Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Prairie Wind": A Gentle Breeze Deceptively Lulls The Howls Of Loss

prairie-wind-fan.jpg Reviews have been rolling in for Neil Young's newest album "Prairie Wind" and mostly positive. In addition, the CD is doing very well in the sales department -- currently ranked as the #1 top seller on Amazon.com after fluctuating around #2, #3, #4 over past several days behind Paul McCartney and Barbra Streisand, no less?!

With all that has happened to Neil over the past year or so, it is no wonder that critics are zeroing on these incidents as way of explaining the motivations and intentions of "Prairie Wind". Whether it was the passing of the mother of Neil's first son - Carrie Snodgress, the death of Buffalo Springfield bass player - Bruce Palmer, the loss of his father - Scott Young, or surgery for a brain aneurysm, needless to say, the man has stared death in the face.

In fact, a closer reading of the CD booklet indicates it is "in fond memory of David Myers, Kenny Buttrey, Rufus Thibodeaux, & Scott Young".

In case you're interested, David Myers, was the cameraman that did 'Human Highway', 'Journey Through the Past', and 'Rust Never Sleeps'. Kenny Buttrey , was the drummer on the album "Harvest". Rufus Thibodeaux, was the cajun fiddler in the International Harvesters that Neil name checks on "Harvest Moon".

And Neil's response to these losses? Listening to "Prairie Wind", we hear a man who has lived a thousand lives and yet seems ready to live another thousand.

A USATODAY.com review by Brian Mansfield suggests that "Prairie Wind" completes a trilogy, starting with 1972's Harvest and the 30 year follow-on Harvest Moon.

Musically, "Prairie Wind" evokes the Nashville-sound. Thematically, a case can be made that it completes a trilogy with Tonight's The Night and Sleeps With Angels reviews. In so much that Tonight's The Night was haunted by the deaths of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry and Sleeps With Angels reviews was haunted by Kurt Cobain.

Whether the completion of another Neil Young trilogy album sequence or not, "Prairie Wind" gentle breezes deceptively lull over the pain and howls of loss.

While much of the album has been politely characterized as "Neil-lite", undoubtably there are songs destined to have legs that will carry them many years forward. The most obvious song to nominate to the pantheon is the CD's final song: "When God Made Me". Without putting too fine a point on it, how can a man asking 10 questions provoke so much discussion?

Well, only Neil Young.

And so we bring you a few critic's comments. Overall, reviews have been postive, however, as with Greendale, the initial reviews underrate the album. Some even suggest that Neil's best days are long past. As always, time will tell.

Thrasher's question is will "Prairie Wind" eventually be recognized for the seminal work that it is -- much as Greendale will be recognized someday? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the prairie wind.

Given the critics' "mild" reaction, to say that "Prairie Wind" is merely a "good Neil Young" album is to still bring high praise. A "good Neil Young" album trumps many excellent albums by most artists on any given day.

Afterall, how many masterpieces can an artist produce in one lifetime? How many artists have season after season of releasing gems like Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After The Goldrush, Tonight's The Night, or a Rust Never Sleeps?

From the Edmonton Sun review by ANGELA PACIENZA:
"Prairie Wind is a throwback to Young's country-tinged Harvest and Harvest Moon days, which should please a significant contingent of his fan base.

The sound gives the weighty songs a gentleness entirely appropriate for an album where Young tenderly recalls his upbringing - the Prairie landscape creeps into at least four of the 10 tracks, including the current radio single The Painter. Vivid memories of the farmhouse where he was raised and the ukulele given to him one Christmas by his father shine through on Far From Home."

From Music OMH review by Tony Heywood:
"Fighting fit he may now be, but the gentle tapping of the Grim Reaper's scythe echoes throughout Prairie Wind.

From the opening finger picked guitar that ushers in "Painter" it's clear that Young is in a reflective state of mind. When he hits the beautiful high notes singing "it's a long road behind me, it's a long road ahead" and the harmonies unfurl around an aching pedal steel it's enough to melt you heart. The pedal steel guitar playing on the whole record is breath taking. It surfaces again on Here For You and the broken lament of Falling off The Face of the Earth. The texture, the pure ache, adds a timeless feel to the material. It dips them in sliver plated melancholia and wraps them tightly in a warm embrace.

The heavy trademark guitars that Young does so well arrive on the corrosive No Wonder. He has the talent of King Midas in reverse; taking golden melodies and then tarnishing them in thick charcoal angst. This is a complement. Few have the balls to wreck a melody the way Neil Young does. It starts so gently, a fragile guitar figure, fresh as a spring morning flickers softly through the verse, then down swoops the power chords, spinning blasts of noise across the song. The added bite is unleashed through the dual pronged attack of acoustic and electric guitars. The solo at the end sounds like the gates of heaven swinging on rusty hinges. The lyric centres on the refrain "tick-tock, the clock on the wall, no wonder we're losing time". The changing instrumentation reflects this, its equal measures regret and anger.

The ghost of the late great Jack Nitzsche is evoked on It's A Dream. The string-drenched ennui and plaintive piano recall the arrangements that he scored for Young on the classics After The Gold Rush and Harvest. The strings slowly climb, never overpowering the vocals, the melody spun like a spider web in the rain, its delicate nature glistening on each successive listen."

Billboard's review by Ben French is rather unkind but manages to end positively:
"The similarities to the former ["Harvest Moon"] are numerous here in chord and lyric. The strumming of "This Old Guitar" exactly matches that of the "Harvest Moon" title track, while the pensive sentiment of "Falling Off the Face of the Earth" calls to mind the syrupy, slightly repentant tone of "One of These Days."

Even his Elvis homage, "He Was the King," has its antecedent in his deceased-pet tribute, "Old King," both lowlights of their respective albums. Still, Young's shaky voice remains endearing, particularly on pleasant opener "The Painter." Familiar, yes, but not unwelcome."

In a review and interview in the U.K.'s Independent Neil Young: Gifted and Back" by Edward Helmore:
"Whether you prefer your Neil Young rocking out with Crazy Horse in the style of Ragged Glory, in the drug-soaked utopian nihilism of On The Beach, as the country rocker of After the Gold Rush or, as here, as the singer-songwriter balladeer, Prairie Wind stands in good company with two of his acoustic-centred stand-outs, Harvest and Harvest Moon. The songs, he says, "are about my family, my family history, life in general, what's going at the moment".

From a review on The Music Box by John Metzger:
"What binds the pieces of Prairie Wind together, however, are Young’s strikingly emotional lyrics, which arguably are the most revealing and intimate that he has penned since Tonight’s the Night. Indeed, throughout the set, he links together the past, the present, and the future by invoking many of the images and themes that long have surfaced within his work, but what’s different from many of his other outings is that, this time, the songs take on a greater resonance simply because of the context from which they sprang. Although there is a world-weary air of death, sadness, and mourning that hangs over the affair, there also are beacons of light that reflect within the hazy darkness of his fragmented memories."

From the esteemed Rustologist Expecting to Fly's review":
"Prairie Wind is instantly recognizable as a Neil Young album but it has many unique qualities. I'm so glad that this far down the road, he is making albums that expand the horizons of his most distinguished catalog."

But, as mentioned above, not everyone is impressed. From the AV Club review by Noel Murray:
"Neil Young is easily the most vital rock star of his generation, but that doesn't mean he can't fall into a rut. Young continues to take chances with his albums -- writing ambitious multi-song narratives, hiring veteran session men and fledgling alt-rockers, turning records into movies, and so on -- but his style remains stuck in the same dichotomous mode it's been in since 1970: He either plays loud and droning, or soft and melodic. Prairie Wind falls into the latter camp, which is good news for Young fans, since his gifts have mellowed greatly over the last decade. The noisy Young tends to be kind of dull these days, while the gentle Young creates beautiful things almost in spite of himself."

But even some of the diehard fans have expressed skepticism on Yahoo! Groups: Rust with Diniakos posting:
"I've listened thru several times and find myself completely nderwhelmed. I am not a young guy at all, 49, but this work seems ponderous and it reeks of stodgy Old Guy. I, too, have lost my dad and am getting older, but I have very high standards of expection from my very favorite muse, and this falls far short. I'm no musician, but the very melody structures seem the same as from AYP and Greendale. Neil needs to challenge himself and write more in depth, not knock out a song in 20 minutes (and brag about it!). Does he have the guts to place himself in the hands of a strong, talented producer, who would do what a good one's supposed to do, accent the music and flavor it so it sounds the best?

On a basic level, I, as a Neil fanatic, welcome all music he releases. Even with the feelings I'm writing about, I like having new Neil songs to listen to. I like the choir and Emmylou very much, as well. My main allegiance to Neil is his electric rock incarnation. I don't listen to country music anything. As I wrote just a bit ago, I have only seen two of his solo acoustic tours, and I've seen him over 20 times. I'm sure this bias I have slants my point of view, but I predict a Neil/Pegi country/acoustic PW tour."

From The Reading Experience:
"The first time I listened to this new album, I came to a conclusion similar to John Kenyon's "Things I'd Rather Be Doing" blog:
. . .The disc has a few memorable moments, but like much of his work in the past decade, it is disappointing, containing neither the strong melodies nor homespun wordplay that elevates the best of his work. Instead we get odd namechecks of Chris Rock, the umpteenth song about Elvis being "the King" and a tune about Young's guitar.

I've listened to it about five times now, and it gets better each time I hear it. It's true that the disc doesn't have many "strong melodies" (except for, perhaps "The King," which is indeed more or less a throwaway, but I like it nonetheless), and the lyrics are more plainspoken in their, in this case, directly homespun way.

Musically speaking, one could swear that some of the songs are near-cousins to those on Comes a Time or Harvest Moon. But the theme of the record (or one of the themes) is the passage of time, and songs that recall old Neil Young songs is arguably an appropriate way to emphasize lyrics that often evoke Young's childhood and his childhood home in Winnipeg, Canada."

Also see Prairie Wind Nashville Memories From A Fan, Commentary on Nashville Ryman Concerts and "Prairie Wind" CD, and "Prairie Wind" Roundup. Also, more Neil Young album reviews.

FARM AID 2005 Concert Review

Neil & Willie - photo from FarmAid.org

A great review of the 20th anniversary Farm Aid concert outside Chicago, IL by Dave Eelman. Here's a link for his account of a great day of music -- Drive Like Hell: FARM AID '05. Here's Dave's take on "Southern Man":
“Old Black” was unleashed on the next number, a scorching rendition of Southern Man. The crowd was able to “name that tune” after the first few notes, and most were on their feet jumping with hands in the air in response. Neil was in good voice and his guitar roared and howled while he snarled into the microphone. The full complement of singers and musicians on stage joined in the fun. The two huge chords that punctuate the phrases between chorus and verse were positively explosive. They could have played those two chords over and over for a half-hour and I would have grinned the whole time. This performance, and in particular Neil’s explosive attacks with the whammy bar on the solos, appeared to make converts of some of the young Widespread Panic and DMB fans. I noticed they were doing that Jam Band dance and reveling in the nine minutes of monstrous walls of sound."

More of Farm Aid 2005 Concert Review.

And what was it like onstage for horn player Wayne Jackson? Wayne recounts the experience of performing "Southern Man" with Neil:
"What got me about being on stage with Neil is his eyes," said Wayne. "During the music, he is transported to another place from which he acquires his energy. His eyes kind of glaze over as he rocks, plays his guitar with wild abandon and does his dance. It's easy to be taken away to that same place while you're close to him. During "Southern Man," we went far away."

As for placing "Southern Man" in the setlist? Maybe with all the outrage over the recent revival of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Neil covering "Sweet Home Alabama" with the house band at Tootsie's in Nashville in June.

Also, see photos from Farm Aid .

Monday, September 26, 2005

Nashville Memories From A Fan

nashville-aug-2005-poster.jpg nashville-aug-2005-ryman prairie-wind-fan.jpg
photos by Expecting To Fly

So many great stories from the Neil Young concerts at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium last month.

Thrasher's Wheat is proud to present a wonderful concert memory story by Karen Barry Schwarz. Her story is one of those kinds of stories that makes us all feel honored to be fans of Neil's music and part of his community of fans.

So here is one fan's story of her adventures, the music of "Prairie Wind", the friendship of fans, and Nashville memories.

"A Prairie Wind Blows Through Nashville": A Neil Young concert review - August 18-19, 2005.

Thanks Karen!!!

Blogging Neil in Nashville

And speaking of Nashville memories, we've been a little backed up here at Thrasher's Wheat with everything that's going on.

If you can't get enough of the incredible "Prairie Wind" happenings that when down last month at the Ryman, here's something that will keep you busy for a few hours.

Makes for nice printing for the commute. Enjoy!

Here are Rustie John Duncan's exhaustive tales from Nashville in 10 parts.

Postcard from Nashville Part 1

Postcard from Nashville Part 2

Postcard from Nashville Pt 3 (in which Mike gets a ticket)

Postcard from Nashville Pt 4a Music

Postcard from Nashville Pt 4b Shock and Bore

Postcard from Nashville Pt 5 Mission accomplished

Postcard from Nashville Pt 6 2nd night

Postcard from Nashville Pt 7 2nd night

Postcard from Nashville Part 8 After the ticket rush

Postcard from Nashville Pt 9 Happy ending and Closing credits

Postcard from Nashville Pt 10 The happiest ending possible

John, if you're reading this, we've attempted to reach you several times to obtain your permission to reproduce your postings similar to Karen's article (above). So would it be OK to repro? Drop Thrasher a line @ thrasher ATSIGN thrasherswheat DOT org

And if not, here's John's wonderful summary in the
Guardian Unlimited's "Fanatical? Not us, we're just good friends of Neil's"

Still not enough?

Here's a blog from XPN Radio by David Dye. The blog is terrific and the comments are just as wonderful. Like this comment by Marianne:
" "After the Gold Rush" is at the top of my album list. I spent my 16th summer like all the others, in Wildwood with my cousin, my best friend. She met her first love that summer. At night they'd go walks on the beach and I'd sit alone in his car, listening to that album from start to finish, over and over. The music wrapped around me, soaking in, stinging, crashing into me like the waves did when they caught me unaware. It helped me see who I was and who I was becoming."

Also, see more commentary on the Nashville Ryman concerts and the new "Prairie Wind" CD.

Keep on Bloggin' in the Free World!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Randomly Blogged - "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan"

Martin Scorcese's film "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan" to be Broadcast on PBS this week

A Tribute To Neil Young

There is an upcoming homage event called "ROCKIN’ IN THE FREE WORLD: A Tribute to Neil Young" on Saturday, Oct 8th in Tampa, Florida.

-24 bands will perform over 70 Neil Young songs.
-11 solo performers will present the AFTER THE GOLD RUSH EXPERIENCE, recreating Young’s “After the Gold Rush,” album in its entirety
- Neil Young Memorabilia Bazaar

The event is a fund raising benefit for Community Radio WMNF and BAAMO.

Participating Artists: Auditorium, Big Daddy & The Blues Howlers, Bob Anthony, Brenda Shawver, Can't Do It, Cold Joon, Crabgrass Cowboys, Cuban Sandwich Crisis, Doc Lovett, Drum Studio All-Stars, Experimental Pilot, Fremont John, Jeff O'Kelley, Johnny Zoom Cheerlead Squad, Karen Zack, Kate Hays, Life of Pi, Loud Zoo Music and Dance Experiment, Parson Brown, Peabodies, Rebekah Pulley & The Reluctant Prophets, Ricky Wilcox, Robin McNamara & the Glenns, Ronny Elliott, Sandy Atkinson, Sawgrass Flats, Sparky's Nightmare, Squirrels Gone Wild, The Diviners, The Rubensteins, The Threads, Power Pop, Too Many Subplots, The Vodkanauts, Barely Pink.

For more info, see Skipper's Smokehouse at 910 Skipper Road, Tampa 33613 (813) 971-0666, www.baamo.org or www.wmnf.org.

More on bands covering Neil Young songs.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Bridge School 2005 Concert Lineup Announced


The 19th Annual Bridge School Benefit Concert performers have been announced.

The concerts are scheduled for Saturday, October 29th and Sunday, October 30th, 2005 at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California.

Featured artists scheduled to include:

Crosby Stills, Nash & Young
Dave Matthews (Solo, Sunday only)
Norah Jones
Emmylou Harris
Jerry Lee Lewis
Good Charlotte
Bright Eyes
Los Lobos

Tickets go onsale tomorrow, Sunday, Septemeber 25. Good luck to all!!!

More on last year's Bridge School Benefit Concert 2004 with Tegan & Sara, Los Lonely Boys, Sonic Youth, Ben Harper, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eddie Vedder, Tony Bennett, and Paul McCartney and previous year's concerts reviews and photos. Updates on this year's Bridge School Benefit Concert 2005 will be posted here.

Neil, Pegi & Eddie at Bridge 2004 Concert
photo by Craig Abaya

Open thread below for tickets and logistics. NO SCALPERS!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Farm Aid 2005

Southern Man - photo from FarmAid.org

This year's Farm Aid was another successful mix of awareness building, fund raising and good live music. Seems like that's all we've covered recently?
Anyways, here's the setlist from Tom over on Sugar Mountain:

Walking To New Orleans
Southern Man
When God Made Me
Old Man
This Old Guitar
One Of These Days

Neil & Emmylou Harris - photo from FarmAid.org

Early reviews indicate that Neil was much more into the music this year than in year's past when he sometimes phoned it in. Again, maybe all these benefits this year has him fired up?

From an email to Thrasher's Wheat from Steve B. in Wisconsin:
"Neil was very much the most involved emotionally artist of the day. He also had the best sound mix of the day.

He had along the same musicians that he used at the Ryman in August. He started with a ragged but righteous on "Walkin' to New Orleans". Then went straight into the most urgent and emotional version of "Southern Man" imaginable. Neil played soulfully and unusually melodically, trading licks with Spooner Oldham on organ in an especially hot exchange. It seemed the Fisk University singers picked up on the entire audience singing along, and drew even more power for their incredible backing vocals. These two songs together made an extremely powerful and timely statement by Mr. Young. Neil appeared physically drained after the song, but he continued on as though he had everything to give and nothing to lose.

He moved to the piano for "When God Made Me". Another great performance of this great song. He then moved slowly and carefully back to center stage to play "Old Man". Afterwards, it sounded like he had piped into the PA someone (himself?) shouting "Neil, you ARE an Old Man", and he hollered back "But I feel young". It was great. He next talked about acquiring Hank Williams' guitar and played "This Old Guitar". He was joined for the rest of his set by Willie Nelson on Old Man, and by Emmylou Harris beginning with This Old Guitar. (Willie might have arrived for Southern Man, I can't recall clearly.) Both were very good. Next, he introduced everyone on stage, but I think he left out Ben Keith.

He finished up with "One Of These Days" It seemed as though he was saying goodbye, but also reminding people that the song had a message for them as well."

Neil & Willie - photo from FarmAid.org

Or maybe Neil was fired up by reading the Chicago Tribune? Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid said that the Chicago Tribune reporter had made a mistake and reversed the number for how much of the dollar goes to help the family farmer. In actuality, 80 cents of every dollar goes towards Farm Aid’s work. Music critic Greg Kot writes:
"Even before the 11 hours of music began Sunday at Farm Aid's 20th anniversary concert, Neil Young was fighting mad.

He delivered one of the more passionate performances the annual charity show has ever seen without lifting a guitar. Instead, at a media conference packed with farm advocates preceding the onstage revelry at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park, Young took this newspaper to task for a story printed in its Saturday edition that questioned the charity's distribution of funds.

The Tribune report "hurt our reputation" by distorting the charity's mission, Young said. "We are not purely raising money for farmers. That's a small part of what we do." He explained that Farm Aid funds myriad activities, from political lobby groups to suicide prevention, that aid farmers.

"The people at the Chicago Tribune should be held responsible for this piece of crap," Young stormed, then ripped a copy of the newspaper in half and tossed it aside to a room full of cheers.

The controversy clouded what was otherwise a sunlit celebration for an organization that has raised $27 million for family farms since its first concert in 1985."

photo by John Gress

And Editor & Publisher jumped in on the feeding frenzy with this headline - "Mockin' in the Free World: Neil Young Stomping Mad at 'Chicago Tribune'":
"According to the Chicago Tribune report, Farm Aid contributed only 28% of its revenues to farmers last year. The rest of that money, according to the report, went to defray concert expenses.

Today, the Sun-Times ran a news article that gave the paper a chance to tweak the rival Tribune for getting “stomped,” and offer more of Young's side of the story.

"We are not purely raising money to give to farmers," Young said. "That's only a small part of what we do. We are available 24/7, 365 days a year to the American farmer. That's what we do. That costs a little bit of money." If those expenditures were included in the total, it would show that the charity spent 76% of its budget on its mission of helping farmers, Farm Aid officials said.

That's well above standards set by the Better Business Bureau and other charity watchdog groups, Glenda Yoder, associate director at Farm Aid, said.

An article by the Tribune's music writer, Greg Kot, also allowed Young to vent. Kot also quoted another Farm Aid stalwart, Willie Nelson, wryly revealing, "We're not happy until our critics are unhappy."

Back to the music. Another favorite - Wilco - played a mighty fine set.

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy - photo from FarmAid.org

Wilco: Helping the farmers at Farm Aid 2005

NPR Interview with Neil Young on "Prairie Wind"

An interesting interview on NPR Radio with Neil Young on "Prairie Wind".

NPR's Scott Simon discusses Neil's brain surgery, recording in Nashville, his father's recent death, and singing with Pegi among other topics.

Young wrote some of the songs on Prairie Wind in 15 or 20 minutes, he tells Scott Simon. "It doesn't take me very long when I get started. I just try to remain open."

There are two versions of the interview - short and long. If you have time, listen to the full, unedited interview. You can hear Neil expound on an ice machine in the background, his imitating Bob Dylan, and even Elliot Roberts asking to wrap it up.

Thanks Mark at Mansion On The Hill!
npr logo

Randomly Blogged: Son Volt, Hurricane Katrina Benefits, Wilco

sonvolt-group.jpgSon Volt on NPR, Okemah commentary, and latest revelations on the Uncle Tupelo breakup

Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast - photos, commentary and links

New Wilco Live Album Due In November

Monday, September 19, 2005

Debate Rages On Over "When God Made Me" Lyrics

How can a man asking 10 questions provoke so much discussion?

Judging from the volume of comments, the debate and controversy over the "When God Made Me" lyrics rages on.

After flaring up after the song's debut at the Live 8 concert in July, things settled down.

Then when the song reappeared for the Hurricane Katrina Benefit "Shelter From the Storm", the debate heated up once again.

The original posting containing the lyrics for "When God Made Me" has seen more reader comments than just about any other article on Thrasher's Wheat in recent memory.

I would attempt to summarize the debate but it's all much too much.

But a comment by Matt M. sums things up as well as any of the many provocative interpretations:
"Keep in consideration that Neil Young is a musician and an entertainer.

He may very well have kept his real thoughts on God to himself, and set these lyrics to music and released them downstream to either collect as silt and drop to the bottom of the riverbed, or spawn and multiply farther along.

Either way, Neil has once again stirred the muddy waters of controversy.

And no matter what side you take, or what your reaction is, the fact remains that Neil knows how to spark a debate."

Read for your self how a man asking 10 simple questions has ignited a firestorm. And post a comment (no registration required).

Dana Carvey Spoofs "The Needle & The Damage Done"

Comedian Dana Carvey did a spoof of Neil Young's "The Needle & The Damage Done" at the Oracle Conference in San Francisco last night.

It was pretty funny and I wish I had a clip to link to.

Basically, the lyrics went something like this:

"I've seen Larry Ellison and the damage done.
First to PeopleSoft and now to Siebel.
There's a little hostile take over in everyone
Every deal is like so much fun."

Well, maybe you had to be there?

If you're in the software business and like Neil, you were howling on the floor. (OK, yes, that was Thrasher.) If not, then this is pretty much inside baseball.

UPDATE: March 10, 2006 - While this MP3 isn't from the above performance, it's a little taste of Dana Carvey spoofin' Neil Young (link via stereogum).

Friday, September 16, 2005

Broken Arrow Magazine - August 2005 (#99)


Just now getting around to reading Broken Arrow Magazine's August 2005 (#99). Every quarter, as usual, the Neil Young Appreciation Society magazine has lots of innaresting articles, including some nice photos.

The cover photo of Neil Young and Emmylou Harris was taken in Nashville during the recording of "Prairie Wind" by Kate Derr.

As always a nice editorial by Scott Sandie on the latest Neil happenings.

The issue includes great articles on Farm Aid, Live 8, Topanga Canyon in 1967, concert reviews, and more.

Lastly, details of the 100th Broken Arrow issue anniversary / Neil's 60th birthday party convention, have been announced. On November 11 - 13, The NYAS International Convention will be held at Canterbury Arms. Contact Paul Docker:
pauldocker AT hotmail DOT com

for all the details on this most special, not to be missed celebration of Neil fans around the world.

On to #100!!!

Thrasher - NYAS#2476
broken-arrow logo

More Broken Arrow magazine cover photos.

Poster design by Ian Campbell

Mother Hips - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

A band named Mother Hips has just released a CD that recreates Neil Young's classic 1969 album "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere".

The re-creation of the album, recorded live in San Francisco in June 2005 is a pristine soundboard recording.

Check'em out as they do Neil & Crazy Horse proud! Sample clips of "Cinnamon Girl", "Down by the River" , and other songs are available on Mother Hips website. Cool band.

More on Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere".

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Commentary on Nashville Ryman Concerts and "Prairie Wind" CD


photo by Ken Regan for Paramount Classics

So many reviews of August's Nashville Ryman concerts at the Grand Ol' Opry and the new "Prairie Wind" CD.

Here's a small sampling of commentary and analysis.

From the New York Times review "Young Plays Nashville, but Old-Time Country It's Not" By JON PARELES:
"A lanky man in an antique-style pewter-gray suit and a gaucho hat stood onstage tonight at Ryman Auditorium, the hallowed country-music landmark that was the longtime home of the Grand Ole Opry. An old-fashioned painted backdrop was behind him; an old guitar was in his hands.

The guitar, he told the audience, had belonged to Hank Williams, who was fired from the Grand Ole Opry in 1952. Neil Young, the man holding the guitar, said he was happy that Williams's guitar was returning to the Ryman stage. And then he sang "This Old Guitar," a quietly touching song from his coming album, "Prairie Wind," that observes, "This old guitar ain't mine to keep/It's mine to play for a while."

Tonight Mr. Young began a two-night stand at the Ryman Auditorium that was a tangle of new and old, of remembrance and reinvention. With him were more than two dozen musicians: a band, backup singers (including his wife, Pegi), a horn section, a string section, the Fisk University Jubilee Singers and Emmylou Harris. They were assembled for what would be the only performances of all the songs on "Prairie Wind" (Reprise), due for release on Sept. 20. The musicians were costumed like old-time country performers, in suits and modest coordinated dresses, but they weren't playing old-time country music."

From Commercial Appeal in Memphis by John Beifuss:
"At times, more than 35 performers crowded the stage, including members of the Fisk University Jubilee Singers and the Nashville String Machine. The result was a concert that alternately resembled a hoedown, a picking party and - during the questioning spiritual number, "When God Made Me" - a church service."

From The Austin Chronicle: Music: Old King: Neil Young and Jonathan Demme in Nashville BY LOUIS BLACK:
"There was so much to these shows. They were rich in music, personality, and meaning, with brilliant new songs, revealing versions of the old ones, terrific and numerous musicians, all swirling around Neil Young at his most inspired. As with the best of Young's music and performances, there were any number of themes both to the new album and the shows. Even though I believe in trusting the art and not the artist, I come back to the autobiographical, not as a way to capture the shows or reduce their meaning, but because in that way they're immediately explosive and then continually unfolding."

From CMT review by Calvin Gilbert:
Capturing live performances on film or tape is a challenging endeavor. With Young and his backing musicians providing a flawless performance, there were no retakes whatsoever during the concert. Aside from a brief pause between songs to reload film in the cameras, it was a remarkable evening -- both from a musical and technical standpoint.

Maybe the environment of the Ryman Auditorium played a role in bringing out the best in everybody, including the musicians, film crew and the audience.

"I know it's a church," Young said. "I think it's a church of all kinds."

From the Los Angeles Time "Young is older and wiser - As 60 looms, he reflects on family and mortality in a concert filmed by Jonathan Demme" by Michael McCall:
"By drawing so consciously on his past, from the influence of country music and rock 'n' roll to that of his family and homeland, Young seemed acutely aware that he will turn 60 on Nov. 12.

During the concert, he cited several family members and friends who'd recently passed away. "We're getting to the age where some of us start losing our parents," he said, noting that his father fought dementia at the end of his life. The haunting, jagged title song begins with the line, "Trying to remember what my Daddy said/ Before too much time took away his head."

He also referred repeatedly to the late singer Nicolette Larson, who recorded the hits "Lotta Love" and "Comes a Time" with Young and who died in 1997 of a buildup of fluid on the brain. Young also paid tribute to Vassar Clements, a famed hillbilly jazz fiddler who died Aug. 16 in Nashville, and Rufus Thibodeaux, a Cajun fiddler who died Aug. 12 and who had played on the "Comes a Time" album.

Later, he addressed other issues close to home. "I'm an empty nester," he said in introducing "Here for You," an openhearted letter to his grown children. "I never knew what that meant until I felt it." Young spoke of how he's written love songs all of his career, "songs for those young gals, dreaming about them and falling in love with them. But this one here, it's a different type of love song."

He also repeatedly referenced dreams and memories, from the opening song, "The Painter," which says, "If you follow every dream, you might get lost," to "It's a Dream," about youthful recollections of rural Canada. "Far From Home," a cheerful midtempo tune powered by the three-piece Memphis Horns, recalls a childhood experience of listening to his father singing accompanied by an uncle and a cousin."

Long time Neil fan Expecting to Fly posted on Rust:
"I was absolutely knocked out by the new songs. Wow. On many levels they tug at one's heart, bring to mind those that are no longer here, they really touched me.

Instrumentation was interesting, melodies really nice and lyrics thoughtful for the most part. As soon as they finished, I wanted to hear it again. This record is going to be downright GREAT! Neil looked spiffy in a silver outfit with cowboy boots; he changed into a lavender outfit for the second set."

Neil made numerous interesting, introspective comments between songs. On Yahoo! Groups Rust John Duncan posted Neil's comments introducing "This Old Guitar":
"My favourite guitar in the world is Willie Nelson's. I've been doin' Farm Aid for 20 years now, he's really someone to look up to. When Hank Williams was here in 1951 he offended some people and was asked not to come back. About 35 years ago I was lucky enough to buy Hank's guitar from Tuck Taylor.

This is Hank's guitar [he points to the guitar]. I try to do the right thing with the guitar. You don't want to stink with Hank's guitar. I lent it to Bob Dylan for a while. He didn't have a tour bus so I lent him mine and I left the guitar on the bed with a note saying Hank's guitar is back there.

He used it for a couple of months."

Also, read a concert review from August 18-19, 2005: "A Prairie Wind Blows Through Nashville" by a fan named Karen Schwarz. More on Neil Young's new "Prairie Wind" CD and reviews of the Ryman concerts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Video of "The Painter"


Streaming video is now available on iFILM of Neil Young recording "The Painter" in the studio.


The video starts with a rehearsal and then goes live in the studio.


"If you follow every dream, you might get lost," he sings in the chorus.

But he knows right where he is.


Other "Prairie Wind" videos available for streaming include "It's A Dream" and "This Old Guitar".

Thanks Rusted Sister!

Entire "Prairie Wind" CD Streaming on Neil's Garage

Derek writes that you can now listen to the entire new "Prairie Wind" album on Neil's Garage.

More on Neil Young's new Prairie Wind CD.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"Walking To New Orleans" - Neil Young on React Now

Neil Young covering Fats Domino's "Walking To New Orleans"

Last night, Neil Young performed two songs on the React Now hurricane Katrina benefit.

The first song was "This Old Guitar" with Emmylou Harris.


The final song of the broadcast was a cover of Fats Domino's "Walking To New Orleans". And Neil appeared rather angry and impassioned in his delivery.

It has been quite a weekend with Neil's performance of "When God Made Me" on "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast" on Friday night.


MTV appears to be attempting to redeem itself after the network's abhorrent failure and abysmal travesty with the Live 8 broadcast in July. MTV is hosting video streams of last night's performances.

The Los Angeles Times' music critic Robert Hilburn highlighted the performances of three of the over 50 performing artists from the weekend: Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Neil Young.

Neil Young: "This rock 'n' roll treasure's heartfelt rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" was, for many, the highlight of the Sept. 11 telethon, and he was just as moving this time around — first by singing his new, spiritually tinged "When God Made Me" on "Shelter," then the wistful "This Old Guitar" on MTV.

"When God Made Me" felt especially timely. It's a rich, philosophical song about humility; Young's own "Imagine" if you will, in that the song rejects the notion that God plays favorites or that dissent is unpatriotic.

In the closing verse, Young sang:
"Did he give me the gift of voice
So some could silence me?
Did he give me the gift of vision
Not knowin' what I might see?"

Looking like Cash as he stood at the microphone dressed all in black, Young came across as a symbol of all that is good and true in American music. It made sense for MTV to ask him to close the telethon.

His song was another showstopper: one of Fats Domino's biggest hits, "Walking to New Orleans."

Too bad only one of the telethon audiences got to see it."

And over on the The Pop Culture Petri Dish we have the question: Define Irony. "Isn't it ironic that Lynyrd Skynyrd (fronted by Kid Rock) performed "Sweet Home Alabama" while sharing the MTV React Now telethon bill with Neil Young?" If you're having trouble with why this might be ironic, then see why Lynyrd Skynyrd doesn't need a southern man around anyhow.

Pearl Jam and Uncle Neil in Winnipeg

Pearl Jam in Saskatoon, Canada performing "Given To Fly" on MTV's ReACT Now

Jeff H. writes that he saw Pearl Jam on Sept. 8, 2005 in Winnipeg, Canada and reports what Eddie Vedder said during the encore:
Eddie: "So there's a guy that you probably know of, and uh, well I know you know of him, and we not only know of him but we know him really well, and he's had a big influence on this band, and he's been a big part of our growing up. And rumor has it he's from here.

We've known him long enough that he lets us call him Uncle Neil, and we're in his area you know. Now, well, you know he's, well he's a land baron (laughs), that's what he is down in California.

Neil's lived a life that's like, really something to aspire too. He's an incredible human being and an incredible musician and what he gives to the world around him, and his family and his kids and his friends.

So he spends a lot of time in northern California now, and that's where we recorded this next song. I guess we kind of had him in mind, but we'll just play it thinking about him tonite..."

Jeff reports that PJ then ripped into a killer "Small Town", then played "Fuckin Up". Eddie introduces by saying: "All right here's one by Uncle Neil, it's George Bush's favourite song". PJ finished the show with RITFW. Jeff writes that: "Needless to say the tunes kicked ass and the crowd were really digging it (set an attendance record at the MTS centre, which will likely stand until Uncle Neil comes back home!)."

Thanks Jeff for the report!

More on Neil Young's influence on Pearl Jam's music and vice-versa.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Neil Young Performs "When God Made Me" on "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast"

Neil Young and Fisk University Jubilee Choir

On last night's "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast" Neil Young performed the song "When God Made Me" from the forthcoming Prairie Wind CD.

Similar to the performance of the song at the Live 8 Benefit concert in July, the lyrics of "When God Made Me" seemed to be poignantly prescient.

Did he give me the gift of voice
so some could silence me?
Did he give me the gift of vision
not knowing what I might see?
Did he give me the gift of compassion
to help my fellow man?

When God made me.

(Complete lyrics and analysis for "When God Made Me".)

And just as Young's performing of John Lennon's "Imagine" for the 9/11 "Tribute" and the new song's debut at Live 8 concert, the performance has incited passions.

Here's a comment posted on Thrasher's Wheat by Peter V.:
"A beautiful song, lyrics and melody, which embodies the heartfelt surge that is mounting in America's conscience to challenge the overbearing sentiments of the religious right that have been choking the compassion of this country. This song fills my heart with hope that once again we will know that the power of God is love."

And Goodlife said:
"Hearing "When God Made Me" caused me to flip on the computer and "google" looking for the lyrics. I am a believer ... but not a part of the fundamentalist right. This is a song which touches my inner spirit. I hope many will hear its message, and think deeply about who they are underneath the encumberances of their everyday life."

Of course not everyone is pleased when rock stars venture into the debate on religion. Tim Graham posts on NewsBusters:
"Are rock stars trying to give us lectures as they sing on hurricane-relief benefits? Last night's mega-channel concert featured Neil Young sang his song "When God Made Me." The lyrics clearly show Young thinks that the problem with religion is that God tends to favor people who believe he exists. That, and religion is the reason for too many bloody wars. Some compare it to John Lennon's "Imagine," but Lennon wants no God, and Young just thinks He might be a Unitarian Universalist."

From Church of the Churchless:
"The way I see “When God Made Me,” it offers a glimpse of how much better religions would be if their focus was on asking questions that didn’t have ready-made dogmatic answers.

I’m going to make it the Church of the Churchless theme song."


More on the Shelter From the Storm Concert and broadcast photos.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Neil to Perform Tonight on Katrina Benefit Telethon

Neil Young performing Lennon's "Imagine" on "Tribute To Heroes"
September 21, 2001

Mark over on Mansion On The Hill Radio reminds us that Neil is scheduled to appear tonight on the Katrina Benefit Telethon at 8 PM US EST.

The six main broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and the WB — will all air "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast" live and commercial-free.

Another benefit broadcast is scheduled for Saturday night called "ReAct Now: Music & Relief" on MTV, VH1, CMT. Performers include Audioslave, Kelly Clarkson, Dashboard Confessional, Melissa Etheridge, Green Day, Alan Jackson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ludacris, Maroon 5, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Paul McCartney, John Mellencamp, the Neville Brothers, Trent Reznor, the Rolling Stones, Usher, Brian Wilson.

Thanks Mark!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Prairie Wind's "The Painter" Audio Stream

photo by Ken Regan for Paramount Classics

I'm back from beyond where the pavement meets the sand and what a difference a few weeks makes.

While away, Neil Young seems to have made another career high water mark with the Nashville concerts in August. Hopefully, we will have more to say on this shortly.


Also, we all lost a great music town. New Orleans has been drowned by Hurricane Katrina so please help. Some mighty fine people have been hurt, but the bayou music, cajun tunes, and shuffling jazz will survive. Because, "You can make a difference if you really try."

And if you haven't heard the new song "The Painter" from Prairie Wind, here's a link for an audio stream on Warner Reprise. Here are some other audio links here and here.

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