Album: Are You Passionate?
Released: April, 2002
For the time being, a focus on faith appeared to be on the shelf in these pages. Neil Young has built a reputation upon many things, but religious-based faith is not one of them. And yet as I’ve listened more intently to his music this past year I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s more there than I thought a year ago (which was also the case with the Stones believe it or not, particularly a handful of cuts off ’Exile on Main Street’). Faith-centered songs are scattered about in Neil’s catalog, most prominently in his post Y2K music, including the songs on ‘Chrome Dreams II’ and ‘Prairie Wind’.
For many, Rock n’ Roll in general does not inspire thoughts as a faith-based music genre; there are a number of adjectives that would be used to define it before this one. I believe part of what fueled this reputation goes back to the transition rock music took in the 70s, becoming mega-successful and in turn, significantly more money driven. The rock-music industry tended to look more for hits in this circumstance, and spiritually intense music in this day and age is not likely to be attracting the fair-weather fan. And so, faith takes a back seat, which I believe would have an effect on the musician’s priorities on what to write about.
Personally, I’ve had many a spiritual moments listening to Rock music, rivalling even the connections I’ve made along these lines at Sunday Mass. Songs that come to mind include Every Grain of Sand (Dylan) Keep Me Turning (Townshend), Empty Glass (Townshend), Beware of Darkness (Harrison), Bargain (The Who), I Believe in You (Dylan), Long, Long, Long (Beatles), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2); Love Train (the O’Jays) and Astral Weeks (Van Morrison). I’ve been hit broad side by all kinds of music over the years, focused on any number of subject matter, and these songs are right up there with the best of them.
Neil Young made up for this by touring with Booker T and the MGs the following year. Nancy and I got see this tour at Great Woods in Mansfield, MA. What we heard was a solid rock/soul sound that had me hardly (if at all) missing Crazy Horse. Yesterday, I tracked down the set list that evening. Below is that list, along with what may have crossed my mind during the show:
Southern Man > Make that 3. Never heard this live before….is it rarely played live?
Helpless > recalling Neil’s performance on The Last Waltz (disappointing). Ready to move on
Like a Hurricane > Can this match Crazy Horse. ….. yes!
Motorcycle Mama > see Forever Young # 16 in terms of what I was likely thinking
Separate Ways > this is a rarity to be seeing live (it was)
Love to Burn > yes, I do. Slow, long burner that just keeps going and getting better
Only Love Can Break Your Heart > solo, acoustic (I believe)…. and intense!
Heart of Gold > Looking around at the crowd…..communal
Harvest Moon > Mom and Dad
Unknown Legend > what imagery! Feel like I was there
The Needle and the Damage Done > trying to relate to something beyond me. Still hitting me like a brick
Powderfinger > Nancy’s loving this. How’s Booker enjoying this? Cropper? They look pumped.
Live to Ride > Never heard this before. What’s next?
Rockin’ in the Free World > my goodness, Bush (senior) era revisited 1 year later
All Along the Watchtower > another cover? Ok, this works. Better than the Dylan 30th version