Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Neil Young - "Living with War"

Release: May 8, 2006
Has anyone else noticed that mutual fund and prescription drug commercials have gone hippie? I am talking the spokesperson for Charles Schwab in bellbottoms and tie-dye throwing down the peace sign. Of course this is just a matter of knowing your target market. After all most of today's wealthy aged have one thing in common - they were all at Woodstock.

If you are one of these peace-loving flower grandparents you will love Neil Young's new album - in fact you will probably not think twice about shelling out 300 bucks to get in at one of the amphitheaters across the nation that are carrying the Crosby Stills Nash and Young “Free Speech” tour this summer.

Apparently, based on what else I have been reading regarding the reception of Neil Young’s newest album, I am one of only a few who is bothered by the “protest for old time’s sake” aura that this album seems in my impression to have been born out of (this is my way of saying – pardon my dissension). These songs are being touted for their raw authenticity – having been recorded and written in an apparently very short time – but to me this sense of saying the first thing that comes to your mind makes the album come across as little more than fluff. I simply could not swallow refrains like “let’s impeach the president for lyin’ and sendin’ our country to war” – Okay maybe not a bad idea, but can I have less Michael Moore in my monitor? This seems to me to be the double edge of Neil’s writing – his knack for stating things very explicitly seems to have worked in the past in songs like Four Dead in Ohio (for me that is an archetypal “protest song”) but at times this stating things in an explicit sort of way leaves one wanting for the deeper things. In my impression this album has the shelf life of a Nick Lachey album.

And now for a slightly more constructive conclusion – I liked the sound of Neil backed up by a hundred member choir. This comes through particularly in songs like “After the Garden”. “Roger and Out” is a well crafted song – unfortunately this makes it sound like it doesn’t fit on the album. Bonus points for fitting the names Obama and Colin Powell in the same song. Grace points for this album’s proximity to one of Neil’s all time best albums, Prairie Wind, which was released last year – there is enough brilliant songwriting in that album to make up for some duds – which is what I am classifying this ten-track Hollywoodesque soapboxing gem. I expect more from a Canadian.


Tim said...

It says a great deal about my interest in Neil Young that I had no idea that he was a Canadian...I thought I had every, "You know, he's Canadian" down pat, but I guess not.

johnldrury said...

When protesting is hip, it is questionable whether it is really protesting any more.

danszombathy said...

I'll stick with "Decade".

"He used to load that Econoline Van..."