Sleeps With Angels Reviews

by Michael Corcoran

Neil Young News

Subject: Our pal Corcoran's back!

Michael Corcoran, Our Favorite #!@#*& Critic Whose Name Isn't Dave Marsh, actually gave Sleeps With Angels a backhanded-yet-glowing "A" review. I had originally placed my snotty comments in brackets inside the review, but their got to be so many, I footnoted them according to MLA guidelines. I think. The following is reproduced without the express written consent of Major League Baseball (for some reason, they aren't answering their phone):

Rating: A

Neil Young has been nicknamed "The Godfather of Grunge" because his gloriously ragged guitar playing and flannel shirts have been a big influence on those new shriekers of Seattle. [*1] As the encore number of '90s, Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" has become the "Louie Louie" of the alt-rock set [*2], and such bands as Pearl Jam and Soundgarden have paid homage to the 48-year-old native of Canada [*3] by holding him up to their fans as their musical messiah. With his brilliant new album, "Sleeps With Angels," which hits stores today, Young has also assumed the personalresponsibility of the godfather designation.

Partly inspired by the death of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, whose suicide note quoted the "It's better to burn out than fade away" line from Young's song "Out of the Blue (And Into the Black)" [*4], "Sleeps With Angels" is a healing album that soothes like mental balm in these often hopeless times of drive-by shootings, drug addiction and spiritual emptiness. This musical message to the younger generation teaches by example: Listen, there is beauty and integrity in the world.

That opening track, "My Heart," recalls the precious days of "Harvest," but the mood is entirely contemporary. "When dreams come crashing down like trees/I don't know what love can do," he sings in a disillusionment. "My heart, my heart, I've gotta keep my heart;/It's not too late, it's not too late," he resolves in the chorus, updating his ancient [*5] line about how only love can break your heart--it's only love that can put it back together, too.

The album's hinge is an eloguent 14-minute encouragement, called "Change Your Mind," which finds Crazy Horse holding back to reflect the contemplative nature of the song. It's an electric tune, but instead of jabbing at the ribs of the status quo [*6], "Change Your Mind" is hypnotic, with the chorus echoing like a shy mantra. Young, who plays guitar like Jackson Pollock used to paint [*7], turns his splatter into a steady swirl of blue and green on the two long solos. There's a lot of intention in those sloppy notes.

The best albums are albums, not just collections of singles and other songs. Even though most of the cuts on "Sleeps With Angels" work individually, this is an album that's made to be heard from beginning to end.

"Safeway Cart" leads into the gorgeously timeless "Train of Love," which merges into the ironic "Trans Am," which gives way to the fiery ode to disposability, "Piece of Crap" -- it all feels like the part of same thing because it is.

With "A Dream That Can Last," the album ends in the same way it began, with a testament of hope. And just so there's no question that this is an impeccably arranged song cycle, Young links the first and last song with the same sort of romantic, calliopelike piano playing.


*1: Only Corcoran would refer to grunge as "new" when it was pronounced dead well over a year ago.
*2: I always thought that Louie, Louie was meant as the highlight of the party, the one everyone looked forward to, as opposed to the song saved for the encore, which tends to be more unusual material. But the snide comment works better his way.
*3: What the fuck does THAT have to do with anything?
*4: He probably knows what the song is actually called. I strongly suspect it.
*5: Enough with his age already! Christ!
*6: Huh?
*7: A semi-obscure art reference meant to show how well-versed--ergo credible--he is. I should know, I use them myself frequently.
*8. Ibid, page 7.

Sleeps with Angels Reviews

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