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Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Neil Young's Album of the Week: Hawks & Doves | NYA

"Hawks & Doves" by Neil Young
Album of the Week | NYA

The Neil Young Archives Album of the Week is "Hawks & Doves", released 10-29-1980.

Neil Young comments that "Hawks & Doves" reveals him as "A redneck and a hippie, all rolled into one album." Once again, Neil succinctly nails himself yet again. He goes on to reveal one of his more obvious -- but profound -- observations:

While stating the obvious about writing in the 3rd person and being understood as autobiographical, Neil Young has always struggled with the artists and audiences perceptions and misconceptions.

In an interview in 1980, Neil Young made comments that were considered supportive of Ronald Reagan, the conservative Republican president of the U.S. (See interview on Neil Young and Ronald Reagan). The remarks, in conjunction with the politically ambiguous "Hawks & Doves", made Neil Young appear to seem conservative which was an anathema to his liberal, anti-war fan base.

MTV's KURT LODER: At one point when you were sort of in a country mode, you were sort of making noises about Ronald Reagan was a good sort of come around from that position too?

NEIL: I never made, you know, I was never a Reagan supporter in a total blanket sense.

I was one of those who felt that some ideas he had were good ideas. He had one point that he was stressing in the first six months of his job that he thought the people in the communities and neighborhoods should pull together and try to do things on their own more than depending on government to do it for them. And I thought that was a hell of an idea and here's this old guy and he's kind of got this image, of this fatherly image, telling all these people in their neighborhoods to pull together and get your own daycare centers happening, and get this and that happening.

I thought that was a cool thing, I thought it was a good thing.

So then I'm on my bus, someplace in some hell hole somewhere, playing some show and the good part of it is when I'm on stage and the bad part of it is the rest of it. And these two dorks come on my bus, I don't know how it happened, I swear to God, two jerks from some press service come on my bus and start asking me these questions and I was just kind of burnt.

And these guys started putting down Reagan left and right and everything and I looked at the guy and I said "You're an asshole, you know, you don't know what the hell you are talking about cause you probably put down every damn president, you know, that ever lived. You're a president basher, that's all you do is if they win, they lose."

So I said the guy's got some good ideas, I stand behind the way he feels about this and that, and I told him...I said, I think you're full of shit for dismissing a person completely in every idea he has because he happens to be president and he makes some really stupid moves on one level, that I would never think of making. That doesn't mean that the guy didn't have some good ideas somewhere along the line maybe yesterday about something else.

So with the press, it's so hard, even though print is in black and white, it's so hard for them to make it clear what's really happening.

So here I am - Reagan supporter! [Neil throws up hands in mock humor sort of way while shrugging and shaking his head in disbelief.]
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Also, see more on the question of whether Neil Young is proud to be a union man?

After all, isn't all about the "Ordinary People"?

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At 3/03/2020 07:14:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

The first side of Hawks and Doves is one of my all-time favorite sides on any Neil album. Dreamy acoustic music, the kind that is so uniquely Neil. "Lost In Space" is one of the great overlooked Neil gems.

The 2nd side is Neil in redneck mode, but still features some nice tunes.

An underrated album, even by Neil himself, who I always felt thought of this as a throwaway type record.

At 3/05/2020 01:38:00 PM, Blogger Jimbob in Massachusetts said...

Love this album. Neil u got staying power thru thick an coastline, Capt Kennedy love the country an acoustics . Thanks neil. From jimbob in Massachusetts. Jus waving my hand 2 you neil .been listening 2 u for 54years .love ya man

At 3/06/2020 03:37:00 PM, Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Unlike his other albums with two very different sides patched together from old leftovers and new material, I don't think this one works near as well as Rust Never Sleeps or even American Stars & Bars. I enjoy most of the material on a song-by-song basis, but he probably would have been best off picking one mode and building on that. The hippie stuff doesn't give me much insight into the redneck stuff and vice-versa. Even if he kept this format an extra acoustic song on side 1 (Hitchhiker or Hawaii) and add a more electric oriented Crazy Horse type song (The Price That You Pay) and another country song or two (Lady Wingshot, Turbine) and I think you have a more robust development of both concepts. At 30 minutes total, neither side feels like a fully developed set of songs. Although after Rust Never Sleeps/Live Rust I imagine almost anything might feel a bit of a letdown.

At 3/06/2020 04:53:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Mark. great to hear from you. log time.

We've always favored the song Captain Kennedy.

quite cryptic.

Did you know that Neil allegedly also gave Lynyrd Skynyrd's Ronnie VanZant the songs "Powderfinger", "Sedan Delivery" and "Captain Kennedy" to record?

"I am a young mariner headed to war
I'm thinkin' 'bout my family and what it was for
There's water on the wood and the sails feel good
And when I get to shore I hope that I can kill good.

My father was a sailor named Captain Kennedy
He lost his wooden schooner to the Germans on the sea
Exploded on the water for everyone to see
And humiliate that American, Captain Kennedy.

I saw him in Nassau in 1971
His strength was failin' but he still ran a run
He worked 'til his fingers wore to the bone
To buy that wooden schooner and sail on his own.

He was known in the islands as Hundred Foot Iron
That steel hull freighter was passing its time
And time flew by faster with life on the sea
And the days grew shorter for Captain Kennedy.

I am a young mariner headed to war
I'm thinkin' 'bout my family and what it was for
There's water on the wood and the sails feel good
And when I get to shore I hope that I can kill good."

The Hitchhiker version of "Captain Kennedy" is quite wonderful, as well.

any thoughts on these lyrics? prescient Neil, as always?!

At 3/06/2020 05:08:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Subsequently, we have learned the following from Brian:

"Neil Young's song, Captain Kennedy, was inspired by the mariner's life of my grandfather Captain Louis Kenedy.

Neil Young (along w Jimmy Buffet) met my grandfather in Nassau in the early 70's and loosely chronicles one of his life events, the sinking of his schooner (Wawaloam) by a German U-Boat (U-86) August 6, 1941. In all, Captain Kenedy skippered 10 sailing vessels all while making a living hauling cargo between the Caribbean and the Canadian Maritimes. If interested, please reference Joe Russell's book "The Last Schoonerman" which chronicles his life at sea and the ships he captained."

Kenedy is the inspiration for “Captain Kennedy”, a song recorded in 1980 on the Hawks and Doves album by Neil Young. Neil and Lou encountered one another in South Florida and the Bahamas while Lou was cruising in his later years.


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