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Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Americana


Josh Hurst
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Coming soon. Mulvey:

If you haven’t picked up the backstory, "Americana" finds Young and Crazy Horse tackling a kind of Great American Songbook, gleefully claiming perennials like “This Land Is Your Land”, “Wayfarin’ Stranger” and “Clementine” as their own. As a study in how Neil Young’s musical character is strong enough to overwhelm the most familiar of songs, it’s remarkable.

As a record in its own right, too, it works extremely well. “Americana” might have a subtext of roots-related national pride by virtue of the song selections (a spirited galumph through the doo-wop classic, “Get A Job”, is underpinned – though not remotely overburdened – with contemporary relevance) but the predominant vibe is one of goofy enjoyment. Essentially, it sounds very much like some old friends mucking about in the barn – and it’s pretty hard to think of any other bunch I’d rather hear mucking about.

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  • 2 months later...

This made my day.

Here, once again graced by the presence of guitarist Frank Sampedro, who sat out 2003's rock opera Greendale, Crazy Horse stumble and lurch as they pound the same three chords they've been bashing out for 40 years, time not adding acumen but rather eroding whatever finesse they ever possessed. Always garage rock primitives, Crazy Horse sounds downright amateurish on Americana, as if they woke up one morning and couldn't remember how to play their instruments... It all winds up as an ungodly mess: Crazy Horse do, as Young asserted they would, make these songs their own, but by doing so, they've made them so nobody else would ever want them.

Partner in Cahoots

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I think Josh and Andy described this one as a "head scratcher". I'm inclined to agree. It too reminds me why I've been mostly ambivalent of Neil Young.

(And as a side note. I'm a Built to Spill fan. Been so for awhile. This makes me very worried for the direction they've been heading. How long before Doug Martsch and company start banging out 12 minute versions of "On Top of Old Smokey"?)

"It is scandalous for Christians to have an imagination starved for God." - Mark Filiatreau

I write occasionally at Unfamiliar Stars.

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  • 5 months later...

Neil Young has an autobiography out. Thought I'd mention it here rather than launch a new thread in the Lit area, although I can do that if there's demand to discuss the book. The Washington Post review of the book is amusing:

Here’s Neil, not going gently, flogging away at the whole idea of artistic inspiration and how to nurture and sustain it through the ups and downs of life. Either that, or he wrote a book because he needs some money.

“Writing is very convenient, has a low expense, and is a great way to pass the time,” he says. “I highly recommend it to any old rocker who is out of cash and doesn’t know what to do next.”

Fair enough. Plenty of his peers have been taking that advice. But Young’s book is no rollicking pirate’s tale like Keith Richards’s autobiography, nor will it win any literary awards like Patti Smith’s. No, this is something far weirder. It’s cranky, loopy, sincere and schmaltzy at the same time. Some poor editor probably had the temptation to untangle all the twisted chronologies and aimless asides, but thank goodness that didn’t happen.

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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