!

There is no other rock artist in history who has remained as vital. The man is in his 70's! Dylan won't do solo shows; he would not do well, I suspect. And I am a huge Dylan fan. Chuck Berry, hmm. There's a guy who was kicking ass late in life. I saw him in '98 in D/FW with Little Richard. Chuck killed it, kind of proved he invented punk rock. He played with distortion! He had one drummer, one piano. No stage gimmicks. Little Richard sucked, couldn't sing, lots of stage gimmicks. And I LOVE the Little Richard catalogue, don't get me wrong. It was the 1st time they shared a bill in 40 years. One was transcendent, one fell short. So it goes.

Long live Neil Young! Do whatever you want, Neil, wherever the Muse may lead you. The ukelele is killer too! We hear your heart in your artistry. Some fans are idiots, probably drunk. Do not think they are the majority. They are the few.

I will always go see you play and I will never shout out songs, never have. I love the Le Noise songs you have been playing, Neil. That album was tremendously inspired. Do what you will. It's good stuff. I will tell people at the shows to STFU if need be.

I have been snapping up everyything you have ever done since 1988. This was after Punk and the Grateful Dead. That's when I finally knew I was at the right show. Thank you Neil. You have enriched my life in a way words cannot describe.

Alan in Seattle

It all ends someday. I Believe that we get to see the Rock Gods play live shows in the afterlife. Jimi will be there, of course, and all the others worthy of the venue.

But here on Earth, now, we get to see Neil Young play live shows, wildly diverse, in a variety of bands. Soak it up like a sponge, you fools! Shut the fuck up while Neil Young is playing!

Thank you. Alan in Seattle

At 7/09/2018 05:59:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Oops, I missed a few things in my late night editing. That line should read PHONEY bailout (which saved a bunch of gambling addict bankers!).

At 7/09/2018 06:05:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Disclaimer: By the way, I voted for Obama twice. I only left my lifelong party, he Democrats, after they rigged their own Primary Election. And I will never vote Republican or Libertarian. I am an environmentalist.

The power brokers did not want Bernie the socialist to ask them to pay their fair share of the tax burden. Bernie was the only one with the momentum and legions of fans. The DNC would rather lose that raise taxes in the 1%!

At 7/09/2018 06:08:00 AM, Blogger Julie said...

I love Neil Young and his music. But I do not leave my critical faculties behind and say that everything he has done is brilliant. A lot of his work is and will stand the test of time; some is good and may be remembered; and some is poor and will be forgotten almost as soon as it is recorded.

And in my view his work with POTR falls into the latter category; most of his work with CH into the first.

Other people will have other views, but a slavish ' Eveything Neil does is great or good' is simply uncritical and I cannot imagine that Neil would want slavish followers who worship everything that he does.

I certainly do not think everything he has done has been brilliant or perhaps wise

At 7/09/2018 06:27:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

There's no accounting for taste. A puritanical lens isn't what we need to cheer Neil on in his later years. So kindly be kindly and throw your weapons down. Who asked you to say all his stuff is great?

For instance, Welfare Mothers was a song that always struck me wrong. We all fuck up Maybe even you. It's all just possible in the wind.

If you love it, if you need it, then enjoy it. If not, do not dampen the spirits of others. Thank you.

At 7/09/2018 06:29:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Thank you , spell check. The3rd to last line should read, It's all just pissing in the wind....

At 7/09/2018 06:42:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I happen to love Promise of the Real with Neil Young and I can't wait to see them play live a 3rd time. Yes, maybe the album was rushed in Neil's funny way. It may have seemed uninspired to you, or misguided. I love it!

I was up here in the Pacific Borth West marching against Monsanto. Neil' subjects and Native Spirit in his music is deeply touching to me. But I also just like the albums because I think they are good / great! I love those albums. The live one is very cool.

Lukas, Micah, PotR have tons of talent. Have you seen them play live? They play his music faithfully and nourish his craft. Together, they mine Neil's deep catalogue, faithfully. They rock hard. They energize Neil. What more could I want? Alan in Seattle

So kindly sit back and open your ears and find what good you can in it. Or not. But don't be a wet blanket for the rest of us.

Long live Neil Young, doing whatever the hell he wants to do!

At 7/09/2018 06:44:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I was up here in the "Pacific North West."

At 7/09/2018 10:30:00 AM, Blogger Stills said...

Rock on Alan! I'm hoping for a Neil and POTR tour before the winter sets in.
They're an awesome live band who've shown improvement with every show.
Plus, they know his stuff and they've kept Neil young and fresh.
Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see the Horse leave the barn for one more tour!
I'm headed to Boston on Wednesday for the 2 Solo shows, but
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that Neil & POTR tour.

At 7/09/2018 11:01:00 AM, Blogger Julie said...


So if someone expresses a different point of view, or does not like exactly what you like and to the same extent it dampens other people's own enthusiasm, does it?

Some of Neil's work I love; some, POTR for example I do not. If that dampens the enthusiam of others for it perhaps their liking for it is not as strong or resolute as you would have us believe.

I believe your current POTUS does not like criticism and wants everybody to say how great he, and America is.

Well not from where I am sitting

At 7/09/2018 10:17:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Oh well, it'll be easier for me to get to the front. Like what you want. Most people in the US find Trump repulsive. We live in Oligarchy. But at least I still get to enjoy good music. Peace be upon you.


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