photos by Expecting To Fly
Neil Young News
The following page is one of a series of posts to the Neil Young mailing list Rust on the amazing August 2005 concerts at the original Grand Ol Opry historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The series reveals the pure ethic of a Neil Young fan: "Don't Be Denied!" Here are Rustie John Duncan's exhaustive tales from Nashville in 10 parts.
Postcard from Nashville Part 1 Postcards from Nashville From:
"John Duncan" <dunca@...>
A Concert Odyssey by John Duncan
Date: Thu Aug 18, 2005 1:55 pm
Subject: Postcard from Nashville Pt 2
Well it just gets better and better. One of the great things about
the Ryman Auditorium is that it's also a museum with public entry.
So I thought I'd pop down there and see if the museum bit which
includes the auditorium is open and it was (until 10 minutes ago
when I got chucked out).
And on stage they were rehearsing shots for the show tonight (with
stand-ins,sadly, no one is that lucky). So basically I've just sat
for an hour in the dark listening to a playback of most of the
Prairie Wind album as mimed by people that look vaguely like the
real thing with Jonathan Demme shouting instructions from up in the
gods to five camera crews buzzing around the stage and ground floor.
Now I have to say I wouldn't normally recommend judging an album on
a playback at low volume in an auditorium with 15 minute gaps
between songs but I guess it's all we've got to go on so far. I took
notes but it was pitch black and I was wearing sunglasses - left my
normal specs in the room. So my normally legible scrawl looks like a
doctor writing blindfolded.
Overall I was cautiously impressed, The first song was kind of
bluesy, some echoes of Greendale, a couple of mashing acoustic
guitar solos that reminded me of Freedom era acoustic aggression. I
couldn't really hear the words but there were a couple of prairies
in there somewhere. The second I heard started with a low Mr
Disappointemnt style vocal with the vocal line mirroring the guitar
then suddenly it switches to ultra high pitched Neil and the catchy
choir backed chorus 'Falling, falling off the edge of the earth'.
The third song sounds like Stringman to me with horns and there's a
few echoes from previous work - mention of where buffalos used to
roam, trans Canada highway, somw nice horns. The fourth was called
Only a Dream, big sweeping strings, mention of Four Winds, it
sounded like Greendale might have done with bigger production
values. Then, and I had to beg security to let me stay for this,
Prairie Wind. The big line in this is 'Try to remember what my daddy
said. Praire wind blowing through my head (hair?)'. He talks about
going back to Cypress River and the old farm house. There;s some
Indian spirits thrown in. There's a lot of choir maybe not quite
Caveat again - I heard it once, over a tannoy, with a big break
between songs, I couldn't really hear the words and I can hardly
read my notes... it's not fair to judge it on that. But that said I
really liked the feel of it.
The set, for those of you who want to imagine it this evening, has a
backdrop identical to the album cover that was posted to the list
yesterday. Just before the third song a smilarly beige backdrop
comes across with a paining of an old sofa in a log cabin and a big
1. it feels more like Greendale 2 than Harvest 3/4 or 5. The focus
is more on the theme (like Greendale) than the Harvest series (the
word prairie comes into it a lot). Those of you who liked Greendale
or would have liked it if it wasn't such a raggedy production will
2. It feels very reflective and melancholic. There are musical and
lyrical echoes from many different eras of Neil's past.
3. I'd have to check dates to see if this holds any water, but it
sounds a bit like a man reflecting heavily on his roots and past
prompted by the passing of his father - which it could be or maybe
that's just a hack journalist trying to make art fit the
4. It was fascinating to watch the meticulous preparation that is
going in to the shooting of the film and contrast it with the
immediacy that Neil has striven for in recent piece of work. At one
point Demme was even making Larry Cragg rehearse removing a chair
after (fake) Neil had dipped his harmonica in the glass of water
that was sitting on it.
I'm sure there'll be more to follow today including the Nashville
adventures of JD and Mike on the trail of the impossible ticket. Oh,
I almost forgot, there's actually a small bill been printed for the
gig - one of them was cellotaped to a lamppost outside the Ryman.
I'll see if I can grab a bunch for my collector colleagues on the
Postcards from Nashville
"John Duncan" <dunca@...>