April 28, 2006


On Friday, April 28th, Neil Young's new album, Living With War, is being presented at neilyoung.com. All ya gotta do is visit the site and the album will begin playing from beginning to end. I shall now give it a listen and record my first impressions.


I read the lyric to this yesterday and I assumed that it would be a slow one. But it kicks ass and is a great song to kick off the album. Moderately paced with heavy distortion on the guitars and played with some gusto. Small band; guitars, bass and drums. The choir is a little distant in the mix, but it sounds good. Kinda like a live audience signing along. I think the lyric is a bit weak, though. "What will people dooooooo.....after the garden is go-o-o-o-ne? What will people say-ay-ay-ay....after the garden is go-o-o-o-ne...?". I'm not sure what this is about but, all-in-all, a good start.

This is taking a while to begin playing. Hmmm. Page is still loading after about four minutes of silence.
Actually, it took me quite a few attempts to even get to this page. It's very busy today.
Hmm hmm hmm hmm.
**drums fingers**
Nine minutes. Still loading.
Twenty minutes passed and I reloaded the page. I'm listening to After The Garden again.

Okay here we go...
Sounds like Peter, Paul & Mary if they were backed by the Plastic Ono Band. Nice. I think I love this song. The choir sounds awesome when they climb to those high notes when they sing the lines "the rockets' red glare, bombs bursting in ai-ai-ai-air / give proof through the night that our flag is still there-ere-ere-ere!". Very melodic but played kinda heavy; a very Rust Never Sleeps sound. Almost like Weezer. I hated Weezer, but this is excellent. The lead guitar almost sounds like trumpet. Actually, I think the guitar and a trumpet are playing the same notes in unison. Neil's voice is a little shaky toward the end. It's not the kind of melody he's used to singing.

This reminds me of something but I can't put my finger on it. Minor chord driven, hard, forward moving, omenous, powerful. Actually, it sounds like a few songs that I wrote years ago. .The mix is a tad bit muddy but it's no biggie. Excellent use of the choir. Feels kinda like Dylan's version of All Along The Watchtower played with more drive. Sounds like something Roger Waters might have written. Neil's voice is perfect for this song.

This sounds a lot like the full band version of Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black). In fact, I think it's exactly the same chord progression and an almost identical melody. That's definately a trumpet there.

Ooops, I just lost the feed again. I'll bet there are at least ten thousand people trying to load this site right now.
Three minutes, still "transferring data from www.neilyoung.com...".
Fifteen minutes. It's coming up on noon so this site is probably only get busier for a while. Maybe I'll come back to it in a couple of hours.
I reloaded the page again. After The Garden is playing again. Let's see I far get this time.
Dammit. Got all the way through The Restless Consumer but it wont start Shock And Awe. I'll try again later.

2:00, I'm trying again. After The Garden is playing. I'm gonna know this song by heart if this keeps up.
UGH! Same thing! Got through Restless Consumer but no Shock And Awe to follow. I give up.

4:00, trying again. One song then silence.

7:00, trying again. I'm liking After The Garden more and more. I'm hearing passion in Neil's voice that I didn't appreciate on the earlier listenings. It's becoming a very short song to me.
Living With War is playing again. "and on the flat screen we're killed and we're killed again...please remember peace..." "don't take no tidal wave, don't take no mass graves, don't take no smoking gun to know how the west was won..." The grunge-folk style with the back-up choir is a nice combo. Kinda clumbsy at times, sloppy, but just different and new enough to make me forgive every not-so-great moment. This was definately a half-baked idea that actually works.
The Restless Consumer again. This is almost frantic. Every song sounds faster and more manic than they did earlier. I really hope I get to hear this all the way through this time.

I'm still reminded of Roger Waters, but also of David Byrne. The music is raw; the word "garage" comes to mind. My understanding is that the basic tracks were recorded in two days. The choir was added in one other day, and the rest was mixing.
Shock And Awe. This is a little less imaginative than the previous songs. Like I said, it's just like the band version of Hey Hey, My My, but faster and more brutal. "We had a chance to change our minds... but now we can't go back... we had a chance to change our minds..!

Neil is playing like an inspired teenager. I swear I wrote all of these chord changes a hundred times. Or maybe Neil did. This one is just rockin'.
Very short song.

I can predict the next chord each and every time. This is remincent of a kick-ass version of Dylan's Chimes of Freedom.
Good lyric. Not too tart, not too sweet.
This is Sonic Youth playing P.F. Sloan. Kewl.
Sorry that I'm not quoting lyrics. It's going by so fast.
Doesn't really make a point.
Another short song.

This is the one that all the buzz is about. Let's see.
I read the lyric a few days ago.
This is the worst mix yet.
This sucks.
Christ, this is awful. Lyric aside, this is noisy crap. Noisy monotonous crap.
Ooooo, some Bush samples...
Cleverly edited. Propaganda.
Ouch, that audio montage is unworthy of even Michael Moore.
Wow, this is worse than I imagined. And I have a vivid imagination.

Good God.

This album is going downhill fast.
Mentions Obama, "but maybe he's too young".
Dammit. Another ordinary track. I'll bet Neil wrote this ten minutes.
Thankfully -- this time -- another short one.

Turn up the distortion and sharpen the drums on Neil's 1974 song Ambulence Blues, take away the variety and subtleness, and you got this droning piece o' crap.
I still don't know what this song is about.
It's half a song. Thankfully short.

The choir is singing the familiar song with a little too much earnestness.
It's like gospel with all the reverence missing.
This is the worst version of this song I've ever heard. Some of the singers are trying to be Whitney Houston. Crap, shut up.
Oh sure, hum it now.
Good God, this is awful.
Sorry, Neil. Brian Wilson you ain't.

And that's the last of it.
The first third of this album is awesome. Then it's hit and miss. The rest is -- sorry to say -- earnest sloppy crappola. Neil, I luv ya. Take more time next time. You don't need to finish an album in 48 hours just to get the good stuff out immediately. Yer only an artist... it's not that important.
And learn some new chord changes.

Spork out.

UPDATE: I thought that was to be a one-day thing, but as of 7:00am EDT the album is still playing when you visit neilyoung.com. Give it a listen or two and write a review. And lemme know about it. I'd like to read some more reax.

Posted by Tuning Spork at April 28, 2006 06:47 PM | TrackBack

Thanks for saving us time and bother.

BTW, after the garden speaks to the human holocaust and destruction that will take place if the administration keeps on its present course.

Posted by: michele at April 29, 2006 12:01 PM

I like this song a lot, and I've been thinking about how the word "garden" can be rearranged to spell "danger." After the danger is gone? Does this mean anything? Also, "the garden" is refered to in at least one CSNY song. Any thoughts?

Posted by: Barney at May 4, 2006 01:28 PM
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