I asked my friend Adam (via Facebook) if he liked Neil Young. What happens next will SHOCK you…
Cam: Do you like Neil Young?
Adam: Yes very much but not as crazily as others. Only seen him twice. “A Man Needs a Maid” acoustic at Massey Hall was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Adam: You ask me questions at times were I can’t adequately answer on an iPhone.
Cam: I was going to ask you to tweet me your ENTIRE thoughts on the Beatles next.
Cam: I’m not a massive fan but I like him. I have this morbid reaction every time he plays Toronto… balking at $80 tickets to see him play his latest song cycle about the electric car or whatever. And then finding out he dies a week after filling the ACC. Similar feelings about Leonard Cohen.
Cam: Is there a particular album or three you’re into?
Adam: Harvest Moon is a slice of perfection for me. straight through. A certain place and time I remember well. That album, then. Getting it, and listening to it all the time. The harmonies. Oh, the harmonies. James Taylor is on there. I had a Nicolette Larson phase, who sang all the harmony on “Comes a Time” (also great, I could go on) and then had her own hits with “Rhumba Girl” and “Lotta Love”. She died early, which was super sad, especially since she’d done an album of lullabies that I had found. but I digress. Nicollete Larson, James Taylor and Linda Rondstadt all do harmonies on the album. It makes me happy all the time. It makes me want to sing along. It’s simple and perfect. “One of These Days” is one of the best songs he ever wrote, and the live version of it from Neil Young: Heart of Gold is something else. How he talks about the letter he’ll write to his old friends, how he feels about them, it’s really beautiful and stirs emotion in me every time.
Adam: My first album was Decade. A great starting point. “Out on the Weekend” and “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” and “Tell Me Why” are the shit. Watch this. Greatest thing ever. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Pf0RkL6lN4. Chrome Dreams II was a fantastic album. I was lucky to see him do the tour live at Massey Hall. Frst half acoustic (people need to shut the fuck up). Second half electric. Awesome.
Adam: Also saw him at the ACC with Wilco opening. Most notably, my first Wilco show. Neil did a really good “Cortez the Killer” if i recall. Show highlight for me. Lowlight is always “All Along the Watchtwoer” because I can’t stand that song, though he wails. Deceptively. you forget that about him because of how soft and gentle he is, then he fucking goes off.
Cam: I like your comments very much. Harvest Moon is interesting because it comes on the heals of “Neil Young in the 1980s” which is almost entirely experimental, “message albums” or both. “Neil in the 1980s” is definitely a massive Rolling Stone article in its own right. I’ll need to go back and give Harvest Moon a deeper listen. There’s something about “Unknown Legend” that rubs me the wrong way, although I think for no real reason. Maybe the concept of desert highways freaks me out a bit.
Cam: You’ve mentioned Tweedy in a few times in past. Seems like for you, he’s one of the few new (i.e. ONLY been around for 25 years) artists who kinda sorta carries the mantle for Bob, Neil, etc? I think I’ve suggested it before but definitely give the War on Drugs’ “Baby Missiles” a listen if you can carve out a few minutes. If only because it kinda sounds like Dire Straits, Petty, Bruce and all that shit squished together. Via Philadelphia somehow. It’s a great song but I guess only time will tell if this guy/these guys are their own thing or a merely vaguely interesting soundalike.
Cam: OK, I’m putting “Journey Through the Past” on my iPod. One thing I really like about Neil is that he’s such a curmudgeon but his lyrics and songwriting is incredibly earnest and when he wants to be, very universal. I’d like to see make one more really vastly acclaimed (and listened to) album before he splits. Maybe his Time Out of Mind? I dunno. He’s got kind of a “Neil being Neil” thing going for the casual observer at this point.
Cam: Strangely, my introduction to Neil was CSNY’s “American Dream”. Primarily, the video. I guess we were around 10 when that came out and I thought it was by somebody akin to Weird Al since the song and video were (apparently) parody. I think for a while, I thought it was Genesis since they had that video with all the puppets in it and… well, I was young and foolish, I guess. It’s interesting to watch the video now and see how prominently Oliver North and Gary Hart factor into it… two fellas that NOBODY ever talks about anymore (let alone sing about). It kinda bothers me Nash is in there poo pooing the “American Dream”. Dude, you’re from Blackpool. Git outta there!!! Git!! Git!!
Cam: I know you never “did” Pearl Jam. What about when Neil was jamming with those guys? I think that Mirrorball album was a bit like “the emperor’s new clothes”. The coolest mainstream band of the day with the baddest mainstream legacy artist. The single “Downtown” was pretty weak and had inane lyrics: there’s a place called downtown/where all the hippies go… downtown/let’s go downtown.
Cam: Just writing this out reminds me of that Seinfeld where George is trying to solve the downtown “riddle” by dissecting the Petula Clark song, famously resulting in the humiliation of a mail room clerk.
Cam: Deer Tick is another new(ish) band that I like to put in iPod playlist with Wilco, Steve Earle, Bright Eyes, the War on Drugs, etc…. kind of real fake country rock, I guess. Not sure I’d draw any parallels with them and Petty, Bob or any of those guys. The Replacements yet. I love the persistent organ on this tune.
Adam: My Other first Neil album was Live Rust. Holy shit, that album blew my mind. His early output is so over the top impressive.
Adam:The opening to “Comes a Time”!!
Cam: Yeah, I certainly gravitated more towards “noisy Neil” when I was a litte guy. I like when he took Sonic Youth on tour and went through “gratuitous noise” phase but it always sounded different when he’d freak out with Crazy Horse because it was coming from a more “bar band” sensibility than pandering to critics or “edgy alternative types”. He could go from noise freak outs, straight up country rock, jamming with Booker T and the MGs and then when he wanted to do something MOR and mainstream, he could drop a Harvest Moon and completely nail it.