Friday, May 12, 2006

The one they didn't want you to read

Banned by the New Statesman for it's explosive content, covered up and obscured by a mirage of whispers, here is The Download that they didn't ever want you to see! Exclooooos!!

I'm kidding. They didn't have space for it and now it's kinda timed out. Whatever I'm still getting access to the bakery.

The Download - Neil Young
In the sixteenth century, balladeers would write new lyrics to the tune of well-known folk songs which would be printed as ‘broadsides’ on single sheets of paper, and then sold by travelling ‘chapmen’ around the country. It was a canny way of getting a message out there, and getting it out quickly. In the twenty-first century, you can just post your album on the internet.

In the name of immediacy, that is what Neil Young – Godfather of Grunge, Canadian Elder Statesman of Rock, Kermit the Frog meets Jimmy Tarbuck, call him what you will – has done. In the space of a month he has written, recorded, and released the headline-grabbing ‘Living With War’, a furious modern day broadside against the Bush administration and all who sail in her.

He has incurred the frothing anger of FOX News et al by daring to challenge Bush’s appropriation of 9/11 grief, by entitling one song ‘Let’s Impeach the President’, and even just by being Canadian. Everything about this album is so, so right. Except it isn’t. It’s distinctly mediocre.

In the broadside tradition of writing new lyrics to familiar music, ‘Shock and Awe’ is a facsimile of his 70s hit ‘Hey Hey, My My’; sadly it is a poor one. The chance that doggerel like “history was the cruel judge of overconfidence / back in the days of shock and awe” will become as seminal as “it’s better to burn out than to fade away”, the line that Kurt Cobain signed his suicide note off with, are slim.

The music is plodding and uninspired, and the lyrics are trite to the point of being embarrassing, disappointingly. Only ‘Roger and Out’, a moving tale of a pilot’s death, is worth downloading. Better to get Young’s incendiary classics ‘Cortez the Killer’ and ‘Ohio’, and let Bright Eyes’ brilliant, sardonic 'When The President Talks to God’ deal with modern day politics (all on iTunes).

3 Comments:

Blogger John said...

My old man bought a new Neil Young album a few years ago, and I was desparately disappointed by it.The last good thing he did was an MTV unplugged, that was beautiful. Ironic huh, that he seems to be fading away.

I feel like that was an original thought, but I suspect I just read it in your article.

12:18 PM  
Blogger dan hancox said...

Sleeps With Angels is an incredible album, that was 95 (it’s the one about Kurt). Rockin in the Free World from the early 90s was pretty good too. Like Dylan he’s churned out a lot of dross and a considerable amount of irreplaceable genius. It’s all about Neil Young’s ‘Decade’. Two CDs of unimpeachable class. Not a single bad song on there. The guitar riff in Cortez the Killer still sends shivers down my spine. And Expecting to Fly is a better drug song than all of The Beatles drug songs put together.

11:32 AM  
Blogger John said...

I have "decade", much as I would like to scorn a collector of best of albums, since I didn't fancy shelling out for 10 or his 35 albums or whatever.

2:24 PM  

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