Tuesday, June 5, 2012

everyone knows this is nowhere

Among the many sounds my dad turned me onto, I've loved Neil Young as long as I can remember. I tuned his guitar down to double-drop-D to play 'Cinnamon Girl' and skronking through the chord progressions of 'Down By the River" and "Like a Hurricane."

 It was good tunes for melancholic autumn undergrad days of writing papers on haiku and medieval symbology and drinking tea, and for long road trips down state routes to visit family out in the hills. It feels like America in all its expansive eclectic heartbreaking whatever, even though he's Canadian and all. I like that he's always kind of done his own thing, even when it doesn't make sense, and hasn't tried to look young, but somehow kind of gets that the subsequent generations kind of knew what they were doing. 

I like that he somehow makes magic out of people who can barely play their instruments and seems not to be bothered by strange album covers. There's sublime albums and uneven ones, boring ones and ones that are damn near unlistenable, but at least even forty years on, there's still an element of unpredictability, and it at least stays interesting if not always purchase-worthy.

And yeah, the lyrics aren't always all that great, and he's got a penchant for historical revisionism when it comes to documentedly warlike indigenous peoples that still made for good long jams nonetheless.
hate was just a legend, and war was never known... 

And the political recently could get kind of hamfisted and idealistic  (lest we forget he was for both St. Ronald of Reagan and also Dear Leader), but then there's this that was written awhile back that really could have been written today.

we got a kindler gentler machine gun hand...

But for some reason the more introverted songs tapped into a loneliness that I've always understood and resonated strongly with and if it's not Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, or After The Gold Rush, the one that gets the most spins in the car is definitely Mirrorball, with Pearl Jam as a fabulously noisy backup band. My dad says it should get played on the radio more and he's probably right.

Need distraction, need romance and candlelight
Need random violence, need Entertainment Tonight
Need the evidence, want the testimony of
Expert witnesses on the brutal crimes of love.

So he's coming through these parts, though sadly Patti Smith is not opening the Cleveland date. I may or may not go, but I'd like to see him play before I die, I guess, especially since I missed him and Bert Jansch in Boston while I was there.

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