Tag Archives: Neil Young

New Neil Young video: Human Highway (Live)

Video: Neil Young with the Santa Monica Flyers – “Human Highway” (Live)

From Somewhere Under The Rainbow Bootleg Series, out April 14 on Reprise.

Looks like Neil put together a little video for one of the songs on his latest bootleg release. Somewhere Under The Rainbow is a live set with the Santa Monica Flyers (Nils Lofgren, Ben Keith, Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina) at the Rainbow Theater in London on November 5, 1973. Neil says, “The sound is like nothing else. The Flyers performance is mindless, free. These are the shows you get from being on the road for quite a while… Ralph’s drumming is unbelievable. Nils and Ben are on fire. Billy is great. What a trip!”

The first half of the concert featured a run through of the as yet unreleased Tonight’s the Night album (minus “Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown” and “Lookout Joe”). And the second half featured another set of stoney bummers, including “Human Highway” which was originally recorded a few months before this performance, back in June with Crosby, Still and Nash. Neil scrapped that project and the song remained officially unreleased until he re-recorded it for 1978’s Comes A Time. “Why must people be so unkind?”

The 1973 CSNY version would ultimately see the light of day on Disc 1 of Neil’s Archives Volume II, as well as another CSNY version from 1976 on Disc 9. But this one here, an audience recording with all the quality and artifacts that implies, is solo and acoustic and is absolutely full of duende.

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Continue reading New Neil Young video: Human Highway (Live)

Pondering the Political

It seems as though it is an exceedingly long time since Neil Young pulled his music from Spotify* in protest to “The Joe Rogan Experience’s” position vis-à-vis COVID information. It has been less than a year. He was joined by India.Arie, Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, and his former bandmates David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash last January/February. Think of those musicians what you will, but odds are Daniel Ek wasn’t shaking clogs with the departure.

At the time, CS&N collectively put out a statement:

“We support Neil and we agree with him that there is dangerous disinformation being aired on Spotify’s Joe Rogan podcast. While we always value alternate points of view, knowingly spreading disinformation during this global pandemic has deadly consequences. Until real action is taken to show that a concern for humanity must be balanced with commerce, we don’t want our music — or the music we made together — to be on the same platform.”

That is in keeping with the peace, love and understanding ethos that characterized many musicians in the late ‘60s, early ‘70s, when there were positions taken about the war in Vietnam and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. They unapologetically took a stand.

Fast forward a few months, and here is David Crosby explaining why his music was back on the streaming service:

“I don’t own it now and the people who do are in business to make money.”

In March 2022—a month after the statement of with a noble stance—David Crosby sold his catalog to Iconic Artists Group. Arguably, Crosby became an iconic artist as a result of his worldview and expression thereof. (Yes, there is his talent, too.)

But his explanation at the time was that he, then 80, was, like other musicians, not in a position to tour (in March 2022 there were 15,584 deaths related to COVID, or about 6% of the deaths in the U.S. that month.).

And like other people in general, Crosby had (and has) a need to pay the bills, and if he was going to be able to get someone to buy his work, then so be it.

The point here is not to pick on Crosby. At least he and his colleagues made a public stance, albeit ultimately a rather limp one.

Continue reading Pondering the Political

Audio Player Adventures

In 1971 the Fisher-Price Change-A-Record Music Box was introduced for those toddlers looking to spin some wax plastic. It came with five not-long-playing discs that included such child chart toppers such as “Humpty Dumpty,” “Jack and Jill” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” There is a slot in the music box itself to hold the discs. Not only in order to keep things tidy, but because those five discs were, well, the five discs.

Fast forward about 30 years and there was the HitClips digital music player from Tiger Electronics. Plug a cartridge into the device and get 60 seconds of audio from performers ranging from 3 Doors Down to Madonna, from Britney to Justin. Within a few years the cartridges contained 120 seconds of lo-fi music.

Then as we become more contemporary there is the Lego VIDIYO system that allows the creation of music with its proprietary collection of “12 Bandmates, 6 BeatBoxes and over 90 BeatBits to collect.”

And bringing it to now, there is the Donda Stem Player from Yeezy Tech + Kano. This is not to suggest that it is like any of the above in any sense beyond that it is something that it is an alternative means by which music can be obtained and in this case, modified to fit your tastes. There does seem to be a technological imperative that goes back to 1971, but in the case of the Stem Player there is not a limitation of what can be deployed; it accommodates AAC, AIF, AIFF, ALAC, FLAC, M4A, MP3, MP4, WAV, and WAVE files, so it is not like the user would have to limit themselves to the music of Ye and potentially his compatriots (i.e., if there was a proprietary format that he shared with his friends).

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I will not forget when I saw the movie Alien. It was a Sunday afternoon. My wife had no interest in going because while no one can hear you scream in space, they surely can in a theater.

I sat next to a young boy—say 10—and his mom.

There’s the gobsmackingly shocking scene when the xenomorph bursts out of John Hurt’s chest.

The mom looked over at me with her eyes saying, “Say something reassuring to my kid,” and all I could think of was, besides “Holy Shit!” was “You brought the kid here, deal with it.”

That came to mind when I read a story in The Washington Post about actress Evangeline Lilly, who plays the Wasp, a tiny character, in Marvel movies, attending the anti-COVID vaccine mandate rally in Washington DC on January 22.

Lilly, who is known for her arguably blasé approach to COVID (to put it euphemistically), wrote a caption on an Insta post showing protestors that includes, “nobody should ever be forced to inject their body with anything, against their will.”

One of the things that tends to be overlooked about the virus is that just like the aforementioned xenomorph, it requires a human host.

Said hosts, who, say, are walking around in crowds or pulling a Palin and sitting in a restaurant, knowing full well that they have tested positive, have the viruses burst out of their respiratory systems, just like the Alien.

And then, again Alien-like, there are people who are put at risk of bodily harm. Or death. (Just ask >874,000 Americans—wait, we can’t, they’re dead.)

Nobody should ever be forced to have aliens injected into their body against their will by science deniers.

Were COVID characterized by the xenomorph bursting out of humans, if it was characterized as the organic alien that is dedicated to nothing but reproduction (which is what is the case with viruses: they have nothing else to do but try to survive, which is why variants come to be), that would take down the Wasp and even Ripley, perhaps there would be a greater understanding that this is still a situation. While it may have less of a negative impact on people who are healthy (but let’s face it: Americans are generally not particularly healthy: according to the CDC, 16 states have obesity rates of 35% or higher), there are still some 41-million adults under 65 who have medical conditions that put them at high risk of serious illness from infection, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (There are an additional 51 million >65 years old at risk.)

At this point you are wondering whether (1) you’ve gone to some movie site or (2) a medical site.

And at this point I go to the Rogan/Young/Spotify situation, sort of bringing it back to music because I am unaware of the vocal stylings of Joe Rogan, the man who was made $100-million richer by Daniel Ek, when Spotify put Rogan, comedian, podcaster, ivermectin-taker, under contract.

Continue reading Aliens

New Jeff Tweedy: Old Country Waltz

Video: Jeff Tweedy – “Old Country Waltz” (Neil Young cover)

Live at the beloved Hideout in Chicago in support of the National Independent Venue Association Emergency Relief Fund.

The Hideout in Chicago is the best bar in the world. I think it would be hard for anybody to argue with that. I mean, it’s perfect. What more could you want in a bar? (Easier access via public transportation, perhaps, but maybe ridesharing apps have rendered that irrelevant?) Anyway…

I’m playing that old country waltz
In this empty hall, bouncin’ off the wall

Looks like this was filmed at the same time as the CBS “Saturday Sessions” that aired back in October when he was promoting Love Is The King. Maybe he still is, since it’ll be available on CD and vinyl this Friday, but the focus of this new video is the National Independent Venue Association Emergency Relief Fund, a/k/a #saveourstages. Even though the Save Our Stages Act passed Congress as part of COVID-19 Relief bill, it’s going to take months for that funding to make its way into the bank accounts of our beloved clubs and bars. So NIVA is continuing to raise money “to assist the venues at greatest risk of permanently going under.” Help if you can.

Continue reading New Jeff Tweedy: Old Country Waltz

A Gift of Neil

Neil Young’s 75th birthday was yesterday. Happy birthday, Neil. Sorry I’m late.

It’s weird to think I’ve been loving Neil for almost 30 years now. Like a lot of dudes who went to college in the early 90s I was heavily into the whole sixties counterculture scene. Jann Wenner’s influence over the rock and roll canon was still unquestioned. It felt important for serious music connoisseurs to know all that stuff.

I remember joining the Columbia House cd club one last time during my freshman year and one of my 12 picks was CSN(Y)’s So Far. I liked the Nash songs best. Clearly, I still had a lot to learn.

By my senior year I had graduated to Neil’s Decade, which became the soundtrack to many smoky evenings huddled around my pal George’s Mac putting together our underground newspaper or playing Maelstrom. George was my Neil Young spirit guide, providing guidance on the path to enlightenment.

After college my friends dispersed across the country but we kept in touch via brand new technology called an email listserv as well as sending handwritten letters through the good old U.S. mail. It was still the nineteen-hundreds after all. I was living at home with my mom, working a shitty factory job (English major), when I received a package from George in Toledo. It contained a cassette he compiled, titled The Killer, as something like a companion to Decade, the next step in my Neil education.

It blew my mind and made me realize the depth and intensity of Neil’s body of work.

Over the next several years as my obsession grew I scoured used record bins to fill in the rest of the blanks, eventually acquiring Neil’s complete discography on vinyl. It was so exciting to find an album I hadn’t heard before. New songs! The two holy grails were Time Fades Away and Journey Through the Past. At the same time, Neil was releasing new music (Harvest Moon, Sleeps with Angels, Mirrorball, Broken Arrow) and touring constantly. It was a great time to be a Neil fan.

And I owe it all to George and that mixtape.

Continue reading A Gift of Neil

New Neil Young: Homefires

Video: Neil Young – “Homefires”

From Neil Young Archives Volume II, out November 20 on Reprise.

Oh man remember back in the oughts all the angst around the original Archives collection? After originally mentioning the project in the liner notes to Lucky 13 in 1993, he didn’t get serious about it until around 2006 when he started talking about it and trickling out some live shows (Fillmore and Massey). And then in 2007 he posted a fancy landing page and suggested it would be released that September. Then the set got pushed back to February 2008. Then he announced it wouldn’t be released on CD, then it would be. Then it got pushed to early 2009, January, then February, then June, which happened. Finally! Eight CDs and a 160-page book for $72. It was very exciting even if it wasn’t as comprehensive as people thought. There were a bunch of cool, unreleased songs on it.

He’s been giving us hints about Archives II since 2010. And now you can pre-order it. 10 CDs with a 252-page book for $249.98. Inflation!

If the 12 unreleased songs on it are as good as “Homefires” it might well be worth it. But I think I’m going to wait to see if the price comes down. I’m thrifty like that.

New Neil Young: Lookin’ For A Leader 2020

Video: Neil Young – “Lookin’ For A Leader 2020”

From The Times EP, due September 18 on Reprise.

A new version of a song originally released during the George W. Bush administration, Neil updates the lyrics for today.

We got our election
But corruption has a chance
We got to have a big win
To regain confidence
America is beautiful
But she has an ugly side
We’re lookin’ for a leader
In this country far and wide

Good old Neil. We know he recently sued the Trump campaign for using his music at his rallies and now he’s calling him out in song.

Just like his big new fence
This president’s going down
America’s moving forward
You can feel it in every town
Scared of his own shadow
Buildin’ walls around our house
He’s hiding in his bunker
Something else to lie about

We’ve given Neil crap over the years for dashing out lyrics without putting much craftsmanship into the effort but sometimes the directness works. This is one of those times.

We don’t need a leader
Building walls around our house
Who don’t know black lives matter
And it’s time to vote him out

Yes it is. Make sure you’re registered. And make sure you cast your ballot. And if you don’t trust the USPS, you can drop off your ballot in person. Find out where. Your place probably has a secure dropbox where you don’t even need to get within six feet of anybody. Do it!

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Continue reading New Neil Young: Lookin’ For A Leader 2020

Music, Politics & Iggy on a Cruise Line

So a question is to what extent does a musician “own” her or his music, not necessarily in a legal sense–which is certainly more than a trivial consideration vis-à-vis the livelihood of people–but in that the music represents, one suspects, though can’t be certain of*, what that person’s beliefs are.

This thought occurred as a result of the law suit filed in the Southern District of New York by Neil Young against the Trump campaign for the campaign’s unauthorized use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk.”

Other musicians who have objected—not all in court—against the use of their material by the Trump campaign over the years include Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Pharrell Williams, Tom Petty (his estate) and The Rolling Stones.

Which brings me back to the original question. Why does an organization like Trump’s campaign think that those musicians in any way represent the thinking, beliefs or social mores of Donald Trump? Aren’t many of these people antithetical to that?

Would, say, the Biden campaign use—unauthorized or otherwise—music from Ted Nugent or Toby Keith?

Music is a fundamental part of our culture. As such it reflects, in many ways, our values.

While one could argue that music has long been co-opted for reasons political and, more substantially, commercial. For example, right now you can hear “Magic” by Pilot in a TV commercial for diabetes drug Ozembic and Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” in a spot for Anoro, which is a COPD medication.

And who can forget the soundtrack for a Royal Caribbean cruise line ad from a few years back: Iggy’s “Lust for Life”? A waterslide? An endless buffet? Umbrella drinks? Sandals, socks, Bermuda shorts and overstuffed swimsuits?

In those cases, of course, the songwriters are undoubtedly being compensated for their work, and it is hard to imagine a political case being made against ads for medications (unless, of course, one is anti “Big Pharma,” which Trump has declared himself to be, so one wonders what pop song his people will roll out for that position—the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin”: “And all the politicians making crazy sounds. . . “?).

One interesting aspect of the Neil Young situation is that it wasn’t until January of this year that he became an American citizen. “Rockin’ in the Free World” was released in 1989. “Devil’s Sidewalk” was released in 2003.

Which means that the Trump campaign has been not only music from a man who does not reflect or support the candidate’s ostensible positions, but from a man who was, at the time he released those songs, was a foreigner. And we know how Trump feels about them.

*This is problematic in some regards as let’s face it: many songs are written about fictional situations so it is impossible to say that anyone is making authentic statements in their songs, as it may simply be a reflection of what seems to be relevant in the market at the time of composition.

Continue reading Music, Politics & Iggy on a Cruise Line

New Neil Young video: Peace Trail

Video: Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – “Peace Trail”

Directed by Daryl Hannah. From the Paradox soundtrack, out now on Reprise.

This is a new version of one of the best songs Neil has written this decade. “Peace Trail” was the title track of his 2016 album recorded with session musicians Jim Keltner and Paul Bushnell. This new version is with his band Promise Of The Real and is featured on the soundtrack of Daryl Hannah’s film, Paradox (available on Netflix).

I have to take good care
When something new is growing

Can’t really tell from this video what the movie’s about but Netflix says, “Neil Young and his band of outlaws sow seeds of strange mischief and musical wonder under Western skies in this dreamlike film by Daryl Hannah.” Looks like it might be a sequel to Grizzly Adams. I think I spotted Ben but where’s old Number Seven?

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