Neil Young's new release ""World Record" w/ Crazy Horse is now available for pre-order. Order here
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Saturday, December 09, 2023

REVIEW: "Before and After" by Neil Young | The Flying Scotzman

"Before And After" by Neil Young

A TW exclusive review of Neil Young's latest album "Before and After" by Scotsman.

Neil Young’s new album, Before and After—a record of vintage songs played in concert in 2023, but sounding very much like new songs played solo in the studio—is released today (Dec 8). 

But before we talk about Before and After, let’s talk about Harry Styles. 

(I write these words fully aware that I’ve just lost 50% of the readers here. Stick with me, please!). 

Earlier this week, I was listening to one of Harry’s songs, called As It Was (648 million YouTube views, and counting!). It’s the first time I’ve really listened to one of Harry’s songs. 

As It Was is ultra-catchy. It’s the kind of song you’ll find yourself humming three weeks after you heard it. It’s fun and dreamy-sounding and colourfully produced. 

The song is like a musical piece of candy. It ditches nutrition in favour of a sugar rush.

Sugar is an addictive ingredient, and if you can write and produce this sort of pop music, it’s possible you’ll be the one (probably with the help of AI) to capture the hearts of the mass-market with your tunes. 

But there’s no point going half-way with this. Nobody listens to music that’s *only* redeeming feature is that it’s almost catchy. You need to go to the extreme, or not at all.

If not, then a more compelling option might be to write the sort of songs that you’ll find on Neil Young’s Before and After.

Oh, they’re not all heavyweights. And some are presented in a context that doesn’t necessarily flatter them. The previously unreleased If You Got Love, for instance, is the kind of ditty that perhaps demands full-on production. Without that, it comes across as neither here nor there. (Though that gutsy-sounding pump organ brings a smile to the face, doesn’t it?)

But intentionally or not, Neil has mostly chosen songs that proclaim “You know what? I’m one of the best songwriters in the world, and here’s an album’s worth of proof”.

(That’s not an actual quote, of course. That’s me taking this rather modest, delicate and self-effacing record of musical gems and injecting it with some artificial boastful swagger, to demonstrate a point.)

The first clue is that Neil comes out the gate firing with I’m the Ocean. Probably the most impressive track of the 90s — if we define an impressive song as one built around a substance-packed lyric. To use a perverse analogy, It’s the musical equivalent of beginning your war with a barrage of heavy artillery.

(Again, this track is sort of catchy…. but it’s not catchy enough to rest on its laurels. It needs an extraordinary and far-reaching lyric and concept and performance, and it delivers one right on cue.)

Then Homefires, then Burned. Songs harvested from all through the years, united by their generous spirit and musical excellence. 

Musically, we begin in Thrasher territory, here. (By that, I mean the song… not the boss of this blog!). Neil is playing 12-string guitar, amplified in stereo to create the captivating illusion of two guitars in harmony. He’s also singing through a punchy-sounding dynamic wireless mic that allows for the obliteration of most of the noise from the audience. 

This is broadly the same sort of sound you’ll remember from the first two tracks of Rust Never Sleeps. Later on in Before and After, Neil moves on to 6-string acoustic guitar, piano, pump organ, Old Black electric guitar. But it still feels like a record that’s a stablemate of the Boarding House recordings from 1978. 

Two otherworldly piano songs from 1994’s Sleeps with Angels add layers of texture, visitors from another place and time. 

My first (not-set-in-stone) impression is that I don’t like the concept of stringing all the tracks together without gaps. It doesn’t flatter the music, and it never really gives each song chance to breathe or to sink in. As listeners, we need gaps to give our imaginations space to breathe, too. 

(Similarly, notice how I’ve split this rant you are now reading into paragraphs. It would be harder to read if I took out the spaces between the paragraphs, wouldn’t it?).

Neil describes the experience as a “music presentation (that) defies shuffling, digital organisation, separation. Only for listening. That says it all.”

Opinion: It says it all only if your first language is Gobbledegook. The translated version (via the Scotzman jargon decoder) is that Neil heard Bob Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom and decided to make his own record to the same blueprint. And although Bob gets points for being quicker off the mark, Neil gets credit for making a record that ripples with present-day spirit and vitality.

Bob’s record is engagingly (almost hypnotically!) performed, but ultimately much of it feels like a history lesson. What inspires Bob today? What makes him feel alive and grateful, or inspired to make the world a better place, and want to share that generous feeling with us? The answer to that question may be where his most engaging music still resides. Perhaps it’s within the sound itself. I don’t know.  

Bob fandom, meanwhile, is full of disciples who are more interested in worshipping than living. And when all you’ve got to do all day is compare “fascinating” differences between 250 versions of Key West or Black Rider, it’s no wonder your own spirit starts to stagnate. 

Neil’s record is melancholy, but it has fire in its belly, too. This record isn’t a history lesson. (Maybe it’s a lesson from history about how to live today.)

Good. Because the truth is we don’t listen to this sort of so-called “Dad rock”, “Legacy Artist” stuff (rather than Harry Styles or whoever else is popular) just to have some grumpy old git inflict his dirges on us whilst swanning around in a stretch limo and playing at being a rock star (even if the game lasts 80+ years).

I listen more selfishly than that. I listen because this music inspires me to live my life more fully. That’s what generous music does. 

And that’s what Neil’s music does. 

One of the most stirring vocal performances here comes during When I Hold You in My Arms:

“Well the older generation, they got something to say
But they better say it fast, or get out of the way” 

Maybe the reason Neil sounds fired-up here is that although he knows he’s now one of the older generation, he’s also still (very literally) Mr Young. There’s a tension between getting older and staying spiritually young. A tightrope many of us will have the opportunity to walk, if we want to. We could perhaps take lessons from this man.

The record closes with Don’t Forget Love, which holds its own amongst giant tracks from years’ past. Neil’s voice does not possess the raw power it once had, at least not on this record. But it has lost none of its expressiveness or nuance.

Before and After isn’t what many people will call a “major record” or an “essential record”… nor does it adventurously explore new territory like 2022’s World Record. Any claims it could make to originality in its “one long track” concept would be dubious.

But it’s a compelling listen precisely because it’s built on the strong foundation of stellar songs and earnest performances. Coming out onstage *firing*, armed with powerful songs and a dynamic attitude, might not be very original. But it’s certainly to be applauded. 


Thanks so much for the review Scotsman!

Also, be sure to check out The Flying Scotzman over on Patreon writing about the remarkable music of Neil Young. 

More on Neil Young Signing Copies of New Album"Before and After"

Neil Young & Daryl Hannah @ TRAFFIC RECORDS - Dec 8
photo by The Reverend Reiderson

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Thursday, December 07, 2023

NEWS FLASH: Neil Young Signing Copies of New Album "Before and After" Friday

"Before And After" by Neil Young 


via  Kevin D. in Morro Bay:

Off topic but emergency news flash for those in California.

Neil will be signing copies of Before and After tomorrow at TRAFFIC RECORDS - Visit our store - 5850 Traffic Way, Atascadero, CA - Phone - (805) 464-2994


Thanks for news flash Kevin!

More on PREVIEW NEW ALBUM: "Before and After" Pt. 2 by Neil Young 

Don't be denied.

Neil Young & Daryl Hannah @ TRAFFIC RECORDS
photo by The Reverend Reiderson

*NOTE: Neil's Hat says "HUMAN MADE"



Now streaming on NYA.

"Songs from my life, from 1966-2022, are newly
recorded here in an acoustic music montage."
Love Earth,
Be well,
Produced By Lou Adler and Neil Young
1. I'm The Ocean
2. Homefires
3. Burned
4. On The Way Home
5. If You Got Love
6. A Dream That Can Last
7. Birds
8. My Heart
9. When I Hold You In My Arms
10. Mother Earth
11. Mr Soul
12. Comes A Time
13. Don't Forget Love

These record stores will be holding special events for album release:

From Inside Neil Young's 'Before And After': Where All 13 Songs Came From | Grammy News by Morgan Enos:

The folk-rock titan's newest LP is a journey through the past — whether recent or decades in the rearview. But 'Before And After' is far more interesting than just an album of re-recordings.

More than his fragile tenor, knife-twisting pump organ, swarming Old Black guitar, or any other aural hallmark, Neil Young is defined by his dogged, locomotive-like (and somewhat wackadoo) resolve to surge forward. Come hell or high water, Young will continue the mission.

Which doesn't mean innovate, necessarily — even though innumerable contemporary indie and Americana artists owe their livelihoods to him. It's just that the fire he ignited in 1966, when he wrote his first song as a Buffalo Springfielder, remains furiously burning in 2023.

"I don't care. I figured that's why they like it, because I don't care. It's what I have to do. I want to do this," the two-time GRAMMY winner and 28-time nominee told a tickled Zane Lowe last year, while promoting his latest album with Crazy Horse, World Record. "That's why there's 51, 52 albums: because I want to do this, and I can still feel it. I'd be crazy to stop."

All of a year after World Record, Young is back with a new album, Before and After. (Would that be his 53rd? His recent cavalcade of archival releases renders the number hopelessly blurry.)

Full article @ Inside Neil Young's 'Before And After': Where All 13 Songs Came From | Grammy News by Morgan Enos.

Some more reviews via Rusted Moon:

Dave Simpson, The Guardian: "Songs like 'When I Hold You in My Arms' exude a beautiful intimacy and openness, and while his voice has lost some of the old, youthful power, it has tenderness, nuance, humanity and warmth won." 4 out of 5

 Killian Laher, No More Workhorse: "Perhaps the most successful is the dark rendition of When I Hold You In My Arms, with a great electric guitar solo in the middle of the song. A dark organ drives Mother Earth and Mr Soul, while later a friendly strum through Comes A Time stands out due to the strong songwriting. Most of us will give this album a few polite listens before placing it on the creaky Neil Young shelf." 

Jörg Feyer, Rolling Stone: "It's touching how a very old Neil Young still believes that he has to defend cultural techniques of the 20th century against modernity. Now that technology has changed culture itself, when songs die a second, they don't die with it the hook falls into the house. Against shuffle arbitrariness and machine playlists, he literally sets an album in one piece. “Before And After” lets 13 tracks flow into one another, as a 48-minute distillation of his solo sets in the summer of 2023. Guitar, voice , harp, harmonium, piano." 3 out of 5  

Albert Koch, Musikexpress: "The fact that Neil Young can always find new aspects in classics like "Mr. Soul" and "Mother Earth" in sometimes tender versions is the real message of the album. The 13 pieces flow seamlessly into one another, the tracklist follows "There's no chronology. At the beginning of "Comes A Time," Neil Young's voice breaks slightly, but once it composes itself, it's like it's still 1978." 5 out of 6

"Before And After" by Neil Young 

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VIDEO: Dinosaur Jr. & Jason Isbell Cover Neil Young’s "Cortez the Killer" - Brooklyn, NY, 12/6/23

 J Mascis & Jason Isbell
Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York - 12-6-23
(Click photo to enlarge)

Another cover of Neil Young’s "Cortez the Killer" as set closer by Dinosaur Jr./J Mascis with Jason Isbell at the residency celebrating 30 years of “Where You Been” at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY on 12/6/23.



More on the concert at J & J: Watch Jason Isbell Join Dinosaur Jr. On Blistering Neil Young Cover In Brooklyn | JAMBASE by Andy Kahn.

Also, see VIDEO: Dinosaur Jr., Warren Haynes, Kurt Vile Cover Neil Young’s Cortez the Killer

More on Jason Isbell: My Musical Life in Five Riffs (#2 - Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer”).

More on Neil Young’s "Cortez the Killer".

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The Needle and the Damage Done (Reimagined by Marianne Kesler)

Frame via "The Needle and the Damage Done" 
As Reimagined by Marianne Kesler

Here is a cover of the Neil Young song "The Needle and the Damage Done"  as "reimagined " by Marianne Kesler.

Find this heartfelt reflection of her Dad, who struggled with a 27 year narcotics addiction.


"The Needle and the Damage Done" is track 12 of the Pear in the Pink Thing (Reimagined) series by Marianne Kesler.

Pear in the Pink Thing (Reimagined) has original songs plus two Neil Young covers. 

Album & songs on website:

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Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Neil Young Playlists: Only Castles Burning

Neil Young - ~1972

Something a little different on Neil Young playlists. 

From  Only Castles Burning  | Substack: (thanks Dionys!)

As I was making my way through every Neil Young album, I kept a running list of my favorites songs from each release. 

My intention was to distill his entire discography down so that I could just put on a playlist while working and get the songs I particularly liked from his career. Well, it turns out I like an awful lot of his songs. I took that list, compared the widely available versions of each songs, and came up with this 81 strong playlist, which runs a bit over 8 hours. This isn’t exactly reflective of the Top 3 I did for every album, though. I put them basically in order of recording, but since some of these are from live albums, they aren’t necessarily in order of composition. 

It will be fun to put this on shuffle and see what happens.

I made Apple Music, Qobuz, Amazon Music, and YouTube playlists. Spotify is not here for obvious reasons. While I will also make a playlist on Neil Young Archives, I’m not prioritizing it here because NYA user playlists aren’t shareable for some reason (and they really should be, hint hint).

Apple Music: Only Castles Burning playlist

Qobuz: Only Castles Burning playlist

Amazon Music: Only Castles Burning playlist

YouTube: Only Castles Burning playlist

Thanks for all the hard work here Only Castles Burning  

Admittedly, we don't mess with playlists.  We prefer the concerts when we do extended Neil listening.

That said, the primary reason we posted this was because of your observation that "NYA user playlists aren’t shareable for some reason (and they really should be, hint hint). Agree 100%.

Maybe the good folks at NYA will look into sometime. hint, hint

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Tuesday, December 05, 2023

VIDEO: Dinosaur Jr., Warren Haynes, Kurt Vile Cover Neil Young’s Cortez the Killer

 J Mascis & Warren Haynes
Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York - 12-2-23
(Click photo to enlarge)

Warren Haynes and Kurt Vile joined Dinosaur Jr. with J Mascis for a cover of Neil Young’s "Cortez the Killer" at Music Hall of Williamsburg in New York on 12-2-23.


More on the concert at Warren Haynes lends his epic solo chops to Dinosaur Jr. as he jams Neil Young and the Cure with J Mascis | Guitar World by


More on Neil Young’s "Cortez the Killer".

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Monday, December 04, 2023

VIDEO: "How Ya Doin’?' - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse TOAST Rehearsal Sessions

The Toast Sessions: Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse
 Sights & Sounds | Times-Contrarian | NYA


A studio rehearsal video from the late 2000 Toast sessions with Crazy Horse on  Sights & Sounds | Times-Contrarian | NYA

Titled "How Ya Doin’?', the video is about 22 minutes of various jams of the song "Mr Disappointment".  While  the video has been previously available on NYA's Movietone for RUST levels subscribers, it is now playable for non-members. 

Neil Young Unreleased 2001 Album w/ Crazy Horse 
(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking  this link . Thank you!!!)

"TOAST" is Neil Young's unreleased 2001 studio album w/ Crazy Horse.

"TOAST":  Neil Young Unreleased 2001 Album w/ Crazy Horse


The sessions and songs eventually morphed into the 2002 album "Are You Passionate?" with Booker T & MGs.

"TOAST" & "Are You Passionate?" 

Neil Young wrote that the songs “were so sad at the time that I couldn’t put it out. I just skipped it and went on to do another album in its place.” (The reason for said sadness, again to quote Neil from that same post: “The music of Toast is about a relationship. There is a time in many relationships that go bad, a time long before the break up, where it dawns on one of the people, maybe both, that it’s over. This was that time.”) 

Also, see:


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Willie for a Nobel!

Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize
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alternative fuels, and world peace initiatives.

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Than meets the eye"



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"an indispensable reference"

Paul McCartney and Neil Young


"You can make a difference
If you really a try"

John Lennon and Neil Young

"hailed by fans as a wonderful read"

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:
The Supergroup of the 20th Century

Director Jonathan Demme's Exquisite film "Heart of Gold"

eddie & neil
Eddie Vedder and Neil Young

Revisiting The Significance of
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"The revolution will not be televised"
... it will be blogged, streamed,
tweeted, shared and liked
The Embarrassment of Mainstream Media

Turn Off Your TV & Have A Life

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Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)

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Kurt Cobain and Neil Young

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An Acquired Taste?

Young Neil: The Sugar Mountain Years
by Rustie Sharry "Keepin' Jive Alive in T.O." Wilson

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neil & joni
Joni Mitchell & Neil Young

europe 1987.jpg

Bob and Neil

So Who Really Was "The Godfather of Grunge"?

Four Dead in Ohio
kent state
So What Really Happened at Kent State?

The Four Dead in Ohio

May The FOUR Be With You #MayThe4thBeWithYou


dissent is not treason
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism

Rockin' In The Free World

Sing Truth to Power!
When Neil Young Speaks Truth To Power,
The World Listens

Emmylou Harris and Neil Young

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The Meaning of "Sweet Home Alabama" Lyrics

Neil Young Nation -
"The definitive Neil Young fan book"

What does the song mean?

Random Neil Young Link of the Moment

Bonnie Raitt and Neil Young

I'm Proud to Be A Union Man


When Neil Young is Playing,
You Shut the Fuck Up

Class War:
They Started It and We'll Finish It...

A battle raged on the open page...
No Fear, No Surrender. Courage

"What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees?"
Full Disclousre Now

"I've Got The Revolution Blues"

Willie Nelson & Neil Young
Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize

John Mellencamp:
Why Willie Deserves a Nobel



Love and Only Love

"Thinking about what a friend had said,
I was hoping it was a lie"

We're All On
A Journey Through the Past

Neil Young's Moon Songs
Tell Us The F'n TRUTH
(we can handle it... try us)

Does Anything Else Really Matter?

"Nobody's free until everybody's free."
~~ Fannie Lou Hamer

Here Comes "The Big Shift"

Maybe everything you think you know is wrong? NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS
"It's all illusion anyway."

Propaganda = Mind Control
Guess what?
"Symbols Rule the World, not Words or Laws."
... and symbolism will be their downfall...

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
Be The Rain, Be The Change

the truth will set you free
This Machine Kills Fascists

"Children of Destiny" - THE Part of THE Solution

(Frame from Official Music Video)

war is not the answer
yet we are
Still Living With War

"greed is NOT good"
Hey Big Brother!
Stop Spying On Us!
Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

The Achilles Heel
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
~~ Bob Marley

The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?


Show Me A Sign

"Who is John Galt?"
To ask the question is to know the answer

"Whosoever shall give up his liberty for a temporary security
deserves neither liberty nor safety."

~~ Benjamin Franklin


(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul

the zen of neil
the power of rust
the karma of the wheat