Dec 192012

Chew on this.

I’ve been holding onto this “Insta-Review” for 6 weeks—or the time it takes to listen to Neil Young & Crazy Horse‘s latest release, Psychedelic Pill, all the way through 5 times. What a long, strange drag it’s been.

If I wrote the review in real time, as these review often are written, this post might crash the might RTH server. The 27 minute-plus opener “Driftin’ Back” should spur pharmaceutical companies to develop a drug to treat Faded Idealism Syndrome. An artist who’s made a career of looking back and feeling old even when he was young launches into what essentially ends up being a 90-minute long meditation on sputtered idealism, shit that only means much to you when you get really old, and the Power & Glory of Slowly Jamming in a Pentatonic Scale Over a Minor Chord.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Walk Like A Giant

I am thankful to live in a world with Neil Young willing to put out such a long, self-indulgent album of nostalgia and compromised idealism, but 90 minutes of songs threatening to turn into the electric version of “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” yet invariably falling short gets old. There must be 75 minutes of Neil’s patented guitar solos, but only seconds of goosebumps. I can only get so nostalgic about nostalgia.

Maybe this all hits too close to home as I feel myself sliding into my own long, slow struggles with revising my notions of idealism. I still want to walk like a giant, too, but giants don’t have to see the podiatrist.


  6 Responses to “Insta-Review: Neil Young’s Psychedelic Pill

  1. OK. I’ll bite. I have listened to this Neil Young album more than any record he’s put out since Greendale. I kind of dig it. I really like “Ramada Inn” and I whistle along with “Walk Like a Giant.” (Songs with whistling in them could be a good Last Man Standing, if not done already.)

    One of the reasons I gave this a pretty good chance is that I saw him a couple of weeks ago at the George Mason University Patriot Center with Patti Smith (who did a crowd-pleasing set and was simply fantastic, by the way.) We were on the floor and rocking like the old days.

    I get it that he is really looking in the rear view mirror on this — (i.e. Born in Ontario). It’s still worth a few spins — and you get to whistle along to boot!

  2. Bronzed Nordic God

    My response to pretty much everything he has done over the last 10 years is here is another just OK to pretty bad record that is distracting him from completing the Archives project. Sorry Neil, but the only “new” music I’m truly interested in from you anymore is a re-release of Time Fades Away, a remastered Tonight’s the Night and Rust Never Sleeps, the final assembled Homegrown and Chrome Dreams, etc. Every new record of his seems to take one small musical idea and run it into the ground via self-indulgent repetition.

  3. BigSteve

    Duke Ellington is quoted as having said, “If it sounds good, it IS good.” I love the way this album sounds, and Americana was the perfect preamble to it. I don’t look to Neil’s albums (or anybody’s really) for philosophizing about idealism and nostalgia. I just open my ears and live in his sonic world for a while. I like it there.

  4. Do you get invited to Neil’s ranch for a bison roast as a reward for a comment like that?

    I kid. My problem begins with the fact that I don’t think it sounds good. It only almost sounds good, the way the songs almost sound like they’re going to BE as good as stuff from Rust Never Sleeps.

    The fact that he’s writing 27-minute long songs that philosophize about idealism and nostalgia makes it hard for me to avoid considering those topics. You must *really* like that way the album sounds if you can ignore the subject matter.

    I don’t hate the album, but every time I listen to it I wonder if I am beginning to hate myself.

  5. BigSteve

    In that 27 minute song, there’s only about a minute’s worth of philosophizing and 26 minutes of beautiful sounds.

  6. Who are these guys again? They are by all counts better than the Viagra band or the AARP band!

    I guess I’m with BigSteve on this; let Neil and the Horse bash it out while they can. The song posted was an enjoyable piece of guitar crunching no matter what the words were about. In the iPod shuffle age it, I like getting the occasional 10+ minute jam-out to hold my ears in one place for a time.

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