Thursday, December 25, 2003

As if yesterday's hint wasn't too obvious (or, as if anyone's paying attention)...

#8: Neil Young & Crazy HorseGreendale

“How can all these people afford so many things? When I was young, people wore what they had on”, sings the semi-autobiographical Grandpa on “Falling from Above”, the opening track to Neil Young’s idyllic rock opera and concept album, Greendale, which also marks Crazy Horse’s triumphant return after a seven year hiatus. “A little love and affection in everything you do; will make the world a better place, with or without you” is the opening song’s refrain, and also serves as the album’s thematic centerpiece. “Some day you’ll find everything you’re looking for” on “Bandit” and “Share your loving and you’ll live so long” on “Grandpa’s Interview” echo these charismatically idealistic sentiments.

I witnessed this album performed live before ever hearing the record and I was instantly captivated by its images of simple folk in small town America caught up in a tragic scandal, and its anti-sensationalist and pro-environmental rebellious rants. I looked forward to the record’s release date, and, I must say, it did not disappoint. Although Neil’s usual guitar partner, Frank “Poncho” Sampedro’s role is reduced (in the live production and on record) to organ playing and, therefore, there are no Crazy Horse trademark dueling guitar interludes, this is the best Neil and the Horse have produced since 1990’s Ragged Glory.

Only Neil Young can get away with being this sappy, without sounding trite, and still manage to get his message across. I know I was listening.

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