Neil Young - Living With War
click cover to stream album
So here it is. And it's great. Reaaaaaaally good. The best Neil record since Sleeps With Angels. Fucking ace tunes, great lyrics, lovely production. Nice and lo-fi, written and recorded in 8 days, released less than a month after, and it's just what he needed to revitalise himself a bit. The 100 person chorus sound great, although there's a tiny bit of me that wishes it was Crazy Horse doing the group harmonies, but I can forgive him that. Go listen to it, it's probably the most important record of the moment, and Neil definitely has some balls for writing an entire record explicitly going apeshit at Bush when most bands have settled for veiled references to idiots in fear of alienating their fanbase if they sang about anything substantial (see: Green Day). The Dixie Chicks stood behind a statement, but didn't really write any songs to go with their stance.
Considering the amount of good press Neil has had lately, what with the success of Prairie Wind and multiple appearances as a kind of godfather of rock on late night chat shows in the U.S., it's pretty cool of him to be so prepared to take so much inevitable flack for making such a political record. I find it funny that within a day of the announcement of what this record would be about, the rather good Neil blog The Wheatfield had posted this statement:
He's from Canada.
He's a hippie.
He's an old man.
He smokes pot.
He's a tree-hugger.
He's a flip-flopper.
And worst of all -- just like Dylan - he can't sing.
Blog-dale has exploded. I've seen the hate and the damage done.
For all of the angry, rage filled hate-mongers, you are absolutely right. For once.
Neil Young is from Canada. He is a hippie. He is an old man. He smokes pot. He is a tree-hugger. He is a flip - flopper. And, just like Bob Dylan - he can't sing.
Now that we have that straight, please do not post comments here regarding information that we are all well aware of.
I think some people don't understand that a lot of those reasons are we we fans like him. As well know, most Canadian music is amazing, hippies are at least cooler than conservatives, old men can be cool (see: Tom Waits), pot smoking is quite fun, trees are nice too, flip flopping suggests a process of thought and the humility to admit one was wrong rather than a beligerant and arrogant inability to change, and as for not being able to sing, if Neil sounded like anyone else he just wouldn't be worth listening to.
Anyway it's nice, as a big Neil fan, to see him making a political statement that's not a booboo. I can kind of forgive his 80s miniromance with conservatism, considering he was going through a weird phase and very much focussing on his family, getting older and probably settling in his ways a little too much. Regarding Let's Roll, his post-911 commentary on Flight 93, I think it can be put down to an understandable kneejerk reaction to an awful incident, and it was just a shame that he didn't think more about how it could and has been construed as a recommendation to go to war, rather than a wish for justice. At heart I think most Neil fans knew that he wasn't really a big war hungry mentalist, considering his staunch leftist outlook for most of his career, and so it's good to see him confirming it on this record. Go give it a listen people.