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Friday, June 19, 2020

Bob Dylan & Neil Young Together Make For A Very Happy Father's Day

"Rough And Rowdy Ways" by Bob Dylan & "Homegrown" by Neil Young
Release Date: June 19, 2020

As pointed out elsewhere, we have a new Bob Dylan and Neil Young album both coming out on Father's Day weekend. Peak knowing your audience, lucky us.

Neil Young & Bob Dylan

So this seems to be a very good time to look both ahead and back on the musical intersections of Bob & Neil. Over on UPROXX, the question is posted yet again: "Let’s Finally Figure Out Who’s Better: Bob Dylan Or Neil Young?". Steven Hyden examines the question from a myriad of angles, such as lyrics, musicality, impact and so on.

In the analysis on UPROXX, Steven Hyden puts the setup this way:
I love Bob Dylan. I love Neil Young.

Who doesn’t?

However, you might like one a little more than the other. I know I do. But in order to justify saying that anyone is better than Neil Young, or anyone is better than Bob Dylan, you have to be prepared to explain it with sound reasoning and facts.

Let me state the obvious: You don’t have to choose one over the other. But if you want to, purely as a rhetorical exercise, let’s walk through this.
Earlier this year, like nearly every single Bob Dylan fan, we were blown away by the surprise drop of "Murder Most Foul" and the song's 17 minutes of The TRUTH. Neil Young commented on Dylan's "Murder Most Foul" saying: "This song is a masterpiece."

"This song is a masterpiece." ~~Neil Young
Times-Contrarian | Neil Young Archives

Whether Dylan's song "Murder Most Foul" is a "masterpiece" or "genius" is secondary to the song being the single most important artistic release statement thus far in the 21st century.

(See ANALYSIS: Bob Dylan's "Murder Most Foul": 17 Minutes of The TRUTH )

While we can't make the same claim for any of the songs on Neil Young's "Homegrown", we can say that the long lost album has been described as “the missing link between Harvest, Comes A Time, Old Ways and Harvest Moon.

"Homegrown" by Neil Young(back cover)

"Will The Circle Be Unbroken" - A Tribute to Elliot Roberts
(NOTE: Font on Neil Young's shirt matches font of "Murder Most Foul")
REVIEW: Neil Young Bob Dylan - Nowlan Park, Kilkenny, Ireland - 14 July 2019

COMMENTARY + ANALYSIS: Bob Dylan and Neil Young: Tangled Up in Blue and Out of The Black

Bob Dylan & Neil Young
Co-Headlining Concert in London 2019

Bob Dylan and Neil Young: A Fascinating Saga

Neil Young and Bob Dylan
Entertainment Tonight on 4-1-86

The relationship between Bob Dylan and Neil Young is a fascinating saga.

While Dylan is universally acknowledged as the most influential and important 21st century singer-songwriter performing today, Young is among a very small contingent of contenders for second place. Young's integrity and credibility place him among a distinguished group of artists to be compared to Dylan.

Bob Dylan and Neil Young are friends and mutual admirers.  They have appeared on stage together numerous times, and have even referred to each other in their songs.

As a long time Neil Young fan, we've never really perceived any rivalry whatsoever between the Bob and Neil fan bases, and find the whole Bob vs Neil discussions to be a bit tiresome. It seems no matter your preference, both men are living legends and musical geniuses.

Bob Dylan and Neil Young - 1992

More on The Fascinating Saga of Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

Also, see:

Bob Dylan & Neil Young - 1975

Bob Dylan & Neil Young - 1986

Bob Dylan & Neil Young - 1975

Bob Dylan & Neil Young

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At 6/20/2020 09:55:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Bought them both at the record store yesterday. Homegrown is awesome!

At 6/20/2020 07:20:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

My father, who passed on just over two years ago (May 2018) was a Dylan devotee, so I'm certainly having mixed feelings this weekend. Although NY seems to speak more personally and palpably to my soul, you might as well compare the mountains (Bob) and the ocean (Neil). Both are immense, majestic natural wonders worth admiring and exploring. Feeling more at home in one landscape shouldn't blind us to the beauty and the power of the other.

I'm currently on the precipice of fully immersing myself in Homegrown--having taken the last couple of days to catch up on Roxy and Tuscaloosa. Yes, it's taken me a while to get back on track with Neil, but it was worth waiting until my heart was in it. The live performances on Roxy are, imho, frequently meatier and more listenable than the original TtN with Neil's vocals a notch more consistent. (It's a matter of record that OtB is my personal favorite Ditch album, an assessment I stand by thus far.)

Perhaps my favorite aspect of the last two Performance Series issues is the opportunity to experience two totally contrasting, yet equally vital, arrangements of New Mama. This has long been one of my favorite tracks but it never seems to get much press. The incomparable Stray Gators go to town on it, commanding a satisfyingly heavy electric groove complimented by the ragged-edged vocals particularly characteristic of this set and tour. The Roxy incarnation is much more in line with the TtN take. In hindsight, the harmonies on this arrangement sound like a contender for CSN+Y's abandoned Human Highway album, perhaps explaining why the number has always (to me) sounded slightly out of place on TtN--and, by extension, casting some light on the latent lyrical connections between TtN's Lookout Joe and Pushed it over The Edge as played in the CSN+Y '74 shows (to wit: who is Millie?).

Thoughts on Homegrown will be forthcoming when I've had ample opportunity to absorb it. In the meantime, and at risk of being superfluously topical, recent coverage of our POTUS's public health hazard pollution of our collective consciousness in service of his engorged and grossly deformed ego, I am reminded of this evergreen:

" 'Cause you're the kinda man who likes what he says/I wonder it's like to be so far... over my head."


At 6/21/2020 01:40:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ian Kertis : Your first paragraph sums it up perfectly. There really isn’t any comparison between Bob and Neil. They are both really talented artists with remarkably long and successful careers. Any debate on which one is better seems, (for me anyway), to be a complete waste of time and energy. These are two of the most original songwriters of any generation, and both have earned the respect they have garnered.

Bob’s new album is brilliant. He has such a gift for stringing words together that somehow insinuates a suggestion of something else, without actually saying it. His songs always seem to contain something more than the sum of their parts (if that makes any sense). There is a undercurrent just below the surface that isn’t necessarily obvious, but you sense that there’s something more going on. I don’t know how else to explain it but it’s there. His songs require multiple listens in order to gain access to the depth of the intention.

Homegrown captures a difficult point in Neil’s life that happened to produced a series of records that most of us refer to as the ditch trilogy. Several people have already made that connection with Homegrown, and I agree to a point. Neil is always in the present moment, and the (so called) ditch trilogy is just one of those moments. Because Homegrown was recorded during the same period, it makes perfect sense that it would fit in with those other records. I don’t think Neil was intentionally creating a ditch trilogy, he was simply creating in the moment and reflecting what was happening in that moment in his life.

This is what separates Neil from almost all of his contemporaries, and why he continues to be such a vital artist. Neil’s output over the years is like a time capsule freezing moments in time. Obviously not everyone will resonate with a whole record about his car, but bless him for having the courage to make it anyway. This is one of the reasons I admire him. He is fearless.

Peace 🙏


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