Thursday, October 17, 2019

Comment of the Moment: NOW PLAYING: "Greendale" on Neil Young Archives

Officer Carmichael Pulling Over Jed
' "Carmichael you asshole,"
the new widow sobbed beneath her veil,
"shot down in the line of duty
is this how justice never fails?" '

via frame from "Greendale" | NYA

The Comment of the Moment is from post "NOW PLAYING: "Greendale" on Neil Young Archives" by Scotsman:
If I were picking my 5 albums for my trip to the WiFi-less desert island (and you can stop celebrating - I'm not actually going), there are several of Neil's seventies albums that wouldn't be able to make the cut. But Greendale would be in there. There's just so much packed into those 10 songs that it would be impossible to leave them behind.

Hopefully you can all sense my enthusiasm every time I start rambling about this album. And it doesn't need to be seen as an "environmental" record: I know that label turns some people off before they even give it a chance. Part of the album's success is that it approaches the (I think, compelling) environmental subject from an angle.

It's really just an album about life, about people, and Neil has stuck with the writing long enough to come up with a progression of songs that are dripping with life themselves. It's a real gem in his collection. It's emotional. It's very relatable. It's a lot of fun. Its packed full of feeling and observations and off-hand insights.

The somewhat scrappy, idiosyncratic performances turn some people off, too; I think the songs and performances have a lot of charm, a lot of attitude, and are robust enough to tolerate the more-than-occasional bum note.

When Neil is inspired, sits down with pen and paper and writes until something great flows out of him (and when he resists the temptation to skip that last bit, the bit that takes some maintained focus), everything instantly gets easier; because he's building on a solid foundation.

I use the "mining" analogy a lot. You need to mine for gold, and Neil needs to mine for great songs, too. The best ones arent sitting there on the surface, and take a little presistance and patience to gain access to. Greendale goes beneath the surface.

This is an album you need to sit with for a while; there are layers to it that are not going to become apparent to you on first listen. I think most people who dislike Greendale have given up on it too early. It's too weird, too different. And it needs to be listened to as a complete piece. But greatness always comes in a form that mentally moves us, and it's not always an instant process.

To get the best out of Greendale you need to relate it not to Neil's life but to your own. It's a story about you. You can find yourself in there if you want to. And I think this album is made for the Sun Greens of this world, but there's so much of life captured here that I think we can all find plenty to relate to. We can see something of ourselves and our fellow humans in these songs.

So as fun and as personal as Neil's Greendale film is, I'd be tempted to bypass it in favour of the wonderful 'Inside Greendale' sessions film. Or just listen to the album. Why skip the film? Neil has used his imagination a lot in making this album: now it's time for us to follow his lead and go to town with ours.

Scotsman - as always, thanks for your insightful contributions. Once again demonstrating that Neil fans/rusties are some of the most knowledgeable and articulate music fans out there.

Yeah, Greendale. We've literally written a book here on the subject. Greendale has been compared to the literary classics of John Steinbeck's work, Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" and Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg, Ohio" for its complexity and emotional depth in exploring tragedy in a small town in America.

Simply put, Greendale is "Neil Young's Avatar".

Neil Young’s Greendale
Written by Joshua Dysart, Illustrated by Cliff Chiang

Inside The Making of Neil Young’s Greendale Graphic Novel

Greendale: Everyone's Hometown.


  1. Back in 2006, this comment came through that struck us very deeply.

    Commenting on Thrasher's Wheat Guest Book, Greg writes:
    "Greendale is directed at and a celebration of an emerging awareness on the part of thinking people that something is seriously wrong."

    Little did we realize just how much of an understatement this was.

  2. Greendale is definitely one of Neil’s best. I’m particularly fond of the live performance from Ireland that came with one of the CD releases. Neil solo is always great, but that one is really special. For any new fans I would recommend seeing it first before listening to the record. The story is truly universal and was way ahead of its time. Neil at his best. I feel the musical simplicity was intentional so the lyrics could shine, allowing the story to be star.

    Be the rain.

  3. I agree with Dan, Thrasher and as i do almost always.... my fellow Scotzman... on the merits and pure visionary quality of Greendale.

    The messages Neil has been building for decades come to fruition in Greendale. Multiple strands of the recurring themes Neil has presented in many ways over the years meld together and give a rambling, bubbling, at times chaotic and always loose story that works.

    Its funky as fuck and I love it. Anyone who looking back whom disagreed then about the environmental aspects are probably readdressing their thoughts now.... if not then they need to do so. It's ALL their for us all to see.

    but anyway..... just been to the Theatre this morning and 'found' Big Island Transmission.
    why did i not know about this little gem..... i thought i would do more than alright in the seat with Magnus Magnusson and Mastermind with Neil as my specialist subject ..... but I had never even heard of this mini sound stage gig!!!!...... and what a pure joy it is.

    Neil is playing with some of the finest and all 3 songs are a pure joy to behold. Especially WORDS..... gave me the spine tingles all over again.... just like Southern Man did to me in my Mums front room in '92, listening on the old SANYO midi deck.

    For those who haven't seen BIG ISLAND before.... do not hesitate.... get in there a watch it, and watch it again.... and again. You will not be disappointed.


  4. @ Dan - Good point on the musical simplicity allowing the story to be star.

    As we recall, Neil was listening to a lot of Jimmy Reed at the time and was clearly influenced by the old school blues style.

    Be the rain.

    @ B8z's - it is funky, bluesy and rootsy.

    right on about Big Island Transmission. it is a little lost NYA gem. Hoping for more discoveries.

    a little more on BIT @

  5. Greendale is as much about the sad state of American media as it is about the environment.

    I love it...& to think Poncho was there for the recording but didn't play guitar on the record...wild

  6. @Jonathan - agree. not only media, the environment, but pervasive corruptions on the highest floors.

    The track "Grandpa's Interview" has the lyrics:

    "It ain't an honour to be on tv
    and it ain't a duty either
    the only good thing about tv
    is shows like 'leave it to beaver'

    Shows with love and affection
    like mama used to say
    a little mayberry livin'
    can go a long way

    For folks of a certain generation, the meaning of shows like 'leave it to beaver' & "Mayberry" is clear.

    But for many, they have never seen or heard of these "programs". Check them out sometime if you have no idea.

    But the shortcut here was that the shows were very wholesome, nuclear family values type situations. And what neil is suggesting is that the "old ways" have proven the test of time. That the "new ways" are dangerously untested. Or, IOW, we're living the great social experiment. Is it any wonder that so many feel the world unraveling?

    yes, of course, there were problems w/ "old ways". but the "new ways" have only made those problems worse -- not better.

    As we worked on this comment and checked on "Grandpa's Interview" lyrics we were reminded by just how broad and deep the song is. It is the most lyrically complex song on the album with 22 verses?! And that doesn't include the lengthy introduction neil made in the concerts nor the associated imagery from the film and stage play.

    "Grandpa's Interview" -- just another over looked masterpiece in the neil canon....

  7. @Thrasher - I grew up on Leave it to Beaver reruns & that lyric always makes me smile!!

    be careful there, Thrasher...when we agree on stuff besides Neil, I begin to

  8. @Jonathan - ahh, we're probably much closer to kindred spirits than many might expect.

    actually, we're all pretty much for the same values. we just differ on tactics and techniques. ahh, the rub. overcome divide & conquer. problem, reaction, solution. break through the duality trap.



Please observe Comments Policy for Neil Young News. All commenting requires a registered ID using an OpenID or a Google Account to provide a validated signature.

Inappropriate comments can be flagged for review by e-mailing date/time stamp and post title to:

We will work to deal with such comments in a timely fashion. Failure to do so immediately, however, does not constitute endorsement.

Thank you for your participation, cooperation, and keep on rockin'!