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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

ALBUM RE-REVIEW: "Peace Trail" by Neil Young

Official Music Video for the song "Peace Trail" by Neil Young + Promise Of The Real 
(See the film 'Paradox', directed by Daryl Hannah)


During our  "unplanned/forced sabbatical" here at Thrasher's Wheat, we're posting occasionally to keep discussion flowin' in the Neil Young Fan/RUST community.

From the always enthusiastic Alan in Seattle, here is a look back at the 2018 album "Peace Trail" by Neil Young.

Peace Trail:  -Native drums start the album & title track, joined by pump organ and Old Black. Neil the Environmental Activist, supporter of Native Rights, driving down changing highways. Making a film with DH along the way w/ his band. He cares about the Earth. He rails against Global Warming and Big Oil. He met "Happy" the Native Water protector at the DAPL in North Dakota. Blissful notes from his guitar. Some epic little peaks in that first song. He "Can't Stop Working" and the fans are grateful. Thanks Neil! He is driven. The Blues Harp played through the guitar distortion pedal is wicked strong! 

-"Indian Givers." The real History lesson of North America. The US and Canada were and are horrible to the Natives. The Water Protectors & Oil Pipeline protesters could not get on Mainstream News. The Militarized Cops w/no badge numbers visible moved in w/their vehicles of War. They attacked peaceful water protectors repeatedly. They violated human rights of many. The bulldozers mercilessly tore up the land and burial grounds. Obama did NOTHING, nor would Trump. The Bully Cops might as well have been wearing white robes & hoods. I saw video from Independent Drones. MSM was not showing it. Imagine a country short sighted and destructive that it would allow a Tar Sands Oil Pipeline UNDER the Missouri river to ship it down to the gulf, and then Ship it overseas for refinement. Tar Sands Oil from Canada is the dirtiest form of Oil, is 30 times more pollutive than traditional oil extraction. Fort MacMurray looks like Hiroshima. 

-"Show me..." some compassion. Show me some Heart, show me how you care. Lives lost on the sacred land. The Battle over water being fought by the baby's hands. The young humans will indeed need to stand and fight for clean water, for their treaties to finally be honored. The showdown at DAPL North Dakota with the Standing Rock Sioux is a shame on US. The violent Militarized Cops sprayed people with fire hoses in 20 degree weather. The cops terrorized them w/pepper spray as the defenseless Natives retreated into the river itself. Millions of naive Americans downstream also rely on the Missouri River for their drinking water.  

-"Texas Rangers."  The Great American Cowboy Cops, come to save us all. Neil is being sarcastic. Media Blackout and deception. They show you what they want you to see. Neil was being courageous as he made this song & this album. He is not trying to write a song everyone would like. He is aghast at what is happening in ND. He is challenging the status quo with searing criticism. He is trying to make us think. 

-"Terrorist Suicide Hang Gliders." And absurd farce: We must fight them, the Terrorists. They are up in the clouds even! We must remain diligent in our vigilantism. Lets increase Military Spending AGAIN. Because 10x what everyone else has is never enough. Wave the Flag. More Irony here. As the harmonica shatters glass. Its dramatic and very powerful.

-"John Oaks" kind of veers off the powerful theme of the album, for me, personally. I don't love the song. An old farmer pushed too far and gets blown away by the Cops in his truck, standing up for some migrant workers and the trees, perhaps.

-"My Pledge." They came over on the Mayflower, to a land almost alone. Not quite. There were millions of Natives here. Speaking to the "Judge" (or to you?).

-Glass accident. Toxic relationships, ending. Is Neil the floor, and maybe Peggy was the glass. There was a lingering hope that made it through the (dark) night, which shone bright & provided hope. Darryl, his fellow activist, his vital support, his Love.

-"My New Robot" from   It's not so far away anymore. Pretty soon they won't even need the humans.

As the World turns, as the World Burns, from Global Warming. Neil Young made a strong political & social statement w/ his 3 piece band. I LOVE Peace Trail. It is great Art & vital commentary from the Heart and mind of our Hero, Neil Young. He is Raging Against the Machine. 

He has a strong opinion and a strong voice.

Alan in Seattle

Thank you Alan in Seattle!  Your support and dedication to TW and all things Neil is most appreciated.

Thanks again to all for your support and love while keeping the candle burning here @ TW!

peace & love,


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At 9/28/2021 07:13:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks again Alan for your passion and dedication over the many, many years here.

Likewise, a shout out to Dan, Abner, Dionsys, Ian, Tomatron, PL DR and so many others.

Thanks for readin' & Keep on rockin'!

At 9/29/2021 12:47:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

It’s an honor to be “published” kind sir! Thank you so much! I appreciate that you took the time to post that during your recovery process.

Such a near catastrophe, but music did save you! We are all so grateful you two are safe! I can’t take it for granted that new posts will pop up on your blog all the time.

We in the hard core Neil Young TW community hold you in the highest regard. You have given your time and ceaseless dedication to the TW forum. the righteous discussion of our musical Hero, Neil Young.

Alan in Seattle

At 9/29/2021 01:00:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Thanks for doing what you do! All you good people that blog have intelligent things to say about the specifics, the insight, the appreciation. Thrasher delivers impressively. So much great stuff to read and see, listen, watch. Your blog makes me think of the song “Light a Candle” because you are always so positive. You tolerate benevolent fanaticism and it’s peaks and troughs. Thanks for your gifts to us. Your dogged determination is remarkable. Alan in Seattle

We all have been having a hard time during Covid of course, but you guys had a TreeNado! That is is a whole different beast.

At 9/29/2021 01:42:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Peace Trail Review Addendum:

Peace Trail is an impressive and exciting album musically and energetically. There are a bunch of great songs on it. Neil nailed it on this one. People were saying they had waited a decade for him to make an album this good.

His guitar, pump organ, & music in on the album is quite compelling. Neil’s ability to make Art out of the mess of DAPL is incredible. He is able express all of that emotion and Wisdom so eloquently and beautifully.

But the power of Neil’s harmonica through the guitar effects pedal is astoundingly strong and powerful. The “Jet Engine in a Hurricane” has a new instrument. He didn’t just turn it to 1; it was searing, chilling the blood of those lucky enough to witness these songs live. I was there in Boise in 2018 to see the Peace Trail songs and it was among the greatest shows I have ever seen. He was playing Hard Blues as the Godfather of Grunge would! It was gloriously overwhelming in its power.

A few of the songs were misinterpreted by some. Neil is not pro-police state, or pro racism or profiling. He is speaking in a character’s voice, like a Trumper. Neil is not saying he approves of this. He clearly does not.

He is criticizing the overzealous police state, the pro War mindset, the Xenophobic racist. Neil doesn’t fly Confederate Flags.

Some of the songs are very personal like glass accident. My New Robot brings it all back full circle to Trans, the album. Autotune is used for effect and it is classic.

Alan in Seattle

At 9/29/2021 01:44:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

That was supposed to say “turn it to 11!”

At 9/29/2021 02:36:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Peace Trail was written and recorded following the release of Young's live album, Earth, in 2016.[2] Despite working extensively with Promise of the Real throughout 2015 and 2016, Young opted to record a solo album with session musicians Jim Keltner (drums) and Paul Bushnell (bass). The album was recorded in four days.[3] wiki

At 9/29/2021 08:50:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Right Alan. Thanks. Updated.
Guess we always hear the songs as POTR given their initial performances by band. Also, the official video linked above is w/ POTR.

So PT was recorded in four days?! hmm, did not know that. That neil sure works fast.

At 9/29/2021 11:05:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Thanks Alan, I went and listened to "My Pledge" and am now going to listen to the whole album.

At 9/29/2021 02:58:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

That album contains a number of songs I really like, especially "Terrorist Suicide Hang Gliders" as a comment on all the xenophobia and racism created by conspirationists in the internet. And then "Carnival" although I am strugglimg with the images, that seem to be very (North-)American, with all these references to vaudeville shows. Maybe someone can shed some light on this, for a curious European. I know who Evel "Ka-nivel" was, though.

At 9/29/2021 03:42:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

Peace Trail is easily the best album that Neil made since Psychedelic Pill. I think it's in my top 5 Neil albums of the 2000's, which really isn't saying much, but still a very good listen.

As much as I love POTR, to my ears, they have yet to capture real magic in the studio with Neil. He made the right move paring down these particular songs with just bass and drums. The sound, and a strong batch of songs, makes Peace Trail an enjoyable listen. When it came out, I came here with some positive thoughts, but really it didn't get anywhere near as much love here as I thought it should, I'm glad to see it getting a more positive re-evaluation now.

But let's get a couple things straight here, kids. "Carnival" was not a Peace Trail tune. Most importantly, though, it's PEGI YOUNG, not Peggy. I really don't like being a spelling cop, but let's try to get Pegi's name right, please. And remember, David Briggs is spelled with 2 g's, ha ha!

At 9/29/2021 06:27:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Good reminders Richie. Carnival is on "The Visitor" (right?). Peace Trail: I like the ideas of the songs, but generally not so much the songs. I am really looking forward to a new Neil album, as I still have hope that he has one more great album to give.

At 9/29/2021 06:29:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Dionys: think human zoo

At 9/29/2021 09:42:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

I must admit I had not yet watched the vid. Cheers!

At 9/29/2021 09:44:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Cool. I neglect various NY albums. You got me listening to Paris Wind. That is a really strong album.

At 9/29/2021 09:45:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Prarie Wind… agh, spell check.

At 9/29/2021 09:48:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Pegs. My English professor Dad would be proud if your efforts. I have been a grammar cop. It’s worth getting the details right.

At 9/30/2021 01:20:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Pegi… thanks spell check! Of course, I can’t get the grammar or spelling right! 😂

At 9/30/2021 11:31:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

besides the title track - which I like a lot - it's a dud for me...and also the audio quality is really bad for a 21st century recording...especially for Neil...hell Neil's 70's stuff sounds better than almost anything out there...but Peace Trail to me sounds subpar sonically

At 9/30/2021 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

Carnival - a Visitor track of course, I stand corrected. Somehow my memory seemingly does not work as well when records are concerned that I own as CDs only. That's probably because I don't spend a lot of time deciphering minuscule letters on their covers and booklets.

At 9/30/2021 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I had totally forgotten several of the songs on Peace Trail.

At 9/30/2021 02:24:00 PM, Blogger edtide said...

Terrorist Suicide Hang Gliders has to be related to the Florida track, from Homegrown, right? Neil's bad dream

"So I said, you know, "I don't believe this, this isn't real"
And just as I said that, this guy in the glider
Was coming right through the center of town
And he ran into the building in the middle of town
Fifteen story high building, right in the center of town"

At 10/01/2021 11:00:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

You may have a point there. Neil likes a thematic Deja Vu. Alan in Seattle

At 10/01/2021 11:01:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Neil has got such a large body of work, so many albums, that I find it refreshing to ignore or avoid certain albums for years at a time and then come back to it with a fresh listen.

At 10/01/2021 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

And I had been avoiding Paradox a bit and I kind of forgot that there was a version on it. I must revisit Paradox. Have a good day! Alan in Seattle

At 10/01/2021 11:07:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I think the MSM and Gov’t foreign policy takes many to this extreme; Americans are big on Fear. Fear tactics are used to justify War and increase military spending yet again. I don’t think it’s so much the conspirationists as the Mainstream News Media that tells us what to think. I think the MSM inspired TSHG, the song. Got to send in the Americans, the Texas Rangers. Alan in Seattle

At 10/01/2021 11:09:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Alan in Seattle:

Sorry its taken so long for me to respond to your review. You really connected the dots with your reference to so many different events that were completely relevant to the songs on Peace Trail. It once again reveals just how Neil taps into the flowing current of our times. I believe this is Neil’s secret to his longevity throughout his career. He always has a way of tapping into what’s happening and relates it back in his own unique way, and somehow captures the essence of these events. Peace Trail is definitely one of those albums that I think will gain traction over time. Neil has a tendency to be several steps ahead of most artists and even some of his fans, so this album will definitely be one of those records that requires the passing of time before it receives the recognition it deserves. I love the record; not only for its content but for its unique creative approach. One of my favorite attributes of Neil, and why I’ve admired him for so many decades.

Peace 🙏

At 10/01/2021 11:23:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I think it’s all about Trump, but most people don’t seem to see it that way.

At 10/02/2021 01:28:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Listening to Carnegie Hall. It is a beautiful show!

At 10/02/2021 01:46:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Right on. Thanks Dan. I agree with your words. I totally lost it in 2016 as Bernie got screwed by the DNC and Obama let the Canadian Tar Sands Oil Pipeline get shoved under the Missouri River. The Natives and supporters were brutalized by the Cops at Standing Rock. A Rubber bullet blinded one woman, a peaceful protester. A cop threw a flash bang grenade into a big crowd of protesters and damn near blew a woman’s arm off. She very nearly lost her arm.

Militarized bully cops with no visible badge numbers terrorizing peaceful Natives and other citizens trying to stand for clean water. The Americans doing what they have always done to the Natives. For Canadian Tar Sands Oil! Global Warming is hurried on by Oil Pipelines. Joe Manchin is a coal baron. Enbridge Line 3 commits the same crime as DAPL. The Natives get brutalized, the Oil eventually spills, the watershed gets ruined.

The Americans are upset about football, fighting at the games between opposing fans. As if this somehow mattered. A bunch of short sighted idiots! Lots of Americans live downstream. They depend on the same water to drink. But as a nation we are so brain dead that people don’t even understand they should care. These are things Neil Young cares about. These things are quite relevant to Neil’s Art and to us as humans. Alan in Seattle

At 10/02/2021 10:47:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Thanks to Alan for the review. Peace Trail was a real salve for me in late 2016/early ‘17. Funnily enough, I thought Indian Givers sounded the most rushed and clunky ln its lyrics, although an important statement. My old New Hampshire grandmother used to use that expression casually... different times, plus I now suspect that, being an old fashion “Live Free or Die” Northerner through and through, she was actually a bit sheltered from the overt racism in other parts of the US.

Show Me is a really good balance of a topical theme infused with personal, emotional angst. Like all of us, Neil’s not getting any younger and he truly wants to live to see the day... Love the irony and stinging simplicity of Texas Rangers and Terrorist Suicide Hang Gliders. I’’m surprised anyone missed the satirical tone, although in fairness, Neil has only rarely done satire in the past (FITR comes to mind) and maybe never to this degree.

I have a feeling Texas Rangers is a “love it or hate it” song, given its oppressive repetitiveness and lack of chord or tempo changes, but for me that sound kinda hammers home the feeling of media images and sound bites clobbering us over the head until we’re desensitized. And Neil’s deadpan delivery allows all the cajoles the listener to hear/feel the emotions in their own head instead of being guided by an expressive vocal.

Dionys, I would probably need a separate post to discuss Carnival... which I should listen to again... but it is a multi-layered track that stood out to me right from my first time listening of the Visitor.The production with fairground instruments and sounds reminds me a lot of Broken Arrow and other early Buffalo Springfield tracks, which it was nice to hear revisited and I give The Real a lot of credit for musically revitalizing Neil.

At 10/02/2021 11:19:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I am a huge fan of the song Carnival. I interpret it to be about Donald Trump, in a psychedelic, vague way. too much time was spent in the tent, of the strange Elephant of Enlightenment. I may return to this topic. Alan in Seattle

At 10/04/2021 11:47:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Alan, good insight on Trump.

I think Carnival was a great idea but poorly realized. It is a tedious song. Texas Rangers also seems to me poorly realized, clumsy, like it needs much more work.

At 10/04/2021 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Kevin D. said...


Nice review Alan and good interesting points and connections. For me Peace Trail stands out amongst Neil's other albums around that time particularly The Visitor and the Paradox soundtrack. I hear a connection in all three and wonder if there is maybe a stronger album amongst the three. Using Niel's past methods of building albums from different sessions to produce something magical, think American Stars and Bars and his past use of book-ending albums with different takes of the same song think Tonight's the Night, Freedom and Rust Never Sleeps. For a bit of fun I did some of my own mixing and produced what to me is a special album that I really enjoy listening to. Please do not misunderstand my intent here I absolutely respect Neil's artistic vision on all three of these albums and Peace Trail I enjoy unaltered, and agree with the post that this album will gain in stature as time goes on.

Sometimes though creative tinkering can go a long way. For example Lookout Joe and Come on Baby Lets Go Downtown on Tonight's the Night. So with all that said I present a possible unreleased Neil album - "The Paradox of the Visitor's Trail".

Side - 1
Peace Trail - Trail version
Show Me
My Pledge
Almost Always

Side -2
Cowboy Jam
Peace Trail - Paradox version

Just some food for thought.

Kevin D. in Morro Bay

At 10/11/2021 05:59:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Kevin: What an inspired set list for an album. I think it would definitely be a wonderful stand alone release for sure. If my CD recorder hadn’t died recently I would duplicate your set list for my collection. Thanks for sharing this.

Peace 🙏


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