Sunday, June 29, 2014

Forever Young # 25: "Lightning in a Bottle"

Song:  Like a Hurricane
Album:  American Stars ‘n Bars
Released:  June, 1977

I’ve never been one for the standout lead guitar.  I do recognize the talent in many cases, and cannot deny that songs associated with a brilliant lead have made their way to my top-tier favorites, but when it comes to a single instrument consistently dominating a band’s sound, I rarely if ever dive deep into their catalog.  And so, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, the Yardbirds,  Santana, even the Grateful Dead are all of interest to varying degrees, but none will catch my imagination in the way that bands do with a guitarist who is settled more into the mix.  I’m not really sure why this is, but I believe it has something to do with the concept of the whole being better than the sum of its parts.  My own life experiences have proven this:  The most creative of environments emerge out of teamwork.

The one exception to this, from that music interest, is Neil Young.  I’ve always been bowled over by his often-overwhelming guitar contribution to songs.  Again, I can’t quite figure it out, even after writing about the man for the past 6 months.  Some of it definitely has to do with Crazy Horse, the most generous of rhythm sections, who lay out the perfect palette upon which the guitarist can paint his portraits.  But I’ve seen Neil Young play with Booker T and the MGs, and with the Bluenotes, and with other assemblages, and in each of these cases, I could not get enough of that screaming guitar sound.  Why is this?

Like a Hurricane alone may be able to decipher my unique affinity with Neil Young’s lead guitar playing.  For starters, the song captures just about everything that Young is about, which may explain why he has played it live more than any other tune in his repertoire.  It connects with both the ideal of rock ‘n rolls reckless abandon and its poetic longing, single-handedly revealing why Neil Young audiences are so diverse.   The lead vocals on the studio version are pretty subdued for a hard edged song, but this helps to balance things out as well. 

But more than anything, it’s the guitar that makes Like a Hurricane so compelling.  Neil Young w/Crazy-Horse guitar-centered jams are extensions of the lyrics, taking the listener deeper into the songs.  The jams give us all breathing room, a chance to explore further into our newly stirred-up thoughts and images as the music engulfs you (the Grateful Dead did this for me too, but not to the degree of Neil and company).  I’ve come to expect this recipe playing out over the years, and as I blasted Like a Hurricane this week on my car stereo, I once again was not left disappointed.  In the past, my thought progression with Like a Hurricane was connected primarily to live albums and live events, with the song pretty much standing on its own in my thoughts.  This time around however, my thinking evolved within the context of the album that Like a Hurricane was originally released on.

‘American Stars ‘n Bars’ is aptly named.  It may be a concept album, though it’s never been described as such to my knowledge.  Yet the out-and-about town feel is pervasive throughout.  Problems and solutions all seem to be posed from the seat of a barstool or on the hood of a parked car under the night sky.  The cover is a classic; probably Neil Young’s best, depicting the man himself passed out on the floor of a tavern.  It’s the perspective that makes the scene memorable though:  This being a glass floor, the view is from below looking up at Neil’s flattened face.  Regardless, the cover is another clue that there is a storyline here centered on a long-weekend bender.

The first cut, The Old Country Waltz, describes a down-and-outer in a bar who has just lost his lover – and now is most likely on the cusp of that bender - as the small-stage band plays a waltz in recognition of the loss.  This is followed by Saddle Up the Palomino, which comes with a devil-may-care attitude about the consequences of said bender.    Later we have a drowning of sorrows in Hold Back the Tears, and a bar hall queen with a short term solution in Bite the Bullet.  Side two begins with Star of Bethlehem, which may have been an inspiration of Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days (another barstool lament).  The majestic Will to Love describes the not-easily attainable solution to the problem. 

 And then comes Like a Hurricane (

Every so often you come across an album that contains a centerpiece, which is the case here.  Like a Hurricane pulls everything on ‘Stars ‘n Bars’ together.  It makes the album coherent, which I do not believe it would be otherwise.  If the concept here is indeed a love-lost-fueled weekend bender, the aftereffect of what transpires in Like a Hurricane - that being renewed passion - makes it all worthwhile.  The most obvious cause is the focus of the singer’s desires, the woman he meets at the bar – the eye of the hurricane so to speak.  But there are other positive spinoffs as well.  One stanza in the song is particularly poignant.  It’s the concept of the singer escaping to “somewhere safer where the feeling stays”.  I believe this is a songwriter’s declaration…. to hold on to these emotions inside so you can find a way to express them before losing the intensity of it all.  It’s actually the goal of any artist.

And oh boy does Neil Young express these emotions, which is almost entirely through the guitar.  The story goes that he did rush to a friend’s home later on the evening after the encounter with that hurricane of a woman and immediately began pounding away on a piano for hours on end.  His focus was soon transferred to the guitar.  Not everyone is geared to interpret music in the way Neil Young produces it, but this song is an opportunity for these types to gain insight to just what it is that those of find fascinating with this musician.  It’s about as clairvoyant as he gets, even with the emotions being primarily spoken through the guitar.

As with any great song, there are mysteries to Like a Hurricane.  The big one for me are the diametrically opposed lyrics “I am just a dreamer, but you are just a dream” early in the song, and then later “You are just a dreamer and I am just a dream”.  I believe this has something to do with Young seizing the moment:  In relation to the first line, he is overwhelmed by the situation, yet by the second line, he’s come to grips through expression in song.  It’s Dylanesque, something many rock and folk musicians aspire to, yet few achieve.

For a kid in his early 20s, which I was when I first witnessed the performance of Like a Hurricane, the experience was primarily a visceral one.  I’m already convinced that this was the ideal experience.  But a visceral reality is very difficult to convey in words.  Yet I’ve come to the realization that it’s worth trying.  Neil Young makes it easier with songs like this one.  He captured a visceral experience and ran with it.  Like a Hurricane is lightning in a bottle.

-          Pete

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Forever Young # 24: "Deep Cuts (of the music-video variety)"

Song:  People in the Street
Album:  Landing on Water
Released:  July, 1986

 Well, I’ve bounced all around Neil Young’s discography for this blog, excepting for an 8-album stretch covering that bizarre decade we all know as the 80s.  This was a truly outlandish period for Young and many other musicians.  Was it John Lennon’s death in December, 1980 that initiated the whole scene?  Was it the election of a former Hollywood actor to the presidency of the United States during that very same time period?  Though each was quite the jolt, I think not.  The biggest culprit was most likely MTV, which became immediately popular upon its launch in August of 1981. Suddenly, a shift occurred.  Appearance and cleverness rose to the level of musical quality and performance.  The wave in the hair lick now equated with the mastery of the guitar lick.  Other performing arts succumbed to this new world of style over substance, but none to the level of pop music.  This is not to say that Neil Young was a victim of this new compromise.  But critiquing his output during this period, there can be little doubt Young was affected by it all. 

In the upcoming months, I’ll be making the occasional foray into this period in the career of Neil Young.  I can’t say I’ll be doing it consistently.  I’m pretty sure even Mr. Young wouldn’t risk such a venture.  There’s just too much baggage there.  But it is worth a revisit; intangibles that deserve some fleshing out.  There’s plenty to weave through, although I anticipate the inspirations are likely to be few and far between.  Yet, I relate it to making your way through your grandparent’s attic.  Most boxes contain artifacts beyond your understanding or interest.  And then you open up a chest and there’s that gem of a photograph or a family heirloom, or a collectible. 

I’ll start here with People in the Street off the 1986 album ‘Landing on Water’.  Years ago, before YouTube, I stumbled across this video on the internet (  The song is about the plight of the homeless, and yet the upbeat bop/techno/new wave mood of the music in People in the Street, which is reflected in the video, betrays the empathetic lyrics.  Strangely enough, however, I found myself drawn to this video.  Why?

I do admit to having a weak spot for new wave/techno music.  Not much of one, but it’s there.  In high school, I was not only listening to old Beatles and Stones.  I was also tuned into the music coming out at that time:  the Cars (I still believe ‘Candy-O’ to be underrated), Joe Jackson, Supertramp and even Gary Numan and the Knack.  Most of this music was late 70s and so I pretty much had my fill by the time techno music took full effect in the 80s, which again was fuelled by MTV.  By that time I was full scale into the Who, which pretty much saved me from 80s limbo: There are times where it can be said being stuck in the past is a good thing.

There’s more to my connecting to this video than the music, however.  Watching it reminds me a bit of the movie ‘Cabaret’, which approaches the rise of Nazi Germany in the early 30s from the perspective of the passive world of cabaret performances in Berlin.  At the beginning of the movie, Nazi youths are treated with scorn in the back alleys, but by the end of the movie the entire audience at the cabarets are brownshirts and the ominous amoral emcee carries on, intrigued by the developments from a devilish point of view.   The key to the movie are the musical stage performances, which are upbeat.  But every song drives home a point, underscored by the scary developments happening on the streets outside.  Like 'Cabaret', People in the Street drives home a point, in an offbeat sort of way. 

 Finally, I’m impressed with the musician himself.  Neil Young showed a penchant for not following established rules in the 80s.  I mean, can you picture David Crosby doing a song/video like this, or Lou Reed, or any iconic 60s rock musician?  There’s something to be said for breaking the mold.  This approach to life refreshes you.  It revitalizes you, and it matters not if what you do is a setback really.  What really matters is that you did it!  I believe that by taking high risks in the 80s, Neil Young made it possible to do what he did in the 90s.  And ya know what?  ….I think he knew this all along.

There’s humor in this video, in the form of dog shit.  Young hilariously steps over it at the 0:19 minute mark of the attached link, and then inadvertently steps into it at the 0:42 (which he does not notice until the 0:53 mark).  At the end of the video, one of his sidekick’s slips in more dog shit (4:17).  And what’s with the ever-present white car driving back and forth between the 1:18 and 1:32 marks and appearing in several other scenes (including with a sailor standing at the drivers-side door at the 3:10 mark)?  Or the cheering crowd at 3:43?  I love it all…. the feel of going off script.  Just the way Neil Young has produced much of his great music over the decades. 

But there’s serious stuff in this video too.  Neil Young looks out at a battleship at one point, no doubt making the point that the money spent on it is lost on the homeless (taking me back to that sailor by the white car observation).  And of course there are the ever-present lyrics:  There’s no glossing over anything there.  Here’s one line:

There's a muffled scream
from the alley scene
From the alley scene
comes a muffled scream
And the siren wails
while the system fails
In the steaming heat
people walk in the street
People can't run and hide
If you want to feel good then
you gotta feel good inside.

 From a topical standpoint, ‘Landing on Water’ is not a lightweight album.  Far from it!  The titles to the songs alone bear this out: Weight of the World, Violent Side, Pressure, Hard Luck Stories, Bad News Beat, and Drifter to name a majority.  Touch the Night appears to be about the feeling of losing a loved one in a car accident (with the protagonist as the hard luck driver no less).  Hippie Dream appears to be about CSN and Young’s disillusionment with their loss of idealism.  Pressure is just downright depressing.  In a lyrical context this album ranks up there with ‘Tonight’s the Night’ and ‘Sleeps with Angels’ as one of Young’s heaviest.

 I have to hand it to the Neil Young fan who stuck with him in the 80s.  Were there many?  I equate it to sticking with Pete Townshend thru ‘All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes’, ‘White City’ and ‘Iron Man’ or the Rolling Stones thru ‘Undercover’, ‘Dirty Work’ and ‘Steel Wheels’.  In Young’s case, however, it was an 8 album stretch!  That’s a long time to hang in there.  I picked up bits and pieces through this period during the time, which I’ll be addressing soon enough.  For now, however, I’ll just reconnect with this relatively unknown video, which I truly believe has its place in the grand scheme of things.

 -          Pete

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Forever Young # 23: "The Journey"

Title: The Journey

 Song:  Ride My Llama
Album:  Rust Never Sleeps
Released:  July, 1979

I have had the fortune of travelling to a number of amazing destinations in the course of my life.   In the process, I’ve come away with several key insights to enhance the travel experience which I have tried to instill on my children:  Know your history, know the cultures you are visiting, and develop a strong sense of place.  The more you can identify with this type of knowledge, the better the venture will be.  You’ll find the ability to immerse yourself in your surroundings no matter the locale.  Your travel mates will appreciate it, the locals will appreciate it, and most importantly, you will appreciate it.

There is another part of the puzzle, however, which for me has always been assumed:  Try to make the journey itself a part of the story, so that in the end, getting there is at least as adventurous as being there.   Looking back, some of my top travel memories were while en route.  Perhaps it’s because these moments are when you have the best chance to bond with whoever it is you are with.  Perhaps, if you are alone, it’s the most likely chance you have to connect with your own thoughts.  Perhaps you will learn that the journey is far more than a geographic one. 

When I read Neil Young’  ‘Waging Heavy Peace’ a year or so ago, one of the take-home messages was how much he values the journey.   If there’s a rock and roll musician who embodies the spirit of Thoreau and Kerouac, it is Neil Young.  I’m willing to bet that few have crisscrossed the continent as frequently the past 30 years as he.  From all appearances, Young minimizes air travel, taking in America and Canada one pit stop after another.  It appears to be a key factor in his ability to stave off the rust.

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go on a rust-free journey with my Dad.  And what a journey it was.  As with many great road trips, it turned out there was no ultimate destination, just a series of stops along the way.  In such cases, I usually refer to the farthest point as the ‘destination’, so in this case that would be the Saguenay River region in Quebec, a large tributary to the St. Lawrence River several hundred miles north of Quebec City.  With its fjords, wilderness and beluga whales, it was quite the end game; a never-to-be-forgotten hidden jewel of Atlantic America.  

But it was just part of the story.

First off, there were the pit stops.  There was ‘The Basin’ in the Franconia Notch section of the Green Mountains with its water-eroded, smooth, circular, cave-like formations, frequently visited by Mom and Dad.  Next, West Glover in the majestic “Northeast Kingdom” of Vermont and a panoramic view on an isolated hilltop, which just happens to be the idyllic home of a bighearted friend of mine at USGS, Don, who has always insisted I make myself at home on my travels through the region.  Then it was on to Sherbrooke, Quebec - a city I have had the pleasure to visit on a handful of work trips in recent years - for a sun-drenched lunch on the balcony of an Irish pub (my only regret on the trip was not stopping by the offices of Natural Resources Canada to introduce Dad to my gracious French friends there).  There were the immense Montmorency Falls the following day and later a revisit to La Malbaie, a Saint Lawrence River community that I had last crossed paths with on a family vacation in the summer of 1979.  Still later, there was the highway-interrupted ferry crossing to Tadoussac which had us in the realization that we were blazing into virgin northern territory.  Every pit stop was an experience with Dad, be it a gas station, a general store, a roadside diner, or an information center (one of which included a bee-swarm escape).

Then there were the people. Dad can make memorable connections with anyone and everyone in one way or another.  A vast majority of folks in this world deserve the recognition for which they are, and Dad makes this happen.  He draws people out of their shell, and it matter not the language barrier.  Witnessing this is a journey in and of itself for anyone with the privilege to have a day with my Dad.  It is a sight to behold, which Mom could certainly attest to.  Where I may tend to ease someone in to my realm, Dad hits people hard, quick, and direct.  I have to say it’s a brilliant trait, one I do not possess.  And it works.   I saw it play out everywhere we stopped, from the Parker Pie in West Glover (a favorite haunt of mine at the bottom of that hill with the panoramic view), where Dad kibitzed with the manager about the beauty of the area.  To the horse rider who stopped to hear Dad’s funny take on Don’s mule who we had just visited.  There was Dad’s humorous exchange with the front-desk clerk in the Chicoutimi Hotel after a long day of driving, and the hilarious back and forth with the French waitress at the Irish Pub in Sherbrooke, and the borderline confrontation with the boisterous ferry conductor (our boat ride back across the St. Lawrence River) who just happened to be a staunch Montreal Canadiens fan that wanted to rub a few comments regarding the Bs/Cs series into our still-open wounds (eventually Dad got the best of him). There was our waitress at the fantastic steak dinner restaurant (2 hour wait) in Chicoutimi on the Saguenay, and the ladies who serviced us at the lunch stop in Les Escoumins (Dad had them smirking with his repeated "C'est si bon!" exclamations).   Dad got to meet some of my fellow workers – Karen, Mike, and Kim - in Fredericton, New Brunswick later, and had them all in stitches.   The gas attendant, the park ranger, the church lady, the scaffold guys, the store clerk, even border patrol …… everyone got a kick out of Dad, and most spoke broken English at best.  With practically anyone else, many of these brief episodes on the road would have been rather ordinary, forgettable affairs.  With Dad they became extraordinary. 

Then there were the big moments; the highlights so to speak (as old friend Bob would call them).  First there was Quebec City for an overnight.  Mom and Dad have had many memorable moments there, including their honeymoon, and Dad knew the walled city well.  For me the memories in Quebec City included Winter Carnival, Nancy and Bonham.  We walked up and down and all around the lower and upper sections as well as the edges of the Plains of Abraham, with the best food in North America wafting through the air around us.  Finally we settled down for an exquisite French meal and then to top it off we trekked to a pub to watch the New York Rangers put the finishing touches on the Habs as we devoured peanuts mercilessly.  Being in Quebec City for this occasion was different than say, being in Montreal.  Quebec wants its Nordiques back.  The Canadiens could soon be mortal enemies once again, so two Bruins fan in the midst was no big deal.  Our next big moment was the awe-inspiring Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica and some more revisited memories for Dad.  Spend an hour inside and you cannot help but be moved by the splendor and glory of it all.  The next day was another big highlight:  A whale/fjord cruise along the St Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers: Humpback, Minke and Beluga Whales, 1000 foot depths, waterfalls, splendor of a different variety.

Finally, the crème de la crème of the journey were the one on ones, including a campfire, two spontaneous and scenic picnic lunches, the boat cruise, the drives, and the dinners.  We toasted everything and everyone from Orr and Esposito to ‘The New Yorker’ to Arthur Fiedler to Johnny Rotten to Eddie Shack to the Saint Lawrence River to snowshoe hares to Ginger, to the Torans, and of course our families.  We discussed the past, present, and future.  Religion, politics and money were not off limits; nothing has ever been with Dad.  These were the moments when I realized just how much the term ‘journey’ can mean. 

Each and every day on the road, Dad gets up at the break of dawn and takes an early morning jaunt around the vicinity of his stay.  It does not matter the location.  On this trip, Dad’s 4 early morning excursions included Quebec City, and 3 majestic rivers: The Saguenay, the Saint Lawrence, and the Saint John.  This past week, as I listened to the album ‘Rust Never Sleeps’, I thought about what these moments do for him.  After all, the ritual has been there as long as I can remember, so there must be something deep to it.   Two songs off the album emerged from the pack as I pieced together thoughts related to Dad’s morning sojourns and our journey in general:  Thrasher and Ride My Llama.  They both equally explain Dad’s passion for the road and his morning routine, but in entirely different ways.  Thrasher is about sticking with your core values, with an emphasis on the effort and the sacrifice.  I’m sure I have more to say about this than what I can pull off now, and so I’ll save it for another day.  Ride My Llama ( ) is a bit more specific to the value of the journey (and after all, we came close to riding a mule in West Glover.  In hindsight, I believe that was what Don's mule was asking us to do when he greeted us).  I’ll run with that.  It’s a musical and lyrical testament to 4 days on the road with my Father.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  Thank you for an amazing journey.

 -          Pete

Friday, June 6, 2014

Forever Young # 22: "Bridging the Generational Divide"

Song:  Prime of Life
Album:  Sleeps with Angels
Released:  August, 1994

In the late 80s and early 90s, Friday’s Boston Globe Sports section would take second fiddle for me to rock critic Steve Morse’s column in the Arts and Entertainment pages.  Morse knew his music, and was a great source for getting the inside scoop on upcoming shows in the region.  One big reason why I found myself in many-a-long lines at the box office (including a few overnighters) was Steve Morse. 

 When Neil Young hit a new creative surge during this time period, Morse was one of the first to recognize how important it was.  Young had not burned out, and now he was proving that he would not fade away either.  In the process, Neil Young was connecting with rockers far younger than he, not only because his new music was relevant, but also because he was reaching out to this emerging generation in ways few elder rock statesmen do when several decades removed from their own prime.  Steve Morse was impressed by all this.  So was I.

 The seeds for staying connected to younger generations were already sown many years earlier.  1979s ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ was a call out to the punk movement (in similar fashion to the Who’s ‘Who Are You’ from the same period).  And when I first saw Neil Young perform live in 1986 (as the “Third Best Garage Band in the World” with Crazy Horse) a video montage showcased numerous rock musicians, past and (then) present.   This was the first time I’d ever seen anyone in Rock close ranks with other musicians to this degree.  And it did not escape me that in doing so, Young was also closing ranks with these musicians’ fans.  Judging from the band’s performance in front of that video screen that day, he meant all of it too. 

 I reflect on these thoughts now, primarily because I listened to ‘Sleeps with Angels’ much of last week, arguably Neil Young’s most consistent album (yes, I’m a week removed from Young’s music due to travels with Dad, who I figured may not have been keen on listening to grunge on the car ride to and from Quebec).  The only other time I passed this way for this blog was back in August, 2008 (Gem Music Video of the Week # 32).  That was my first Neil Young entry.  The song I connected with for that entry was Change Your Mind ( ). It’s my favorite Neil Young recording; the penultimate cornerstone of an exquisite masterwork.  However Change Your Mind gets help from its surroundings, hence this revisit. 

 ‘Sleeps with Angels’ is Exhibit A of Neil Young’s solidarity with Generation X (‘Mirror Ball’ and “Ragged Glory” being Exhibit’s B and C respectively).  The most common review topic in relation to this atmospheric album is in regards to the title track, which is about the struggles and resulting suicidal death of Kurt Cobain (which I have also written about in these pages:  See GMVW # 95, October 2009).  But there is so much more here, not the least of which is some of Young’s best vocals and guitar work.  This album has empathy with humanity that is on par with Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’.  It’s that deep, but has not been recognized as such - as of yet.

 My daughter Charlotte was born the same week that ‘Sleeps with Angels’ was released.  I was hitting a new phase in my life at that time; as a Dad.  It was a strange period for me in relation to rock music.  My interest in staying on top of developments in this sphere had waned somewhat.  I let my Rolling Stone Magazine subscription lapse after 10 years of faithful monthly reading.   I attended fewer concerts.  I frequented fewer record stores.  New albums like ‘Sleeps with Angels’ crept in here and there, but I was not immersed in them as I was with albums released in years prior (like ‘Freedom’).  My focus had changed.  All the great music that came beforehand factored in my new fatherly role for sure, but for all intents and purposes, I had become dormant with new interests.

 Later, when I got my legs back, I tried to backfill the missing time.  I’ve got a long way to go, but listening intensely to the music on ‘Sleeps with Angels’ is a big step in the right direction.  This album is a revelation to me for many reasons.  First off, Neil Young was about the same age I am now at the time of ‘Sleeps with Angels’ release.  From this perspective, the album means more to me.  Young was well into his parental role in 1994 (as I am now).  He was able to look at the struggle of youth in a different light.  Where in the mid 70’s he was dealing with the death of Danny Whitten and other friends (epitomized in the epic ‘Tonight’s the Night’), now he was coming at Kurt Cobain’s plight from a far wiser vantage point.   Cobain’s contemporaries were listening.  They needed to hear this.  There were no elder statesmen to make a similar point for Neil Young when Whitten died.  There was now.  He was it, and it made a boatload of difference. 

 ‘Sleeps with Angels’ can teach us all a lesson.  Wisdom is meant to be passed from one generation to the next.  This can only happen if the elder generation is willing to open up and work with what they see coming down the pike.  It’s not an easy proposition:  Many of us create an illusion of our past for our kids, glossing over the troublesome memories or even worse outright lying about them.  In the process, we inadvertently build a façade around who we truly are.  We forgot what we hungered for in our own youth:  Honesty.  This is not to say we need to volunteer information, but when an inquiring young mind needs to hear the truth we need to be ready to break down barriers and reveal that we are not all that different.  We were once them.  Neil Young makes this brutally clear on ‘Sleeps with Angels’. 

On track two, Prime of Life ( ), Young brings us back to our glory days, when life was innocent and carefree, and the world was at our fingertips.  But there is a hint of a reality of sorts kicking in here, the notion that these days are ephemeral and so easily lost through compromise.  It’s a story that has been told often before, starting with Adam and Eve, and that would be told again (i.e. Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’).  This particular narrative is unique in representing the period it was written, unfortunately not in time for Kurt Cobain, but I’m guessing it got across to many others of like mind, ilk and age in the mid-90s.   To my knowledge, Neil Young has never talked at length about ‘Sleeps with Angels’, but my guess is that the album was jarred out of him.  There is little hint of self-reflection, as there is on many of his other albums.  And like ‘Tonight’s the Night’, much if not all of it appears to have been written on the spot.  You can hear it in the music.

 I’d like to think songs like these can help bring some of that prime of life back. It’s certainly a key reason to why I’m writing this blog.  Perhaps this was at the core of Young’s intentions in ‘Sleeps with Angels’:  To bring us closer to that period “when the mirror showed both ways”.   Steve Morse had it spot on with his glowing reviews of Neil Young albums in the early to mid-90s.  Honesty and insight in music (and elsewhere) touches the critic and fan alike. 

-          Pete