Oct 102014

Following my initial Facebook posting of my thoughts on Neil Young last night, which became the basis of today’s brief concert review, cdm picked up on my reference to Neil’s cover of the excellent Gordon Lightfoot song “If You Can Read My Mind” and said (offlist) something to the effect of,

I’m particularly glad to hear that Neil is a fan of the ‘foot.

If I were a normal person, I would have let that comment stay on the record without comment. That’s what nice, normal people do. I’m not at least one of those two things. Instead, I said something to the effect of,

It was helpful for me to be reminded that Gordon Lightfoot actually wrote a great song. I have not understood the Genius of Lightfoot cult that’s developed over the last 15 years. “Sundown” is kind of cool, but I also grew up chuckling at it and still do. That other hit of his, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” is Blood, Sweat & Tears/Billy Joel’s sea shanty bad. What am I missing?

This led to the type of back and forth we used to come to expect in the Halls of Rock, with cdm and other FB friends posting examples of other “great” Lightfoot songs and me shooting them down with statements like,

 I don’t know, that Hokey Macho way he sings does nothing for me. It’s like the Brawny paper towels guy came to life as a singer-songwriter.

Our old friend saturnismine backed me up with a one-liner that topped anything I’d been able to articulate:

Oct 102014

Last night my wife and I went to see Neil Young at Philadelphia’s Academy of Music. We got an invitation earlier this week from old friends. It was a great show: all acoustic, great sampling of all that’s great and even occasionally larger-than-life lousy about Neil (eg, a didactic, 2-song “Environmental Hymns” set that Neil of October 2014 clearly felt compelled to perform). His between-song banter was really funny. He played one of my favorite Buffalo Springfield songs (“On the Way Home”), surprisingly made a cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind” (see clip, above, from his Boston show a few nights earlier) his own, and then some. The guy was all THERE: his songs, his performance of them, etc. We had some great laughs and bad pizza with our friends after the show. I went home feeling really good about the world.


Feb 182013

loureedthewayI’ve been making my way through Neil Young‘s memoir, Waging Heavy Peace. It’s rambling and slow going but not without its charms. Every 10 pages Young turns from the story of his life and music making to what I gather are his main concerns: toy trains, energy-efficient old cars, and some new audio technology that will enable drivers of these green behemoth vehicles to listen to Lou Reed’s latest music as it was meant to sound. Shoot, not even Lou will know how his music is actually meant to sound until he rides around in Neil’s 140-acre ranch in his souped-up 1952 convertible Cadillac with his high-tech audio delivery device cranked to the high heavens.

I love how Young and Reed go on at great lengths about their high-minded audiophile dreams when their legacy has been established with some of the most primitive-sounding records to appear on a major label. T-Bone Burnett is also working on some mind-blowing audio technology that will allow his purposely pristine-yet-primitive, “pure” productions to sound as if they are being broadcast directly from Plato’s Cave. At least Burnett’s recordings actually sound about as accomplished as he would like them to sound, even on our inferior delivery devices.

Someday I expect to run across an old Chuck Berry interview, in which he bemoans the state of late-1950s recording and playback technology.


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.

Jul 102012

What are you listening to these days? While we may be inundated by suggestions for beach reading, grilling recipes, and refreshing beverages, I’d like to hear more about what you all are listening to during the heat wave, your holidays, your longer daylight hours. It’s the summer and for me it means more time to explore bands I’ve been meaning to catch up on or learn more about. So here are 2 that I’m totally addicted to these days:

1. The Men

Mr. Royale has been sneaking tracks from this Brooklyn 4-piece onto music mixes he’s been making for me, but it was this track that really turned things around and made me join the cult:

This is 8:06 of The Power and Glory of Rock! We start with some Neil Young “Southern Man”-style guitar, and move into a psychedelic guitar lead that winningly reminds me of one of my favorite covers, Camper Van Beethoven’s version of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.” Two minutes in, the beat picks up but then is followed by a teasing lull. However, the volume kicks back up and at 5:18, The Men are in full swing and even add cowbell! I’m imagining the group of them head banging in tandem and this continues with some extra psychedelic guitar noodling thrown in for good measure. This music IS everything and the kitchen sink!

Whereas The Men are very overt with their influences, my other music addiction these days could be described as True Originals:

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