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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Essentials: "Sleeps With Angels" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse | Old Grey Cat

 Sleeps With Angels
Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Here's a look back at a very essential album by Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Sleeps With Angels (1994).

In particular, this review looks at the album as recorded chronologically -- as opposed to the actual album sequencing -- and makes some very interesting observations.

Over on Old Grey Cat, a re-review from  "The Essentials":

An album’s sequencing is an important factor – it’s somewhat akin to putting together a puzzle without a picture to work from. 

If the songs had been laid out in the order they were recorded, well, it would have been a great album. But by sequencing it the way that they did, Neil and Briggs upped it to a greater realm. I should add, I suppose, that Neil did little to promote the album after its release – no interviews or tours. Instead, he let the music speak for itself. One result, I think, is that it’s become somewhat overlooked in the pantheon that is his oeuvre. To those who’ve never heard it, I say play it today; and for the initiated, give it another listen. It’s a powerful piece. 

As I said way back when, it ranks with his best ever.

Full review of "The Essentials: Sleeps With Angels by Neil Young & Crazy Horse" | Old Grey Cat.  

Here is the 14+ minute track "Change Your Mind" (see Lyric Analysis).


'Sleeps With Angels" Film - Directed by LA Johnson| Neil Young Archives


Also, see Sleeps With Angels: Neil Young, Crazy Horse -  Neil Young Album Reviews: Sleeps With Angels + Preview Tracks)

all of which is "too late, too soon" ...

Kurt Cobain ritfw-moore-neil-cu.jpg


Neil Young and Producer David Briggs, 1995
Photo by Pegi Young

(See David Briggs and Neil Young: "How Survivals, Grief and Legacies Unfold in American Music")

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At 7/13/2021 05:31:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

This album is so good in its tone and the subtle line between life and death that it is frightening.

At 7/13/2021 06:57:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

off topic but just received my new remastered WDITRB DVD & let me just say that it sounds heavenly!!!!!

It took a long time but well worth the wait to me...

thanks to Neil & his crew

At 7/13/2021 07:45:00 PM, Blogger tomatron said...

Yes! Mine arrived too. Haven’t checked it out yet but looking forward to it.

At 7/14/2021 02:17:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

Top 10 Neil album for me. Truthfully, one could make the argument that Sleeps With Angels is the last truly great album that Neil has recorded, or may ever record.

I don't think it's a coincidence that it's also the last album Neil recorded with David Briggs at the helm.

At 7/15/2021 12:00:00 AM, Blogger dpnyfan said...

Absolutely one of my favs and very emotional. Cobain lived in my neck of the woods. Everytime I listen I hear something new. Long may you run neil!

At 7/15/2021 12:04:00 AM, Blogger dpnyfan said...

By the way my wife of 40 yrs says ny is my bromance and I can't argue that haha

At 7/15/2021 12:07:00 AM, Blogger dpnyfan said...

Ok one more and I'll shut up! My dtr danced with me to prairie wind hear for you. Perfect for our relationship

At 7/16/2021 02:45:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Take 2 of missing comment: This post caught my eye because I’ve always loved this album. Given my known preoccupation with sequence, the recording order of the tracks is also fascinating. The recording order sounds, at least in my head, like a very interesting listening experience, especially if split over 4 LP sides.

The great Change Your Mind, which features some of Neil’s—and Pancho’s—most lyrical guitar passages, typically gets the press (when there is any) for this album, but it’s hard for me to properly convey the emotions of A Dream that Can Last. In a body of work known for its emotional honesty and intensity, ‘Dream’ has to be one of the most heartfelt things NY has ever done. Such overflowing of both hope and sadness in one song is inspiring and overwhelming.

You don’t put out a song like that, particularly on a Horse album, unless you mean it. And the same goes for the entire album, which was not destined to be Top 40 stuff, nor even particularly crowd-pleasing as with Freedom or Ragged Glory. The sincerity in this music is deeply touching.

At 7/16/2021 03:12:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I cannot believe the worthless trash I have read about "Sleeps with Angels" in recent days, just humoring myself. So many of the reviews, while generally very good, were almost vacuous, literally empty of actual content. Ian nails it with "Dream." "The cupboards are bare but the streets are paved with gold." Neil's lyrics here speak to desperation and alienation, the psychic reality of socio-economic and political injustice. He does this much better when he is not literal, the art speaks. As Nietzsche once said, art dies when it becomes political. Sleeps with Angels is, in my view, majestic and relentless, beautiful and gritty, hard edged and merciful- it consistently derives the universal from the particular. The songs, while frequently full of metaphor and irony, never lose contact with the hard surfaces of immediate reality. This is truly a great piece of art.

At 7/16/2021 03:38:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Richie - your observation on David Briggs seems to come up with many over the years. It seems every album release since SWA has this comment. Greendale could have used Briggs. Storytone could have used Briggs. The Visitor could have used Briggs. on & on.

Only Le Noise didn't get this comment. But folks didn't seem to like Lanois as a Producer either.

Wonder what folks will say about the next CH album being recorded currently???

@ dpnyfan - totally get it.

@ Meta Rocker! Good to hear from you. Saw your message on other thread and replied back on comment troubles.

Glad you caught this thread. Esp the sequencing angle.

Like so many, we've listend to SWA only as sequenced on album. but now w/ today's tech its farly easy to re-order tracks chronologically like OGC did and come up with a while different mood.

That was a revelation b/c we always considered SWA as so dark & heavy.

btw, we've forgotten. Driveby was inspired by a friend of Neil's who's daughter was caught up and killed in a driveby. does anyone recall who that "friend" was?

At 7/16/2021 03:56:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Abner - "As Nietzsche once said, art dies when it becomes political. Sleeps with Angels is, in my view, majestic and relentless, beautiful and gritty, hard edged and merciful- it consistently derives the universal from the particular. The songs, while frequently full of metaphor and irony, never lose contact with the hard surfaces of immediate reality. This is truly a great piece of art."

now that is a great comment about a great album by a great man and a great band.

What you're saying is that SWA is about as perfect a Neil & Crazy Horse album you'll find.

while we just mentioned Briggs upthread, we're quire keen to hear the latest offering by NY w/ CH.

can neil pull another "majestic and relentless, beautiful and gritty, hard edged and merciful" ???

let's all hope Neil & Band have enough gas in the tank for what may likely be one of the studio albums by this group.

With all of his comments about memories and specific personnel, it certainly has the smell of the last gallop around the pasture and barn romp. OTOH< he did just build a new studio, so maybe lots of miles on the road ahead? either way, we win.



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