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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Comment of the Moment: "Little Wing" by Neil Young & New EP "The Times"

"Little Wing" by Neil Young  


Tomorrow, on September 18th, the EP "The Times" by Neil Young will be released.  The new EP contains seven songs from the Fireside Sessions - Porch Episode on July 1, 2020. (More here and now playing on NYA.)


"The Times" EP by Neil Young

The coda for the seven track EP is the song "Little Wing" from the album "Hawks & Doves". 

Neil Young has commented that "Hawks & Doves  reveals him as "A redneck and a hippie, all rolled into one album."  Released in November 1980, Neil Young's album Hawks & Doves was his tenth studio album and featured the enigmatic song "Little Wing" on The "Doves" side as a "softer/hippie" song. 


The CHOICE Is Yours ... Or Is It?

The delightfully delicate and intimate "Little Wing" serves as a fitting coda to The Times EP -- a  brief song to conclude a brief release. And the fade out section with his wife Daryl Hannah murmuring is -- oh so -- lovely and fitting. It definitely mellows out a rather incendiary release. As Sugar Mountain notes, this is the only known performance of an acoustic "Little Wing".

Which brings us to our  Comment of the Moment from PORCH EPISODE: NOW ON NEIL YOUNG ARCHIVES on 7/02/2020 05:06:00 AM, Blogger Kundalini:

I started today watching/listening to Porchside and started to cry watching the silhouette of Neil sing The Times They Are A’Changing - I watched and listened three times and just finished Little Wing, reading the lyrics.

I have a hearing loss and need to read to get them. Will any of you help me understand/interpret this song?

Who is the Little Wing? She comes when the children sing - is this Spring? And then, change comes to summer but if you fly away then it is winter and that time is the best of all? Well, I try hear, times a changing, and every season is one to treasure. Winter/isolated - a time for solitude and inward glance. Is that the best of all? Some above mention Neil is interior and Bob observes the world around him, so yes Winter - Interior could be the best for Neil.

We approach the Fourth of July and Neil presents us with such a gift - from Alabama to Campaigner to Ohio, offering political calls to action.

A break for “Water Is Life” and a request for donations to Navajo Water Project. I see this offering as a strong celebration of our country, and yet, Neil recognizes that we built our Nation on the backs of Indigenous. Then, Neil’s soulful prophetic voice sings Bob’s Times Are A Changing - Admit that the waters around you have grown...

Lookin’ For a Leader - with updated lyrics follows, then Southern Man - speaks to BLM today and then closes with wistful Little Wing.

Happy Fourth of July - Our country has its work to do and our Troubadour Neil is saying get out there - work for the man to succeed the current occupant of the White House, the Man who has the Great Spirit on his side.

In reply, a comment by  (D.) Ian Kertis; The Metamorphic Rocker:

@Kundalini, Regarding Little Wing, I think your interpretation is solid.

I've always found the song very touching, with the nursery rhyme-like simplicity of the words. It could work well as a lullaby. I think the Little Wing character herself could represent hope, relief, or fresh beginnings--which could be symbolically associated with spring, the sprouting up of new life, etc, just as in the title track of Homegrown: "One day, without no warning, things start jumping up from the ground"--the exuberance of renewed growth. "Winter is the best time of them all" is the puzzler, and I don't have a strong reading of that line as yet.

Neil has several other songs with birds as characters or symbols: the aptly titled Birds from 'Gold Rush', Dangerbird, Thrasher, The Old Homestead (with its three "prehistoric birds"), and the much later Beautiful Bluebird (among others) show this motif. I'm not going to unfold a thesis on avian imagery in the lyrics of Neil Young--although that's an enticing project for the future--but this may provide some context for the imagery of Little Wing.

Sorry if I'm giving more questions than answers, but I too find the song fascinating and enigmatic.

Thank you both Kundalini & Meta Rocker for your thoughts and contributions on " Little Wing".

Hopefully it draws others back to  Neil Young's "Redneck-hippie" Hawks & Doves album.

Little Wing, don't fly away
When the summer turns to fall
Don't you know some people say
The winter is the best time of them all
Winter is the best of all.


We can only hope & pray that neil is right about the coming winter...

may all of our seasons make the turn.

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At 9/17/2020 04:38:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

I like the idea of a bird inventory in Neil Young songs: mostly they are big birds (Helpless) such as vulture, condor, eagle, but there are a few others.

At 9/18/2020 10:59:00 PM, Blogger Old Dan said...

Great picture of Neil "Rockin'on the porch"!!

At 9/18/2020 11:03:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Hmmm, Old Dan. You've got a point. That ain't no porch.

At 9/20/2020 11:20:00 AM, Blogger Phil said...

Tracklist of Archives 2 is on NYA...

At 9/20/2020 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

"winter is the best time of them all"

from the perspective of a naturalist/thinker/poet (Neil Young) the line might be saying that we are wise to pay heed to all times and seasons, both literally and metaphorically. We see things in winter that cannot be seen at any other time, both in our lives (the winter as metaphor) and literally in winter. The song is quite clearly about time, age and truth- so I agree with Meta-rocker that the song is simple in a way, something to sing to a child but like many of his songs it is deadly serious.

At 9/20/2020 07:12:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks for the shout out, thrash. I'm a little late to the party for "The Times", since I was very busy Friday and Saturday. I think the EP is a poignant, quiet document. Perfect for 2020, yet it will be most appreciated by us Neil Nuts. Listening on CD, the sound quality is a little low-fi, imho, but that kinda adds to the charm and intimacy.

Neil's vocals are fine throughout, touching even at times. Contrary to some complaints about a "falsetto", the only time the vocals sound a little strained or edgy to me is on "Southern Man"--and Neil's never gone out of his way to make that one sound pretty. Which is as it should--the words say it all.

As I missed the previous thread, much like Abner "Lost in Space" is one of my all time favorite Neil deep cuts. As is "Little Wing" (what a way to end the EP...). As I've said before, I'm glad the Archives are starting to gives us an alternative context for some of these songs, as Hawks & Doves is decidedly uneven for me. Side 2 just never had much impact for me, and I think Neil has done the country/redneck thing better elsewhere (see International Harvesters, among others), though I fully appreciate his recent self reflection on the hippie-redneck hybrid.

As an addendum, when I was picking up "The Times" from my B&N, I also spotted Gordon Lightfoot's recent release, titled simply "Solo", and purchased that as well. Two Canadian bards--and in some small way, Neil is responsible for making me pay attention to Gordon, an epiphany that hit after the covers of "Early Morning Rain" and "If You Could Read my Mind" for A Letter Home. Needless to say, I've got no shortage of listening material this weekend!


At 9/21/2020 03:58:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Phil - some of the most exciting Neil news of 2020! which is really saying something.

on it @

also, some looking back @ NYA#1, too.

@ Abner - funny how something seemingly simple for a child can be as you say "deadly serious" Actually, ironic or paradoxical.

@ Meta Rocker - and thanks for your earlier reply here which inspired this thread.

It all came back around.

well, so much news now w/ NYA #2!

And yes, Gordon. Another Canadian bard doing his homeland proud.


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