Category Archives: Neil Young

Roger Answers Your Question, Scott

Our next contestant is Scott, husband of Marcia (no, not my sister), father of Nigel and, since September 22 of Ian:

Who’s going to win the NL pennant, the AL pennant, and eventually the World Series?

I thought in the beginning of the season the Red Sox would be the AL wild card but would get to the Series. Not feeling it any more. While the Angels COULD beat them, I got to think that the Yankees just seem too solid to lose.

Did you happen to read that cover story about Detroit in Sports Illustrated this week? I REALLY will be rooting for the Tigers, but I’m not seeing it happening. If it did, I’d be happy – shades of 1968. (Off topic: BREAK UP THE LIONS!)

I don’t see the NL wild card (probably Colorado, though I’d prefer the Giants) winning the pennant. The Phillies have an unreliable closer and leave too many on base. Certainly can make the case for the Dodgers, but I’ll go with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Want to say Cards win the Series – shades of 1964 – but I think the Yankees, shut out of the postseason last year, are ticked off enough to win it all – shades of 1928 and 1943.

Is there an entertainer (singer, musician, actor, all, etc.) that you first couldn’t understand why they were even in the business, but now admire their work?

Yeah. Almost any singer-songwriter whose singing voice isn’t pretty; the first is Bob Dylan, who I first knew as a singer, long before I heard that he wrote all of those songs that other people performed. Then I thought that he should ONLY be a songwriter. But given the number of Dylan albums in my collection, evidently I’ve changed my mind.

To a lesser degree, Neil Young: his voice wasn’t as harsh as Dylan’s so I did not have as far to travel to get to owning well over a dozen Neil albums, just as I own numerous Dylan discs.

Given how the media has access to so much information and gets to see so much of a famous person’s life, do you think it’s best to always steer clear of them being accepted as role models?

I think young actors and athletes and musicians are ill-served. If there was some sort of mechanism that said that when you reach a certain level of the profession you seek, you need some sort of counseling to make sure your head is on straight. I’m thinking of folks like the Mets’ Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, who had too much money too quickly and screwed themselves up.

But everybody is a role model for someone. One can refuse to accept it – was it Charles Barkley who said that he wasn’t role model for anyone? – but it doesn’t alter the fact that he is. I’m a role model, you’re a role model, even if we’re unaware. And you don’t even know when one’s going to become a role model. The Phillies fan who catches a foul ball, hands the ball to his daughter who throws it back, then hugs his daughter; he’s a role model. Now if he chewed out his daughter instead, he’d STILL be a role model, albeit not a very good one.

On the other side of this, who that is famous do you think is a good example of a good role model?

There are lots of athletes and performers who work for their various charities, sometimes with limited publicity nationally. That said, I’ve always been impressed with Bill Russell (Boston Celtics) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Milwaukee Bucks, LA Lakers) for the way they carry themselves. Kareem is also a JEOPARDY! winner – actually the week before I won – so that’s also a plus. BTW, he’s going to be on JEOPARDY! this season in a million-dollar celebrity invitational; someone’s favorite charity will receive one million dollars at the end of the season.

What is your favorite show that is not shown on one of the big four networks (and Jeopardy!, though syndicated, counts as a big network show, since it’s always found on one of their local affiliates)?

Scott, with that caveat, you know me too well. Actually, don’t mind watching some of the daughter’s shows such as Jack’s Big Music Show (Noggin). But I suppose I’ll pick The Closer on TNT; once you realize it’s not a whodunit, but rather how the team discerns it, it’s much more interesting. There were a couple particularly moving episodes this summer.

That said, there are SO many shows out there that I might be interested in watching, I pretty much say “no” more often than “yes” lately. Even in this new season, I’ve taped only three new network shows (Glee; The Good Wife – strong cast; and Modern Family) and I haven’t watched ANY of them yet. My wife started watching Glee with Lydia – she mistakenly thought it was child-friendly.

You might have posted this already and I missed it, but had Lydia been a boy, what were your choices for a name?

Had to ask the wife. She claims we agreed on Micah, but I’m not convinced. Sounds too much like the ever-popular Michael. In all likelihood, the child would still be called Male Child Green.

ROG

Songs That Move Me, 10-2

10. Neil Young – Harvest Moon
A beautiful song, with specific recollections of a romance that burned brightly, then ended.
Feeling: autumnal.

9. Crying- Roy Orbison And k.d lang.
As good as Roy’s original is, this one is better. It’s the harmonica. And when lang gets to sing, by herself, the chorus, it is stunning.
Feeling: there’s something in my eye.

8. Biko – Peter Gabriel.
The story of the slain South African is penetrating, but the vocals, the rhythm, and that ending!
Feeling: ticked off.

7. John Hiatt – Have a Little Faith in Me
How does this rate so high? It’s just a guy on the piano. Well, it’s the quality of both. Hiatt remade this song with more orchestration for a greatest hits album; it was not improved, and in fact was somehow diminished. Not so incidentally, a key song on a mixed tape I made for my now-wife.

6. When Love Comes To Town – U2/B.B. King.
From the opening drumming to King’s guitar lines, to King’s and Bono’s vocals, I almost always platy this song twice.
Feeling: struggling with the power.

chops off 1st notes and then too soon.

5. Billy Joel-Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)
As beautiful as it is, the piano on the bridge just lifts it higher. I heard an a cappella version of this, which was lovely.
Feeling: melancholy.
HERE.

4. Roberta Flack – Gone Away.
I was watching the Grammys in the last couple years and discovered someone has sampled this. This song, part of the group of songs I used to play when love went south, really builds after the 1:30 mark, with instruments (a painful guitar line, and is that a tuba?) plus mournful vocals that feature the late Donny Hathaway.
Feeling: brokenhearted.

3. I Only Have Eyes For You – the Flamingoes.
I hear those first three or four chords and I am always surprised how it leads to such a lush tune. My first favorite song, probably for 30 years.
Feeling: loving.

2. Let’s Go Crazy – Prince.
Unfortunate that the video overlays the preach part with the musical beginning, for it’s both elements that I love. The danceability, plus my favorite guitar solo possibly ever. I have a 7-minute version that’s even more fun.
Feeling: let’s get nuts!

So, here are
the rules.
100-91.
90-81.
80-71.
70-61.
60-51.
50-41.
40-31.
30-21.
20-11.

Anyone want to venture a guess as to #1?

(Confidential to T&C, who started before I did, but somehow will finish after: it’s from my top 10 with which one or more of your Top 40 will converge, I’m guessing.)
ROG

Brian Wilson's Route 66

Brian Wilson is 66 today.

Here’s a link to the Coverville tribute to Pet Sounds.

A link to a guy who has put a bunch of a cappella takes of the Beach Boys’ versions of the songs from Pet Sounds on YouTube.

My second favorite song from Pet Sounds:

Brian from SMiLE:

Brian from a 1967 performance of a song from what would have been SMiLE:

A Neil Young song that namechecks the Beach Boys and a song from Pet Sounds. The studio version (which I can’t find) is even more evocative.

A John Hiatt song which has what I think are lovely harmonies – inspired by the Beach Boys?

***
And on another matter, the New York Daily News cover from Wednesday, June 18:


ROG

Top 10 5 Albums of 2007

I only got 13 albums that came out in 2007, all CDs, as opposed to downloads or vinyl. Unlike the movies I didn’t see, this fact does not particularly distress me as much as it might, since I did download some individual cuts as well as older albums I had on vinyl.

So coming up with a Top 10 seemed silly. I will discuss all of them, but then give you my Top 5, which is pretty soft.

Across the Universe SOUNDTRACK – It’s OK. Too much of it sounds the same. Didn’t see the movie, though, and that might have helped. I love EDDIE IZZARD doing Mr. Kite, though.

Like A Hurricane-Neil Young Tribute, Uncut Magazine. Pretty good actually, though invariably uneven.

It’s Not Big, It’s Large- Lyle Lovett. As I wrote here, I like it, but haven’t played it in over a month. Might rank higher when I hear it again.

Memory Almost Full-Paul McCartney. I liked it, especially some of the latter songs. The cut that explains the meanings of the songs really enhanced the album for me.

Magic-Bruce Springsteen. I enjoyed it quite a bit actually, but with a couple of exceptions, it sounds as though it could have come out a decade or more ago.

Live In Dublin-Bruce Springsteen. This lives heavily on the songs from the Seeger Session of 2006 that I loved so much. Works well here, too, plus some great reframing of the Springsteen oeuvre, and a surprise or two.

We’ll Never Turn Back-Mavis Staples. Lefty Brown turned me onto this album, and it was in constant rotation in the summer, one track in particular.

Photograph: the Very Best of Ringo Starr. Quite possibly all the Richard Starkey I’ll ever need. A mostly known commodity going in, and some good songs. Beatlefan magazine posed the question a couple months ago whether Ringo, as a solo artist, deserved to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; I’d say no, as commercial success, and is largely not a criterion.

And now, my Top 5:

5) West- Lucinda Williams. This might be is a hard album to love for me. Sometimes the lyrics are weak, sometimes the music, though usually at least one element is outstanding. Some of the lyrics are as nonsensical as Dylan’s most obtuse. There’s a 9-minute quasi-rap song that somebody on Amazon called the WORST SONG EVER. But when it clicks, it really works for me. It’s no “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”, but it is a worthwhile effort about loss.

4) Dirt Farmer – Levon Helm. – Maybe I’m a sucker for a feel-good story. Helm, the voice of the legendary group The Band, survived throat cancer, but he was unable to talk, let alone sing. But with treatment, he was able to do both. And this album, which sounds like The Band mixed with the music of the group’s roots, is outstanding. His daughter Amy, who sings with the group Olabelle, is also present here.

3) Chrome Dreams II-Neil Young. What Nik said about the eclectic nature of the project. BTW, Tosy once had a post about the longest and shortest album cuts. He and I had the same Dylan cut as the longest, but Ordinary People on this album at 18 minutes surpasses that. (I have since discovered that I have a 20-minute live version of Frank Zappa’s Don’t eat the Yellow Snow.) Here’s a review from the United Methodist Church website!

2) Raising Sand- Alison Krauss/Robert Plant. Actually, I bought this for my wife for Christmas. I always buy Alison Krauss for my wife for Christmas or her birthday when she has a new album out. While there were some duets that sounded more like her fare, there’s at least one cut that’s louder than anything on any Krauss album I’ve heard. In any case, it works because of genre-bending song selection and a great production by T-Bone Burnett. The more I hear it, the more I like it.

1)I’m Not There SOUNDTRACK- (Nik: this is how I write every day – I just quote other people.) As Nik says, compilations are tough, but this one works exceedingly well, even though I didn’t see this movie yet, either.

The album I’m most likely to get, sound unheard, based on everyone else’s reviews: LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver.

ROG

The ABCs of Music


Tom the Dog made this abecedarian list; actually, he’s made at least three recently, and I haven’t done one since Thanksgiving 2005, I don’t believe.

So, these are songs I like. I think they’re a bit goofy, not necessarily in a Weird Al or Dr. Demento sort of way (though one of the artists does appear on a Demento album I own). Some are actually good songs, though a couple are terrible.

ABBA- Waterloo. Yeah, I know, they rule, a top 10 group for Mr. Hembeck. But they’re still a guilty pleasure for me.
Bee Gees-Jive Talkin’. Released before Saturday Night Fever, but included on the soundtrack, I find myself walkin’ down the street like Tony Manero when I hear it, which really hurts.
Costello, Elvis-Chewing Gum. Elvis’ birthday was last month and I was listening to Spike, my favorite EC album (and apparently no one else’s). I said to one of my co-workers, “Get that chewing gum out of your ears!” She said, “Why DID you say that to me?” It was this song featuring the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
Doors-Touch Me. I’m not a big Jim Morrison fan; I went out with a woman (briefly) who was. Yet, I’m always waiting around for the “stronger than dirt” line.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer-Nut Rocker. At the end of the excess that was ELP doing Pictures at an Exhibition, the coda on the album was a variation on the Nutcracker Suite; a version is shown here. The song was originally done in 1962 by B. Bumble and the Stingers .
Focus-Hocus Pocus. This is a dopey, yodel-driven song by some Dutch band that was an unlikely hit. I bought the album. Check out a live version here.
Gore, Lesley- Judy’s Turn to Cry. Lesley sang, “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to.” This is the vengeful follow-up. HA, Judy!
Herman’s Hermits-Mrs. Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter. When I joined the Capitol Records Club when I was 12, I needed to buy 12 albums. Since the Beatles had only a half dozen albums out at the time, one of my selections was The Best of Herman’s Hermits. I used to do a fairly good Peter Noone impression.
Ives, Burl-Funny Way of Laughin’. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been fond of those songs in which the protagonist pretends not to be crying, or doesn’t want to be seen crying (the Temptations’ I Wish it Would Rain comes to mind.)
Jackson Five-Maybe Tomorrow. An overwrought power ballad. I once requested this on a radio station and the DJ took it off before its peak overwroughtness.
Kinks-Skin and Bone. A swing tune about the dangers of dieting. From possibly my favorite Kinks album, Muswell Hillbillies.
Tom Lehrer-the Vatican Rag. This is the artist on a Demento album, the 1950s novelty song Poisoning Pigeons in the Park. But this song is from the great mid-1960s album That Was The Year That Was, which I own on CD. Bizarrely, someone posted on You Tube someone playing the LP on his record player, placing the tonearm on the first track for Part 1, continuing Side 1 and onto Side 2 on Part 2, more of Side 2 on Parts 3 and 4, and finishing up with the theologically incorrect Vatican Rag.
Marcels-Blue Moon. A big doowop hit in 1961.
Napoleon XIV: !Aaah-aH yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC er’yehT. The backwards B-side version of the annoying They’re Coming to Take Me Away Ha-Haaa!, is also an unlisted final track on the CD Second Coming.
Ohio Express-Yummy Yummy Yummy. Is there a lyric so vapid as “Yummy, yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy”? Maybe their hit Chewy, Chewy, which has been used on TV commercials. I often confuse this group with the 1910 Fruitgum Company, their bandmates on Buddha, who had hits such as Simon Says; 1, 2, 3, Red Light; and Special Delivery.
Presley, Elvis-Hey Jude. A truly awful, out-of-tune version on a mixed CD that someone gave me. Listening to a train wreck.
Queen-Somebody to Love. It’s that dramatic, harmonic beginning that I love.
Rascals-More. Talk about overwrought. From the Groovin’ album.
Sinatra-The Lady Is a Tramp. Sometimes, Sinatra is cool (That’s Life), and then there are times when Sinatra thinks he’s cool; this is the latter.
Thomas, Rufus-Do the Funky Chicken. After doing at least four Dog songs, he moved on from canines to poultry. People will jump fences to do the Funky Chicken.
Utopia-Everything Is Going Wrong. Todd Rundgren’s group did this great Beatles parody, Deface the Music; this is the last track, designed in the Strawberry Fields/I Am the Walrus mode.
Van Halen-Happy Trails. The last song on the only Van Halen album I’ve ever owned, this Dale Evans classic is performed goofily.
Who-Boris the Spider. I just like to say “Boris the spider” in the scariest voice I could muster.
XTC-Your Dictionary. This is not a goofy song, this is a nasty song I first heard on a mixed CD.
Young, Neil-Mr. Soul. Neil must have really liked this song. He first recorded it with Buffalo Springfield. Then a live version is the springboard for Springfield’s Broken Arrow. The version I have in mind is the vocoder version on the much-maligned Reactor, which I love.
Zappa, Frank-Cosmic Debris. There are lots of Zappa songs that might have qualified, but this one has the great lyric, “Is that a real poncho or is that a Sears poncho?”
***
Teen death songs will never die.

ROG

Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 2

Here’s the second part of that rambling roster of songs that I end up playing more than once at a time. This list is hardly exhaustive, as I probably played some singles to death in my youth. Or later (Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick comes to mind in the “later” category.) Also, I should note that there are some albums I almost never parsed, because they are of a piece: What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye immediately comes to mind. Also, I’ve been picking one per artist, though this doesn’t prevent me from picking a group and a solo artist from that group.

Drinkin’ Wine Spodee-O-Dee-Stick McGhee. Atlantic Rhythm and Blues: 1947-1974 was a seven double-LP set. This song is from 1949. (Incidentally, the box set is now eight CDs.)

White Lines (Don’t Do It)-Melle Mel and Grandmaster Flash. I still have that 12″ from 1983. Love the vocal, love the horns.

Words-the Monkees. When I got a greatest hits album from someone, I had forgotten about this tune with an insistent rhythm.

Cars-Gary Numan. One of the last 45s I ever bought. It’s that wowowowowowo synth before the drum.

For the Love of Money-the O’Jays. Long before Donald Trump co-opted it, I loved this tune. On greatest hits CD.

Love in Them There Hills-the Pointer Sisters. The last song on the eclectic That’s A-Plenty LP, it’s Philly soul. Used to listen to it in the dark.

Do What You Want To-Billy Preston. Starts off a bit slowly but builds up speed. From the That’s the Way God Planned It LP, produced by George Harrison, first song on the album. This does exist digitally, but, unfortunately, not in my collection.

Let’s Go Crazy-Prince. Sometimes, it’s the first song on the Purple Rain LP, other times it’s the seven-minute EP, but from the preaching in the beginning to the guitar solo near the end, one of my favorite songs ever.

A Salty Dog-Procol Harum. The vocal, the sparse instrumentation in the beginning, the drums. From a greatest hits LP.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love-Queen. Rockabilly Queen? From the greatest hits LP.

It’s the End of the World As We Know It-R.E.M. And I feel fine. From the Document CD.

Kicks-Paul Revere & the Raiders. The first anti-drug song. From a greatest hits LP.

I Am Waiting-the Rolling Stones. From the Aftermath LP, near the end. Beautiful chorus, rocking bridge. I like how they change up the vocal near the end.

Anyone Who Had A Heart-Linda Ronstadt. Written by Bacharach and David, and originally done by Dionne Warwick, I think it’s just quite beautiful. From the Winter Light CD.

Jerks on the Loose-the Roches. The last song on the Robert Fripp-produced Keep On Doing LP, it contains a message I repeat when a car tries to beat an ambulance through an intersection, or I witness some other foolishness: “Be on your guard; jerks on the loose.”

At the Zoo-Simon & Garfunkel. The last song on Bookends, another song that I know all the lyrics to. I have a friend in Austin, TX named Carol, who I’ve know most of my life, as we met in kindergarten. I specifically recall that in high school, she HATED this song. Also, Strawberry Fields Forever. (The things the mind recalls.)

Boy In the Bubble-Paul Simon. The first song on the Graceland album. There is also a six-minute version of this that starts with nothing but percussion that I’ve heard, but have never seen in digitized form that I covet.

Rubberband Man-Spinners. OK, a silly song, and even sillier at seven minutes, which I have on some LP, but I like it anyway.

I’ve Got a Line On You-Spirit. Rockin’, doubled guitar, first song on some LP.

East St. Louis Toodle-O-Steely Dan. From some LP, it’s Duke Ellington. As some comics guy put it, ’nuff said.

The Ostrich-Steppenwolf. Talked about this here.

Hot Fun In the Summertime-Sly & the Family Stone. With all the uptempo songs Sly did, it’s this stroll that I kept coming back to. From the Greatest Hits LP.

The Logical Song-Supertramp-Starts with a good bottom, then has great lyrics: “radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal”. The sax puts it over the top. Second song on the LP. The song that actually inspired the posts.

Love Is Like An Itchin’ in My Heart-the Supremes. Like many Motown tunes, lives on the bottom. A greatest hits CD I own has an extra 20 glorious seconds.

Take Me To the River-Talking Heads. I can’t sing like my cousin, Al Green. But if I ever did karaoke, and I never plan to, it would likely be this version I’d try to emulate.

Shower the People-James Taylor. It was the bass vocal harmonization in the latter stages of the song I liked to sing along with. First on some Warner Brothers Loss Leaders LP.

I Can’t Get Next to You-the Temptations. Producer Barrett Strong swiped this multi-lead vocal model from Sly Stone (so did Prince, on 1999, e.g.), and it’s never better than on this.

It’s For You-Three Dog Night. This cover of a song Lennon & McCartney gave away (to Cilla Black, I think). It starts a cappella, then has an instrumental bridge, then back to vocals only. When the instruments return, one can tell that the vocals are ever so slightly flat. I kept playing it, hoping somehow that I could will the pitch up. From their first, and best, LP.

Wilbury Twist-Traveling Wilburys. I’ve almost hurt myself following the detailed instructions. The shared vocals give it a particularly goofy flavor.

When Love Comes To Town-U2. I’ve hit the replay button so often, I can tell it’s the 12th track on Rattle and Hum AND on the best of album, 1980-1990. Start with that insistent drum start, B.B. King’s guitar playing. And while Bono’s vocals are fine, it’s B.B.’s that nail this song for me.

As-Stevie Wonder. The penultimate tune on Songs In the Key of Life, I was particularly taken by the totally different vocal on the “preach” section: “We all know sometimes life’s hates and troubles…”

When You Dance, I Can Really Love-Neil Young. Unofficially, a theme song for a college romance. From the After the Gold Rush LP, second side somewhere.

ROG

Three Ramblin' Questions: premiere

Here’s a new feature here at Ramblin’ – it’s called “Three Ramblin’ Questions.”
OK, it’s not new. I was inspired by blogger Chris “Lefty” Brown.
OK, I stole Lefty Brown’s idea.

In any case, this month marks the 50th anniversary of “Rock and/or Roll,” as a cartoon minister once put it. Rock Around the Clock reached Number 1 on the charts July 9, 1955.
(Yeah, yeah, I know about “Rocket 88” and all that)

About halfway through the Rock and roll era, one (or two) of my favorite songs about rock and roll came out on Neil Young’s Rust Never Sleeps album. (And neither do I ’cause it’s too darn hot.)

So, please tell me:

1. Will rock and roll ever die, or is rock and roll here to stay?

2. Is it better to burn out, or to fade away?

3. What king or queen of music is gone but not forgotten? (Gone means left this mortal coil, not a downturn in the career.)

BONUS QUESTION: I’ll be doing this feature:

a. Every week, religiously.

b. As the muse strikes.

c. Whenever I’m pressed for time.