Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Story Behind The Album Cover "Noise & Flowers" by Neil Young + Promise of the Real

Neil Young + Promise of the Real - Berkeley, CA, Oct. 17, 2015
by Jay Blakesberg Photography
 (Click photo to enlarge)

Last week, an announcement was made that Neil Young + Promise of the Real's new album "Noise & Flowers" is scheduled for release on August 5th.  

Along with the announcement came the track list and cover design.

"Noise & Flowers"
Neil Young + Promise of the Real 
  Release Date - August 5th 
(Click photo to enlarge)

And here is the exclusive story behind the album cover.

The cover photo is by  Jay Blakesberg Photography. As Jay told us personally at the 2015 Bridge Concert, the  photo was taken at the Neil Young + Promise of the Real concert in Berkeley, CA, on Oct. 17, 2015.

As Jay described the shot, in between songs, Neil walked to edge of stage and plucked a flower from one of the pots of flowers decorating the stage.  Neil seemed deep in thought as he just stared at the flower.  Jay snapped it and told me it was one of his favorite Neil shots of all time.

And Jay has lots of favorite Neil Young concert photo shots,  as we know.

Thanks for memories Jay!

w/ Jay Blakesberg, Rolling Stone Photographer
photo by Hounds That Howell 


  1. I was at that Berkeley show, Neil was strumming with the flower during a 25+ minute version of LAOL. That was a great show.

    Matter of fact, screw Europe, the entire Berkeley show should just be released. That's what I'm thinking.

    1. Can't wait to see video of this.
      Very cool you were there Richie. Agree, let's get all The Greek released.

  2. Love the cover photo and can't wait for the album... Toast, Noise & Flowers... "it's better than silver and gold."

    As folk around here know, I'm a proponent of Neil's music with the Real, particularly Earth and The Visitor, which I think stack up well against any of NY's other recent albums. The use of crowd sounds and audio collage was, I thought, a natural, organic extension of LWW's "100 voices from 100 lands" choir. The voice of the ordinary people.

    Earth, of course, takes this in a different direction, including and celebrating non-human voices.Certain songs POR songs (i.e. Already Great) may end up sounding like time capsules, but most of the material remains fresh and richly textured as I revisit it.

    It's vital that we encourage artists to innovate, trying new sounds and ideas, even if the promise of the real sometimes forecloses on the comfort of the known (and knowable).

  3. yes Ian. EARTH seemed to strike either positive or neg w/ folks ... no middle ground oddly on EARTH. funny

    totally agree about encouraging artists to experiment outside their comfort zone.

    neil never seemed to have that problem ... only *some* of his fans who wanted him to stay eternally young as the folkie hippie acoustic singer song writer.

    well, bring on the noise, bring on the eco marches, let The Horse loose one more time.

  4. Thrash, alternatively there are those who seem like to want every album to be a grungy Horse noise fest like the Pill. I’d argue that PotR’s major sin, for some, is simply not being the Horse. All of which is to say, all forms of NY are best appreciated in balance with one another.

    Remember, Toast has been on my NYA wish list for years. SWA is transcendental. Some of my favorite moments of Pill and Colorado were the noisiest. I’ve been known to unearth Arc on the odd occasion. I enjoy my share of noise. But I also like to stop and absorb the smell of the flowers sometimes.

  5. I don't want every Neil album to be a Horse noisefest......just 9 out of every 10.

  6. Richie, Your comment gave me a smile.

    Btw, Timberline is out now on YT (and NYA?) as another advanced single. We are at t-minus one week for Toast.

  7. When a a couple of weeks ago the cover art for Noise & Flowers appeared on a dubious looking Balkan website I commented that Fuckin' Up is an odd choice of a song to close the album. When the release infomation became official it indeed proved to be true: FU is the the albums closer. Then I somewhat complained that there is not one track from the concert in München. According to the hero's mouth (NYA) the incorrect location listing for the last track on this album's cover art now has been changed to München Olympiahlle.

  8. @ Meta Rocker - right. like we say there's a neil for everybody ... if you're just patient enough.

    Thrash, alternatively there are those who seem like to want every album to be a grungy Horse noise fest like the Pill. I’d argue that PotR’s major sin, for some, is simply not being the Horse. All of which is to say, all forms of NY are best appreciated in balance with one another.

    we hadn't really given too much thought to the album title until recently.

    now -- we realize - the title N&F is so PERFECT to capture the sound of neil, HORSE & REAL.

    @ Richie - why not 10 of 10??! ;)

    @ Dionys - thanks on update on song location. we had heard that something was off on the track listing.

    Glad corrected before pressing. It would be ashame of error copies became collector's items (cough) like w/ CAT & TRANS.

    btw, FU works really well as a closer. b/c it becomes so ironic after a blistering set of massive jams and then comes a total goof song.

    maybe not the final song of night in concert but as song b4 encores.

  9. The title “Noise & Flowers” strikes me as a yin/yang image, a metaphoric description of NY and PoTR’s music. Seeing the album cover in conjunction with name is what made the penny drop.

    Yes, patience is key with NY. The long, exhausting saga of NYA proves that. Toast was announced way back in the Fork in the Road days and here we are, finally hearing it, in 2022. NY generally follows through—it just takes a while sometimes.

  10. How can anyone be an artist and not be innovative? In other words, innovation is a necessary condition of creativity and creativity is a necessary condition for actually being an artist. It is incredibly interesting (to me at least) how it is that redundancy endlessly finds its way into thinking and creating. And this finds its way into many of the mundane and not so mundane political issues- patterns in culture.

    A proclivity toward repetition can, of course, be incredibly beneficial ("good habits"). Art often rubs up against ethics, norms, habits- art as a condition for cultural progress.

    Neil Young is an artist by DNA, or seems to be anyway, a human freak as these are so rare. He innovates and at the same time raises the aesthetic bar. In other words a genius (borrowing from Kant).


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