The everyday people living in a nightmare…

From a time in the wasteland of Geffen Records when Neil Young was fucking with the man and having a good time. He had his blues band the Blue Notes.

Now the record is famous for containing This Notes for You that mocked Michael Jackson in the video and anyone who took the almighty sponsorship deal. may have been banned by MTV but who really cares?

The live shows however contained two songs that highlighted the fallacy that all was well in the land of the free. Ordinary People and Crime in the City that together clock in at well over twenty minutes of truth.

The Reagan years really screwed us and got us ready for the travesty of the GOP today.

Anyway if you want a double dose of searing guitar, horns and some of Neil Young’s most relevant lyrics, well you can’t Spotify it but you can find it somewhere I am sure on the tubes of you.

Crime in the City eventually turned up on Freedom and Ordinary People on Chrome Dreams II. Strange they took so long as they are some of his best songwriting, of course anyone who has followed Neil Young’s career should be aware he is often his own worse editor.

So this all came to mind as I was listening to Eldorado, the come back EP that although recorded entirely digitally is just cooler to own as an LP and sounds fantastic. Which on some level goes to show the collector mentality.

That’s it nothing too deep!

can we make it last? like a musical ride….

I’m here half blind hoping for a Crazy Horse tour, once Nils is done with Bruce I’m hoping.

Until that blessed time I will have to be content with Neil’s seeming willingness to get his music out there on a fairly regular basis. Which brings me to Noise and Flowers.

It’s a good placeholder until something better may come along. Promise of the Real are good but no Crazy Horse or Stray Gators or any number of backing bands. They have obviously made Neil delve into his back catalogue and play songs that deserve to be played. They do a handsome job at getting the old man to up his game. They manage to juggle the set list etc. it’s good to hear Field of Opportunity and On the Beach and all those great songs.

There’s obviously a connection. Live it’s a good experience. Even the time I saw them and was sat in the bleachers with my ass getting numb it was phenomenal. I even like Earth and the monkeys man.

What gets me is the false endings. Yes on this album they are not so prevalent but Rockin In The Free World didn’t need it. With the horse it’s not a false ending it seems like it’s all part of that one song. With Promise of the Real it’s like the old master is toying with them and they just haven’t got the joke.

It’s a really good album with many of the songs you want to hear, you will never get all of them there are too many. The band do justice to the songs and Neil’s in good voice and is playing his heart out.

Maybe if this wasn’t sandwiched amongst all those stellar archive releases it may have shone better.

I have no regrets buying this, would buy it again and I’ve played it three or four times. I just hanker for something a little more ragged and rusty and loose.

I never hear my record on the radio…

Pastiche, homage or part of the best series of “f” you’s to the record company ever.

It’s been a particularly difficult couple of days as the march to intolerance continues and the inability to be nuanced in america continues.

I think Neil Young on some level may simultaneously be the most authentic and pig headed musician on the planet. You have to admire the single minded attitude that allows you to alienate your base so frequently with no worry for the fall out.

Neil and the Shocking Pinks is a lot of fun every now and then when you want to snap out of whatever funk you’ve gotten in. It’s also really short so if like me this week you are determined to play records all the way through to the pain is over relatively quickly.

However I defy anyone not to enjoy. Kinda Fonda Wanda, Wonderin and Everybody’s Rockin with an ironic smirk.

when you’re old enough to repay…

It’s a strange old moment when you realize you’ve become a fanatic. It’s maybe when you start buying all the Neil Young albums. I think this is a reaction to not buying Psychedelic Pill because I thought $35 was too much. How crazy/deluded was that?

So I’ve been buying the bootleg albums as they came out. Up to four now and they all cover a fairly similar period of time right now 1970 to 1974. It’s a classic period of time. Pre ditch, and I am fairly convinced Neil never wrote a bad song in that time period.

So I forked out for “I’m Happy That Y’All Came Down.” An official release of an old bootleg. The sleeve is a faithful reflection of the bootleg ringwear included apart from Neil took the time to correct the song titles and placed it all on one disc instead of two. I’ve never heard the boot so I can’t compare sound quality

So songs from After the Goldrush and Harvest what’s not to love.

These early versions of A Man Needs A Maid are so much different from the released version. He should’ve kept the “a man is afraid” line in there.

I’m hoping for some raucous rock and roll in the future though.

I’ve forgiven Neil for leaving Spotify. I seldom found myself listening to the old fart there anyway.

gonna sing an old song to you right now one that you heard before…

There’s always a sense of anxiety putting a new Neil Young album on the record player. Is it going to be any good? Will it measure up? Am I going to like it?

Barn for some reason didn’t even look like a Neil Young album. It’s too natural a picture. All these old codgers standing in the barn door in a landscape that is bigger than the legendary band it frames

So now to it, I loathed Barn the first time I heard it. It seemed formulaic. Love song, grunge fest, blues pastiche, folky song, falsetto repeat.

Then I gave it another go and instead of loathing it I found myself singing along. Tapping my foot playing air guitar and accordion rocking a little.

Then I sat down at home late at night with a cup of mint tea and my feet up on the table. It was dark and quiet in the house and I found myself really getting it.

Yes I wish he’d edit his lyrics a bit, but did he ever?

It’s not the greatest Neil Young and Crazy Horse album, it is however up there with the good ones. The guitars chug along, the drums are basic and insistent and the bass holds it all together. The lyrics are immediate and relevant to the moment.

I remember at the start of the pandemic listening to I Contain Multitudes by Dylan and realizing that shit was getting real. This evening I listened to Welcome Back and realized shit was still real and maybe we just may figure out how to get back. So Dylan ushered in the pandemic and Young helped us figure out we were mostly still here.

As Neil once said “it’s all one song”

they’re all your friends you’ll come to love them…

In the chronology of the ditch. Tuscaloosa comes before the sessions for Tonight’s the Night. It’s the start of the road to Miami Beach. Recorded at the beginning of the tour that yielded Time Fades Away eventually and the descent to the ditch.

New Mama and Lookout Joe are here the raggedy ass pedal steel and shuffling drums are all in place. It’s loose and uptight all at the same time. Young’s vocals are strained and at times barked in a strident manner especially on the almost hoedown version of Time Fades Away.

It’s the winding of the spring almost. Edgy and wild and dangerous. It’s the scary brother to the Roxy album which feels like the point everything just slumped into a groove.

I played both albums. One because 1537 told me to and the other because it made sense after the day.

I started the night off with Tuscaloosa which got me on edge especially as the insistent rhythm of Don’t Be Denied faded to the “Welcome To Miami Beach…” intro of the Roxy album.

After Tuscaloosa the Roxy show is cathartic a release. It’s almost the victory stumble at the end of the marathon.

end it with a cry…

I’ve been wondering. Can you legitimately call it s bootleg if it’s officially released. It all started with Dylan, now Neil Young is on the bandwagon with the official bootleg series.

Don’t get me wrong I love archival releases and apparently having disposable income I tend to buy them when they come out and on vinyl at that. It’s intoxicating to step back in time and hear an artist at their prime wowing an audience. It’s time for travel man.

Neil Young’s latest release of his concert at Carnegie Hall in 1970 is as to probably be expected really unsurprisingly excellent. The song selection is perfect for the time. I’m not sure he had managed to write a clunker by 1970. He was remarkably consistent and even the lighter songs like Wonderin’ and Dance Dance Dance stand up despite the quality of the surrounding songs.

Neil Young for my mind is the only songwriter who can successfully switch between electric and acoustic and not have the listener feeling like something is missing.

So all the hits and none of the clunkers but is it really a bootleg man.

a man feels afraid…

I’ve been listening to Neil Young for most of my life. I can pretty much find something worthwhile in all his twists and turns, we have been in the ditch together, had our classic moments, rusted and gone all folky and even dabbled with country together and tied on our blue suede shoes in a big fuck you to David Geffen as we tipped our pork pie hat.

There is however a period that is classic, those first four albums and the CSNY album Neil was pretty damn incapable of messing up an album. Following this he still managed to create the ditch and all it’s glory but he has been consistently dragging us through his psychedelic miasma, making rash decisions, abandoning albums, releasing the wrong album at the right time and in general being all ‘neil’ about things.

So this month we have been in the rust bucket and now we are all acoustic, the two polarities of Neil Young in one month. Young Shakespeare is similar to the Massey Hall release, the show was recorded three days later. It is exactly what you think it should be a flawless live album in the brief period of time between the release of After the Goldrush and before Harvest, all on acoustic guitar and piano. Neil is in a fine mood laughing with the audience and doing his best Bert Jansch impression at times on guitar.

I think I am in Neil Young overload a bit with five live L.P.’s to digest in one month, it may take some time and then I went and signed up for the Rust level on the archives that gives me access to all those movies he has made as well as being able to listen to the archives. I have it feels like been listening to nothing but Neil, maybe time for a change of diet.

There is something special about the A Man Need A Maid/Heart of Gold medley that elevates both songs.

you own it…

Sandwiched between American Stars and Bars and Rust Never Sleeps, Comes a Time often gets swallowed up by the major songs recorded on those two albums. It’s an album of affecting and effective (see what I did there?) love songs some bitter sweet and then there’s always Motorcycle Mama to stir stuff up.

It took three producers, ten engineers and twelve guitar players and a seventeen piece string section and Nicolette Larson to create what is often described by critics as the simplest and most direct of Neil Young’s albums.

It truly is the middle of the road album, way more than Harvest, there is not a song on here that your mom or dad would make you turn off half way through because they find it uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad album at all it just means it is an incredibly consistent and pleasant album. It’s the album that you can curl up with at the end of the day, the dog at your feet and get cozy with the love of your life. This really is the predecessor to Harvest Moon and its romantic vibe, although there may be as many songs on Comes a Time about the decline of a relationship as the success, but that’s life maybe.

Neil looks pretty happy with himself on the sleeve as well.

Let’s face it in the field of opportunity it’s ploughing time again.