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Friday, October 13, 2023

"Why I ❤️ Neil Young" by Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard

Neil Young and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam
Shoreline Amphitheatre, October 24, 2010 
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Neil Young: the “ultimate songwriter, singer, lead guitarist and soundscaper”

The musical relationship between Pearl Jam and Neil Young has a long and ever evolving dynamic.

Pearl Jam and Neil Young have been collaborating since at least 1992 when Pearl Jam and Neil played separately at the Bob Dylan tribute ("BobFest") at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 16. It is believed that this is when Neil and Eddie Vedder first met and possibly Neil invited Pearl Jam to play at the Bridge School Benefit concert on 11/1/92.  

Here is an essay on "Why I ❤️ Neil Young" by Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard (via Louder):

"To be honest I hadn't really listened to Neil Young until he asked us to play with him on [Young's 1995 album] Mirrorball: that had a huge impact upon us and it was such a compliment. And when I went back and listened to all his albums they just blew me away. Even his most obscure records have songs that are so beautiful and so moving that you can't believe they weren't huge hits.

"I've been listening to [1994's] Sleeps With Angels a lot, and that's such a beautiful record - Western Hero is gorgeous, Trans Am is incredible and Change Your Mind is one of the most fantastic songs ever written, it's just ridiculous in the way it starts to climb each time for his solos. And this is one of the records that people don't even talk about much! Every era of his career is great and he's still making cool, interesting records.

"We learned so much from playing with him. I've seen him play 30 or 40 times now and every time is an education. He's the ultimate songwriter, singer, lead guitarist and soundscaper, he's in that Dylan zone. The way he mixes up distortion and feedback and blues and folk and rock and soul and noise is just inspirational. The way he digs solos out, just throttling his guitar is masterful. And he has the heaviest groove around. He just sits back, and where he puts the downbeat just feels so great, so perfect.

"Plus the simplicity of his chord changes is amazing. I'd have conversations with him where I'd say 'God Neil, I'm so excited, I love that new song where you're just playing three chords' and he'd go 'Yeah, you know lately I've been really into just two chords...' and it's like 'Wow! God!' When I was in high school [Mudhoney guitarist] Steve Turner said to me 'Don't learn to play your guitar, don't figure it out, just get a band and do it' and that was the most liberating thing I'd ever heard, I'd never in my life heard anyone talk about art that way. So when Neil Young says you should concentrate on writing songs, but just use two chords, that's incredibly liberating, it makes music sound like it's for everyone, not this complicated, untouchable thing. Imagine if people knew that they could write a hit song after just learning a chord or two, imagine how freeing that would be.

"Neil's as old as hell, but he's like a kid in terms of how excited he is about music. He's the ultimate, I don't think anyone can touch him. And he's a gentleman, definitely one of the good guys."

More on the musical relationship between Pearl Jam and Neil Young.

Eddie Vedder
Merriwether Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD - 9/18/98
Photo by Thrasher

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At 10/13/2023 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Mirrorball is a fantastic album, I have always maintained.

Sleeps With Angels is a classic, though less frequently enjoyed by myself, likely due to the painful association of my many lost Grunge singer Heroes, bandleaders, Artists. Cobain, Cornell, Wood, Staley, Lanegan!

Trans Am to me is an incredible song. The whole album is terrific, deep, powerful, life affirming, grieving. Neil trying to call Kurt Cobain just as he entered the world of the dead, sends a shiver up my spine. The lost “immortal” grunge god & deceased rock musicians leave a painful reminder of the many hazards of the occupation, and battles with addiction.

It’s bizarre that Stone Goddard never checked out Neil Young before 1995! But then I got into Mark Lanegan / Screaming Trees late!

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 10/13/2023 11:04:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Check out Neil’s solo in “I Got Id” (the “Pearl Jam” single from same sessions. It’s one of Neil’s all time greatest and heaviest of the grunge variety.

-Brother Alan

At 10/13/2023 11:19:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

always good to hear from you in the land of Grunge there Alan.

After our pilgrimage earlier this summer to Seattle, we could feel the pull of the scene.

Just as PJ was a gateway to NY for many of the grungesters, NY was the gateway to PJ for many of us old timers.

The PJ/NY intersection seemed to have really gotten Neil to ramp up his game, much like DEVO got neil into the whole punk thing and the feedback trips.

Of course, many found those side detours into sonic experimentation not to be their cup of tea, preferring the soft,mellow folky Harvest sounds.

which always leads us to the debate of Acoustic or Electric Neil?

And the right answer is:


At 10/13/2023 12:44:00 PM, Blogger Nimrod said...

I know it's been said before, but Sleeps With Angels truly feels like the spiritual sequel to Tonight's the Night.

They are both very painful albums that deal with death and the loss of dreams, but while TTN makes me feel like Neil himself isn't sure whether he'll come out of this tunnel (the bookending of the title track makes it feel like a closed loop of loss and depression) , SWA gives us a glimpse of light at the end.

Neil is such an great fuckin artist, man. Damn.

At 10/15/2023 03:21:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

Two independent sources announce the death of Stephen Stills because of kidney failure. If there is any truth to that: Beware you spirits of Hades, a great one is coming down.

At 10/15/2023 04:46:00 PM, Blogger Be The Rain said...

Stephen Stills death announcement is a HOAX....

At 10/16/2023 11:22:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

#Be The Rain, thank you for clarification.


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