Thursday, July 24, 2008

Top 40 at 40 #14

#14 Neil Young Don't Let it Bring You Down 1970

So what do you do when you cannot possibly choose that ONE song from an artist so dear to you for a list like this.....You just pick one and try not to piss off the other songs, that are just as crucial. Neil Young is a prolific God of songwriting. I cannot imagine a musical tapestry without him. He's tried everything...Hard Rock(Freedom,Ragged Glory),Bluegrass,Banjo,Piano, Harmonica, Jazz/Blues)Neil and the Bluenotes/The Shocking Pinks, Punk(Rust Never Sleeps), Country(Comes A Time, Old Ways)and of course singer/songwriter acoustic.(Sugar Mountain,I am a Child) He blazed a path after Leaving Buffalo Springfield.that opened the doors for people like James Taylor and Jackson Browne.Never tied to one genre,he has shied away from nothing.....and most of it strikes gold.

There are entire albums from Mr. Young that have guided me through a troubled mess, through proud artistry and just being a lifelong fan. Most of his songs sound simple, but to me they cut to the bone..some albums that stand out:

Tonight's the Night from 1975 was my therapy for several years...its a very hard album for the general public to listen to...Neil's least favorite..written after the drug overdose of his band mate Danny Whitten and his Roadie Bruce Barry(no relation)..the songs are mostly stumbled through and tell tales of drug dealers, troubles on the road, and self preservation.
A song called Borrowed Tune was my audio calling card while I sat in my room and grabbed another Genesee from the old college fridge, brooding and burning inside. The entire album is medication, but not for fans expecting "Heart of Gold".

After the Gold Rush-1970 an absolute must have if you take Neil 101 from your sonic college of choice. From this album comes my choice for the list. Don't Let it Bring You Down- a bizarre lyrical escapade with white canes lying in gutters,castles burning and blue moons sinking "from the weight of the load", but you have that Neil Young classic simple bass and drum beat (later perfected by the Stray Gators and Crazy Horse, his two well known backing bands)backing up a piano, and Neil's fantastic falsetto.

Harvest('72) and Everybody Knows This is Nowhere('69). Enough has been said about Harvest, his most popular album, but seek out Everybody Knows... for gems like Cinnamon Girl,Down By the River and Cowgirl in the Sand. All classics and containing great harmony backing vocals by the late great Danny Whitten.

There really is too much to say about Neil Young. He is much more than a folky balladeer or the "godfather of grunge". He's a Canadian/American musical icon.
Two insanely memorable shows for me, both attended by my great friend Ken Warner were the solo acoustic tour stop in Darien Lake, NY on June 8, 1989. We were very close and the stage was very low.....just fantastic. And our 4th row seats on Aug 18,1996 at the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center, we could not contain ourselves.
Apparently another show we attended was not as memorable, but is labelled "legendary" by super fans was the August '88 show also at Darien Lake with Neil Young and the Blue Notes. There was an 11 verse medley of Sixty to Zero,Days that Used to Be and Ordinary people that he had never done before or since and a fifteen minute version of Tonight's the Night.......

Top 5 List of Neil Young Songs that changes all of the time 1)Don't Let it Bring You Down 2)Albuquerque(Tonight's The Night) 3)Tell Me Why(ATGR) 4)For the Turnstiles(On The Beach '74)
5)Powderfinger(Rust Never Sleeps)

07 Don't Let It Bring You Down.mp3
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