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Friday, June 28, 2019

Comment of the Moment: THE TELLURIDE SESSIONS w/ Neil Young & Crazy Horse


Earlier this week, we posted on "THE TELLURIDE SESSIONS w/ Neil Young & Crazy Horse by John Hanlon, “Senior Chief” Recording Engineer". This was Part Two of the tale of laying down Horse tracks at 9,200 feet above sea level.

The TW Comment of the Moment is from "THE TELLURIDE SESSIONS w/ Neil Young & Crazy Horse by John Hanlon, “Senior Chief” Recording Engineer" by (D.) Ian Kertis; The Metamorphic Rocker:
Thanks, Thrasher (and others) for filling in a few blanks while we wait for New Neil.

I'm especially pleased with NY's shout-out to Sleeps with Angels--one of my all-time favorites but not, perhaps, an obvious reference point outside the community of deeply devoted, longtime Rusties. Ragged Glory, which Neil doesn't mention here by name, would have been a more expected name check, being an obvious slam dunk to those looking for the classic electrifying "rusted-out garage" sound of Crazy Horse. Don't get me wrong: this is not a simple swipe at RG... any album that includes "Love and Only Love" and "Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)" is kindly received by me... but in some ways, I find SWA to be more consistent, textured, and certainly nuanced. And I'm glad NY particularly acknowledges that album within his and The Horse's legacies.

Ragged Glory has always been more of an odds-on favorite. SWA is, if I may be particularly gnomic, a Dark Horse. I've been saying for a while (and thinking for longer) that that album is where it's at for those with the ears and the heart to embrace it. After SWA, for '90s Horse I'm actually most likely to pull out Weld and/or Year of the Horse. Weld hits a lot (all?) of my personal RG highlights, while YOH is, I think, underrated. (For SWA materials, by contrast, we have few and limited live performance renderings--I think I understand parts of why that may be the case, but it remains a bittersweet bargain for such a bold and incisive record.)

With regard to the upcoming album, I'm especially glad Neil mentions SWA because it suggests the possibility that "Pink Moon" (for convenience, that's what I'll call it until further notice) may be both musically adventurous and share some of SWA's passion and emotional range. I saw glimpses of all this in Psychedelic Pill, and am game to take the plunge again in search of that elusive Blue Eden that's "part of me and part of you."

Finally, salutations to Frank "Poncho" Sampedro, if by some quirky chance he ever comes upon this note. I hope Hawaiian retirement to organic gardening is nourishing his spirit, if that is indeed where he is now. It's valuable to note his contributions to an array of NY projects down the years, not just the Crazy Horse ones... Bluenotes, Are You Passionate?... starting from the unenviable position of having to take over second guitar for Danny Whitten, he's come a hell of way as major player consistently showing up in NY's musical orbit, a sensitive and rather versatile supporting musician, and consistently resourceful in the face of many of NY's detours and whims even during lean years for the Horse. Always did appreciate his resilience and apparent capacity for not taking NY's vagaries personally. If he's ready to step back from that career at this point, he will be missed but it makes all the sense in the world. "We come and go that way, my friend."

Come the autumn, I'll be looking out for a Pink Moon over Blue Eden.

"I know I won't awaken; it's a dream that can last."
Thanks so much for the comment Ian! Appreciated. It's been awhile. Have to agree with you about how SWA is a more "nuanced" Horse. Lately, we have been humming the signature lines "too late, too soon, he sleeps with angels..." in memory of Mr Elliot -- as well as, other fallen rustie comrades of late, of alarming frequency at young ages. (may they rust in peace)

But always good to know there's still at least one "Metamorphic Rocker" around in the free world!


NYCH
Billy, Neil, Nils, & Ralph - April 2019

via Neil Young Archives | Times Contrarian
photo: dhlovelife

More on "THE TELLURIDE SESSIONS w/ Neil Young & Crazy Horse by John Hanlon, “Senior Chief” Recording Engineer".

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3 Comments:

At 6/28/2019 01:18:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Ian... thank you for your insightful and inspired words. Not only do I understand your perspective but agree wholeheartedly.

Writing well is a difficult thing to accomplish, but writing with such an articulate style is remarkable. I couldn’t add anything to what you expressed but I did want to recognize your gift.

Peace

 
At 6/30/2019 12:41:00 AM, Blogger (D.) Ian Kertis; The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Thrasher, thanks for the acknowledgment! @Dan, many thanks for your kind words.

On the Horse, the remaining "X Factor" I didn't fit into the last post was Toast.

I'm intrigued by Toast, perhaps naively so, because I suspect it may shed some light on the development of the album that became Are You Passionate? I find a great deal of enigma surrounding that record in particular, resulting in my giving it more attention than some (many?) Neil Nuts would argue it warrants. Maybe some of the muted response on AYP? stems from its having ostensibly replaced replaced (and displaced) a new Crazy Horse album at the time (not unlike Fork in the Road, which earned backlash for popping at a point when a lot of folks had reached peak frustration over the continued delays of NYA1).

AYP? is definitely overshadowed by Let's Roll and the legacy of 9/11--although the song itself, strangely and surprisingly, fits the album as presented in spite of its troubling aspects and the potential it leaves for extreme interpretations. I have little but circumstantial evidence to support my hunch, however I suspect most of AYP? was written, and a lot probably recorded, before 9/11. A number of AYP? tracks seem to have developed from the Toast sessions, and I'm interested in hearing these songs in a different (original?)context from before events massively overtook the project(s).

AYP?, as we know it, I can only describe as playing a little like someone interspersed pages from two or three separate novels, with great attention to coherence and flow but still inevitably leaving an idiosyncratic narrative subject to gaps and bumps. The title song, which is one of my favorites, sounds like it drifted over from a different planet. Goin'Home actually was flown in from another (unfinished) album. A lot of the other songs have a generic R&B/soul music veneer that seems, for many, to have obscured the record's substantial song-craft and textured musicianship. A few of the numbers, though they don't harness the visceral noise of the Horse, are every bit as heavy. I'm thinking particularly of the title number, Mr. Disappointment, and She's a Healer. But it's a slow-burning, understated intensity. I think this sometimes gets lost when people approach the record as simply a genre exercise. Much of the retro Stax styling *does* also work at a relatively superficial level, which unfortunately can obscure some of the grit and emotional truth behind the songs.


Trust the Horse to be intimately connected to the heart of AYP?'s enigma, even as the finished album looks and sounds almost radically separate and is probably among those fans would least associate with the Horse. I suppose that's the power and the paradox of the "all one song" thing that, yes, has been beaten to death. And the fact that the Horse is so heavily interwoven with NY's shifting artistic trajectory(ies) is what I truly appreciate about it, and why new Horse material is always exciting.

Thanks to anyone who has stayed with me this far! Admittedly, I have a little crusade of getting people to give AYP? a second look, but that's mostly because the album refused to let me go until I at least started to come to grips with it.

"If you follow every dream, you might get lost."

 
At 7/02/2019 10:15:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Ian. Good points there on AYP?

Don't Spook the Horse ... Trust the Horse

 

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