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Monday, 26 January 2015


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Neil and reggae got me through that horrid mid '70s period until punk and ska finally landed...


Thanks for your post. "Harvest" was thie very first album I ever had. Mr. Young has reinvented himself a number of times over the years exploring new genres as you wrote about. But it is generally his earlier more folk, gentle Rock that I prefer most. May he continue to keep on singing and playing. I have by Neil Young playlist, do you?


Young got my attention with his song about the Kent State shootings. I have been a huge fan ever since. In fact I learned to play guitar to his early songs. What's unfortunate is that he has learned how to use the media in a perverse way to promote his business ventures. Reading Young's "Waging Heavy Peace" brought it home that all that really matters to Young, is Young. I will still enjoy his music but in the last couple of years he has diminished himself as a man in my eyes.

I'm a late appreciator, but it's great to find someone with such a deep, rich catalogue. Last year I listened to every album on Rhapsody, even his eighties stuff, in order. Felt like a musical documentary.

Still not sure about Pono. Besides, I'm also a late appreciator of vinyl records and recently experienced the pleasure of successfully tweaking and modifying my turntable.

Great off topic Mike. Neil is one of our more interesting music artists, even if you don't appreciate his style(s), you have to admire his tenacity. I recommend Neil Young's Journeys - currently available on Netflix DVD - an interesting look into Neil's life via his return to his home town, culminating in a powerful live performance at Massey Hall. As a bonus, Neil drives a cool 1956 Crown Victoria, while reminiscing about his home town.

And he is also something of a legendary model railroader. I had made a system to vary the pitch, filtering, and speed of audio loops for video arcade game motorcycle sound effects in the late 1990s. I got a call from someone who wanted to know if it could work for train sound effects and change the sound depending on the speed and power draw of the train. At one point the conversation was something like

"My client wants to know, can you do something like a wah pedal and a reverb pedal when the train is in the tunnel"

"Who IS this client anyway?"

"Neil Young"

It is not mentioned, but I think it is significant that the somewhat obscure band, Buffalo Springfield, was where it all started for Neil. I still like a lot of songs on that album.

Perhaps I have bad taste but I really didn't mind rockabilly from Neil and the Shocking Pinks on Everybody's Rockin'. :)

I've been into Neil Young since I heard him at the Canterbury House on the University of Michigan campus in the late 60's--and was quite startled to see that concert issued as a CD a couple of years ago. I wooed a few young ladies doing my best Neil Young impersonation while earnestly strumming my guitar in the 70's as well. I have found that people tend to have a kind of binary response to his music--they either love it or really dislike it. Count me in the former camp.

I am surprised (given your stated audiophile proclivities) that you failed to mention his most recent crusade which is to bring high quality recorded music back to the masses through his startup company, Pono, which includes a portable playing device and a music store that matches high quality music files to the device. They had an extremely succesful Kickstarter campaign and the devices and music are starting to show up. Though I doubt he can unseat iTunes, I am completely with him on the desire to listen to better quality audio. Having come up through the era of really great sounding audio systems when I first fell in love with music, most downloadable music (and many CDs) sound like pure mush to me. Go Neil! =)

That's the first time in many a year I've seen the word "peripatetic" used. It almost cries out for the word "itinerant" as a companion term . . .

Change Your Mind is pretty damn good, but Trans Am just nails it for me. Shivers up the spine every time.

But Mike, please, "Trans", wretched???? That LP got me through University intact.

Oh my --- Neil Young where do you start and end with the genius from Cananda ??
I have vinyl and Cd's of many ( some titles on both and NO digital downloads --- sorry for you youngsters with only digital on computer )
And don't forget Psychedelic Pill with the 27 minute "Driftin' Back" song that rocks on the $70 LP vinyl version.

Have most of the Neil Young folk and rock music you mentioned, in my collection. I have skipped all the "Genre Experiments" albums. Love all the Archive Albums. I saw Neil's one man show at Carnegie Hall in January 2014. Neil was wonderful singing all his best! Mike, keep up the good work.

Graham Nash recounted the time when Neil wanted to introduce him to his latest album. He took him out on his rowboat to the middle of the lake in the middle of his farm/estate. Graham was wondering what kind of prank ol' Neil was trying to pull taking him all the way out there. When they were finally situated in the middle of the lake, Neil yelled out to his assistant to start up the album. When the speakers from the house overpowered those on the other side of the lake long "stereo," Neil quickly yelled, "More barn!"

You didn't mention Buffalo Springfield, which is worth listening to as a) they're great and b) you can already hear the both his melodic side (I am a Child) and proto-grunge (Mr Soul). Lots of other great stuff too.

Mr Young is like Dylan in that almost no-one can do covers better than the original. There are exceptions of course (Hendrix - All along the Watchtower), and this is one of them for Neil(IMO): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq1sm_6Whro

Great music history lesson! I know him mostly through his early landmark albums, never got around to the later stuff. I saw him in concert with Crazy Horse this summer, and though he soon turns 70 he still sings great and rocks hard. Never an audience pleaser, he did a 10 minute guitar solo on every song, and played a set of mostly lesser known songs with the exception of a few hits. He didn't speak a word throughout. This guy is all about the music.

I love Neil Young. I haven't heard Landing on Water for a decade but in the 1990s, I played it endlessly and enjoyed it a lot. Do you ever ban comment writers on grounds of musical incompatibility?

[I don't know. Try writing a long comment about how Kenny G is a better jazz sax player than Sonny Rollins, and we'll see. --Mike]

The San Diego cowpunk band Beat Farmers (contemporaries of the Alvins and Mojo Nixon) did a creditable cover of Powderfinger. RIP Country Dick Montana and Buddy Blue.

"Oh, to live on sugar mountain...."

No mention of either Weld or Arc.

At this point in time Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello are about the only people you will see at protests. They all sing the full version of "This Land is Your Land ..." including the seldom sung verse;

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

I find it easier to admire, and respect, Neil Young than to like him. But there are many parts of his work that I enjoy, and I still regret not going to see the "Rust Never Sleeps" tour in '78.

"although the only way to get Time Fades Away is on vintage vinyl, as a bootleg, or on YouTube."

That's not true anymore. It's available on pristine new vinyl as part of the "Official Release Series Discs 5-8" box set (http://amzn.com/B00QH7OJ2K).

If the first box set "Official Release Series Discs 1-4" is any indication, the albums will be made available individually some time in the future. But as with all things Neil Young, patience is not only a virtue, it's a necessity.

Thanks for the wonderful writeup! Neil is one of my all time favourite artists. He doesn't sing well, he doesn't play well, although his guitar playing is mileas ahead of his piano plonking, but as a songwriter and lyricist the man is an eternal river of greatness.

Harvest Moon is on my all time top 10 album list. I'm a sucker for his acoustic guitar albums. Never liked him much as a rocker, 80s new wave'er, or film director,
although there are some diamonds in the rough to be found if you know what to look for.

I saw the Stills - Young band play in Springfield Ma. My recollection is that the tour broke up shortly there after so to see it was a rarity. The highlight was Cowgirl in the Sand still my favorite Neil Young sing after all these years.

So, you're saying he's prolific, but not so good at the editing part of his workflow?

Common, This Note's For You is an excellent album. Coupe de Ville, Twilight and One thing are between the best of Neil. I like the musicians that try different styles, like Bowie. Probably in photography Koudelka tried different approach changing his cameras and forcing to different styles, first wide angle, then leica street style to end with more an more big panoramic.

Now how about a retrospective or interview with Graham Nash? His contributions to music and the art of photography are worth a discussion.

I've been PO's at Neil Young since 1973 when he cancelled an upcoming concert that also had Linda Ronstadt on the bill. It was the first date I had with a gorgeous lady and I really wanted to impress her.

Despite the cancellation, I've bought a few of his recordings over the years. Some I liked, some I didn't. Typical fare for Young.

A few years after the cancelled concert, I married that gorgeous lady.

I personally admire Neil Young's instinctual approach to making music. I also think he's a great guitar player…he makes the instrument express what he wants it to without much concern for conforming to a conventionally "correct" folk/blues style. I love the loud, anarchic Neil the best but I'm also very fond of quiet obscurities like "Stringman" and "Interstate." (There's a studio version of the latter on YouTube but it runs slow and the sound quality is mushy. The song did get an official release in the early 90s…on one of those mini-CD singles you can only listen to via a player with an accomodating tray. Typical Neil.)

I take exception to one thing I love This Notes for You to me the most underrated album I know from a star that is. I saw the tour photogrpahed it and loved it. You can find many Neil Young shots on my website www.davidseelig.com

Green dale album/movie/play. One of my top five faves from ol' Neil. Quirky and may take a few listens but it GROWS on you.

Re the comment that some folks shouldn''t be covered: Young, Dylan, Zevon:

Dylan wasn't touring for a while, he felt his old tunes were stale for him. A friend took him to see the Grateful Dead, who cover(ed) a lot of Dylan tunes. He was so inspired hearing them play his music he started back on the road (opening for the Dead) and played with the Dead a lot, they even became his back up band sometimes.

The Dead also covered Zevon tunes and Warren liked it so much he performed live with them too.

Yeah, I'm a Dead Head....

Great post. I have little to add but my favorite video of him, playing as a mostly unrecognized street performer in Glasgow, Scotland in 1976 when he was already famous.


And then there's his PonoPlayer and yet another walled garden of recordings...

OK, I'll be the outlier. I loved most music of the era, but could never abide the reedy piping wavery voice (The refrain "Southern Ma-an" sounding to me like nails on chalkboard), nor the same-note-repeated-over-and-over guitar leads. I always liked when he quit CSN, and regretted when he rejoined CSNY (repeated over and over).

Although also not really a Lynrd Skynrd fan, I secretly cheered their lines:
"Well, I heard Mr. Young sing about her
Well, I heard ol' Neil put her down
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
A Southern man don't need him around anyhow"

[Understood. Everybody likes and doesn't like particular voices, and it's an individual thing. We're all like that IMHO. --Mike]

...and I'm one of the 3-4 people on the planet who actually liked Young's "Trans" album.

[Fair enough, although that was the album that broke my allegiance to Neil. I was never a "buy every album" fan after that one. --Mike]

I saw Neil live once with CS&N, great watching him pump a classic organ for "After the Gold Rush".

But let's not overlook his Buffalo Springfield time with S.Stills, "Broken Arrow" first introduced me to Neil's rather curious vocal range. Excellent stuff since the 60s, great memories all.

Dear Mike, when I saw the title of your post I wondered whether one of my favourite soundtrack albums would be included. Alas, no. I wonder whether you're acquainted with Young's soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man? I realise it's an absolute outlier to his already varied oeuvre, but it's truly beautiful and a remarkably original piece of work. Highly recommended.

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