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Monday, July 29, 2019

THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN EPIC NEIL YOUNG SONG: FROM “SIXTY TO ZERO” TO “CRIME IN THE CITY”



Skeme's "Crime in the City"


Here is an in depth look at one of Neil Young's most lyrical intense songs. And -- as with so much of Young's song writing gems -- it remains unreleased in all of its full ragged glory splendor.

The following analysis looks closely at the very interesting and unusual development of the unreleased epic 18-minute "Sixty To Zero" into the shorter rocking Crime In The City.

Why? Because Neil is sitting on a rocking 18-minute electric version of the original "Sixty To Zero" which he says he plans to put out on the album project Amazing Freedom - when he gets around to it, of course!

So here is a guest article by Robert Broadfoot and Johan Erikson (via Neil Young Unreleased Archive Group), who join together to chronicle this epic song in hopes that fans someday might be able to fully realize that the real, true "Crime In The City" is that this song has yet to be released.

Thanks Robert and Johan for sharing with TW readers! enjoy.





FROM “SIXTY TO ZERO” TO “CRIME IN THE CITY”
THE DEVELOPMENT OF AN EPIC SONG

By Robert Broadfoot and Johan Erikson
via Neil Young Unreleased Archive Group
8 May 2019 (revised 29 July 2019)

The History

The song which started life as Sixty To Zero and came to be known as Crime In The City, was written one night on Neil’s boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. That would have presumably been between late May and early July 1988, in a break between sessions with Crosby, Stills and Nash for American Dream and the first Freedom sessions.1

As far as we know, it was first recorded during sessions with the Bluenotes at Plywood Digital on Broken Arrow Ranch on 29 July 1988, with Neil on acoustic guitar. No full-length recording of the full studio take has yet been released, though in his published reply to our Letter to the Editor on this subject in NYA Times-Contrarian (8 Feb 2019), Neil confirms that the complete 18-minute studio version of the song does exist: “We have the killer full length Bluenotes version of Sixty To Zero slated for an album called Amazing Freedom, a collection of rare studio gems from the Archives Freedom period, and other periods.”

This first recorded version therefore had eleven verses, or possibly even twelve though there is no record (yet) of a twelfth verse. In a Dutch radio interview dated 11 December 1989, transcribed in SugarMtn.org, Neil says: “It was all recorded at once, it was 18 minutes long and then I edited it down as 12 verses. So the other 7 verses are still there. I don't know what I'm going to do with those.” Neil (or the transcriber of the interview) is obviously getting the numbers slightly mixed up here. Presumably what he actually meant is “edited down from 12 verses”. The version released on Freedom, and frequently performed under the title Crime In The City only has 4 or sometimes 5 verses.

For the widely known studio version released on Freedom, it is our belief that the original 18-minute 12-verse Sixty To Zero studio recording was simply and fairly daringly cut right in the middle, with only the second half of the recording – and not as one might perhaps expect the first half with a fade out – finally being used on the album. And it was released under a different title - Crime In The City (Sixty To Zero Part 1).

Certainly, the recording on Freedom starts very abruptly and without the usual opening riff which was used in live performances the following month. The opening instrumental part on the Freedom version is basically the instrumental break which is generally used between the verses. We believe that for this version, Neil turned the break into the introduction.

The wording of the new subtitle (Sixty To Zero Part 1) would also seem to confirm the theory that the cut on Freedom is simply part of the original Sixty To Zero tape, since it implies the existence of a Part 2, the “other 7 verses” which Neil refers to. And if he really means seven, then one verse has still to be discovered. A tantalising thought.

Notwithstanding the shortened version which was to appear on Freedom, it was actually the full version of Sixty To Zero with 11 verses which Neil first performed live with the Bluenotes, at the Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati on 12 Aug 1988. Again with Neil playing acoustic guitar, as on the studio session.

However, this longer “complete” version was only ever performed a total of six times, between 12 Aug and 19 Aug 1988, each performance lasting between 18 and 19 minutes. More details of this later.

For starting with the show on 20 Aug 1988 at Weedsport Speedway, the song had suddenly become overnight the shorter version we all know as Crime In The City. It was now being played by Neil on electric guitar, and had been cut to only four verses, lasting in total between 7 and 9 minutes. When asked why he decided to cut the original song, Neil said in the same Dutch radio interview: “It doesn't feel right, it’s too long as one thing. It’s meant to stand by itself, not to be played with anything else. If I play the long version in concert, it’s too overpowering. If you can imagine listening to anything for 18 minutes, it disturbs the flow. It’s too much of the same thing, so I do the short version.”

Live versions of the shorter Crime In The City - now without the subtitle (Sixty To Zero Part 1) - were subsequently released in 1991 on Weld. In this case it is a recording of the Pittsburgh Civic Arena show from 17 Feb 1991, again with four verses but different ones to the 1988 version, and lasting 6:31). And then one of the 1988 shows was released in 2015 on Bluenote Café (Jones Beach, New York City, 27 Aug 1988, 4 verses, 7:19).

The Analysis

What follow here are specific details of the actual development of the song in terms of content. We have not yet been able to listen to all the available live performances, so certain assumptions on which verses were played on performances not specifically listed here, still need to be confirmed.

Bold = verses 6,7,9,10,11,as used in the 5 verse Freedom version
Normal = the remaining verses used in the unreleased full length 11-verse version


29 July 1988
CRIME IN THE CITY (SIXTY TO ZERO PART 1)
Edited studio version - 5 verses (6,7,9,10,11) - 8:44 - released on Freedom (1989)
Neil on acoustic guitar – with the Bluenotes
Recorded 29 Jul 1988, released 2 Oct 1989

6
Well, the cop made the showdown / He was sure he was right…
… Then they cut to the announcer / And the story was told.

7
Well, the artist looked at the producer/The producer sat back…
… And send me a cheeseburger / And a new Rolling Stone

No verse 8

9
There's still crime in the city / Said the cop on the beat…
… There's still crime in the city / But it's good to be free

10
Now I come from a family / That has a broken home…
… Although my home has been broken / It's the best home I ever had

11
Well, I keep getting younger / My life's been funny that way…
… Wish I never put the hose down / Wish I never got old.

Actual lyrics generally vary very slightly from version to version


12 – 19 August 1988
SIXTY TO ZERO
Live version – 11 verses (1-11) – ca. 18-19 minutes – presumably the original version of the song, so far unreleased
Neil on acoustic guitar – with the Bluenotes
First performed 12 Aug 1988, Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati
Performed 6 times 12 Aug – 19 Aug 1988
Examples
13 Aug 1988, Sports Center, Indianapolis, 18:15
14 Aug 1988, Marcus Amphitheatre, Milwaukee,  17:58
16 Aug 1988, Poplar Creek Music Theater, Hoffman Estates,  19:04
18 Aug 1988, Canadian National Exhibition Grandstand, Toronto, 18:21
19 Aug 1988, Lakeside Amphitheater, Darien Lake, 18:06

1
All the champs and the heroes / They got a price to pay…
… All the screamers and squealers / When they walk down the street

2
He's just a rich old man / He never cared for anyone…
… He prefers to remain nameless / It's publicity he dreads

3
There's a judge in the city / He goes to work every day…
… Well, the judge waived the charges / He fingered his mustache

4
Well, there's a clown in a carnival / He rode a painted horse…
… Now he's married to the acrobat / And they're training their kids

5
Now the jailhouse was empty / All the criminals were gone…
…He said Nobody'll know the difference / And they both looked around.

6
Well, the cop made the showdown / He was sure he was right…
… And they cut to the announcer And the story was told.

7
Well, the artist looked at the producer / The producer sat back…
… And send me a cheeseburger / And a new Rolling Stone

8
Well, the Sioux and Dakota / They lost all of their land…
…That's how it looks in the tepee / Big winds are blowing again

9
There's still crime in the city / Said the cop on the beat…
… There's still crime in the city / But it's good to be free

10
Now I come from a family / That has a broken home…
… Although my home has been broken / It's the best home I ever had

11
Well, I keep getting younger / My life's been funny that way…
… Wish I never put the hose down / Wish I never got old.

Actual lyrics generally vary very slightly from version to version


20 August 1988
CRIME IN THE CITY
Live version - 4 verses (3,5,9,11) – ca. 7-9 minutes – as released on Bluenote Café
Neil on electric guitar - with the Bluenotes
First performed 20 Aug 1988, Weedsport Speedway, Weedsport, 8:56: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1iTaZ-h9lwQo7weV7lTSuj6HFZLjUuzJu

Performed 120 times between 1988 and 2003 presumably with the same 4 verses

3
There's a judge in the city / He goes to work every day…
… Well, the judge waived the charges / He fingered his mustache

5
Now the jailhouse was empty / All the criminals were gone…
…He said Nobody'll know the difference / And they both looked around.

9
There's still crime in the city / Said the cop on the beat…
… There's still crime in the city / But it's good to be free

11
Well, I keep getting younger / My life's been funny that way…
… Wish I never put the hose down / Wish I never got old.

Full text at bottom of page at http://www.sugarmtn.org/lyrics.php?song=118
Actual lyrics generally vary very slightly from version to version

Subsequent released versions
CRIME IN THE CITY
Live WELD version
1991 - 4 verses (6,9,10,11)–  6:31
Same as the Freedom version minus verse 7
Neil on electric guitar - with Crazy Horse
Performed 17 Feb 1991, Civic Arena, Pittsburgh

6
Well, the cop made the showdown / He was sure he was right…
… Then they cut to the announcer / And the story was told.

No verse 7

No verse 8

9
There's still crime in the city / Said the cop on the beat…
… There's still crime in the city / But it's good to be free

10
Now I come from a family / That has a broken home…
… Although my home has been broken It's the best home I ever had

11
Well, I keep getting younger / My life's been funny that way…
… Wish I never put the hose down / Wish I never got old.

Full text at top of page at http://www.sugarmtn.org/lyrics.php?song=118 without second verse.
Actual lyrics generally vary very slightly from version to version


NOTE
1  From the Ragged Glory World Premier radio broadcast, transcribed in Broken Arrow #41,
5 September 1990 and also published under “Quotes” on SugarMtn.org https://www.sugarmtn.org/sm_quotes.php?song=513
“I was in the middle of the ocean. I was sailboat sailing to Hawaii. This was two years ago when I wrote the song and I just received word that the video for This Note's For You was not going to be played. I'd just finished making it and I had a copy of it on the boat. I'd been out at sea almost 10 days - about halfway over there. I hadn't seen anybody for about 8 days - no planes, no other boats - just the horizon. So I was pretty spacey out there by then. In one night I wrote three songs: Ordinary People, Sixty To Zero and Days That Used To Be.

THANKS to SugarMountain at www.SugarMtn.org for the quotes, gig info and the lyrics.

© Robert Broadfoot and Johan Erikson, 2019


Thanks Robert and Johan for sharing with TW readers such an in depth look at one of Neil Young's most lyrical intense songs! Hopefully, your research will allow this "Crime In The City" to finally have justice served.


For more, see  Neil Young's Unreleased Songs - The Unofficial Archive.
 

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7 Comments:

At 7/30/2019 02:20:00 AM, Blogger Rasselas53 said...

Thanks Thrasher for doing us the honour of publishing this. One correction since giving this to you. We say that Crime In The City was "performed 120 times between 1988 and 2003 presumably with the same 4 verses" i.e. 3,5,9,11. This is unlikely to be true. We are trying to check that right now. It is certainly not true of the version from 1991 released on Weld which has verses 6,9,10,11. If you all think you are confused, just ask us!

 
At 7/30/2019 05:11:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...


Sixty To Zero borrows the riff from the electric version of Masters Of War that Neil had recently played with Bob in June 1988, and the overall arrangement and cinematic approach is influenced by a number of Dylan's heavyweights.

The Freedom "trimmed down" version of Sixty To Zero was extensively (and very atmospherically) overdubbed with electric guitar and possibly Ben Keith's pedal steel, so it will be interesting to hear if the long version is also overdubbed. Did they overdub and then trim down, or vice versa?

The original performance on Weld from Pittsburgh 1991 originally featured the "artist and producer" verse, but it was edited out prior to release, on both the CD and the Briggs laser disc mix, among other minor edits.


For a great frantically-performed version, Neil thoroughly exhausted near the end of a long tour but still giving his all, try listening to the great audience tape of the LA Sports Arena gig from 26th April 1991 (Roll Another Number is missing from this particular tape and the version from the following night is substituted). There are various other brutal performances of Crime In The City from 1991, and I'm very glad the famous Jones Beach 1988 version (as highlighted by Jimmy McDonough) got a surprise release on Bluenote Cafe.

Scotsman.

 
At 7/30/2019 03:51:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Was at the world in New York City I remember the show I think there was more versus than five six seven eight nine 10 11 12 I kind of remember for

 
At 7/30/2019 08:26:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7/30/2019 08:48:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Robert - no, it's our honor here @ TW to present all of yours and Johan's research.

Excellent job. And thanks for the update. If you guys have any other updates, we're happy to edit/update.

ps - thanks for sending along the nice note via The Archivist! Always glad to help out NYA. :)

@ Scotsman - hmm, interesting on the Masters Of War riff. Another Bob nod. Not too surprising given their history.

Might the "artist and producer" verse hot to close to home w/ Briggs?

Sure glad we did get the Bluenote Cafe release.

@ Unknown - would like to hear more about The World shows. There were several, early & late right?

Your comment seems cut short. pls try again

 
At 7/31/2019 12:08:00 AM, Blogger Mark Johnson said...

A good deep dig. I appreciate the scholarship here.

 
At 7/31/2019 07:54:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

This was great, thanks so much!! There was an epic version played at the Catalyst in '97 I hope Neil releases that video.

 

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