Monday, January 30, 2006

Neil Young's "On The Beach"(DVD-A)

"In this land of conditions I am not above suspicion."

The spirit of Neil looms large over my little shack today. First thing this morning, I grabbed NME magazine on the way to the head and read two articles from July and August 1974 reviewing On The Beach. One positive, one negative. As soon as I finished them, I immediately put the disc in the dvd player and ran through it 2 times. Just as the second listening was completed, I finished a two day download of a newly released soundboard recording from his solo acoustic tour in 1971. I thought I might write about Beach here but, it being Sunday and me being lazy, I put it off the whole day. So, just as I'm about to turn in for the night I read on the SXSW website that Neil has been chosen as the keynote speaker for the 20th annual music festival held in Austin each year. I decided that this was some kind of sign from Neil that I should go ahead and do it.
On the surface, this album is a rather melon collie collection of tunes with its heart pinned to its sleeve. But even with a cloud of doom seemingly hanging over it, there is an underlying current of hope for the future that permeates its thick exterior. It would be hard to argue that the opening track "Walk On" doesn't project a sense of forward momentum in its stride. I've found this to be one of the most inspiring tracks in his long eclectic career. "Big Time" is a close second. Even "See The Sky About To Rain" holds the promise of a wash over that will bring with it a new feeling of revival and forgiveness.
"Revolution Blues" emotes a chaotic and paranoid vision for the days ahead. Written after a meeting with Charles Manson, one can't help but think that maybe Manson wasn't so outrageous in his beliefs. Who hasn't thought about wiping the earth clean of the bloated, fevered egos that Hollywood dangles before our eyes every day? Don't think I'm advocating the brainwashing of nubile young women who will do anything and everything to stay in your favor. However, the desire to live a simple uncluttered life void of "pigs" and fucked up phonies sure does sound appealing to me. And I bet riding dune buggies in the desert is a gas, gas, gas!
"For The Turnstiles" has remained a constant in Neil's live repertoire to this day. The songs theme discusses the inevitable price those who seek out the Business of Fame must face sooner or later. Remember when baseball was just a game? Yeah, me neither.
"Vampire Blues" tells of our desire to rape and pillage this planet for all it's worth. Sucking the Earth of all its blood and selling it by the barrelful to the highest bidder. A drunken cousin to the rocky ride that Tonight's The Night had in spades. And the perfect metaphor for the variety of subjects that Neil sinks his teeth in to on this album. The guitar solo sounds like a smacked out bumble bee that's wandered in to the studio only to collide with the Telfunken U47 used to mike the vocals. Despite it's cerebral and weary mood, Neil seems to be looking toward greener pastures.
The title songs follows and you can almost hear the roar of the waves crashing gently on the sand as it melts between your toes. Lethargic and somber in its delivery, it's an intimate tale of needing and wanting the adulation of the crowd while despising it in the same breath. A double edged sword handed to him on a silver platter. His only recourse is to "...get out of town."
He's saves the best for last with "Ambulance Blues"(which is not a blues progression at all). Denouncing his critics, he injects a cheeky razor sharp wit that's shared only with Dylan and Leonard Cohen. A true epic in the vein of "Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands". You experience so many twists and turns along the way that, by the end, you can't remember where it all began. But, by it's conclusion, you feel like you've grow by leaps and bounds throughout. One of my most memorable concert experiences was seeing him perform this live on the final evening of his epic 1999 acoustic tour of America.

"You're all just pissin' in the wind. You don't know it, but you are."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely love this album... second only to "Tonight's the Night" in my book...


7:57 AM  

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