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Sunday, October 27, 2019

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 'Colorado' by Neil Young & Crazy Horse

"I want it up as loud as it can go" - Neil
Neil Young & Crazy Horse in the Studio

Here are some first impressions on the new album 'Colorado' by Neil Young & Crazy Horse.

From "A Legendary Collaboration Continues: Neil Young And Crazy Horse Reunite For 'Colorado'" | NPR by the irrepressible Scotsman:
Colorado impressions.

Colorado is an album, as you'd expect from Crazy Horse, with some serious character, guts and attitude.

That's half the story. Colorado also features some of the most subtle, delicate and beautiful playing on a Neil Young record in the past 25 years. It's an album of two musical personalities.

On first listen, I found Colorado to be a decidedly unsettling record. There's a definite sense of unease there, in the doomy drone of Help Me Lose My Mind and the "ignored" warning calls of Green Is Blue. In the chasm between the safety of 'Eternity' (a song which really comes to life in this lovely studio version) and the encroaching danger of those "old white guys trying to kill Mother Nature".

You can see it, too, in the cold-looking album cover, and in the cruel contrast between the free-flying narrator of album opener Think Of Me and the suffering souls down below. In the ominously shifting minor chords of She Showed Me Love, and the urgently whispered lyric and quietly threatening bass growl of "I Do" (a magnificently restrained low-key performance that concludes the record with a feeling of lingering chill).

None of this is expressed directly as being acutely sinister, it's just a sensation of unease that creeps up on you as you listen. I think this is the most haunting Neil Young album in many years.

The production is exciting and uncluttered, with thoughtful touches added throughout that give the songs a lot of colour: the harmony vocals, the beautifully spacious piano, the striking flashes of dream-like echo to Neil's voice on the unique Milky Way.

There's an edgy gutsiness in these recordings, a trace of David Briggs' enduring influence. Its not just the sound, which is a blend of the workman-like with the serene and delicate; it's the attitude, the personality. The sense of mystery, the perception of a sense of space. The arrangements of these songs are memorable, catchy. And the overall feel they have is really quite unique; whatever surface similarities they have to some of Neil's old warhorses.

Nils Lofgren makes his long-awaited return to a Neil Young album, and his contributions are predictably masterful. Masterful, but not obviously so. You can't hear him? That's the point. He's working his magic without drawing attention to himself at the expense of the songs. Often you won't even know he's there unless you know what you are listening for, but all the time you can feel his presence. His playing on "I Do" is exquisite.

It's true that the most powerful songs of all, the ones that really get through to us, aren't often the most direct or one-dimensional ones. And that guy you heard ranting from a soapbox when you passed by the town square yesterday? You (and everyone else) ignored him and walked on by, and that's his problem, not yours.

But not all great songwriting has to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Some of the lyric writing on Colorado is blunt, stylistically, but it is not bland. One of Neil's old tricks is taking something that could be considered a weakness and putting it into a context where it becomes a strength. I found Colorado to be inventive, entertaining and very heartfelt, with an engaging blend of haunting ballads and grinding, attitude-driven abrasive rock. It gets two thumbs up from me. Crazy Horse is back, and not a moment too soon.

Thanks for the first impressions Scotsman, as always!

We caught the Mountaintop film last week, prior to the album release, so it was quite fascinating to watch and hear the song tracks get laid down and then hear the album stream on NYA the next day.

Frankly, we've been keeping "TRUTH KILLS" on repeat lately. The lyrics "truth kills in a world of lies" just slays us. pun intended.

Also, the 'glass harmonica" on "I Do" is just exquisite exotic giving the song a very other worldly feel. The film Mountaintop has some cool insight into the unique instrument and it sounds along with Tech Bob Rice explaining it's use. The 'glass harmonica's last seen on SWA's "Safeway Cart".

Neil Young & Crazy Horse in the Studio

More on album Neil Young & Crazy Horse's 'Colorado'.

COLORADO is now streaming on

COLORADO by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Release Date: October 25, 2019 - Pre-order now
(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link. Thank you!!!)

Also, see commentary on STREAMING PREVIEW: "Milky Way" on COLORADO, New Album by Neil Young & Crazy Horse.


  • INTERVIEW: Neil Young - The music icon on his 50 year career, making music and his new documentary | CBC

  • INTERVIEW: Nils Lofgren on Reconnecting With Neil Young & Crazy Horse | Variety

  • #CrazyHorse4HOF, @CrazyHorse4HoF

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    At 10/27/2019 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

    "Irrepressible" - haha. Indeed - pest control have long since given up in frustration!

    ...Haven't seen Mountaintop yet, other than the clips on NYA.

    This is a record that has been dividing opinion, so I'll be interested to hear what others here make of it. But so far I've given it a few spins and have found a lot to enjoy.

    The irrepressible Scotsman.

    At 10/27/2019 01:21:00 PM, Blogger Shakeydave said...

    my first reaction after my first listen is that i loved it (and I'm a 50-year Neil Young fan who understands the ups and downs)....its Neil Young being Neil Young...and thank God for that....maybe there are some things in life that DO endure no matter what....and one of them is Neil Young

    Heartfelt is one word to describe the album....Moving is another....i loved it

    Happy pre-birthday Neil and welcome to America!


    At 10/27/2019 01:34:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

    Another great post from Scotzman;

    As I posted a few days ago, Colorado is a stream of consciousness record. It’s filled with passion and honesty. Neil is just speaking his truth and I’m very impressed with the feel the Horse brings to each and every song. The sequencing is just brilliant. For me It’s a personal journey inside Neil’s soul and I love the whole album. Even though I heard it first on my phone, (which sounds like crap) I could tell it was a winner.

    Now I’m finally getting to feel it on vinyl and it sounds amazing. The mix and mastering is excellent and that goes for the included single as well. The live version of Rainbow of Colors from my old home town (Portland) is goosebump inducing, and Truth Kills is classic Neil. I’m impressed with the whole release, and I feel it’s a home run return of the Horse.

    Every song stands on its own.

    This album is going to age really well and for me it is a masterpiece. Get the vinyl, crank it up, and enjoy Neil at his very best. She Showed Me Love, Help Me Lose My Mind, and Shut it Down are some of Neil’s heaviest songs ever. Green is Blue, Eternity, and I Do are some of Neil’s most beautiful and tender songs. Think of Me, Olden Days, Milkyway and Rainbow of Colors would fit comfortably on any of his records. Actually, you could say that about any of these songs really.

    I’m not concerned what other people may think about Neils output anymore. You either get it or you don’t. I get it, and that’s all that matters to me and Neil......... click clack, clickity clack.....


    At 10/27/2019 01:51:00 PM, Blogger Shakey said...

    Love the album and your review. Surprised to.see you didn't mention Olden Days. The song moves me to tears. Seems to be a song about Neil's realization that time is short and those around him are passing away at a faster rate.

    At 10/27/2019 02:05:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

    Thanks - yes, loved Olden Days. That was the song where the album really kicked in for me on first listen.


    At 10/27/2019 03:11:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

    Thanks Dan. I agree, the sequencing works very well indeed.

    As for the divergent opinions of this record, I think Neil hit the nail on the head in the recent interview when he said: "Just forget about the pleasing everybody. It's the most useless pastime you could ever have".

    Now, this obviously doesn't mean he actively dislikes it when his projects resonate. Nor does it mean he's oblivious to his audience. Indeed, I think Neil's most compelling work is when he actually sets out to impress; not when he writes an album of songs about mowing the lawn because that's what the marijuana-fuelled Muse (trademark) told him to do. Self-indulgence, like gluttony, is widely frowned upon for a good reason.

    But the fundamental problem of setting out to create an album (or just about anything else) that pleases *everyone* is that people have wildly diverging tastes, and varying levels of awareness. Creating something that pleases them all will involve watering it down so much that in fact, nobody will love it. That's the issue. When we look at Neil's most exciting albums or tours, they tend to be the acutely focused ones that intensely delight some of us, rather than mildly impressing all of us.

    As with anything, this philosophy can be taken too far. In an already-selfish world, more totally self-centered, inward-directed people is exactly what we don't need. What we need is empathy and connection; an art project that is designed to resonate. Neil and Crazy Horse are masters of this: you can feel them reach out and grab you through the speakers. But it's an approach that involves targeting someone (even if it is one's self at first) and building something wonderful for them, not being overwhelmed by the crowd and diluting the work until one size fits all. Look at Elvis's latter Vegas years to see just how badly that approach can turn out.


    At 10/27/2019 04:52:00 PM, Blogger Pabst said...

    So far, I like Colorado more than any of Neil's 2000s output other than anything else he's done with Crazy Horse in that period. Greendale, Psychedelic Pill, Americana are all better -- in that order -- to me. (American is still fun to me, mostly because it's all guitars chugging along and that's a huge factor in my love of Crazy Horse)

    I think of the non-Crazy Horse 2000s output only Silver & Gold and Le Noise are better that Colorado.

    I suppose that's a lot of albums since 2000 that I consider better than Colorado, but there's a lot of albums that are so much worse to me: Monsanto Years, The Visitor, Prairie Wind, Storytone, A Letter Home, and Peace Trail.

    It's a good, but not quite great, Neil Young album and that's about all I could have asked for since nothing since Psychedelic Pill even made the mark of "Good" in my opinion.

    At 10/27/2019 07:45:00 PM, Blogger Gary A. Lucero said...

    When I was young, and Neil was much younger, I was always generous but he was also at the top of his game, producing great album after great album. This continued for ages of course, but nowadays I find myself much more critical. So while Colorado is better than I thought it would be, and Help Me Lose My Mind is as good as anything that's come before, I'm not sure it's a great album. It is good, though, and welcome.

    At 10/27/2019 07:48:00 PM, Blogger Gary A. Lucero said...

    One last thing: I think Colorado is closer to a Sleeps with Angels than a Ragged Glory or just about any other Crazy Horse album that's been made.

    At 10/28/2019 07:39:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

    Ok I must amend my initial negative reaction to listening to Colorado for the 1st time on my phone...that's my fault. After spending the weekend listening multiple times on my high-end system, I feel grateful that Neil delivered another Crazy Horse album...I thought PP would be the last one. Olden Days is the track that moves me the most...just that intro played LOUD gives me melancholy chills...I wish I could hear Neil sing that song 20 years ago as he sounds...well old.

    I hear several other CH albums all wrapped up in Colorado especially Chrome Dreams II...the acoustic opener reminds me of Beautiful Bluebird in that sense. I wish the climate change nonsense wasn't so prevalent but alas that's where Neil's head is...Green is Blue is a beautiful piece of music coupled with ridiculous lyrics...enough with the polar bear floating on a piece of ice...sheesh

    Oh well to each his own as a Neil fan...I'm just glad he's still here even if I'm giving Colorado a B-

    At 10/28/2019 10:52:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

    P.S. NY fans , don’t miss Echo In the Canyon on Netflix. Lots of Buffalo Springfield and Neil Young in it. Neil is playing the first ever Crosby’s song in a Byrds album at the end.

    At 10/28/2019 11:26:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

    I mentioned that this might be a great album after I heard "Milky Way." It seemed to me that the song was subtle. But I was just guessing, following similar guesses with Freedom. Scotsman does the analysis. Two songs to me stand out as particularly gut wrenching in ways only Neil Young seems to be capable of doing. Olden Days has enough lyrical substance, just enough, to bring a person my age into sadness (that is interesting and relates to all of us) and then "Help Me Lose My Mind" is amazingly urgent and thoroughly in the present. This song reminds me of how I felt when I first heard the acoustic version of Rockin in the Free World on the radio in 1989: someone gets it and doesn't have to say everything- the music fills in the gaps. JP

    At 10/28/2019 11:29:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

    The climate change stuff is far from nonsense. Think about it, we don't just have people who ignore climate change, we have huge groups who deny it. Neil has simply had it and this time the anger is intense and lights a fire within the songs. Whether the lyrics are clumsy depends on the overall context of the art- I believe Scotsman said something like this.

    At 10/28/2019 12:39:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

    The Earth has been around for billions of years...humans have been keeping climate data for maybe a few hundred years at core samples show patterns of both warming and cooling in the geologic the 1970's it was the coming Ice Age pushed by the corrupt pretend we even understand the dynamics of the Earth's weather patterns and climate cycles is silly...but I get I'm a climate

    At 10/28/2019 02:56:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

    My review of Colorado:

    At 10/28/2019 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

    My review of Colorado:

    Neil Young’s latest studio album, Colorado, was recorded mostly live over 11 days in the Rocky Mountains of the same name. It’s Young’s first release with Crazy Horse in seven years. The addition of Nils Lofgren who replaced Frank Sampedro on guitar, was an inspired inclusion by Young. Lofgren adds texture and depth to the bands sound which is exemplary throughout.

    The problem with the album is not the music, but the quality of the songs which are largely unmemorable. Neil Young is not at his best when, thematically, he focuses on political and environmental issues. More often than not, the lyrics and sentiments expressed (for instance, ‘Shut It Down’) come across as clumsy, heavy-handed and, for the most, part insincere (think Living With War). Here, Young is merely repeating himself.

    The album’s opener, ‘Think Of Me’ is reminiscent of ‘Buffalo Springfield Again’ from Silver And Gold and is arguably the best song on the album. ‘She Showed Me Love’ is an eclectic rambling jam echoing the longer workouts on Psychedelic Pill. The seemingly telepathic interplay between the musicians is something that fans have come to expect from Crazy Horse that was lacking with Promise Of The Real in previous releases. Here, Nils Lofgren shines. And while the harmonies are impressive, there is, however, an overriding weariness in the message.

    ‘Olden Days’ is pretty much a straightforward ballad – a pleasant enough song with a nice counterpoint and Velvet Underground -style ‘shuffle’ rhythm. But, unfortunately, Young’s vocals can no longer cut it on this kind of piece.

    Young and the band rock out in ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ which hints at 1996s Broken Arrow. With ‘Green Is Blue’, Young’s anger gives way to a fragility and melancholia befitting of Prairie Wind. In fact, redemption and rage are never far from Young’s psychological universe. The way he shift gears emotionally reflects a neurosis he often displays not merely *between* albums but also *within* them. Colorado is an illustration of the latter.

    Stylistically, ‘Milky Way’ is basically an amalgam of elements of Greendale, Zuma and Sleeps With Angels. It’s gentle and tender underbelly, however, cannot disguise the fact that the song is not very good. ‘Eternity’ has echoes of ‘Cripple Creek Ferry’, while ‘Rainbow Of Colors’, draws strongly from George Harrison’s ‘Behind That Locked Door’.

    Young closes the record with the delicate and highly personal ‘I Do’. Here his vocal limitations actually add to the songs emotional impact. The track wouldn’t of sounded out of place on one of his early 1970s albums.

    Colorado, despite its flaws, is Young’s best album since Psychedelic Pill.

    At 10/28/2019 04:34:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

    Jonathon, by denial I meant groups of people who do not comprehend-in any sense-the very best evidence that we have for global warming. Having been involved in natural science for most of my adult life, I can assure you that the actual evidence for global warming - and the theory that accounts for global warming- is based on the best science that is currently available. I am not going to play the back and forth game about media distortion. Please read some recent climate science. NOAA is a good place to start.

    At 10/28/2019 05:04:00 PM, Blogger Gary A. Lucero said...

    I'm good with someone making it their life's work to save the planet, I just wish it wasn't Neil. If I personally had some hope it could be saved, I might feel different.

    At 10/28/2019 10:09:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

    Thanks @ Abner Snopes:

    Denial is what separates man from animals. It’s time we all just except that we are destroying the planet and grow up. No offense to those who don’t want to admit it.

    Peace to all.

    At 10/28/2019 10:25:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

    Geologists have seen evidence of climate change throughout Earths life.
    What scientists are concerned with is the speed in which it’s occurring now.
    This increase has been scientifically linked to human industrialization, and the pollution that comes with it.

    We may still have time if we work together and change our activities.


    At 10/29/2019 12:12:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

    .......and our way thinking. We’re all in this together, whether we like it or not.


    At 10/29/2019 10:33:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

    I like the album's soundscape, Crazy Horse's playing and melodies. Hell, the lyrics aren't bad either, maybe a bit blunt. It's the subject matter I'm getting tired of. So, for me it's a 5 or 6 out of 10. The last non-archives album I bought is Storytone and I hardly listen to it. I just don't feel the studio albums are worth buying anymore. I just can't justify it and this is coming from a guy who owns everything from the first album onwards.

    At 10/29/2019 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Gary A. Lucero said...

    I'll always buy new Neil Young albums, but I won't always love them.

    At 10/29/2019 12:36:00 PM, Blogger the rider said...

    I think that Young's vocals on the album are amazing. Especially when he sings the high notes. He Nails those notes. I also think that the song olden days is one of my favorite songs ever. Shut it down it's just freaking awesome. Help me lose my mind is unhinged and takes text Eddie me on a wild ride. I'm a singer and player myself. And I can tell when someone is singing his heart out and hitting the notes to Dead on!

    At 10/29/2019 12:39:00 PM, Blogger the rider said...

    I would really like to edit my comment from before, but there is no option for me to do that, whereas there was an edit option before. Not a big deal but this is further proof why I should not post things from a smartphone.

    At 10/29/2019 12:54:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

    I'm an enthusiastic convert of the subject matter, but the whole beauty of music (Neil's as much as anyone's) is that it is beyond conscious grasp: it infiltrates our soul and makes us feel something from within. More like hypnosis than a news report. Much of Neil's songwriting in recent years comes across as rather one-dimensional and self-conscious, and sometimes he finds a way to make it work; but his best stuff, the magical stuff, still comes from somewhere deeper and more multi-layered. Where he's mediated on the song just long enough to relax the conscious mind and draw out something richer, more multi-layered and evasive of explanation.

    It's not coincidence that the most haunting, moving song on Colorado (and there are several of those) is the most dreamlike, and one where Neil stops trying to make a point and instead starts asking questions.


    At 10/29/2019 12:56:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

    @ the rider :
    I agree that Neils vocals are amazing on this release. Much like Bob Weir, Neil is showing us that even in the seventies he can dig deep and hit those challenging notes. It can be hit or miss for both men when they play live, but when they’re on they’re on. And yes, Olden Days is a classic song both musically and especially lyrically. Having gone through some painful relationships in my 63 years, I can relate to this remarkable songs message. Only Neil could be so direct and honest with such a tender story. Heartbreaking stuff from someone who has lived a long life.


    At 10/29/2019 01:02:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

    Assuming that we don't really have a full understanding of the Earth's climate (sounds a fair point), my question would be: isn't it still better to err on the safe side? In other words, just because Russian Roulette might not kill you (or the revolver might not even be loaded), does that mean it's a good idea to pick up the gun and start pulling the trigger?


    At 10/29/2019 01:22:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

    This comment has been removed by the author.

    At 10/29/2019 01:24:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

    I loved the arrangement of Shut It Down, great fun, but the lyric felt less impressive; Neil knows as well as anyone that the way words sound is as important as what they are saying.

    Very much agreed on the vocals, as powerful as ever.


    At 10/29/2019 05:58:00 PM, Blogger CK Junior said...

    Overall, there is something very heartening about this album. It is far, far better than his Promise of the Real output, which is generally acknowledged by every professional reviewer (and myself) to be quite terrible. This is something different. It feels less slap-dash and more serious, and there are moments where Neil absolutely scores melodically and emotionally. It is great to hear, and it tells us that Neil still has "it". But, as many others have noted, the lyrics of the album keep it from reaching any real artistic heights. My issue is not with the subject matter, which is certainly a worthy one. It is how one approaches the subject matter. Good lyrics should have an element of poetry to them, an element of timelessness and universality, of mystery, of provocative imagery or emotional connection to the listener. Neil has written such lyrics time after time. But not recently, and for the most part not here. It's too bad because this music with good lyrics would have been something to behold.

    -CK Junior

    At 10/29/2019 10:25:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

    Scotsman says something interesting again, namely that great music is beyond conscious grasp. There is another possibility that I think is important. We grasp it, for example the sadness that goes well beyond the experience of one person, but it is the sort of mental experience that cannot be articulated. This is one reason why Neil’s lyrics might be failing as of late. He is trying to articulate what is beyond articulation but not beyond conscious awareness. He is trying to do with brute force what he used to do with shadows.

    At 10/30/2019 05:47:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

    - Great way of putting it, re: shadows!


    At 10/30/2019 09:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Agree that it is a beautiful record and can stand with his best, be it Harvest or Sleeps with Angels or Silver and Gold.

    He is a true artist and musical hero, just as compelling in old age as youth — more so in many ways.

    Anyone else think Truth Kills was too good of a song not to make the cut?

    At 10/30/2019 06:44:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

    I find it really amusing that critics seem to believe they know what’s better than the artists who actually create the work. To have the audacity to presume what makes a great lyric and what doesn’t. Thank goodness Neil pays no attention to such things. Otherwise, imagine what we would have missed.


    At 10/31/2019 04:11:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

    Wisdom comes with aging and from inside.No matter how you sing it or play it,when it comes from within it's genuine and honest.Neil's music and lyrics are the best I ever heard and it lasts and lasts.Seems like forever.It touches you and grabs you by the throat.Can't be denied in my opinion.It's real and I'm glad it's there and Neil's still among us.Cees Mostert,the Netherlands.


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    (we can handle it... try us)

    Does Anything Else Really Matter?

    "Nobody's free until everybody's free."
    ~~ Fannie Lou Hamer

    Here Comes "The Big Shift"

    Maybe everything you think you know is wrong? NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS
    "It's all illusion anyway."

    Propaganda = Mind Control
    Guess what?
    "Symbols Rule the World, not Words or Laws."
    ... and symbolism will be their downfall...

    Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
    Be The Rain, Be The Change

    the truth will set you free
    This Machine Kills Fascists

    "Children of Destiny" - THE Part of THE Solution

    (Frame from Official Music Video)

    war is not the answer
    yet we are
    Still Living With War

    "greed is NOT good"
    Hey Big Brother!
    Stop Spying On Us!
    Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

    The Achilles Heel
    Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
    “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
    ~~ Bob Marley

    The Essence of "The Doubters"

    Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

    Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
    Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
    "consciousness is near"
    What's So Funny About
    Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?


    Show Me A Sign

    "Who is John Galt?"
    To ask the question is to know the answer

    "Whosoever shall give up his liberty for a temporary security
    deserves neither liberty nor safety."

    ~~ Benjamin Franklin


    (Between the lines of age)

    And in the end, the love you take
    Is equal to the love you make

    ~~ John & Paul

    the zen of neil
    the power of rust
    the karma of the wheat