Only notes/questions sent to the Archivist via the contact page will be considered for publishing. Make sure to select "Question for The Archivist" from the drop down menu. Thanks for reading.
Only notes/questions sent to the Archivist via the contact page will be considered for publishing. Make sure to select "Question for The Archivist" from the drop down menu. Thanks for reading.
Hi there, greetings from Philadelphia! I want so much to pass on my love for Neil to my children but they feel your voice is sad and scary. They are very young and I know their tastes will improve as they age. They hear you so much that they will have no hope but to someday love you as I do. Thank you for the wonderful shows last month, I will treasure those memories forever. It took all my will and effort not to yell for you to someday play Country Girl at one of the shows. I know you hate when people yell out songs, so I didn't, but do you think there's a chance someday that you could work out a version of that song when you play again with POTR, or better still CSN, or even solo again sometime soon? It is my most favoritest song in the whole ever lovin' world. Cheers to you and your beautiful new bride!!! All my love, Joby
Thanks Joby, I will get ‘Country Girl’ onto the songlist. No doubt ‘Promise of the Real‘ can do it better than anyone at this time. We’ll see how it feels. Sorry to be so sad and scary!!! ny
There are a handful of truly epic songs that don't seem to get the live treatment often enough, if at all: (1) Natural Beauty, (2) I'm the Ocean, (3) Let It Shine, (4) Grandpa's Interview. I think most of us who will subscribe to the Archives would be happy to hear Thrasher played every show. (If you polled us, my guess is Thrasher takes the top song among Rusties.) Also, I'm a huge Greendale fan and would LOVE to see Greendale brought out for another run (Broadway being the obvious venue). It seems like you're going 1,000 mph with 9,000,000 projects, I don't know how you have the time and energy for it all. Like you said in 1995, though, people your age don't do the things you do. Peace, brother. DJ in Leucadia, CA
DJ, Of all the songs you mention, ‘Let it Shine’ stands out as something I would like to do, and the others will have their time too I hope. I don’t know if I’m ready for Broadway yet! I heard Bruce is doing a fine show there. People really love what Bruce is doing there. He’s a great storyteller.
I just can’t imagine myself there at this moment. Love, ny
yo Neil - when are you dropping by New Zealand for a gig or three? cheers!
I have my manager looking at that right now. Maybe next year. We’ll be ready for a great time when it happens! Thanks Neil
Are we ever likely to see the third Jonathan Demme movie, Trunk Show, get a release on DVD? I’ve never understood why it was not released, was it for some sort of legal issue?
‘Trunk Show ‘is a great moment. I’m sure it will be coming to the Hearse Theater in the future. Probably pretty soon. We are just getting ready to focus on the theater. We have been showing occasionally and the rate should pick up soon because we will have a lot of things ready to go when subscriptions start. Thanks. ny
I am curious about all the mystics surrounding the "Comes A Time" album. Lots of stories have been told. Here is a summary of what I have learned about the different editions:
A ticking sound nobody but Neil Young heard apparently led to the withdrawal of the first pressing, and all the LPs became targets for shooting and got bullet holes in them.
Altering the sequence of "Lotta Love" and "Peace Of Mind" led to the second withdrawal.
Changing of the album title from "Give To The Wind" to "Comes A Time" led to another withdrawal. Even so the "Give To The Wind"-album was produced with a blue flamingo cover, and apparently some very few albums escaped and went on the market.
Could you enlight us with the facts about the history of this album? Or is it just okay that the myths survive? Kind regards Petter Osbak Norway (Dedicated fan since After The Gold Rush was released)
Peter, Comes a Time had to be re-pressed because the master tapes were damaged when they were shipped to an East Coast mastering facility.-high end was wiped somehow during transit. Then we had to re-master the album from a tape copy that still had the high end. That was a rough blow for ‘Comes a Time’, pressed from a copy of the master, but we had no choice. We had to do that to make it as great as we could.
Give to the Wind was the original title. Some ‘Comes a Time’ albums were released with that title in foreign countries.
Sequencing changes may have been made when the album was remastered. I’m not sure at the moment. ny
Hi Neil, I have a couple of Performance Series questions, from opposite ends of the spectrum... I was wondering if a vinyl release of Live At The Riverboat is on the cards at all? I love that disc and I’m sure it would sound great on vinyl. Also are there any plans for a vinyl release from the Mirrorball tour with Pearl Jam? I was lucky enough to be at the Reading show and it was a pretty special night. One last thing while I’m here... we’d love it if you could make it back to Australia soon! Thanks for everything, Chris, Sydney
Chris, ‘Live at the Riverboat’ will be scheduled for a vinyl release through Shakey Pictures Records. ‘MirrorBall Live’ is in the review stages. We have a film and some live recordings for that night. If it cries out to be released, we will go. Ny
Letters to the Editor Dear Neil, The unreleased songs on the inner sleeves of Lucky 13 Hi how are ya? I happened to have the vinyl version of Lucky Thirteen in my hands for the first time in a long while and had forgotten that a lot of song titles are printed in large type behind the lyrics on the inner sleeves. Among them are the names of many hitherto unreleased songs - some of them very prominent in really large type such as Big Pearl, Winter Winds/Turbine, Your Love Again, Johnny and many others!
My question is this. You obviously found these unreleased songs specially important at that time. Maybe you were teasing David Geffen on your way out the door (Eat a peach - Vol. 2?!). And you were certainly teasing your fans! Your unreleased catalogue is my special hobby horse. I have over 200 unreleased songs or performances of covers listed in my own "Unofficial NY Archive". So I was just wondering if we are maybe going to hear some of this material on NYA very soon. I know your fans would love to hear some unreleased material in the best available quality, even if it is not the right quality for official commercial release. NYA seems to me to be the ideal platform to present such "additional" material. And I know that access to unreleased songs and performances would be a big big argument for many many more fans to subscribe when the pay system starts up. I certainly can't wait to hand over my money!
And just one parting shot from me - I've always wondered what L.A. Girls and Ocean Boys sounds like. It's a bit early (1974?) for Oceanside-Countryside, but it sounds like it should be on there! If there is a recording, can you please please give it to us for Christmas on Homegrown?
Thank you for providing us all with a guiding light during these difficult times. Best as ever Robert (Broadfoot)
Broadfoot, Those are pretty obscure songs and we will indeed be hearing them on NYA. They are not involved in unreleased albums, but they will find a place.We will take care of them. Shakey Pictures Records will release anything we think is musically rewarding.
We reviewed ‘Your Love Again’ and ‘Big Pearl’; recently and they both sounded good. Winter Winds is on Hawks and Doves. ‘LA Girls and Ocean Boys’ needs a special place to be. Homegrown is coming soon - next year for sure. ny
Question For Mr. Young please; Have you ever met Elvis Presley? If so, could you share any humorous memories with the King? Thanks Jonathan
Jonathan, Nope, ny
Hello to all at NYA, I've a quick question regarding "Songs for Judy" (and subsequent archival releases). Is the new label Shakey Pictures Records an imprint of the giant Warner/Reprise group or a new project from NYA? Fun times! best Mark Golley Cley next the Sea, Norfolk, UK
Mark, Shakey Pictures Records is NYA, distributed by Warner Bros. thanks, ny
Dear Archivist, Will you add the Stray Gators' 1973 live single version of Last Trip To Tulsa to The Archives some day? I have heard only some old bad quality cassette copy of it but I think it is great. Is the "Time Fades Away 2" with Kenny Buttrey on drums coming? Thanks for the great NYA from northern Finland -LL
Dear LL. Yes, we will be adding ‘Last trip to Tulsa’ from ‘Time Fades Away’ (single B side release) to the timeline. ny
Hey Neil- I just wanted to thank you for all of the great music over the years. I'm only eighteen so I haven't been listening for as long as some other fans, but I've packed in a good deal of listening in the time being.
I saw your solo show in Philadelphia on September 30th and I thought that it was a truly transcendent evening. I never thought I'd get the chance to see you live and I'm thrilled that I did. Thank you for a great show.
I'm curious to know how you go about writing your setlists. Some parts of the setlist seem to stay the same during the course of a whole tour, while there are other slots in the setlist that change from night to night. When do you write these setlists? Do you ever really change them while you're on stage? What inspires you to break out a rarity one night, or try a new arrangement of a song?
It seems like there's a real art to writing setlists and I'm curious about how you do it.
Thanks again. I hope you come back to the Northeast USA next year, solo or PoTR or CH or whatever... just play and I will come.
All the best, Thomas
Thomas, Thanks a lot. We will be there in the Northeast and announce it on NYA when it happens. You can will be able to get the best tickets in the house here at NYA. ny
I saw your video against violence today. It made my heart ache at wasted years of repeated violence. It's frustrating to see violence normalized with tragedies repeating themselves over and over. In 2000 we made a 5 ton art installation to generate dialogue about our culture of violence. Guns from around the world were donated in a gesture against violence.
Maybe if artists join forces it could create real change. Thx for doing what you do. www.gunsculpture.com
Art Against Violence NYA
Hi NYA, I like Tom De Vesto's Audio Technical column. Looking forward to a new piece from him. Maybe how to spruce up the old turntable or optimize the NYA interface. The book Good Sound, by Laura Dearborn is chock full of good ideas for him. It's never to late to achieve good sound! Is he working on another iteration for his column? -Mudflow Mike
Mike, We are happy to say that Tom De Vesto will be writing more columns for the Times-Contrarian. NYA
You surely must have to sort though many, many fan notes. Forgive me for adding to the pile, because I merely wish to express to Mr. Young my heartfelt thanks for his letter regarding "DT's" use of “Rockin in the Free World.” The remarkable elegance of the letter has a lot to do with Neil Young's kind, yet firm, approach. And it inspired me to also be direct and honest more than ever. Walk On! Henry Hibbert
PS - I own a mint condition, original pressing of Harvest. No barcode! ;>)
Thanks Henry, As for DT, I think every paper should put all presidential tweets on page 9 in their own space where they can’t attack any of the other columns. NY
I first became aware of your music in the late 1960’s when I was a student in Kingston upon Thames near London, England. I liked the gentle sounds of Crosby, Stills and Nash, Leonard Cohen, Donovan and The Moody Blues and a fellow student recommended Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere to me, but with the cautionary words that I may find some of it a bit too loud! He was right. Cinnamon Girl, Cowgirl in the Sand and Down by the River were for my then somewhat sheltered ears somewhat disturbing – and they were long.
When After The Goldrush and Harvest came out I thoroughly enjoyed them – this was what music was all about. But then Tonight’s the Night confirmed that for me, then, you were an erratic artist who could make beautiful music but also discordant and confused noises too. Oh the ignorance of youth. I have grown up since.
Our first son Ben was born in 1976 and one evening when he was a few weeks old I was left on my own baby sitting whilst my wife went out for the night. Ben was unsettled, crying and causing this new father considerable anxiety. I was listening to John Peel on the radio when he played the most electrifying music I had ever heard up to that point. You and Crazy Horse playing “Like a Hurricane” on what John Peel described as an as yet unreleased white label.
I could not believe the sound of the screaming guitar that emerged from the radio; Ben stopped screaming and went to sleep. I was hooked on your music.
I have followed your career with keen interest ever since. It has given me some wonderful moments of pleasure – a much absent experience in this sad and increasingly battered world we live in, and for which I shall always be grateful and appreciative. To my mind your music can still be patchy (but who’s isn’t) from time to time soaring to the heights of Rust Never Sleeps, Freedom, Ragged Glory and Harvest Moon and so many others, while falling to the occasional depths of Everybody’s Rockin, or later Storytone (in all its guises), Fork in the Road and The Monsanto Years, but soaring again with Greendale or Psychedelic Pill. The good and brilliant far outweigh the bad in my mind. But what I think may be less than good I know others really appreciate.
I took Ben to see you and Booker T at Finsbury Park – an uncomfortable experience for me, then too old to stand all night in the crowded environment whilst people around me shouted out getting drunker and drunker with every song. And a less than perfect sound system.
Ben began to appreciate your music.
I took him with me to see you perform Greendale at the Hammersmith Apollo – an extraordinary occasion. By this time I had become a judge and I wondered how many other judges you can count as fans of Neil Young and Crazy Horse. We were mesmerized by the whole evening, your narration before and after each song from Greendale, followed by songs seemingly selected at random as you flipped through a lever arch file filled with the lyrics to your songs and which were played, or so it seemed, just for us, even though David Gilmour of Pink Floyd was a few rows in the seats ahead of us.
So struck was I by the concert that I wrote to you care of your record company thanking you for the evening and the pleasure you had given to us. I did not receive a response, but then why would I?
Ben was a real convert to your music; trying to learn some of the basic chords to some of your songs, listening to your music constantly to the increasing irritation of his girlfriend Kate.
So when the opportunity came round again I took Ben and Kate to see you at the Hammersmith Apollo again, this time when you performed with your Electric Band – with the now sadly missing Rick Rosas, Ben Keith and Pegi (?). In the restaurant beforehand I profoundly embarrassed my son and daughter in law when I approached David Gilmour who was also there (was he stalking me I wonder) and asked him if he was going to your concert later that day. He finished his coffee and promptly left – another rock star’s lunch spoiled by an over enthusiastic fan.
The concert – just you, solo, followed by the Electric Band was phenomenal. I am still waiting to see it as captured by Jonathan Demme. And Kate became a convert too. Whilst previously she would complain when Ben or I played your music she now loved to listen to it - and their first dance at their wedding was to “Harvest Moon.”
I am now in the final years of my journey in this life. Your music has been a constant thread providing me with both exhilaration and comfort, but also disturbing me from time to time and unsettling me. That is what a true artist does. No one will like all of Shakespeare’s plays equally; they are not all as good as each other. Not everything Picasso painted is appreciated by everyone. An artist cannot control their muse; sometimes it is there; sometimes it is not.
But from this aging judge in England – thank you for everything that you have given to me. And by way of a question will there be another (a final) NY and Crazy Horse album?
Judge, Thanks for your letter, which I read and appreciated greatly. I am doing what I do and letting the chips fall. everyone, in their lives, has ups ands downs.
The film you saw being made at Odeon Hammersmith is a Tim Pope film, ‘LONDON’, still unreleased, a beautiful gem which we will be showing. I hope you are enjoying NYA. It was made for people like us. Say hello to Ben. I have a son Ben as well! ny NYA
It’s good to know how to dance and start again.
And when the melody, through the window called, It sounded in the courtyard and murmured in the corridors. He played it all night .......
Good evening all the team of NYA what a pleasure for the senses this music decked with words which does not stop running in the corridors between cut of ............. cuts but small (always a little) but the sound is good NY A.
Got a little air before going to bed; but i would like to go to the cinema hearth theater ... maybe in a few days .................. I hope that Neil Young is doing well !!! K O R Thank you and have a good night see you soon José de Paris
Jose, Thanks for the sentiment. Enjoy NYA. NY
...Just wanted to say THANK YOU for releasing “Songs For Judy,” which will be out soon... I am shocked that you even released it, but happy that you always throw a curveball at us, The Fans...! lol. So Glad I do not have to listen to a crappy version of that bootleg ever again! Thanks Neil, Joel Bernstein, & Whoever Else Got This done! Cameron Crowe! You Guys Rock En Mass Supreemo! Any Chance of getting any 'Stills/Young Band Live' Released? I Realise that it's only my opinion , but Neil Young & Stephen Stills NEED to make another album together, perhaps a Live One as Well? Hmmmm...
~Marc Buehre, Longtime Old Fan .
Marc, Stills-Young Band live recordings have not ever been reviewed. There is one new song being done on the tour called ‘Evening Coconut’.
Cameron and Joel did a great job with ‘Judy’ and I am so glad we can share it with folks like you on Shakey Pictures Records! ny
Thanks for all the good news. A pleasure to read these articles. Really looking forward to Songs for Judy and hope Mr. Bernstein and Mr. Crowe tackle the electric set next. My memories of the Madison, Wisconsin show are crystal clear and hearing Like a Hurricane and Cortez from that show would be spectacular. As I wrote before, I have a home movie of this concert and remember every detail. I must compliment you all on this fabulous website and archive as I seem to learn something new every day, plus the music and political slant are in perfect harmony. Thanks, Neil. You are an inspiration. I am especially grateful that you allowed my friend and fellow water protector Christine Nobiss to speak her wise words at Farm Aid so others can join our battle against Monsanto/Bayer, Big Ag, DAPL, and corrupt politicians. Christine may have told you but Energy Transfer Partners is contacting landowners about another pipeline following the same route across Iowa. Your leadership and strong voice is needed so thank you to you and Daryl Hannah for standing up to those who fail to heed Mother Earth's cries. Love always to you and the archives team. Your Iowa fan, Mary Bennett
Mary, We will both be there for Earth as long as we can. Long May You Run.
We may go ahead and see if we can find the Crazy Horse ‘Electric Judy’ set of our cassette dreams, but we are not ready yet. Thanks, ny
Please let Neil know that we USA beekeepers are thankful that he is speaking out about the chemical saturation and corporate corruption. No more lying to the American People about why bees, insects and animals are dying and people are sick !! WE need people like him to stand up to this madness in this country. Share this info with him he will know exactly what we are talking about !!! chris wildcreekbeefarm.com
Chris, We need people like you to spread the word to the world. In an Earth crisis such as this, insects are telling an important part of the story. Keep speaking up. Every voice counts! respect, NY
Absolutely brilliant!!!! Running iMac - Schiit Yggdrasil - Parasound Halo 2.1 - A21 - Vandersteen Quattro Wood CT - me Thank you for your commitment to excellence in the face of so much compromise.
Enjoy, my friend! Thanks, ny
Hey now, Does “Windward Passage” or “Cryin' Eyes” from the Ducks exist in the vault? Those are songs I would certainly love to hear as part of the NYA experience. Thanks, Tom Santa Cruz
Tom I remember both of those songs by the Ducks. Tim Mulligan, who recorded the Ducks, is working on the record for Shakey Pictures Records. It will be great. As you probably know, we recorded several Ducks’ shows inside the city limits trying to raise the ‘Pussinger Curse’, imposed by Master Mallard on Pussinger the surfer - I wish the Ducks could have raised the curse. They tried night after night to have a Nuclear Quack, Maybe the Ducks chronicle of these events will do it! Its quite a story to tell. Thanks! NY NYA
This may seem like a repetitive question since I am sure many have brought up specific rare recordings multiple times, but one that I don't recall being brought up is the studio recording of "I'm Goin'" which was exclusive to the 45rpm single of "Ten Men Workin'". When can we expect to see an info card for this recording? And perhaps we may see something for the contributions to the soundtrack of Where The Buffalo Roam…?
Thanks! Two great suggestions! That’s why I love NYA. We are working on this request. ny
Has Neil's performance of “Out of the Blue” done with DEVO ever been released outside of the movie? Is it available today?
Its available as a video as part of ‘Out of the Blue/Into the Black’ and ‘Human Highway’, the film.
Residing in info cards in the filing cabinet, and on the timeline, these will be introduced with subscriptions. NYA
A letter to The Editor, Hey hey, My my, NYA lives and will not die! Bravo on the new format and so good to read interesting, informative articles by people in the know. Looking forward to Songs for Judy. Mr. Hanlon is watching warily over the process of production and it should be a worthy listen. And yes, I lament so the Hi-Fi experience. After you've been there, it's hard to settle for less, which is why NYA is more. Quality, whether you want it, or not. Peace, -Mudflow Mike
Thanks Mike, We appreciate your enthusiasm. Please tell any of your friends who might enjoy my music in depth. ny NYA
Neil, there is very little written about your learning to play harmonica and piano. Can you lay the background on us as to how and when each got started, the inspirations you had and the progress to when you felt strong about putting them on tape, playing live, etc... Thanks SONY Loson, Rochester
SONY, I learned how to play piano in Winnipeg. There was a piano downstairs in the basement hallway of the triplex I lived in there. Harmonica must have been after I heard Bob Dylan a long time ago and Jimmy, so it may have been Bob or Jimmy Reed. Both are among the greatest harp players I ever heard, along with Paul Butterfield. ny
Super idea putting up Songs for Judy! I'm eager to hear it.
Question for Neil, one that I've thought often. What music do you listen when you are not either listening to or playing your own? Barbara
Barbara, Jimmy Reed, JJ Cale. Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, when I get the opportunity. ny
Hi Neil I'm from a wee town in the north of Scotland called Thurso, which is a hotbed of Neil Young fans! Finally got to see you and the Horse at Hyde Park a couple of years ago, which was an especially magical day for my wife and I, who had traveled many thousands of miles to get there. Been a huge fan of yours for many years - first thing I heard was 'Broken Arrow' on a compilation album called The Age of Atlantic, which I played until the vinyl bled white... so many other favourites, I guess On The Beach and Everybody Knows just edging out on top right now... anyhow, my question is about Paradox. We have Netflix (via Korea, I believe) in Cambodia, where we now live, and Paradox was on there for a few weeks after release but now seems to have disappeared. Basically, I started watching it then got interrupted putting my son to bed and never really got to finish watching... so, I missed how it ends and would love to find out how I can see that - is it available to download or stream from anywhere else? Sorry if that seems a lame question, and a huge thank you for keeping on keeping on and creating such marvelous sound pictures and more for us all to enjoy - best wishes from Phnom Penh, James and family
James I will find out why that is. Netflix is something I regret having done because we can’t get the picture on the archives. I will see what happens. No promises. So sorry. Maybe we can get it back someday. We don’t often make mistakes that lose control of the art. Nothing is perfect. ny
Hi Neil! Have you ever thought to play Heart of Gold with the 'Old Black' as a punk song? I think it could sound great!! Have a nice week-end.
Someday. You never know, I think it would be done as a lark. ny
Thank you for hours of fun - fabulous website.
Please keep Song of Day comments going.
Should songs released on a visual format only, be included in the timeline?
eg Berlin from the DVD from the 1982 European tour, is one AAA gem that springs to mind.
Neil, was this really inspired composed rehearsed and performed all in the one day in Berlin 1982?
What recollections do you have of playing this sublime (very POTR friendly) song that deserves not to be landlocked on DVD only?
renewed thanks Adrian Sunny Barnet London
Adrian, ‘After Berlin’ is available to us now. We just got it. We may present it in the Hearse Theater soon and then on the timeline. It was written and recorded in one day.
As far as ‘Berlin’ the concert film goes, check out the info-card for ‘Sample and Hold’. That was from the Berlin performance. The Berlin concert will be added as a video around the time when subscriptions are offered. NYA
Neil's performances of No Hidden Path in 2007 - 2008 always felt like a career highpoint. He seemed to dig even deeper than usual there. Was the song a special one for him too?
Yes it was. I was deeply into it. Ben Keith plays guitar with me on it. ny
Dear Hannah, John and Neil- I am writing to share that there is a lot of interest in the Bottom Line show from 1974. If you have the master cassette, it would be such an amazing honor to your fans if you could master it digitally to NYA as exclusive content to member-fans who have long since worn out their x-generation copies. It is such a unique and vital part of the history.
I see NYA as being able to go far beyond what you would be willing to put out on Vinyl or CD. Remember that eardrum busting live version of Mr. Soul from the Hollywood Bowl you put out as a BD-Live track? Same idea. Peace and Love, Omar
Omar, these are good ideas and we will act on them both. It may take a bit of time because so much is happening right now, but we will get there. Stay tuned and thanks! NYA
I used to look for jukeboxes in Portland that had the edited, single version of “Time Fades Away,” because the B side was an electric version of “The Last Trip To Tulsa” played by Neil and the Stray Gators. This was an official release, and as such I would hope it would be included in the archives and on the timeline. Will it be coming our way? Thanks. TC
Hey TC That will be coming soon. I always liked it. We have it on our radar. Thanks! ny
Just a quick question (or 2 or 3 or 4).
Do the supposed unreleased albums actually exist: Oh Lonesome Me (c.1970) Ranch Romance (mid 70's) My Old Neighborhood (mid '70's) Island In The Sun (1981) original Bluenote Cafe (1989) (would love to know the original track list) aborted Crazy horse album in 1984 aborted Crazy Horse album in 1995 solo Silver and Gold (1999) Toast (2002) Twisted Road (2010)?
Or will we see notes and stuff so we can put the albums together ourselves?
PS will we ever see the original Tonight's The Night with the between song banter?
Martin, ‘Oh Lonesome Me’ was the working title for ‘After the Gold Rush’.
‘Ranch Romances’ was a working title for the period 1975 and an album was never made. It was the title of a comic book that was around when Crazy Horse was practicing and learning songs during that period.
“My old Neighborhood “was a line from ‘Ride my Llama.’
‘Island in the Sun’ was the title of an album made in Hawaii in the eighties. Some songs appeared on ‘Trans’, but there may be 4 others. It needs to be listened to again.
The original Blue Note Cafe was abandoned. Aborted Crazy Horse album and video from 1984 is in the vault untouched. It was live and studio recordings.
There was no Crazy Horse album from 1995.
Solo ‘Silver and Gold ‘was a video by LA Johnson from Austin Texas. It is unreleased. No album has been worked on.
‘Toast’ with Crazy Horse is completed and unreleased.
‘Twisted Road’ was a possible working title for Crazy Horse ‘Psychedelic Pill.’
The original banter from TTN is lost and not found at this time. ny
"Too Lonely" is a true rock and roll classic it would be very nice to hear it alive one more time with The Promise or with the Horse. Any plans for a South American Trip?
I would love to to return to South America. The audiences down there are great. If Brazil is stable and non violent, we may be considering traveling to South America next year. I am concerned about the new leadership. I hope it works out well for all the people down there. NY
This past week I was fortunate enough to attend 4 shows: SPAC, Portchester (2x) and one night in Phili. I have not missed a tour since 1976, and these shows were up there with the best. Also, these shows were special for the variety of songs played. I want to see every NY show in my area, but I haven't in the past because the sets were so similar (I did see Greendale multiple times because I knew I would never see most, if not all, of those songs performed again).
I understand that each night brings a different energy from the band, but different songs bring a different energy from the audience, especially repeat attenders! That was a big part of the Grateful Dead experience. You never knew what the boys would play on any given night (even though in those pre-internet days there were newsletters distributed by fans at the shows with the tour's setlists to date). But you knew they weren't going to play what they played the night before -- so, why not see all 3, 4 or 5 shows on a run?
So....thank you Neil for the variety. Is there a reason you did not switch it up so much in the past? Peace, LS
LS None of the bands I played with had the depth in number of songs possible to play that Promise of the Real has. That makes it easier for me to add and subtract tunes on a whim during the show. In solo shows, I am free to do whatever I want and have been doing that more recently. NY
Will there be a reissue of CSNY Déjà Vu in the near future. Would love to hear a new version on Vinyl. Thanks.
No plans right now, Watch for an announcement. ny
Coming off the tremendous Capitol Theater, Portchester shows, I was struck by how perfect POTR/Lukas are for accompanying Neil. This was my first time seeing this outrageously great lineup.
I might even go so far as to say that this is the first band that has the soul and musical flexibility that could really do justice to a full-band live version of Country Girl (has it ever been done?)
I've heard a solo acoustic version from ~'69/'70 (which is breathtaking) but never with a band. It would, no doubt, be challenging to figure out the arrangement but, judging from these recent shows, Neil is at the top of his game. Throwing down the gauntlet! Thanks, Billy Glassner
Country Girl is a good idea. NY
Hey Neil, I was wondering how Sun Green has been lately. I've sure been thinking about her, with all the recent events going on and all - It seems like she would have to be right up front, leading the resistance. I heard you might have a way to get in touch with her. Rob
Rob Sun Green is always on my mind. We have a Greendale live concert in review NY
Bill Bentley's writeup on Townes Van Zandt was amazing. And Townes was simply one of the best, if not the best songwriter of pain ever. Thanks.
I've read that he had recorded with Neil for a large box set of prospective covers of his own songs. Never saw the light of day except for a 1 disk skim released maybe 15 years ago called Texas Rain.
Does Neil have recollections of Recording with or knowing Townes? —Omar
No, I don’t have any recollections of meeting him. It was a great article in Bentley’s Bandstand! NY
Dear Archivist, At the end of the lyrics to Last Dance you have "Negative, negative...." which, although it fits in theory with "No, no, no....", seems from a style point of view an unlikely choice of words at that point. I believe I hear "Make it two, make it two, make it two, make it two" (or similar), and sure enough, exactly two bars later (and not four) the band suddenly stops the long repeating jam and moves into the final coda, ending the song. As a live performance that also seems a logical "stage" direction after a longish improvisation.
I'd even put money on it but presumably only Neil would know for sure!
Thought I'd mention it since most lyrics for the song do not record that part at the end so you will be influencing a lot of people! Best as always
“Negative negative” is the correct lyric. It is written in the lyrics of your NYA info card found in ‘Time Fades Away’ on the timeline. 1973 NY
Hi Neil. I am a long time fan - since Every Body Knows This is Nowhere was originally released. I saw you for the first time on the Harvest tour at The Nassau Coliseum and so many more times over the years. Been in San Francisco since 1980 and just missed The Ducks when I moved to Santa Cruz in 1978. Was at the Rust Never Sleeps show at the Cow Palace. Attended 22 Bridge School Concerts. You get the drill here - your music and what you stand for are very meaningful to me as I enter my 35th year as a criminal defense attorney.
So, my question is, having gone to Fresno to see NYCH (quite amazing), any chance of a Bay Area show soon? We miss you here. Thank you for your time and consideration. Best, Harris
Harris, I hope to play the bay area soon, but we have no plans at this time. ny
As the anticipation for Archives V2 builds, is there any information that can be provided as to what kind of previously unheard or unreleased goodies we can expect to find? I am sure I am not the only one who is hoping for the Human Highway recordings, Homegrown, Comes A Time solo (w/o overdubs), Chrome Dreams, and the CSNY mixes of what became Long May You Run. What other treasures have you got in store for your fans? Much respect for your immense catalog of what you have released over the last 50 years, please keep it coming. I will understand if you choose not to divulge info on what is coming.
We are currently reviewing all of the unreleased albums from the Volume 2 period, which is the seventies. 'Songs for Judy' was one of those. ‘Oceanside Countryside’ is another. We are reviewing the others. NY
Neil + Promise of the Real - Canadian Tour
I writing this to hoping spark an idea for another tour to the great white north...Canada. I’m dying to see you play again live here in Winnipeg, MB. It has already been 4 long years since the wonder Treaties tour you played. Time flies!!
My wife an I travelled to Minneapolis this past November to see Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real play and wow can they play!! Those boys can rock! I sure hope a future tour will include POTR, I would love to see you guys out there together.
Hope you see this and say....damn, I need to get back up there to the Peg!
Much Love, Dane
Plans being made NY
Hi folks! love to read Times Contrarian, do hope can be expanded more: I feel less alone reading something I agree with and that tries to open up our minds in this crazy world where social networks are mainly used to spread FAKE NEWS!
Nice week-end and tks for the great work you all are doing, Joe (from a sunny sky in Rome).
p.s. our government, in Italy, is reinforcing social hate.....cannot recognize my country anymore. Too sad.......but 'we shall overcome some day…….’
I Iove Italy. PEACE ny
Hey Uncle Neil, How are you? I hope this message find you well. I'm one of your many dedicated fans on the other side of the pond and was wondering if there are any plans to visit the UK in the near future?
Some solo Neil shows would be incredible but please feel free to bring along The Horse or POTR. We just want to see you grace our shores again.
If you do drop by, be sure to look me up and i'll take you and the missus out for some drinks. Look forward to hearing from you Take care and keep on keeping on. Christophe’
We are coming to the UK next summer NY
Thanks Neil for your last two books. I read Waging Heavy Peace twice and same for Special Deluxe. I then listened to that audiobook on the 300+ mile drive up to Gallup, New Mexico a year ago (thanks for sitting down and reading it). I had to bury a friend and fan your yours on the Navajo Nation who died suddenly- maybe he had Everybody's Rockin CD on which I sent him. I guy named Lester Kien - he was an artist, DJ or world music and turned me back on to your music in '04 when he saw the Greendale tour. I totally understood that album and own the movie too, which I've seen 20 times. Please bring back some of that music and stay healthy! I love your work the last 15 years the best--- Pete (Tucson AZ)
Thanks My next book is in final edit. I do love writing stories. This one is fiction... NY
Hello All at NYA, In 1976 I was a junior in High School. My best friends father was in the band The Association. I felt I had been initiated into a club or a secret society hearing the tales from the road Larry, my friends father would discourse after a tour. Your behind the scenes give and take on Songs for Judy brought back a feeling that hasn't been around for a long time. I feel like I am part of a group of like minded souls sharing a journey, like I fit and am accepted as a fellow traveler. Thanks NYA. Peace, —Mudflow Mike
Mudflow You fit! NY
Dear folks at NYA, I look forward to subscribing soon to NYA when that option gets underway, and it appears to be a generous and fertile deal, especially given all the labor and talent involved. My question at the moment though is why you don't call it like it is, i.e. $20 a year, or $2 a month, instead of employing the classic capitalist psychological ploy of saying $19.99 and $1.99. I've always found that to be sneaky and off-putting. Just saying... cheers, John
Hey, yer right! NY
Hi guys, I'm in London UK, it's lunch time, sun shining, and while strumming my old guitar on Neil's notes, I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate these archives. Love and peace Guido
Hey Neil/Archives team! Thanks for everything you've created here and elsewhere. I saw the second night in Boston this summer and was happy to have access to the best seats at my price level. Hitchhiker has become one of my favorite albums of all time and I have the archives to thank. I'm excited to hopefully hear Homegrown soon!
My first ever rock concert was Neil at the United Palace in 2007 with my dad who has since passed. Whenever I find myself listening to the archives, I'm glad to have a piece of that memory back.
Let me know if you're ever hiring for the archives team. I'm a musician and writer and have experience with copy writing and a background in archival and antiquarian research.
Thank you again for all that you do, Matt
Your Dad is here at the Archives. So is mine. love NY
Wow stunned that you answered my letter about the ORS vinyl box sets, that really made my day. Here's another quick question, any chance of letting us know if any European shows are coming? My daughter is getting married in 2019 and I'll be paying so trying to plan my year out to ensure I've enough ££'s left to cover my usual 3 shows when you tour in Europe. That Amsterdam show with POTR was a wild trip. Amazing.
NYA is simply amazing, the changes to the Contrarian make it even better. Rust well. Andrew, UK
Coming next summer NY NYA
Dear Neil, How about some low key pyrotechnics on your next solo tour with the performance of 'Will to Love?’ (Be sure to include the crackling log fire sound, either real or taped as the song would not be the same without it!) Gareth McNair-Lewis (BA#859)
Graeth That’s why i don’t do it. But I am working on it. ny
Dear Editors at NYA, dear Bill Bentley, at a time when the transatlantic distance appears to become wider and wider, European friends of (North) American music that we kind of made our own, sometimes understanding just bits and pieces of it’s surface, we appreciate very much Bentley’s look at our record collections, explaining once more why they are there in the first place and adding to our perspectives. Keep that one going! Greetings from Germany Dionys
Dionys, Thanks! Bill will be writing for Times-Contrarian for as long as possible! We love having Bill in the family. ny
Hello, sorry to bother with yet another quick mail ... but I just had to agree/comment with the Young family or Bob Young's song “Hey America.” At least once a year I drive through the Western USA from Canada to visit my aging mother living there. I/we have yet to meet an unfriendly or not welcoming American. They have built a great nation in a beautiful country.
I hope that the current political division among Americans turns out something positive for the next generations. The negative effects in their system are obvious now so one has to conclude (hey, let's look at the bright side) that this nation wakes up and new leaders will steer them out of their political mess. Cheers from a Canadian friend, William
Thanks William. My brother, Bob Young is a real individual and it doesn’t surprise me that heis starting to write and sing his songs. His voice is deeper than mine and so is his mind. Appreciate your comments. NY
Hey Neil, if you do by chance go through with that Farmer's Market flatbed tour you mentioned, please consider coming to Kent. It's not a huge market but I know it's an important place to you and I don't know that you've ever come through here. Obviously the Kent Stage would sell out within seconds, but a lowkey market appearance would just be incredible. I'd even roll one up to burn with ya! (I'd appreciate a heads up though so I wouldn't get totally shut out by the crowd, and might get a chance to get an album signed, haha!) Also, just a show in NE Ohio in general is badly needed. And while I've got the opportunity, I wanted to say I really liked the live arrangement for Children of Destiny at Farm Aid. Can't wait for more new material!
We may just do it. When the time is right and we can make it happen it could be a pop up tour. Not this year. NY
Hello Neil from Manchester England Always loved your music from way back, I am 72 now so it’s a long time!
I still play gigs and music has always pulled me through life’s difficulties, your songs have especially helped. I am an all vinyl listener and hope someday you will release vinyl from the last tours with Crazy Horse?
I hope also you will play over here—perhaps with Kurt Vile, who I really like. He is in Manchester in November—maybe one day it will happen!
Happy trails to you and yours— Love Kevin McCormick (Hearts like Magnets)
Thanks Kevin. We are planning on releasing Alchemy in triple vinyl in Shakey Pictures Records. That could be next year. We are working on the videos and album now. NY
Hey there Neil, Hannah, whoever is reading this... Just want to take a moment to thank you for all of the hard work you guys are putting into this. Your vision is materializing (blossoming, really) and I find myself checking in at least once a day during the week. Maybe rediscovering an old favorite (“Hey Babe,” "Motion Pictures,” etc), reading song notes (“Helpless” being one of my recent favorites) or looking at old newspaper clips, setlists and random bits (the nuggets you posted around the Nov-Dec '70 Cellar Door/Carnegie Hall run were especially fun).
It's really wonderful to be able to live in an age when we don't need to have a mediator or editor between the artist and fans. The unobstructed view is something to behold. Provides a nice respite from all of the other frightening things going on in our world. So thank you for acting on the opportunity and putting so much hard work and resources into it. I can't wait to start paying the subscription fee once you get that up and running.
I'd be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to put in a little plug for a proper release of the Boarding House shows from May '78. In particular, the acoustic version of "Shots" is devastating. All the cutting and tender beauty we have come to love from some of your greatest songs.
I also want to thank you for the Capitol Theater shows in Portchester a few weeks ago (“Albuquerque”!). I know it wasn't much of a money-maker for you but it felt great as a fan to experience that intimacy and looseness. You guys were clearly having a blast. As were we. Thanks again and keep up the fantastic work. Billy Glassner
Billy, we have chosen the Boarding House takes and the videos that go with them. The videos are different takes from the best audio performances. We are evaluating. Thanks for asking NY
Yesterday's Contrarian had an article about Facebook. I thought the following article in today's New York Times was a good follow up. It's a step by step guide to getting off of Facebook responsibly.
How can we trust this platform? I need to use it to get the word out if I have something that needs that, like tomorrow when we introduce a new video of OHIO, to stand with the young people in America against our lack of gun control. I don’t post FB anymore except to say I am here at NYA taking care of my music and living with the diehards. Drop in if you want to-we are here with all the music in high res. N
Regarding Neil's notes for each "Song Of The Day," can you please leave the little stickies on the file card indefinitely? Seems to make sense to leave his thoughts and anecdotes for each track in the archive as a way to further enrich the experience and amass a growing collection of his personal notes.
Oh, and if I hadn't said it before, keep up the great work! You guys are doing a phenomenal job and clearly love what you do. And we love what you do. Billy Glassner
Thanks Billy, I would like to leave the note’s up and soon will have little spoken word messages attached occasionally. Look for these things to happen soon. NY
I have had the very good fortune of being able to see Neil over a hundred times in the last 40 some odd years. During the last run thru the East Coast Neil seemed more at ease actually stopping at points for brief second to take it all in. The Sunday 9/30 show had even the crew talking Bob and Les both commented how much they enjoyed the show and how great it was. Afterwards during the normal fan banter while breaking down for the the night. Even Zeke chimed in with a how did you like that. I could only respond with your dad was amazing as i was at a loss for words by what i just witnessed. That show was on a level that far surpassed the other five solo shows i had seen this year. The song selection was perfect for the room and the sound was excellent. Neil was a little less talkative then the prior weeks shows with Promise Of The Real. He was in the zone and just killed it.
Along comes Monday my fifth Neil show in a little over a week. I had no expectations other than a good show and maybe a couple of tunes that i had not seen Neil do in a while.
My ritual for every show stays the same i show up 5 hours ahead of time to try catch a glimpse of the man and possibly a autograph. Neil came out after sound check and you could just tell he was in great mood. We gestured to Neil to see if he was willing to sign autographs and over he came. He ask if we were the same three guys (all fans no for profit autograph seekers). that had been standing in front of the bus for the last two days, yes that was us i responded. Then i presented him with a very rare french colored lithograph of Journey Through The Past that i have been trying to get signed for 35 plus years. He looked down smiled ask who he should sign it for and my 35 year journey of trying to get it signed ended with a gold sharpie and the inscription to Dave, Neil Young signature on my favorite Neil collectible ever. Realizing my time was short i said thank you and ask him to play Thrasher please. Before the show ever started my day had been made. Then comes the show and the impossible he topped the night before with a simply amazing performance including Thrasher. The coolest moment in the East coast mini tour occurred during this show just prior to Mother Earth Neil was mimicking woody with the biggest grin ever on his face.It was great to see a very happy and content Neal. Wish i was more of a picture taker as the scene was priceless. He knew he was killing it that night. Just like all shows it ended all to soon. During the breakdown the guys as always were talkative ,kind and just as amazed as the fans were agreeing he had actually some how topped the night before.
Time to head back to North Carolina my head filled with new Neil memories and songs i haven't heard in forever. The great quest to get the Journey Through the Past Lithograph signed had ended successfully. Fast forward one week and North Carolina gets hit with a massive hurricane destroying just about every Neil Young item i owned including my prized Journey lithograph and nearly every signed album poster and picture i had collected of Neil since 1976.
Not sure why i felt the need to share this i have no desire to have it published or dwell on it after today.The collection will never be the same but the quest will start again in a couple weeks on the left coast if the rumors are true. Thanks Dave "the guy in the green Freedom Of Speech hat”
Thanks Dave, Nice hat NY
Hey there Archivist. I was just wondering what alternative release is gonna be released next? I been waiting for Homegrown since i was in diapers, but I also can’t wait to hear the Horse tearing it up on Alchemy or Live at Odeon Budokan :)
I also wanna say as a long time Rustie and a hifi nerd this page is like a gold mine for me. Keep up the good work. Cheers from Norway
Norway, It looks like ODEON BUDOKAN. Vinyl laquers being checked today by Hanlon. Maybe he’ll write about it. Check out ‘J Hanlon’s Notebook’ in the Contrarian. NY
NYA, thanks for keeping this platform going! When I discovered NY seven years ago, I committed myself to collecting all records on vinyl. I'm almost 30 years old and 1/3 or almost halfway. I was wondering about this: it seems hard to find a Greendale album on vinyl. Although I only buy records in stores rather than ordering online, even on internet I can only find CDs. Was this a limited edition?
And one remark: my favorite song from that album is “Be the Rain.” I spent a holiday repeatedly listening to that song, giving me a feeling of connection with everything around me. I've been to a NY concert once, Amsterdam 2016. It was stunning! What are the odds you come back and it's raining? Jonas Amsterdam
We‘ll be back. Maybe raining, maybe not. NY
Hi, my name is Yan Ficker Ruiz, I'm from Catalunya and I would like to ask a few questions:
I went to see Neil Young in Zürich on 2008, at the end of the show there was a merchandising place with (between other things) Are You Passionate? album in double LP form, I couldn't buy it and now I can't find it anywhere. Is there a possibility of releasing again this LP?
Since "Interstate" and "Don't Spook The Horse" are Ragged Glory outtakes, why don't put them in a Ragged Glory re-release?
That's a freak one: I've seen Neil four times (Zürich 2008, Barcelona 2009, Nîmes 2013 and Barcelona 2016.), in none of them he played my favourite song “Like A Hurricane,” so please play it in 100% Europe shows, so it's sure I can enjoy it.
Thank you very much for your patience!!! Yan
‘Are You Passionate’ is a sleeper. We are looking at it, deciding what to do. We’ll let you know.
‘Interstate’ and ‘Spook’ belong with Ragged Glory and we are remastering that one. Look for J. Hanlon’s Notebook for news on the remastering (when he gets to it….he is very excited because we have found all the original analog masters.!) thanks, neil
I just adore the NYA site. I was unable to afford the Vol. 1 blu-ray when it came out in 2009, so the idea of everything being available on a website is very satisfying for me!!
I have a few questions ... Landing on Water is a very good album. Have you thought about remixing it and removing some of the 80s production?
I love, love Broken Arrow. You and the Horse just let it rip from start to finish. Do you have any live stuff from this era? Does the original version of Tonight's the Night, with the raps, exist? Will it see a release on NYA?
Keep doing whatever it is you are doing on NYA. It is working!!! Love you, Jake
Jake, Good idea. Those tapes were on the floor for a while in Zeke’s room. we have them. maybe they will come out. Now’s the time. NY
Letter to the Editor I just wanted to say thanks for the A Treasure release. My first Neil Young concert was at the Minnesota State Fair in 1985. One of the tracks from A Treasure is on there. I'm looking forward to hearing more International Harvester songs in the future. Such a great band (both versions).
Any thought to releasing the full 1984 Austin City Limits show on video and CD? New West Records has released several classic ACL shows on CD/DVD. It would be an amazing supplement to A Treasure and spotlight the 1984 version of the band.
I was pretty out of it for Austin City Limits. Not sure it all is good enough. NY
Dear Archives Girl- I wanted to write to say that I really appreciate the recent "Letters to the Editor.” It tells me so many things I really wanted to know.
Let me try a question of my own. Cover tracks, such as "Oh Lonesome Me" or "Four Strong Winds" or "The Wayward Wind" or all of A Letter Home are not playable. I had always assumed that these were dependent upon the subscription so that the writers could be paid. Is this the correct thinking or are there other publishing issues that need to be resolved? And will these be resolved prior to NYA subscriptions going live? Thanks! Omar (Zia)
Omar The songs others wrote that you mention are being addressed and management is working with the publishers. You will see what makes it through the process when we go live with subscriptions. ny
Hi Neil, Absolutely adored the Hurricane live video on Hearse Theater. Took me back to seeing Crazy Horse in Adelaide and them ending with a furious LAH. Love the band.
Furthermore any chance of any video, outtakes, live songs, etc. being available from the Mirrorball Pearl Jam era? “Scenery," “Song X,” etc. would be fantastic for POTR to play. Thanks for the wonderful archive, Andy Australia
Andy The Mirrorball songs you mention are al part of a film from Dublin that has never been seen. We are formatting that now and it will probably appear in the Hearse Theater. NY
One question I have concerns recordings from the 1977 concerts with The Ducks. The Santa Cruz residency with The Ducks is one of the more interesting eras of Neil's career. At the height of his stardom and popularity, when most artists are keen to go solo, Neil hunkers down in the small beachside community of Santa Cruz to form a legitimate working bar band with some other amazing musicians. What always intrigued me about this era was that Neil was a just a member of the band, and along with his songs the band always relied heavily on input and material from other members. I see no place is listed on the timeline for a release by The Ducks. I have heard rumors of recording trucks parked outside Santa Cruz venues for some Ducks shows. Were any of these recorded and will they someday see release? Thanks for all your efforts to preserve music in the highest quality. -Adam
Ducks are in production. Too soon to say release dates. NY
The Greendale concert was one of the best live show experiences I have ever had. Any plans to release a full concert film?
We have film of the complete concert and it is slated for review. We also have acoustic Greendale. Announcements coming as to release plans. NY
Dear Neil, I am a guitar player whose style owes everything to you. I am a big fan of your tunings, riffs, bass runs, etc. I even use the same types of picks as you (that is when you play with a pick!) I read that Hank B. Marvin is one of your favorite players. I was hoping you could say a little bit about those players (including Hank) who influenced you when you were young and who’s styles you dig. All the Best, Phillip in South Pasadena, CA
Phillip, Hank B Marvin is a genius guitar player. Randy Bachman and I were really influenced by him heavily during the Shadow’s reign. JJ Cale is a unique master guitar player. I love JJ. We were lucky to have both of them. NY
I thought I could take a chance on the great opportunity in the "Letters to the editor" section to ask my personal question, in hope for an answer.
Zuma has always been one of my all-time favorite NY albums. Recently I came across an awesome mid-seventies version of "White Line", back then apparently called "River of Pride" which to me definitely has that special Zuma sound I appreciate so much about that album. I wonder why that one didn't end up on Zuma. I even made my own little version of Zuma and tried "River of Pride" at different spots and it fits perfect (my choice would be the opener of the B-side). There's even a great electric version of "Peace of Mind" from that era. Do you recall any other songs that possibly were recorded for Zuma, but didn't make it on the record? I guess there were just too many songs around during that highly productive period in your life.
As a huge Neil Young fan for decades, I sure appreciate the NYA site very much. Thank you for that incredible opportunity to enjoy your music. I am from a generation that listened to entire albums on vinyl - one at a time, and I still do that. Anyway, the NYA platform would give the possibility to enable the users to compile their own playlists, picking songs from different albums together. Did you evaluate that option for the future development of the site? You know, in the end, it's all one song... Greetings from Sweden, Ulf
Ulf, The Zuma outakes are all with us. River of Pride and Peace of Mind are not there. Peace of mind was not written at that time. White Line (river of pride) was recorded in different places but not at Zuma. We are looking in other areas. We will use them if they make the cut. NY
Page 6 is in Latin? Virus? Thought you would want to know…
We know. It’s how we feel about Bad News. The Bad news is all the same over and over so just fill in your own stories on page 6. Occasionally we put a bad news story up but we take it down asap. NY NYA
Thanks for Sell Out as song of the day. Neil talks about playing drums on a guitar case. In the version on the Archives it sounds like real drums. I have a version of Sell Out without drums and with some piano. There is a chorus of "la la la la la la" and a long fade out with piano. Can you tell us about that? Was that the original demo that BS then overdubbed on and was edited? —Omar
Omar, I vaguely remember that. I don’t know how you got it. Please send a copy to our archivist and we will review it. thanks NY
Songs for Judy Sources. I read that most of these songs come from the original audio cassettes recorded in the hall by Joel Bernstein. I remember a Joel Bernstein's interview(1988) that his recordings come directly from the soundboard. Do recorded in the hall and soundboard mean the same thing?
In a Visit to The ARCHIVES (2000) are actually displayed reel to reel tapes labeled Warner, not audio cassettes from these concerts. Were these audio cassettes transferred later on tape or exist different sources for these concerts?.Many think that these concerts were recorded on multitracks. There's a circulating tape from BOSTON in excellent quality. Thanks Andrea
Andrea, there are a lot of sources for Songs for Judy. Original audio cassettes from the PA, from the board directly, multi track mixes, combinations of those. Thanks for asking!
JJH may add to this in his column. NY
Hello, Given the recent individual remastered reissues of titles such as Re-ac-tor and Hawks & Doves on vinyl, does this indicate that there will be no more NYAORS boxsets? I have the 1–4, 5–8 and 8.5–12 vinyl boxsets and would love to see the series continue. Thanks, Craig Hardie
The NYA ORS box set series will continue. There have been a lot of other releases getting in the way recently. NYA ORS will be back. NY
Can you tell me if the famous show @ The Bottom Line in 1974 is "in the can" and will be released on the NYA at some point? Thank you Sean O'Leary Dublin
Sean, We have the tape. We are not sure about it. It’s a borderline recording. It may be released in some special way but not as a full recording. Not sure. NY
Dear NYA, the Editor and Archivists, Firstly, heartfelt thanks for the continuing journey that everyone here (readers, fans, artist and archivists alike) seem to be relishing and enjoying, as the NYA Times-Contrarian continues to inform and expand. From finite detail (for instance, the potential live debut of Deep Forbidden Lake) to makes-you-think political comment (the current US administration, Monsanto and more) the increasingly expansive site is a treasure trove of nuggets, new and old, to be mined on a daily basis.
I have a question relating to the decision making processes by which unreleased albums (all mentioned within the Timeline) are worked on for future release.
Is it a matter of Neil (and perhaps someone such as John Hanlon) listening over and over to those unreleased albums (be it “Homegrown”, “Oceanside-Countryside” or “Odeon-Budokan”) and thinking “yes, lets get this one ready; into post-production, to the mastering stage, sort the cover art and prepare it for release”? Or does it involve discussion with the record company as to what may be viable on the market? Or is it simply a matter of whatever takes the artist’s fancy at any one given time and working things up from there? (Impulsiveness seems to be a defining trait of Neil Young).
With the recent news on NYA’s “Letters to the Editor” that Archives Volume 2 could be with us by May 2019, does that mean that the some of, or all of the five (potentially six) unreleased albums within the timeframe (maybe up to and including Solo Trans) will feature? Or will they come individually?
May I be more specific too with regard to two further unreleased records, two unreleased Neil Young & Crazy Horse records. Heading back to January 2018, Neil made a significant announcement on NYA regarding the live Crazy Horse record, “Alchemy” and it felt as though something very special was coming. “All that we are doing now is post-production and mastering”. Several months have passed and then, suddenly, along came the astonishing “Like a Hurricane”, from Nyom, seemingly the perfect trailer for Alchemy ~ but the tempest has left us seemingly becalmed once more as the release talk seems to have faded.
…and then there’s the mythical Horse record “Toast”. Ten years have passed since the famous Rolling Stone quote regarding Crazy Horse’s classic noir “it’s an amazing listening experience”. And despite stories of a LincVolt listening session pre-Bridge in the early 2000’s, we seem to be no closer to hearing a record that was ready at least 10 years ago.
Any clues for Alchemy and Toast? Thank you for your time, and thank you for delivering NYA. With grateful thanks Mark Golley Cley next the sea, Norfolk. UK
Alchemy is in the works. TOAST, I believe is complete except for the videos. The six unreleased albums from the seventies are now in review. Odeon Budokan may be next in line. ‘Oceanside Countryside’ and ‘HOMEGROWN’ are in the wings. NY
How come Neil doesn’t repress Ragged Glory on vinyl? I’ve spent $300.00 on 3 copies and everyone of them were a bootleg and sound horrible .I`m a huge Neil Young fan I have 99 % of all his albums. I do have a copy of this album on cd sounds great but I like the sound of vinyl better. This would make a great Record store day release . Thank you for your time, Jay Isaacson
Dear Jay We are working on that and it will be the best sounding Ragged Glory ever heard. We are going from the original analogs, many of which were thought to be lost and have been found. The process will also yield a high resolution file. John Hanlon is working on this and he will write about it in his NYA Times-Contrarian column, ‘J Hanlon’s Notebook’, soon. Thanks NY
Well, since I discovered there's a 'Letters to the editor' section I might give it a try and ask Neil one question, in hope I will get an answer...
Neil, I can ramble on and on about how much your music means to me from age 14, 15, I guess. To discover it all, in the seventies, starting with Decade (a GREAT way to start exploring your music). The first album I bought actually was Stills-Young band - not because it was on the top of my list but just because it was the only album I could find and I had to buy something, anything! Still love that album and think it is way underrated btw.
Also what was very strange in my experience was the feeling I had that these albums (also Zuma and TTN which I discovered quick) were released a long time ago while in hindsight... It was 1976/1977 so these albums were brand new!
Anyway, my question is: why did you never played live one of your most beautiful songs, 'Deep Forbidden Lake'. It's such a great song, great melody, chord sequence, lyrics.
Tnx, Peter Dees (Holland)
Peter, I will try Deep Forbidden Lake on a solo show and see how it feels. I think it’s unreleased on Homegrown, the album it was recorded for. That album will come soon. I could also do it with Promise of the Real. Thanks NY
Why does the memorabilia page of Running Dry from Everybody Knows this is nowhere have an image of a rockets album cover?
Running Dry features Boibby Notkoff on violin. He was an original Rocket. Thanks NY
My favourite Neil Young album is ‘Ragged Glory’ and my favourite track from that album has to be ‘Over and Over’. I love all the tracks on the album but I wondered why ‘Over and Over’ doesn’t get played live more often. It’s only been played 4 times, compared to 311 times for ‘Love and Only Love’, 265 times for ‘F*!#in' Up’, 145 times for ‘Love to Burn’ 136 times for ‘Country Home’ and 117 for ‘Mansion on the Hill’. They are all great tracks but ‘Over and Over’ is also a fantastic track and would be especially good live.
If Neil tours with ‘The Real’ it would be brilliant to hear them play it - I think it would really suit them. Not that the great man ever needs to justify what he plays and what he doesn’t play to me or anyone else, but I wondered why this hidden gem doesn’t get played live like the other ‘Ragged Glory’ tracks. I live in London so if he can play it next time he’s in the UK I would be a very happy man!
John That’s a great idea! Promise of the Real and I could do that one and it would sound great! Thanks, NY
Hi Archivist, Why aren't some albums uploaded in their entirety, like ""Journey Through the Past"", which is one of my favorites? I was hoping Neil was going to be at Joni Mitchell's 75th tribute in L.A. in Nov. Hope to catch him again in the near future. Thanks Lewis
Hey Lewis Journey is incomplete because of publishing issues. When we have that resolved, we will release. Thanks, NY
Hi Neil, Love the Archives! and thank you for it...as a fan for 36 years now, i remember as a young person exploring every record shop i could find to come across every album, and every bootleg, or anything i could find, and it was a lot of work! Now with the Archives, everything is in one place and direct from you! But i have amassed a very nice audio collection of your work, on many different formats. I still listen to vinyl, cassette, and CD because of my large collection of your work. My question is I purchased a Pono player during your campaign, and my goal was to download every album you released on it, through the Pono store. Unfortunately i had a lot of technical problems with the store and with purchasing, etc... and then Pono was no more. I would like to know, what can i use the Pono player for now? Is it obsolete where i cannot use it no longer? or is there still a way of getting all your albums on there? Can i download them through the archives? Also, Do you still use your player? I purchased the signature Crazy Horse edition. It is beautiful, both the design and layout...The sound is incredible! Thank you and looking forward to seeing you again in concert soon! Vinnie
Vinnie, Thanks for being there! The Pono player is still very useful. Download anything you want from our store. Look for the buy button on the info card or album info card found on the timeline. Just click on the album cover. Alternatively, you can buy singles, 5 at a time. Load your files onto the player or onto a data card and then stick that into the player. That will get you Pono sound. Thanks NY
Dear Neil, I love your work, but I've been waiting 9 years for the release of Neil Young Archives, volume 2. Can you just give us a ballpark estimate of it's release date? Thanks! Best, Ken Norris
Ken, May 2019 the NYA V2 CDs and a separate book by Toshi Onuki will be available. Blu Ray is no longer viable for economic reasons. NYA can give you what the blu ray had though, including High Res audio. Thanks NY
I think the time has come for Neil Young and Stephen Stills to play together and do a significant project. As a lifelong fan, it seems to me there is so much untapped potential between the two. It is time to come together and make some music for now, for these times.
I have been thinking about that too. I hope to play with SS at his Autism Benefit again this year, but this time with Promise of the Real. Thanks NY
This letter is simply a compliment and a thank you with one BIG question at the end.
Hey Neil Young,
Everyone's talking about Detroit.
I wasn't there, so I cannot speak about it. But I was in Chicago for two nights, in the very front row in the center. Now I've seen Neil Young quite a few times in my 52 years on this ball of dirt and water we call home. I've followed his career through ups and downs (just like Dan the Fan in Rock and Roll Fantasy by the Kinks), been to as many shows as I can. I've been elated and confused by Neil Young, but always delighted...except for maybe Fork In the Road....ha ha ha.
But those two shows in Chicago (as well as the second night in Fresno with Crazy Horse that I was lucky enough to see).....Man. It was just perfect, Neil. I don't care if I ever see you again in the flesh. Maybe it was my seats. Maybe it was the good old friends I went with. Maybe it was the double Tequila I had in the lobby. Nah, It was you, Neil. You were so in sync with all of us there. Down in the groove, Up in my Face. Singing to my Heart. Speaking to my Soul.
So hey hey, my my eccentric Uncle From Canada.....Thanks a lot for making the effort to get out there and perform from your heart. I don't care what happened in Detroit! I was in CHICAGO !!!!! Your pal, Timothy
PS. Here's my question.... You spoke at length about guitars but never told a tale about the White Falcon, my favorite guitar of yours. Where'd you get it? Why does it speak to you? I've played them and don't care for the feel but in YOUR curmudgeonly grasp, it is an Angel Choir. Ohio sounded SO great. Also, I agree completely....Le Noise is a beautiful thing. Thanks again!"
Hi Timothy SS and I traded our white falcons. Now he has the one from the Springfield and I have the cool stereo one that I love. It is finicky. Has to have the right amps. Has to be set up perfectly. Thanks NY
What brand of vintage acoustic guitar did Neil use last night on the "Le Noise" songs and Micah's "The Ocean? I've never seen it before, sunburst with a black and white fretboard. Thanks.
A 1935 Gibson Bluesmaster. It’s Daryl’s guitar. Thanks NY
Whatever happened to the song, "If You Got Love," that was originally supposed to be on "Trans"? I still have my vinyl copy of "Trans" listing the track (bought the album the day of its release way back in the day!).
I was not crazy abut the way it came out, so I pulled it. Thanks NY
Please ask Neil if he can offer me any advice. I am going into a recording studio for the first time in my life in August 2018 to record ten of my songs and wow I'm apprehensive. I was born in Glasgow Scotland but live in the quiet market town of Buckingham in England for the past 25 years. I play guitar in two bands but neither band can grasp my songs and deliver them the way I want so I am going into the studio as a solo guy to record play and sing (first time as solo vocalist) my own songs to get them sounding the way I want. I am using a local studio (Echo) set in the countryside in the little village of Maids Morton, Buckinghamshire England Uk. I know this is a massive ask but I would be delighted with any response and in this life if you don't ask ya don't get......... All the very best to all at NYA, Tony Pearson aka Pearcy..........
Play your songs the way you want to. Keep trying other musicians. If the band can’t play your songs, why play with the band? Thanks, NY
Hello, Just noticed that Hawks & Doves, re-ac-tor and This Note’s For You are getting 140 gram vinyl reissues on the 27th of August. I have previously bought the Original Release Series vinyl boxes. Have these stopped? I don't want to buy these reissues and then find a box version coming out. Also, I noticed the five Geffen releases have been skipped, are these coming out as vinyl reissues at some point? Keep up the great work. Andrew, UK.
Andrew, Original Release Series vinyl boxes will continue. The Geffen releases will also be coming out. We have had delays with Geffen but continue to believe we will get these records to you in their best sound possible in vinyl, CD and high resolution. Thanks, NY
Greetings! I have a question about vinyl labels, and by extent, the album Comes a Time.
I recently acquired a secondhand copy of an apparently official Taiwanese release of Comes a Time (LP) on vinyl, with the usual cover art (albeit with the order “Peace of Mind" -> “Lotta Love”).
Like the New Zealand release, the label has it titled as "Give to the Wind.”
The most unusual thing is that the record has a Burbank Warner Bros label, and not the usual orange Reprise steamboat one.
So this leads me to a couple of questions: Were there any other official releases in Taiwan?
Why was the Give to the Wind title scrapped?
Was the Burbank label the decision of a rogue pressing plant worker, or an intentional decision? (I've only seen a total of two other NY records with that label, after extensive internet sleuthing)
I know these questions are very specific, but I figured it's worth a shot. Thank you.
Best wishes from Germany!
Hi Germany, ‘Give to the Wind’ was the original name of ‘Comes a Time’. Taiwan and New Zealand must have jumped the gun and pressed it that way before the title change. Same goes for the labels I think, but it’s hard to be sure. Thanks, NY
Hello, I’d like to thank NYA & NYCH for 'blowing my hat off' with the "Like A Hurricane" version featured in your theatre currently. How can I purchase this version or will it be online for subscribers in the future?
I check your site daily not just for music but also for your thoughts and comments on worries and issues that we all share.
Anyway, I hope to see NYCH in the future (I certainly also enjoy Mr. Young solo or with the promise of the real etc.).
Thank you all for your hard work at NYA!
William, "Like A Hurricane” will be there for subscribers when we open up our subscription program. We have been delayed waiting for the NYA APP but anticipate November 20th unofficially. Thanks NY
Seems like "Interstate" is missing from the archives. It was on the vinyl version of Broken Arrow.
Any chance of getting the Boarding House videos added? Larry ( may he rest in peace ) told me they were dark but he was hopeful about them. Thanks, Charlie
Charlie, Interstate was originally recorded for Ragged Glory. It was left off. Then it was, as you point out, included in the Broken Arrow vinyl. We are currently addressing your question and the answer will be coming soon. When Interstate is re-introduced, there will be a notice on the cabinet. It should be fairly soon.
The Boarding House videos will be coming as well, but no date yet. Thanks NY
It’s being reported that during a recent backstage reconstruction at the old Hollywood Palace theater on Vine St. in Hollywood, a backstage storage closet locked for decades was cleaned out, and in the very back of the large closet was a small guitar amp with “Buffalo Springfield” stenciled on the side.The amp was positioned against the back wall of the closet so the stencil wasn’t visible.
Building managers say the amp has likely been there since the band’s 1967 TV appearance and left behind by accident. Cool, huh???
I would like to see that. We will give them a call! Thanks, NY
Would you please consider adding the "Theme from Dead Man" to this new Hi Res version of the Dead Man Soundtrack? I never understood why it wasn't included on the original soundtrack. I spent close to $100 to get a promo copy of the CD EP with the long and short version. It is one of the greatest musical themes and I know his fans would love to hear it in all it's Hi Res glory!!
Ps. Thank you for this incredible website. I bought a Pono and will continue to purchase Hi Res downloads, but this website is a masterpiece in website technology.
Will Thanks for that observation. I do recall leaving it off. I think it was because it was not done as part of the live soundtrack but was an overdubbed theme version. I think that was a mistake by me, so I will try to get it added to the archives now. Unfortunately, I do think the new reissue vinyl and CD have been done without this track. We will make it available on NYA soon. Thanks, NY
What is the location of the cover photo on Neils SOLO tour picture it looks amazing
-Between Atascadero and Fresno on a highway through the California hills. NY
I'm hoping you can somehow get this message to Neil. I just read his post. ARTICLE.
He is spot on. I was one of those in attendance last night looking forward to just listening - taking it all in - every note, every word. Unfortunately, I sat in front of one of the loud noise makers who would not shut up. And I could tell from Neil's interaction with "the loudest guy in the house". Neil was not enjoying it.
With the above stated, please let him know, this was my first time seeing him solo. Others were with Crazy Horse, International Harvesters, Booker T and the MG's, and Greendale. I may not ever get to the opportunity again. But his performance of Broken Arrow alone was worth the price of admission.
Thanks Brother Neil. You are loved.
Steve Paradiso Portland Michigan
- Thanks! Next time it will be better! We will book during the week, away from holidays. July 3 was a bad time for an acoustic solo show. I am making sure those type of shows are booked appropriately going forward. NY
I'm wondering if there's any way to write to Neil here. I just read his article about the Detroit concert. I was there.
I'm an "old" Neil Young fan, i.e. from way back and I'm 63. Last night in Detroit was my first Neil Young concert. Ever. I flew there from NYC on Monday, stayed in a hotel, and DID get my ticket through NYA. I just returned and signed on to see what Neil had to say about the concert. (I only had mobile with me)
I was indeed disappointed, although there were some real music listeners nearby who helped make the experience ok. We did have a yeller nearby, drunk out of his mind. Does Neil know they sell scotch before the performance? And that ;you can buy a double? The guy was shouting out song titles, and clapping in time to even the quiet, moodier songs, so I leaned forward and said, hey man, this one has no percussion. It worked for a while.
So I'm sorry to hear that Neil didn't enjoy it either. I thought there was something wrong with MY mood that I couldn't get as into the music as I wanted to. I have had better times watching Neil on YouTube.
Oh well, maybe no hard liquor selling in the lobby?
Another factor was the acoustics of the Fox. Neil is a bit of a mumbler, ok, just not as articulate as Sir Laurence Olivier, And those of us who were sitting on the side of the orchestra, could not hear individual words. It was very frustrating. I have NO idea what the Hearse theater is, but I would like to hear it again and be able to know what Neil said during the performance.
Many thanks Barbara
Hi Barbara. I did my best and I think it was a good show. I just wanted folks to know I felt their pain. The Hearse theater is part of NYA. Thanks NY
"Good afternoon, Some hopefully-valuable feedback for Shakey Deal. I'm enjoying looking at your site very much, I love the old-school archive design, but I'm fed up with this relentless obsession with high-res audio.
-in that case, you should avoid reading about it and just listen to it. I love it and I hear a giant difference.
Look, I'm 29 years old, I've got high-end hearing that you old-timers probably lost about 5 decades ago (no offence), and if there is any benefit to 24/192 then it's not exactly worth the fuss that is being made about it. How would you know. Yer just a kid!
-Imagine that you are color blind and someone made everything black and white because you couldn’t see the difference. How would everyone else feel? I mean folks who could see the difference? Everyone is different and has different way of seeing and hearing things. Restricting othersexperiences based on what you are capable of enjoying is not such a good idea.
I'm not suggesting we revert to the bland soullessness of the Spotify experience, but it's clear to me that 44.1 sounds absolutely fine.
-I am glad you enjoy CD quality.
I thought the blu-ray archives (a great project) was more clunky but actually even more fun than this website. Because it slowed the user down and made us savour the experience. The website doesn't do that, it's too easy to keep scrolling and stop listening. Whereas, the blu-ray made each and every song feel important. As Bob Dylan might say, ""it had stature"".
-You are probably alone in that opinion, judging by other feedback I get. I do agree that the slowness of Blu ray gave it a more old time feel compared to the web. The blu ray was clunky, but it gave us what we needed at the time. High Res and the info about the songs. It gave you the ability to slow down and smell the flowers.
What's more, I can't read seemingly ANYTHING to do with your music anymore without it someone coming back to an advertisement for hi-res audio. Since when was any of this what made your music so great?
- Since the day it was recorded . Quaity of sound matters. / Audio quality is not music Quality. Its audio quality. Those are two different things.
And what's up with ""rating"" the quality of the music by the resolution it was recorded in? This is the really ridiculous thing. The Pono store made this fatal mistake.
-it’s ‘rating’ information -regarding the digital resolution of the recording. The fatal mistake of PONO was the fact it was a download service precisely when download services were heading for obcelsence. Streaming was coming in to vogue. It was an ugly death!
Don't you realise that the music you made between 1988 and 1996 is some of the very best of your entire career? With the Bluenotes, the Restless, solo, Crazy Horse. WHO CARES that it wasn't recorded with superhuman frequencies?
Greendale, one of your best albums ever, is only available in CD quality. Who cares, it sounds amazing! And would Le Noise somehow have become a great album had it been recorded in 24/192? It's nonsense, and what's more, it's a distraction from what actually makes your music so powerful, beautiful and remarkable.
-You are confusing audio resolution with music. They are two different things. No wonder you think it’s nonsense.
I'd love you to pass a copy of this email onto Neil so he can actually get some human feedback from one of his younger fans with a different perspective, in fact I'd be happy to sit down with a cold beer and discuss this subject with him personally in a more jovial manner. Alas, I expect this opportunity will be intercepted by one of the ""yes men"", but it's worth a shot.
-I don’t have ‘yes men’. They are residing in your own mind. File them with your opinion on the value of quality. We have ‘quality whether you want it or not.’
I'm very much looking forward to Alchemy.
-We are holding back Alchemy because of your attitude. JUST KIDDING!!!!
Kind regards, Dan”
- Thanks! Neil
it would be interesting if you could search the archive by sideman's name, so one could make a playlist of songs danny whitten is on, for example.
- Noted. We have heard that before. We are swamped at the moment but it is on our list. Thanks! NY
Hello there I love the live stream of the shows so much! Can I say that they would be so much better if the person who is holding the camera did a better job of keeping the camera on the band and NY especially? It really sucks when I can't see Neil when he is singing and playing guitar so wonderfully and instead see a bunch of wires or even just the ceiling or some strange random piece of equipment! But thanks for the live stream! I shouldn't complain but to be honest the camera work sucks! The rest of the show is heavenly!
See you in Chicago - both nights!
With lots of love,
- Thanks! Judy, Check out the next one and let us know what you think. Our B ad C cameras were down so we had nothing to cut to. NY
Assuming Neil will see this. Thank you for the battle that you and John Hammond waged last night in Detroit. Somebody drank too much and distracted us all. But you handled it with class and taught many of us what class is all about. It’s loving others as you’d love your own family. The love shined through. I think your battle in Detroit is as meaningful as any of those concerts where you’re able to go deeper. You brought beauty into a dark place.
Scott Simon Advanced Energy Engineering General Motors
-Thanks Scott, The Chevy BOLT rocks! Great car. Go GM. NY
Regarding Detroit and Rough Night. My wife and I bought tickets from NYA presale. First row center. This was a very expensive once in a lifetime treat for us. The people yelling bothered us as well. We still had the time of our lives and enjoyed the effort to give us a special show. I don't know how to contact anyone associated with Neil, so i figured I would try this. I am embarrassed for my city and just want to say that as a lifelong fan I am sorry.
Sorry that happened too I love Detroit. A few people who drank more than they could handle can’t change that for me! NY
I have a question and I appologize in advance as it's more of a nerdy gear question than a question about the site. When I was a kid I traded a bunch of Ted Nugent records for "Decade" (funny eh?). I was enamored by the picture of the Gibson '1958 Korina Flying V on the inside of the sleave. Much later on I learned that it was used regularly on the "Time Fades Away" tour. That album and "On the Beach" are two of my favourites BTW. Those guitars have certainly climbed in value. So I was out on my back deck listeneing to TFA and I began to wondering whatever became of that guitar (which apparently never stayed in tune). It's been driving me bonkers and I need something to talk about by the fire with my pals when at the cottage (not far from Omemee by the way). So, by chance, do you know? I'll be able to scoop my pals on this one when we fail to create any fishing stories.
- Flying V was a crap guitar for me. Albert King and Lonnie Mack made it sound great. I could never get it in tune and sold it. NY
"This is a personal e-mail I want to send to Mr. Neil Young. I wish to congratulate and thank Neil on creating this archive. Words cannot express the heartfelt joy, compassion and nostalgia I have experienced enjoying this collection of music.
Especially The Roxy, it has brought back personal memories of my youth listening to ""Tonights the Night"", as a 15 year teenager from Albany, Oregon, I'm also product of Canadian parents, experimenting with everything from, well you know.
I must have listened to ""Tonights the Night a thousand times in my youth, summer 1975, and now to hear it again in it's current live version from the Roxy is just mind blowing!
At the time I didn't realize the pain and purpose of the album but now after 40 years and reading all the history I get it, I have no idea how, why or what, but am grateful this recording has surfaced and how much it means to me as a 60 year old fan. Thank you Neil!
Love the archive and will keep exploring.
Wanted to relay a story that I thought you all would put a smile on your face. I was at my computer and decided to play the song of the day, Distant Camera. My 7-year-old daughter walked in and I pulled up the lyrics. She started reading and singing, so we sang along to that one and enjoyed it so much that we ended up reading the words and singing along to half of Silver & Gold before it was time for her to go to bed. It was a moment (and a victory for the heart). Keep up the good work, what you're doing is amazing. -dj
- Thanks. A great little story! NY
Thank you. I thought I had died and gone to heaven a few years ago when I found the Neil Young channel on my i-tunes radio on my laptop. Then I couldn't find it anymore. I went to the St Louis show last week and a friend sent me the news release on the live streaming from Detroit. And now I have found the Archives. And I am in heaven again. Thank you.
- The archives is for you. You are the ones we are trying to serve. NY
really loving this site so far, but I do have one question. I've been searching the site for the original mixes of the four songs from Neil's first solo album that were changed on later pressings. Are they here and I'm just missing them, will they be added later or did Neil just decide not to put them up? I'd kill to hear a hi-res version of the original mix of "Here We Are In The Years" at the very least Thanks!”
On Young’s first album there are only three tracks that were 're-mixed' not four. However the entire LP was originally mixed and cut using the out of phase Haeco-CSG process --which incidentally plagues a number of other great Warner Bros / 7 Arts albums released during 1968/69.
The original version of Neil Young's debut album was withdrawn 9 months after its initial release and contains three tracks in a different mix and the whole album in an entirely different mastering.
The album was recorded in the period from mid-August to late October 1968 at the TTG studio in Los Angeles, CA, one of the first studio's to have a 16-track facility at the time.
The original US stock version was released on January 22, 1969.
When Young and his producer David Briggs delivered the album to Reprise in late '68, they had no idea that their work would fall victim to a new technology that the record company was about to try: the Haeco-CSG "Compatible Mono/Stereo” Process.
The idea behind HAECO-CSG was to create stereo records which when played on monaural equipment would "fold-down" properly to mono. Predictably, the process also resulted in lessening of sound quality.
*Young was furious when he learned about this practice and demanded the record be withdrawn and replaced with a properly mastered version. But it would take no less than nine months before this new version was completed and released,
In the process, Neil decided to re-do the mixes of "Here We Are In The Years", "What Did You Do To My Life" and "If I Could Have Her Tonight". Contrary to popular belief "I've Been Waiting For You' was not remixed.
*NOTE: ‘Here we are in the Years’, before CSG and with the original long ending, has never been recovered. ny *
When released in October '69, the new version did not only have a different sound but also came with a slightly different sleeve. Where the original front was covered by the painting, the new sleeve had "Neil Young" above the painting in black capital letters. The revised version has since become the standard version used on vinyl and the original and the remastered CDs and on the website at 192k/24b digital.
The sonic differences between the US versions of the original and the current one existing here are quite huge. It has been claimed that this is exclusively the result of the HAECO-CSG process which made the original record sound dark and muddy but this is not (entirely) true.
*CSG basically leaves the sound of the individual channels intact. It does however shift the phase of the right channel 90 degrees, so when folding the two channels together all elements that are mixed in the centre (vocals, drums) aren't doubled in volume as opposed to anything that isn't panned in the center. When played in stereo, it results in a less definable panorama and a volume decrease of all elements in the center as opposed to everything that is panned sideways. *
Important note: Most of the above was taken and substantially edited from a web forum called Demonoid.
“Hi Neil, you forgot the song; "Interstate" it was release as a bonus track on the album Broken Arrow LP record and the CD single of “Big Time” from the same album. Many Thanks, Mr. Jean-Francois April in Canada.”
NYA: A few Friday ago we re-mastered the song Interstate at 192/24 digital. It will be up on the website shortly.
*This is from the original 1/4 “ master tape that was recorded and mixed by John Hanlon in the Record Plant mobile truck in the spring of 1990 during the Neil Young & Crazy Horse sessions for Ragged Glory in the Plywood Barn at Broken Arrow Ranch. SC *
I bought ‘Pearl’ in 1974 on the last CSNY tour of that era. I found her in a garage in Cleveland OHIO and drove her through the East, traveling separately from the band with Ranger Dave (David Cline) and Mazzeo (the artist), until that stadium tour ended.
Pearl was a beautiful car. Here she is seen backstage at one of the CSNY 74 stadium shows.
photo: Joel Bernstein
In 1994, Pearl Jam played the Bridge School Benefit for the first time. As the now legendary band arrived, they saw my 1954 Cadillac limousine parked near my tour bus backstage. They were happily surprised to see her license plate:
Pearl, the name I had given my car, was also the title of their first album ‘PEARL 10’. They were elated at the happy coincidence. Since then Pearl Jam appeared at the Bridge School concert more times than any other band. We are very thankful for Pearl Jam’s help, and for Eddie’s many solo appearances in support of the Bridge School.
In a recent image, we see the demise of this great old car. Mother Nature and Climate Change, in their fiery embrace, took her with them. Such is life.
That said, I have to add this fire was the worst thing I have ever seen in my 73 years. Its awesome power changed my life forever.
To imagine we have a leader ignoring Climate Change is just unbelievable. How could the USA have slipped so far, so fast?
In his mind, he knows more than the Navy leaders about how to support air power on the sea, he knows more about immigration than anyone else and he knows more about Climate Change than the world’s scientists.
We are putting the USA and the World in grave danger with the delusional ignorance of DT. He’s unfit to be president and soon America must end this. I hope we have the two years we need and the wisdom to act in a democratic, peaceful way. ny NYA
Facebook’s bad behavior uncovered by the NYTimes. Worse than we had imagined.
We have reported here on NYA how much we dislike Facebook, and we’ve been warning about signing onto this and other websites using Facebook, because they track you and then sell that information to advertisers. They’ve also failed to prevent our information from getting into the hands of bad actors on the web, some that work for foreign governments, including Russia, that have been intent on disrupting our elections and sowing discord.
Now, thanks to a sixth-month investigation into Facebook by the New York Times, we’ve learned that Facebook is even worse than we had imagined.
“Exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda & inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Zuckerberg & Sandberg (Facebook’s CEO and COO) stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view.”
That’s the headline from the Time’s investigation that describes how the company attacked its critics, issued denials and avoided correcting its problems that compromised its users’ data. Facebook learned in the Spring of 2016 that Russian hackers were tampering with the accounts of Facebook subscribers, yet failed to report what they learned to their board, the government, or their users. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive then lied about it after the election, describing it a “crazy idea” that his company had played a role in the presidential election, knowing all the while that they were doing just that.
To deflect even more criticism. Facebook conducted a disinformation campaign, attacking its critics and competitors that included the philanthropist George Soros, Google, and Apple, using a conservative disinformation company that’s known for writing and then placing its own new stories on extreme right-wing websites.
When Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, noted that Apple did not traffic in personal data, Mark Zuckerberg required his management team to use only Android phones.
We advise NYA readers once again of how evil Facebook is and how dangerous it is to our democracy. We recommend you follow Neil’s example and close your Facebook account to let them know that you cannot support such behavior. When you do, please let us know and we will publish some of your emails.
One of our friends, Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, accurately described Facebook on a recent appearance on MSNBC: "Facebook is the new cigarettes. You know, it's addictive. It's not good for you. There's people trying to get you to use it, even though you don't understand what's going on. The government needs to step in. The government needs to really regulate what's happening."
WE have to take care of this world. WE can't wait any longer. WE need to stop using fossil fuels. Get behind the green new deal. WE are running out of time. Stop being distracted by Reality TV shows in the White House. Climate Change is what Reality looks like.
The mud slides are coming. The rain is coming. The timing is all off. The rain could have saved California. Now it is coming to bury the things we've done. This is what you and I are leaving our kids. Wake up. Love one another. Save one another. The Earth is talking to us. LOVE ny
As my gift, on this my seventy-third birthday, I want to re-share this archives gem with you. It’s one of hundreds of songs, books and films shared with you over my life. This time it's different, showing a glimpse of some of the depth of our archive.
Mr. Soul is an early (1-9-67) song from NYA - neilyoungarchives.com
I think it was Buffalo Springfield’s first TV appearance and we were pretty jacked to be there. The record we are lip syncing to is the first-ever version of the song, just as it was originally recorded. This version was never released by Buffalo Springfield. Hear Still’s backwards 12-string acoustic guitar on this original! I love that guy.
The Archives is full of things like this and we made it for my music loving fans to browse through. From 1963 to present day, the audio quality is unsurpassed in this world - high resolution digital, streaming to you from NYA.
On this birthday we are still filling out the archives and there is a lot left to add to be sure, but you can get the picture. We are having a blast! It’s free for you to enjoy for a couple more weeks, then subscriptions begin. That day we start filling in all the rest of the details and pieces, many of which already sit waiting in beta, as if there weren’t enough there already!
NYA is a living document! Every day I write articles for our paper - the NYA Times-Contrarian. Write a letter to the editor -me. Join us for unseen movies, books, unheard tracks and albums, and so much information your head will spin. We are all in this together. Happy Birthday to all of us. Happy Birthday Mom and Dad. Lots of Love, and Thanks, Neil
Life everywhere is affected by these fires. Residents of Malibu have brought their animals to the beaches for safety, shelter and companionship.
California is vulnerable-not because of poor forest management as DT (our so-called president) would have us think. As a matter of fact this is not a forest fire that rages on as I write this. We are vulnerable because of Climate Change; the extreme weather events and our extended drought is part of it.
Our temperatures are higher than ever here in our hottest summer on record. That has not helped. DT seems to be the Denier. (I’m holding back and not using the word liar just because it rhymes with denier). It really is time for a reckoning with this unfit leader. Maybe our new Congress can help. I sure hope so.
California is a paradise for us all. A gift. We are sad to not be able to defend it against Mother Nature’s wrath. We love California. We are not ill-prepared. We are up against something bigger than we have ever seen. It’s too big for some to see at all. Firefighters have never seen anything like this in their lives. I have heard that said countless times in the past two days, and I have lost my home before to a California fire, now another.
Hopefully we can come together as a people to take Climate Change on. We have the tools and could do it if we tried. There is no downside.
Imagine a leader who defies science, saying these solutions shouldn’t be part of his decision-making on our behalf. Imagine a leader who cares more for his own, convenient opinion than he does for the people he leads. Imagine an unfit leader. Now imagine a fit one.
Look around. NY NYA
OHIO was written back in 1970 after seeing the cover of a magazine with a young girl kneeling beside her fallen friend. When the National Guard murdered four students at OHIO’s Kent State University for protesting the Vietnam War, it was a pivotal moment in our history. It was a pivotal moment for me.
Today we see what we have become.
With no real laws protecting us from guns, and with politicians supporting the NRA because the NRA supports them, we are not well represented. Today’s students are brave, demanding change in violent times.
We stand with them. They are us. We are them. This has been going on for far too long. My wife Daryl and I put this video together for you to reflect on. Support the students. Support our children. They want protection. Not more guns. Give us common sense gun laws that protect our people, in schools, in places of worship, in the workplace and on the streets. VOTE.
Justice in this country is broken. It has been broken for a long time.
We are a nation rife with injustice, inequality, discrimination, poverty, corruption, environmental degradation & the list goes on.....
Our justice system itself is In desperate need of reform. Our country has 5% of the worlds population yet we have 25% of its inmates. Our brown & black sisters & brothers are incarcerated at significantly higher rates & in privatized for profit prisons, which are now increasingly being used for immigrants & caging children.
But we are also a country that has seen its extraordinary, ordinary citizens take heroic and successful stands against injustice.
So today, I opt to take a lesson from Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Ida B. Wells and the many, many others like them.
Today women of all races are being reminded they we are still vulnerable to being held under the heavy hand of injustice... But today I also choose to remember women have been imprisoned & have even died fighting for our right to vote.
In exactly one month from this unfortunate day in history, we have another opportunity to change our shared history & herstory for the better. Nov 6 -
Joel Bernstein ‘boy photographer’ music lover, collector and archivist, and Cameron Crowe, writer and music lover were responsible for the record album ‘Songs For Judy’. JB was on my solo tour in 1976, tuning my acoustic guitars. He also was recording cassettes of the shows from our P.A.board mixes. Basically, what the people heard.
Joel and Cameron chose these songs and did a great job. The album is quite unique and I think the period was very well captured in the sound and performances. It was a moment in time, and it’s easy to tell why it’s called ‘Songs For Judy’.
More of the story of Songs for Judy coming this week
Maybe its time to think about the kids.
California Sunset, going down in the West. All the colors in the sky kiss another day goodbye. It might be a good idea to focus on Climate change as an issue. It is the biggest one we face.
We, as usual, have been distracted. We really need to see what is happening. Read the New York times today and see what the scientists are predicting. Earth in crisis in 20 years.
It's not time to relax. It’s time to fight for Earth, for our children and theirs. By the time my daughter is my age this planet will be dying. Read the Climate report that just came out.
“We were not aware of this just a few years ago.” The report was the first to be commissioned by world leaders under the Paris agreement.
The authors found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040, inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty. Previous work had focused on estimating the damage if average temperatures were to rise by a larger number, 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), because that was the threshold scientists previously considered for the most severe effects of climate change.
Come on people, let’s get together! Stay focused on survival for your kids.
Peace and Love, NY NYA
This morning we are back in the editing room working on the videos for ALCHEMY, a Crazy Horse Live Classic that goes beyond LIVE RUST and WELD.
This is probably the last live album from Crazy Horse, the band that took me where I had never been before.
We started together in 1970, playing in my house in Topanga Canyon. The music we have made over fifty years is very meaningful to me and this collection is no exception. The feeling of the horse galloping through Mr. Soul, Walk Like a Giant and so many others makes this a very compelling rock and roll exploration.
Remember the Hearse Theater screening of Like a Hurricane last month? The ALCHEMY videos are cut from that same cloth. Too bad if you missed it when we sneaked it to you that first time, but it will be back with ALCHEMY.
CRAZY HORSE FANS, If all goes as planned, ALCHEMY could come out in 2019. I can’t wait to get this one out there for everyone to enjoy. Crazy Horse fans - this one’s for you! The picture will be much more complete, but not finished!
New data shows that Facebook’s users are growing tired of the product in record numbers. Creative Strategies, the Silicon Valley market research company, found that one-quarter of the users say that Facebook has become a toxic place to spend their time, and more than 50% say they are not comfortable with how Facebook tracks them online.
It’s no wonder with each new revelation about how they share our data. They are not only tracking and selling their users’ data as we expected, but they’re also tracking people across the web, including those that are not Facebook users. Then we learned that they’re accessing members’ address books, ostensibly to help them better connect with their friends, only to harvest the address book data and sell that to advertisers without permission or clear disclosure. And most recently we learned that 50 to 90 million users had their logins and other information stolen.
Facebook is no longer a place many feel comfortable hanging out. Users feel vulnerable to every like or click and now wonder how they’re being taken advantage of. It’s the same feeling you get wandering down a dark alley at night unsure of what lies ahead or lurks around the next corner.
Whenever they had the opportunity, they compromise privacy for profit without telling us or asking us for permission. With each action, they erode trust further, to a point where more and more are saying “enough is enough.”
Choosing to use a product always involves a balance between the product’s value versus its cost, whether it’s the cost to buy or the cost to one’s privacy. Facebook’s behavior has shifted that balance so that the scale now tilts in favor of just abandoning them forever. It didn’t have to be, but their executives thought they were invulnerable and greatly miscalculated the intelligence of their users.
We have been working on our expansion for months now and here it is, packed with news, stories, and random information about NYA, music, subscribers and current events.
My dad was a newspaper man and I delivered his paper ‘The Globe and Mail’, Canada’s most widely read newspaper, on my route every morning, six days a week. I think if my dad were alive today, he would appreciate this effort.
Writers John Hanlon, Phil Baker, Bill Bentley, Dave ‘the passenger’ Toms, dhlovelife, archivist Hannah Johnson, and a growing staff supply stories and views here regularly along with me.
Working alongside us every day, Hannah Johnson - project manager, Phil Denslow - digital type setter, and Toshi Onuki - designer, bring the Times-Contrarian to you daily.
Photographs by dhlovelife, Joel Bernstein, CK Vollick and others help to add clarity and color to our stories.
We sincerely hope you enjoy reading The Times-Contrarian as much as we enjoy bringing it to you.
I just got another batch of letters today and I wanted to take the time to thank you all for writing them.
One said, “I really enjoy reading what you write about the ‘song of the day’. Please write more because when I play the song I always look for your message on the info card and I am disappointed when you don’t leave a message”.
That got to me. I felt good knowing that someone enjoyed reading my little messages so I have decided to try to write them as often as I can in the future. This last batch of letters really made me feel good. I like that people are enjoying this space.
When I get up in the morning I do like to write. Not songs so much as just a message like this. When songs come, they come. They are always welcome. I have five or six hanging around now, waiting.
Parked alongside a palm tree grove, hidden by big road trucks, I am up with the sun. I have made some coffee and I always use the same cup. Every day on the bus since the first Farmaid I have used a cup I got back then. It’s a Willie Nelson cup, with his name written in rope on it and a Texas flag. I make my own coffee, usually a latte with a touch of Canadian maple syrup. I drink it as the sun comes up.
This morning I am going to format the answers I have written to questions for ‘Letters to the Editor’. Then they will be up on the paper for you. There are some letters I got that just make me feel good! They don’t ask questions so much as just reinforce what I am trying to do to preserve my music and give it a safe place to live for folks who enjoy visiting it. By ‘safe’ I mean a place where the music is all preserved, sounding as great as it can in the digital world. That is NYA.
I want to tell you that next week, if all goes well, the NYA Times Contrarian will have seven pages! After stories show up on the front page, they will move to sections where they are collected. These sections are throughout the paper. I want to thank all the people who have worked so hard to make this happen. Hannah Johnson, Toshi Onuki, Gordon in Canada with ADE, Mike with ADE, Phil Denslow, Phil Baker, Zeke Young, Leila Crosset and all the little people behind the scenes. You are all so appreciated. Thank you!
What an amazing show! Willie was great! His guitar was singing so beautifully. His playing is a wonder. What a great songwriter and artist, not to mention his work for regular folks in all walks of life. I am proud to be a part of the Nelson family.
33 Farmaids and the tradition continues. Sadly, the problem facing family farms is worsening under the current administration and there is no end in sight for the need for Farmaid to continue. As Willie says, “We will keep going until its perfect.”
This is a cause for all to believe in. We need our farms and farming way of life. We cannot let the greed of corporations and politicians destroy the very foundation of this country’s life.
Support good food. Enjoy the humanity and cooperation of Farmer’s Markets across the continent. Buy there and support the farming way of life.
Fight stores like Family Dollar and all Dollar stores, stores that offer NO FRESH FOOD, and are responsible for so undercutting many family grocery stores, which are closing across the country. Do not use these stores.
We must take the reins and ride our way back to healthy eating and the good life of farming. I will never give up this fight.
Know where your food comes from. Support Family Farms. Support Good Food for your children and theirs.
Fight the seed killing giants Monsanto and Beyer. Protect the seeds of Life. Don’t be complacent. Buy only good food from farmers. If you can, buy organic.
Drive across this continent and see how industry if killing the farming way of life. Stop in the small towns and look around for yourself. It does not have to be this way. You can make a change and get back to quality food and preserve a quality way of life.
Never pass a Farmer’s market without going in and educating your children about real food. Buy something with the kids. Take it home. Rediscover real food with your children.
Neil Young NYA
Last week, Willie Nelson announced he is endorsing Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who stands a chance to unseat Ted Cruz in November, and will headline a rally for O’Rourke on September 29th in Austin. “My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed,” Nelson said in a statement. “Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine.”
Some conservative outlets thought Nelson’s endorsement was surprising, even though he has been aligning himself with Democrats since he got high on the roof of the White House during the Carter administration. Now, Willie’s son Lukas has backed up his father’s political statement up with a video of support: “There is a lot of misinformation about Beto O’Rourke: right wing news slandering him, Facebook groups publishing things that simply aren’t true, lies accusing the left of doing the same,” Lukas says in the message.
Lukas says he was inspired to record the video after stepping offstage with his dad: “I’m very proud of him: at 85, he just blew everyones minds here in Scranton, Pennsylvania playing guitar lines that are transcendent, Coltrane-like, just amazing.”
“My father has always led with his heart – in his life and his music, he’s put his energy toward building a heart-based family and community with music as a cultural glue,” Lukas says. “The issues that are important to him have less to do with himself and what’s good for him and more to do with what’s good for the community. Republican or Democrat, he’s always stood for the candidate that best represented his values which include love for thy neighbor no matter what color or nationality, responsibility with firearms – including some regulation to prevent unnecessary violence – and health care that isn’t owned by private companies who put your health below their profit.”
“I don’t like the news….I believe in knowing someone by meeting them face to face, observing the philosophies they live by and watching what they do. I have met and watched Beto and I support my father’s decision to back him. All I ask is if you disagree is you respect a fellow American for having a different opinion than yourself.”
Nelson goes on to stress the importance of an open mind when it comes to learning about a new candidate. “The common enemy is our division. Together, if we discuss things in civil ways, we can start to realize ourselves not as patriots of a country or state or political party but as patriots of a world community that, whether we like it or not, is getting smaller and smaller. We all have to live with each other now – the old times have come and gone.”
Lukas Nelson and his band Promise of the Real just released an EP, Forget About Georgia, and are currently on the Outlaw Music Festival tour with Willie. That tour hits Mansfield, Massachusetts this Friday with Sturgill Simpson, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Particle Kid and more. Lukas and Promise of the Real play Farm Aid the following day in Hartford, Connecticut, backing up Neil Young (they will also team up for a pair of shows at New York’s Capitol Theatre Sept. 26 and 27th.)
No mention of GMOs
USING BIOTECH PLAYBOOK TO MISINFORM CONSUMERS
by Stacy Malkan
For anyone who wonders why consumers aren’t inspired to trust the GMO industry, consider this bizarre statement from Impossible Foods Chief Communications Officer Rachel Konrad in defense of the Impossible Burger, a veggie burger made more meat-like via genetically engineered yeast.
Konrad was upset by a June 27 Bloomberg article Is it too early for fake meat? that raised concerns about insufficient research, regulation and labeling in the realm of new food technologies.
Konrad took to Medium, blasting critics of the Impossible Burger as “anti-science fundamentalists” and “setting the record straight” with information she sourced from chemical industry front groups and other unreliable anti-consumer messengers who regularly communicate inaccurate information about science.
Bloomberg is not a trusted source of reporting on science, according to Konrad, because the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) says so. The ACSH is a corporate front group that solicits money from tobacco, chemical and pharmaceutical companies to defend pesticides, e-cigs, cosmetics and other toxic products that aren’t likely to win over the vegan crowd.
Instead of enduring the bias of Bloomberg, Konrad tells us, we should take heart in the rise of Mark Lynas, a promoter of GMOs and pesticides who communicates inaccurate information about science, according to scientists and food experts.
Konrad’s article also links to a column by Ted Nordhaus, who sits on the board of the parent organization of Genetic Literacy Project, a chemical industry propaganda group that attacks cancer scientists as part of its role as an “industry partner” in Monsanto’s public relations strategy to protect Roundup weed killer from cancer concerns.
The false and inflammatory messaging these front groups use to promote genetically engineered foods, defend pesticides, ignore health and environmental risks and silence consumer and environmental advocates goes a long way toward explaining why the GMO industry isn’t winning consumer trust.
Impossible Foods had a chance to turn a new leaf. Up to now, most GMO foods have been engineered to survive the spraying of weed-killing chemicals: glyphosate, now also dicamba, and soon also 2,4-D, in what environmental groups call the GMO pesticide treadmill. But the GMO industry is changing with the emergence of new techniques such as CRISPR and synthetic biology.
As one of the first food companies out with a genetically engineered food product that may actually offer consumer benefits (if one likes “bleeding” veggie burgers), Impossible Foods had the opportunity to write a new story, and build trust with an open, transparent process that respects consumer concerns. They blew it.
The Road to Consumer Distrust
Impossible Burger’s new genetically engineered protein is new to the human food supply, and we are supposed to trust the manufacturer to vouch for its safety. But the company’s process hasn’t inspired trust.
Their GMO “heme” ingredient is “super safe,” according to the Impossible Foods website. Konrad explains in Medium, “An objective, third-party team of the nation’s top food researchers unanimously concluded in 2014 that the Impossible Burger’s key ingredient, soy leghemoglobin (produced by a genetically engineered yeast), is ‘generally recognized as safe.’ The panel made this conclusion in 2014, well before we began selling the Impossible Burger on the market in 2016.”
She left out some important facts. As the New York Times reported last August, when the Food and Drug Administration raised concerns that the studies presented in Impossible Foods’ GRAS notification were inadequate to establish safety, the company withdrew its petition but put the burger on the market anyway.
That was within their rights, but not a way to establish confidence in their product.
Another flag: The three food researchers who wrote the expert panel report that Impossible Foods submitted to the FDA—Joseph Borzelleca, Michael Pariza and Steve Taylor—are on a short list of scientists the “food industry turns to over and over again” to obtain GRAS status, and all three served on the Phillip Morris Scientific Advisory Board, according to a 2015 investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, The Misinformation Industry: Food safety scientists have ties to Big Tobacco.
Borzelleca, the Center for Public Investigation reported, was the most active of the go-to scientists, having served on 41 percent of 379 panels convened in the last 17 years to review the safety of new food ingredients.
“Despite his decades of experience and praise heaped upon him by colleagues—one called him a ‘wonder’—critics of the GRAS system say Borzelleca is emblematic of a system that is rife with conflicts of interest,” CPI reported. “If scientists depend on the food industry for income, they may be less likely to contest the safety of ingredients companies hope to market, critics say.”
“These are standing panels of industry hired guns,” Laura MacCleery, an attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, told CPI. “It is funding bias on steroids.”
But the views of critics with legitimate concerns are not welcome in the world of the Impossible Burger, according to Rachel Konrad.
Rather than blazing a new path of integrity with its new food technology, Impossible Foods has decided to follow a path well worn by many other purveyors of food additives and genetically engineered foods: rush new products to market without a transparent process or comprehensive safety reviews, then shout down anyone who raises concerns. Across our nation, people who want to know what’s in their food find such arrogance distasteful.
A new study by Citigroup report revealed that recording artists only received 12 percent of the $43 billion that the music industry generated in 2017. The report, led by analyst Jason B. Bazinet, suggested that “two profound changes” in the music industry has affected growth.
First up is the consumer’s decision to sign up for music subscription services — such as Apple Music and Spotify — over buying physical copies. As Business Insider reports, artists take home “a meager share of the increasing revenues in streaming for their music” as a result of music labels and music streaming services acting as intermediaries.
The second change is a knock-on effect of listeners opting to rent music instead of buy, with artists now gaining economic strength in live concerts and music festivals. As music distributors and record labels are economically separate from the live concert business, artists have been able to see considerable growth.
Artists and Musicians are duly alarmed at the duplicity between what we have been told is happening and this article’s revelations.
At first, we were told that the
calculations for our streaming income were still being worked out and in the trial phase. Our managers and agents were unable to provide us with information that was clear and concise.
We now read that our income can be made from live concert appearances. That is unfair and plain bullshit. Some of us may not be able to perform in our later years for various personal reasons and yet we have dozens of albums and hundreds of songs still in circulation - a life’s work.
I don’t know where the concept of making money from concerts rather than recordings originated, but concert performances and record making are two distinctly different forms-not to be played off against one another in a vain effort to justify a blatant ripoff of music from artists.
My life’s work in music is still out there and will be after I’m gone. My children and theirs should be the beneficiaries, not some record companies in Los Angeles - not some trillionaires in Silicon Valley, not some streaming company. I don’t mind sharing but if the Citigroup report is correct, and I have no reason to doubt it, the record companies and streaming services are ripping off music.
I have great deals that cover me. But what about new artists trying to make a life in music. Why are they so screwed?
Fortunately I still have music to make me forget these things.
I am not done making records and want to continue my life’s work. I remember well when the record business almost died a few years ago with the advent of the digital age and the errors made in dealing with it, but those days are gone. Now the record business is healthy again.
Only the artists are in trouble.
I have had so many friends and good people at my record company over the years and the great majority of them have no knowledge of the ripoff that is happening right now.
I am sure when they see this they will be saddened. The Citigroup numbers just don’t add up for the artists.
US, with the so-called President and his Senator Lindsay Graham, plus fellow climate deniers cheering him on, chooses short term greed over long term existence for people of Earth.
Headlines from New York Times 9-11-18.
NY: At NYA, we tell you that you can link from any music’s info card to AMAZON to buy records. We give you other choices too. Please take a moment to think about what you are doing and how easy it is to buy. Here is a message to you from myself but it originates with my friend, Bernie Sanders:
BERNIE: “I want to ask you to clear your mind for a moment and count to 10.
In those 10 seconds, Jeff Bezos, the owner and founder of Amazon, made more money than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year. An entire year.
Think about that.
Think about how hard that family member has to work for an entire year, the days she or he goes into work sick, or has a sick child, or struggles to buy school supplies or Christmas presents, to make what one man makes in 10 seconds.
According to Time magazine, from January 1 through May 1 of this year, Jeff Bezos saw his wealth increase by $275 million every single day for a total increase in wealth of $33 billion in a four-month period.
Meanwhile, thousands of Amazon employees are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing because their wages are too low. And guess who pays for that? You do. Frankly, I don't believe that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest person in the world, because he pays his employees inadequate wages.
But it gets remarkably more ridiculous: Jeff Bezos has so much money that he says the only way he could possibly spend it all is on space travel.
Space travel. Have you ever heard of such a thing? It is absolutely absurd.
Well here is a radical idea: Instead of attempting to explore Mars or go to the moon, how about Jeff Bezos pays his workers a living wage? How about he improves the working conditions at Amazon warehouses across the country so people stop dying on the job? He can no doubt do that and have billions of dollars left over to spend on anything he wants.
So today, whether or not you use Amazon, I want to ask you to join me in sending a message to Jeff Bezos:
Sign my petition to Jeff Bezos: It is long past time you start to pay your workers a living wage and improve working conditions at Amazon warehouses all across the country. He needs to know that you are aware of his company’s greed, which seems to have no end.
Now, I have never understood how someone could have hundreds of billions of dollars and feel the desperate need for even more. I would think that, with the amount of money he has, Jeff Bezos might just be able to get by.
And I think there is something weird and wrong with people who have that much and are willing to step over working people, many with families and young children, in order to get more and more.
But this is not just about the greed of one man. These are policy failures as well.
Last year, Amazon made $5.6 billion in profits and did not pay one penny in federal income taxes. The Trump tax cuts rewarded Amazon with almost $1 billion more. And city after city is offering additional tax breaks, mostly in secret, for the right to host Amazon’s second corporate headquarters.
In my view, a nation cannot survive morally or economically when so few have so much and so many have so little. Millions of people across this country struggle to put bread on the table and are one paycheck away from economic devastation, and the wealthiest people in this country have never had it so good.
It has got to stop.
But that starts with all of us making our voices heard and being clear — loudly and directly — that this kind of greed is intolerable, and it must end. And that starts with you:
Sign my petition to Jeff Bezos: It is long past time you start to pay your workers a living wage and improve working conditions at Amazon warehouses all across the country. He needs to know that you are aware of his company’s greed, which seems to have no end.
As Americans, we must ask ourselves one fundamental question, and that is whether or not this is the kind of country and economic culture we are comfortable with. I am not. And I don’t believe you are either. Thank you for making your voice heard.”
By adopting Big Tobacco's playbook,
Now the cascade of science has passed the inflection point and the only real question in this trial was whether the American Jury System could withstand Monsanto's awesome power to subvert democracy.
"I'm overjoyed that this jury understood the need to reassert democratic institutions over corporate power.
Thanks Neil and Daryl for your long, inspiring leadership in this big fist fight."
-- Robert Kennedy
"Monsanto made Roundup the
oxycontin of pesticides and now the addiction and damage they caused have come home to roost.
This won't cure DeWayne Lee Johnson's cancer, but it will send a strong message to a renegade company."
-- Ken Cook Environmental Working Group
NYA - Next week we begin our in-depth history of the trial, day by day, written by Robert Kennedy and the legal team that brought Monsanto to justice.
We don’t want to lose our Facebook music lovers. We need them to stay with us. A Facebook decision is on the table at NYA. We are watching.
NYA needs Facebook. It enables us to reach out to gazillions of music lovers and potential subscribers. We like the Facebook ability to log into NYA without any extra hoops. But how do we use something we don’t believe in and feel good about it?
Facebook resists passing judgements on the posts it publishes. We need Facebook to be more responsible. Facebook hesitates. Russians and others easily used Facebook to their advantage, sucking the air out of our Democracy while Americans watched football. Censorship is a big responsibility and the Social Media Giant is seemingly not up to defending democracy, at least not yet.
Hey Facebook, you can’t publish it and not be responsible for it. You have to take a position. Get real. We need you to be responsible!
Even as Facebook struggles to find its position with regard to protecting Democracy, CEO Zuckerberg seems to be unable to deal with what he has created. Social media is a monster. An out of control twister moving across the green lawn of American Democracy.
Welcome to your life. Turn this off and take a walk.
Over population is becoming our normal experience. Growth is our way of life. Sustaining it can not and will not happen forever.
Sure, it's hard to tell a new family to limit the number of children they have biologically, and that if they want a bigger family, opt to adopt the rest. It's hard to tell anyone what to do with such personal life decisions. It doesn't seem right. It's also difficult to understand how we will curb population growth without creating a new set of priorities, socially acceptable standards or restricting a natural right.
The animal kingdom has its own set of problems. Take Lot #7. Flowers are growing everywhere, with an abundance of birds and animals. Life is moving forward for that space of land. How long will that last? Until Lot #7's owner begins work on a new project, building a business headquarters on Lot #7 in the new office park, where people will have jobs.
Progress will come to Lot #7. The wildlife, animals, birds and amphibians will move on or disappear. More people will be born, and will need jobs to support their families.
Some feel this challenge will take care of itself. Perhaps humanity will start a World War, encounter famine, disease, or any number of other cataclysmic events that might drastically cut down the population.
Is there another way? I think about my children and theirs every day as I travel the world. This challenging subject is critical to contemplate. Of course, many people are too busy to be concerned with problems like this. These issues are just not important in their day to day life.
We cannot rely on government. The focus there is growth and profit, environmental de-regulation, replacement of laws made to protect endangered species, perpetuating fossil fuels that are destroying our planet's environment, and a blatant disregard for science.
It seems to always be rush hour. Was traffic always this bad? Read up on it. It's worse than ever before and growing. For thousands of years human population grew slowly then in the last 100 years it exploded, tripling its rate exponentially. There are over two thirds more people on the planet now, than when I was born, and millions more than there ever has been. We are building new roads, more cars, more houses. Growth is what our economy is based on and it's a dangerous model. Perpetual growth is a cancer.
We don't know where this is going.
CRAZY HORSE / BROKEN ARROW
Young artists today, great authors, songwriters and musicians at the beginning of their creative output, are challenged to make ends meet in the digital world, a world where the artist is paid last, if at all, by the Tech Giants. This came to mind somehow today, listening to Broken Arrow, an album I made with Crazy Horse about twenty years ago, in 1996.
Broken Arrow is an overlooked album. It was the first Crazy Horse album after the death of David Briggs, our producer since the beginning’s lucky “Everybody Knows this is Nowhere.” It was engineered by Greg Archilla, who David had just introduced to us. Broken Arrow is soulful. Real. Not trying to be anything it wasn’t. I was beginning to see that hits were overrated and that hit-makers were falling like flies.
There’s a comet in the sky tonight.
Makes me feel like I’m alright
I’m movin’ pretty fast
For my size
Those lyrics from Music Arcade are kind of how I felt at the time. Today, in the age of FaceBook, GOOGLE and Amazon, it’s hard to tell how a new and growing musical artist could make it in the way we did. The Tech Giants have figured out a way to use all the great music of everyone from all time, without reporting an artist’s number of plays or paying a fucking cent to the musicians. Aren’t they great companies!!! It makes you wonder where the next generation of artists will come from. How will they survive?
‘Don’t be Evil.’ That was GOOGLE’S corporate motto as they directed users to pirate sites to get artist’s creations and not pay!! Amazing tech breakthrough!! Meanwhile, they reap the bucks from ads people read while listening to music made by the artists. GOOGLE just changed their motto to ‘Do the Right Thing,’ but haven’t changed anything else as they continue to rip off the artist community, building their wealth on music’s back and paying nothing to the artists. WOW! Brilliant tech breakthrough! BTW, GOOGLE is YOU TUBE. Guess who’s next?
I am so happy to be able to share my music and albums like Broken Arrow with you here at NYA, where you can actually hear what we did. Xstream high resolution music makes me feel like I was there. I hope you can feel it too. The more you enjoy this music, the happier I am to share it with you. NYA is moving into a future that is really different from what we have now. It will not be easy. We are going to break a few rules and give you what you want.
Rock & roll is a tricky business. Bands are formed with grand visions of musical wonder, and enough hope to fill a universe. Once songs have been written, live shows performed and the path initiated to a recording studio for sessions to record the debut album, there is little thought of anything but ecstasy. Even with different band personalities hitting the inevitable push and pull of human interaction, the group stays sacred. It is them against the world, and no matter how sticky label negotiations and ego expressions portend inevitable flare-ups, there is always the sanctity of the original spirit to fall back on. It starts as them against the world, and a new band is truly a beautiful thing to behold, either from on or off the bandstand.
Few groups began with more power and promise than Moby Grape. Their origins felt like a cosmic fate had put them together, and once the earliest rehearsals happened, no doubt each member looked at the other and knew they had found a sonic beauty to soon share with the world. The Grape were centered in San Francisco in 1966, though they weren't really part of the city's life before then. Guitarist Jerry Miller and drummer Don Stevenson came from the Pacific Northwest. Guitarist Peter Lewis was living in Los Angeles, the son of Academy Award-winning actress Loretta Young. Bassist Bob Mosley was based in San Diego, while guitarist Skip Spence was a free spirit who was born in Canada but grew up around Santa Cruz before joining the first edition of Jefferson Airplane as drummer in 1965. The natural wonder of this new quintet was that each one sang and wrote songs equally as incredible as the others. They could veer from pin-dropping five-part harmonies on ballads of exquisite gorgeousness like "8:05" and "Someday," and then come right back spinning out high-velocity instant rock classics like "Omaha" and "Hey Grandma." In their own undeniable way, there wasn't another American band like them.
Conveying the kind of musical promise groups like Moby Grape possessed brought out the sharks of the music business. San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood had opened the door to a perceived promised land for rock & roll. Big Brother & the Holding Company, Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service made it seem like the counterculture had achieved a lifestyle of such peace, love and understanding that perfection lay right down Haight Street heading right into Golden Gate Park. While mayhem had raised its ugly head in America with race riots and Vietnam War protests, San Francisco held out the hope that a whole different world was being born there, one based on more trust and less treachery. Whether it was true or not then, the future is always constructed on possibilities of a better life. It is what moves life forward and holds off despair and disintegration. Once record labels snapped they could sell a musical soundtrack to a brighter future, out came their checkbooks and all that it brings.
Moby Grape's management played the money game hard and fast, and the band ended up being Columbia Records' big bet, along with Big Brother & the Holding Company, on Bay Area rock & roll. Those were heady times for the Grape, who knew their awesome strengths inside and out, and they started work on a debut album that still stands, over a half century later, as one of the strongest ever recorded. When three guitars, bass and drums lock into interstellar overdrive like Moby Grape's did, there is no sound on the planet as joyous and inspirational. The skies unlock an ethereal energy and send sound waves to those listening, amping up an inner twang inside human hearts open to the experience. There is no way to really describe it, but rock & roll's life force is very often the most powerful thing on the planet, which explains why it became the sound of youth all those years ago--and has never been replaced. It is the only constant in the artistic timeline of the past century to offer such solace and strength for those tuned in and in need of such precious gifts. And in 1967, Moby Grape was ready to release the biggest gift of all. Until reality raised its scary head and came close to ending it as soon as it had begun.
For some reason not seen at the time, the Grape's self-titled album came out on the same day in June 1967 as The Beatles' SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND. An innocent mistake, no doubt, but one that guaranteed anything else released at the exact same time would likely be overlooked. Like another one-two punch of unexplainable misfortune, the cover of Moby Grape's album featured an alluring photo of the band in front of a Marin County antique store. Except for the fact, and it's a huge one, drummer Don Stevenson is sitting in a chair shooting the finger at the photographer. Naturally, in 1967 that was a big no-no, one that caused many radio station programmers who received the album in the mail to write a big "Fuck You" on the cover and send it back to Columbia Records' promo whizzes. Then, to add insult to idiocy, Columbia decided to release five singles simultaneously to show their ultimate belief in the band's music. It's best to remember one single's chances of being added to a radio station's current playlist is a miraculous occurrence. Five singles? Straight into the wastebasket. Who did Moby-whatever think they were? And that wasn't the end. Over-the-top release parties in San Francisco and Los Angeles were exactly the opposite of the Haight-Ashbury hippie credo of a lifestyle centered on simplicity and inner soul, so within a matter of days Moby Grape went from being the Great Rock Hope to the perfect example of The Man trying to commandeer the counterculture's authenticity with dishonest hype and commercial chicanery. Bye bye Moby Grape.
Still, the band opened the Monterey International Pop Festival in '67's Summer of Love, though their manager would not allow them to be included in the film of the three-day event. An American tour followed in fits and starts, and by the time Moby Grape wheeled into New York to start sessions for their second album, Skip Spence was experiencing extreme mental problems that eventually led him to take a fire axe from their hotel to the studio to try and attack a fellow band member. Sometimes it seems like bands aren't meant to stay together, especially when fire axes are involved. Spence ended up in Bellevue Hospital's psychiatric ward, while the other members continued to tour and record. Clearly, the bloom was off the Flower Power that had helped the original hippie movement find its birth, and to add the ultimate insult to injury, Moby Grape, once they'd pulled the plug on the group, would be locked in a decades-long legal dispute with their original manager on who actually owned the name Moby Grape And dear Skip Spence, after he was released from the hospital in December 1968, drove a motorcycle to Columbia Records' Nashville studio and recorded the solo album OAR over a several day period, playing and singing everything himself, only to see it sink without a trace upon release in early 1969. Spence himself found his way back to the Santa Cruz area and spent the next thirty years in a tormented struggle with mental illness and poverty, one that finally ended with his 1999 death. Being a monstrous fan of the OAR album, I decided to produce a tribute collection and found 17 artists to each record one of the original's songs. MORE OAR was released in 1999, and included artists like Robert Plant, Tom Waits, Beck, Alejandro Escovedo, Jay Farrar, Mudhoney, Flying Saucer Attack, Greg Dulli and others sharing their own unending souls with the eternal spirit of Skip Spence. When the recordings were finished, I took an advance cassette for Skip Spence to hear. It turns out he was in a coma in a Santa Cruz hospital. I sat with him an hour and sent thoughts his way and received some back from him. Leaving the tape with a nurse, I asked it be played for Spence when he regained consciousness. A week later he did, and as soon as the tape's 17 songs ended, Skip Spence died. With, I was told, a smile on his face.
Even though MORE OAR was caught in a label dispute between Birdman Records and its distributor that caused it to be pulled from release, it has miraculously now found a new home and will be re-released in 2019 near Spence's April birthday. Which in its own way shows the circle will remain unbroken, and the magic of rock & roll will not be denied. Belief is everything, it eventually becomes obvious, and to believe in music is to find the hidden key to a well-spent life. One that never ends.
Nothing is stronger than the human spirit. Nothing. It creates civilizations of unending wonder, defies the odds of destructive despair and allows citizens of the world to move forward. It also provides each of us the strength needed to face hardships, accept love and let the power of human kindness enter our hearts. Without spirit, the world does not exist. Instead, it becomes a mechanical place of missing meaning.
These are trying times. It often feels like the boundaries of what we can withstand are being built higher and higher. Countries are being split apart, trust disappearing faster than can be tallied and a darkness descending on what we fear the future will look like. It is the perfect time for persuasive passion, a time to look at others from the past and find in their center a formidable feeling of joy. No one fills that bill better than the soul queen of New Orleans Ms. Irma Thomas. She has been singing in the clubs of the Crescent City and the concert halls of the world for over 60 years, never blinking in the face of adversity and staring down seeming failure with such strength there can be no question she will survive. Like her hometown itself, Thomas knows that the only way to look is forward, and to gather the goodness all around her like the gold it truly is. The singer has made recordings of eternal life that will be sung as long as there are voices to sing them and there are ears to hear. The woman has pointed the way like the national treasure she is.
Irma Thomas was born Irma Lee in Ponchatoula, Louisiana in 1941. It didn't take long for the short move to New Orleans, finding in that mysterious city a brand new life. By the time she was 19 years old, Thomas had married twice and had four children. And also had started singing. There was something wide-open in her voice, like she didn't have to filter it to express the kind of winning soul being woven into the fabric of new American life. Her first single, "Don't Mess with My Man" captured perfectly the changing culture of the country. After World War II, freedom was the ticket. Evil had been knocked down in Europe and Japan and the population was ready to roll. New Orleans, no stranger to freedom or rock & roll, laid out the red carpet for singers like Roy Brown, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Lloyd Price, Larry Williams and so many more, and it seemed like the entire town was dancing in the streets and constantly lighting up the night with the sounds of blasting saxes, devious drumming and rollicking piano. The future had arrived, and nobody could sit still.
There are parts of New Orleans bathed in darkness, like life there didn't need to be exposed to the prying eyes of normal civilians. The music of early bandleaders Tommy Ridgely and Dave Bartholomew were offering a soundtrack to offset the coming conformity of life under President Dwight Eisenhower and the worries of the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. The sounds of the Crescent City, once so aptly described as "easeful antics of absolute insignificance," handed a permanent pass from those concerns. Instead, it was anything goes up and down Canal Street once Roy Brown unleashed "Good Rocking Tonight," Fats Domino let loose with "The Fat Man" and Little Richard ripped apart the radio airwaves with "Tutti Frutti." This was a psychic earthquake called rock & roll, and nothing would ever be the same again.
Irma Thomas had the great good fortune to fall in with the local Minit Records in the early '60s, and an amazing collaboration with songwriter-pianist Allen Toussaint. Her voice felt like it was born to sing his songs, including "Ruler of My Heart," "It's Raining" and so many more. On New Orleans days when it seemed like the rain would never stop, Thomas' 45s were played constantly on local radio, barroom juke boxes and sung by street car riders and short order cooks. They were everywhere, and perfectly captured the sublime craziness of the city.
There is something permanently askew about New Orleans. It could be the early mixture of cultures from the French and Spanish mingling with Native Americans there. Or maybe it had to do with all the slaves arriving from Africa, bought and sold in open-air markets that branded the spirit of America with shame forever. Being a port city brought the addictive temptations for those with the appetites, not to mention the battle cry cacophony of foreign musics. Add in the treacherous summer humidity and heat and it's no wonder it got tagged "the city that care forgot" all those years ago. The cultural rule book had been torn up and set afire from the start and there was no going back.
Irma Thomas was likely looking for bigger pastures when she left Minit Records and signed with Imperial. She always had an eye for stepping up, and with a family to care for a new label might be the boost she needed to make a real national impact. Her first song for Imperial in 1964 was one she wrote herself, a rarity, as she reached as far down inside herself as anyone can go. Titled "Wish Someone Would Care," it starts: "Sitting home alone thinkin' about my past / wondering how I made it and how long it's gonna last / success has come to lots of them and failure's always there / time time waits for no one and I wish someone would care..." It completely grabs the question marks of anyone who tries to make a stand, and conveys the feeling of loneliness of being out there on your own. It ends: "Some folks think you're happy when you wear your smile / what about your tribulations and all of your trials / smiles smiles hide a lot of things the good the bad the hurt all of this goes too / and I wish how I wish how I wish someone would care..." Thomas' voice soars with pain, a cry for help, sounding like a walk alone down Decatur Street in the French Quarter at four in the morning. It would go on to be the biggest hit of her life.
Thomas' follow-up on Imperial in 1964 started with good omen. Co-written by a young Randy Newman, "Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand)," began to get overshadowed by the B-side, "Time Is on My Side." Released shortly before the Rolling Stones' version, the song was co-written by Jerry Ragovoy and originally released by trombonist Kai Winding. But once the Rolling Stones' single started climbing the charts, Thomas' effort for Imperial got less and less notice. Finally taking a job at a Montgomery-Ward department store, she continued to record and while never giving up, she was probably wondering what happened to all that promise. Still, Irma Thomas, made of steel and possessed by a voice from heaven, trusted something good was always around the corner. Sessions in Muscle Shoals, an unreleased album for Atlantic Records and even a concept album produced by Swamp Dogg for his Fungus Records imprint in 1973 threatened to relaunch her, but it was not to be. Returning to New Orleans in 1975 and marrying Emile Jackson, her future manager, the woman quickly solidified her role as Soul Queen of New Orleans, even if the rest of the world didn't always notice. She was singing with a voice that had grown even stronger with experience, and an emphatic feeling for the unpredictable ups and downs of living that could send chills up and down the body. Along with Jackson, she opened her own nightclub, the Lion's Den, right next door to their Irma's Bail Bonds, conveniently located near the New Orleans Parish Prison. The lady didn't miss a lick.
In 1984 I became once-again possessed by New Orleans music, and produced a concert series at Club Lingerie on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles dubbed "Bill Bentley's Friday Night in New Orleans." We'd fly in different singers from the Crescent City, including Lee Dorsey, Ernie K-Doe and Art and Aaron Neville, pairing them with a band producer Harold Battiste had assembled in L.A. called the New Orleans Natives. After seven Friday nights, I thought, "where oh where is Irma Thomas." Eventually I found her at the Lion's Den and convinced husband/manager Emile Jackson now was the time for Thomas to return to the West Coast. She hadn't played there since the '60s, and that was way too long an absence for the one of the finest soul singers alive. After striking a deal with Jackson, though because of his deep New Orleans patois I had no idea what the actual figures were, Irma Thomas and her ten-piece band lit up the L.A. night like a million klieg lights, blowing the minds of one and all in the room. Fortunately, the finances worked out and when they left the next day to return home, both Thomas and Jackson were beaming. "We'll be back," she said, and I knew it was true.
Thanks to the burgeoning popularity of the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the fine foresight of Rounder Records launching their album series "New Orleans/Modern Masters" in 1986 with Irma Thomas, as the '80s progressed the singer finally starting finding a new standing. She toured the world, an ambassador of that unique creation that has done so much to spread a joyful noise from way down yonder in New Orleans, and her current albums consistently won Grammy Awards and popular acclaim. From the 18-year-old mother of four from Ponchatoula, Louisiana who threatened another woman on her first single, "Don't Mess with My Man," to today, a singer of such renown that whenever New Orleans music is mentioned, she, right next to Fats Domino," is the first person on anyone's mind, Irma Thomas has proven that it is no accident the human spirit is wisely invested in those with the heart and soul to tend its wondrous gift. Over and over, just like New Orleans did after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Thomas looked within herself for strength, and found a way to unleash a voice capable of sharing eternal truths. On Walter Wolfman Washington's latest album, Irma Thomas joins her fellow New Orleanian on the song "Even Now." It is as timeless a testament to the vagaries of love as has ever been recorded. She sings: "I still love you sometimes sometimes I wonder how / but I'm wishing you only the best / yes I guess / we're even now." Out in the New Orleans darkness, down Tchoupitoulas Street where the streetlights sputter and riverboats let out a low moan on the nearby Mississippi River, the voice of Irma Thomas reminds us, as it has for 60 years, that love will always live in the human spirit. And for that, we can only say "Amen."
Rock & roll bands in the Sixties wrote the holy scroll so many of us have lived by for these precious years. It may have started with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and, soon enough, Elvis Presley, but when the British Invasion bands hit, everything changed into a technicolor onslaught of unbridled joy. Maybe that was because for the very first time we saw those musicians onstage as someone we could possibly be. They were playing guitars and bashing on drums, but in ways that weren't being beamed down from above. Instead, it was coming from what seemed like next door. How hard could it be? Before, Chuck Berry was duckwalking across the stage while playing a guitar like ringing a bell? No way. Bo Diddley shaking both legs at the same time while conjuring up his juiced-up shave-and-a-haircut beat straight out of the Congo? Not in this lifetime. And as for Elvis Presley, well, that was some kind of divine inspiration deal surely the devil had a hand in and was not to be repeated.
As flat-out fantastic as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Them and Animals were in 1964, young teen-aged boys in the first-half of the decade envisioned themselves as part of that heritage. It could happen with enough practice and a full-deck of luck. Or so we thought. Those early aggregations changed everything, and once the world tuned into their power the earth shifted on its axis. And it's still shifting.
Flash forward fifteen years from 1964 to 1979, and in Minnesota a foursome first called the Impediments were dodging the massive snowfalls to practice in whatever basements they could commandeer. It was often an unholy cacophony of noise, laced with biting humor and bitching backbeats. Those on the instruments would not be mistaken for virtuosos, but virtuosos were like a virus to be avoided in rock & roll. Feelings fed the beast that drove someone to learn enough guitar chords to buckle up the courage and start a band. There was no unrealistic demand for outrageous ability. Instead, there was a soul-churning desire to be different, to matter, to mean something in the relentless cog of society's brutal conformity. Rock & roll was fueled by misfits, loners and those who could simply not succeed. It was stocked heavy with people like Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars. And once they transitioned from the Impediments to the Replacements, they were glued together so tight you couldn't pry them apart with a crowbar. They were a band, and bands became everything.
When the Replacements moved out of their basement to play corner bars and grey-walled halfway houses, early acolytes knew greatness roared among them. There was something in bandleader Paul Westerberg's eyes that demanded attention. It was like what he saw was hit by a laser, and for that fleeting moment it was the only thing in the world that mattered. It is the defining sign of everyone from the Beatles to whatever teenager is now carving their initials in a filthy bar top: nothing else counts. In the early tightrope groups must walk to survive, almost all will fail because they are unwilling to risk their lives to survive the music wars. It is an ugly business engineered by fate so that almost all who enter end up falling on their scarred face. Luckily, that's how it should be, because it cuts out the chaff of mediocre music. Thank goodness.
For the Replacements, there was no direct line to the golden road. Several albums, a couple of which were stunning summations of youthful yearnings, built a dead-on dedication of budding Matsmania. Johnny told Jimmy and Jimmy told Sue, and before you could sing the refrain of their youth anthem "Gary's Got a Boner," it seemed like the keys to the kingdom were being polished off by Sire Records and given to the band. With that gift came the kind of pressure that cracks most players, driving them to the dregs of self-destructive excess and scurrilous self-loathing. It was 1985 and the record business was becoming a blood sport so flush with money there was a mad rush to see who could spend the most. But not the Replacements. They moved into the less-than-regal Nicollet Studio in Minneapolis with producer Tommy Erdelyi, aka Tommy Ramone, to try their hand at climbing the greased golden pole. Did the band want success? No doubt. What Paul Westerberg and crew really wanted, though, was to mean something. They lived and breathed rock & roll, and respected its history like it kept them alive. Which it did. When you do that, the bar has been raised to the very top and no matter how daunting it looks, you have to shimmy up that pole, grease or no grease. The band's debut Sire album was going to be that shimmy. There could be no looking down or going back, because there was no back to go to. Every bridge had been burned and the only future was looming in front of them, laughing at their passion and daring them to go for greatness.
Paul Westerberg had written ten songs, and with Mars and the Stinson brothers they fashioned one more. As they started recording, surely they must have felt a pressure transmitted by a growing cult dead-sure they were the pioneers for the so-called alternative rock brigade. And daring them to fail. While arena-level outfits like Fleetwood Mac and REO Speedwagon were selling out stadiums, smaller but wild-eyed rock & roll believers were throwing their passion towards the Replacements, X and a roomful of others who stood on the outside looking in to mega-stardom. None stood taller in that narrow room than the Replacements. So their first major label release was being seen as the ramrod to batter down the door for others like them to follow. As the sessions for the Sire debut unfolded, a powerful possession overtook the quartet's spirit. New life was being born, and Westerberg's songs gathered that life on their new album. They named him TIM.
In the fall of 1985 I was in Boston, hoping to help The Del Fuegos grab some of the press action running wild in the city. I was the publicist at Slash Records, and the young Boston band were our latest heroes. I was also moonlighting as a music writer for the short-lived L.A. Style magazine, and had convinced my editor the Replacements' new album had to be covered. So one long afternoon that day in October I took a white label advance cassette of TIM and sat at a friend's desk and listened to the unreleased album. And listened to it. Over and over. There was something in the band's songs that gave me an overwhelming sense of hope. It was a realistic hope, one born of Paul Westerberg's obvious anguish at finding himself a young man in a world that might not have a place for him. At the same time, he had an un-killable courage to face down any and all fears, through a combination of sheer strength and deluded determination. I had never heard a rock & roller take on such a mountain of resistance with the razor-sharp resilience Westerberg had. I knew there was a code to be cracked in the band's songs, and I wasn't going to leave that desk until I had found it.
TIM starts with a declaration of despair. "Hold My Life" is the kind of album opener which announces there will be no retreat, and no pity will be proffered. Instead it is more of a plea. The Replacements were headed for the cliff, and weren't going to be looking back. For those willing to jump with them, the future promised to soften their fall, but not forgive their bruises. The song was an announcement that a gaggle of reckless romantics had pulled open the curtains to make their case. Rarely has a record extended such promise. Thankfully that promise, and so much more, was there for the hearing.
The next run of songs--"I'll Buy," "Kiss Me on the Bus," "Dose of Thunder" and "Waitress in the Sky"--are a written laundry list of young love and existential anguish. It takes a true bleeding heart to write great rock & roll songs. It's not about the chords or the lyrics or the studio sonics. It's about the pain and suffering promised to those who love and lose, with the songs a suit of armor worn to deflect our harshest blows. Rock & roll is not designed for happiness. Not really. Maybe one or two find their way through the filter, but almost all the greatest rock songs are hard to to listen to. And then impossible to stop. That's because they offer a way out of the heartbreak, even if just for three minutes. And it's enough. On the last song of TIM's first side the 'Mats tee up a home run and knock it completely out of the park. "Swingin Party" is such an endless meditation on lost weekends and dashed dreams that now, thirty three years later, the first chords still sting with the same bite of all those years ago. For anyone who's ever wanted to be in the middle of the fun, but deep down knows it will never happen, Westerberg wrote their theme song. The majority of the band's fans have always been those who stand against the wall at parties, watching others dancing with an easeful attitude about social niceties. Those that live and breath Replacements can only look on with jealousy, desire and guilt-inducing revenge.
Side two of the album begins with "Bastards of Young," surely the band's theme song. It is a roaring tower of barreling power, and inspires awe with its insights into the monstrous malady of modern life when it declares: "The ones who love us best are the ones we'll lay to rest / and visit their graves on holidays at best / the ones who love us least are the ones we'll die to please / if it's any consolation I don't begin to understand them..." Westerberg goes on to sum it up once and for all: "We are the sons of no one bastards of young." It's the kind of ultimate sentiment built to be inscribed on the tombstones of the spiritually afflicted everywhere. It's no accident that modern blues guru Stevie Ray Vaughan was going to record the song before he met his tragic end in a helicopter crash in 1990. Vaughan heard the scorching permanence of the song and wanted to put his hand on it.
The next three songs--"Lay It Down Clown," "Left of the Dial" and "Little Mascara"--pour on the roar, best listened to with seatbelts, and reaffirm all the Replacements ever did. In their own hundred mile-per-hour way the songs are as lasting as anything they recorded in the '80s and beyond. And they are also the ultimate set-up for the closing song, one that haunts humanity like some ghost from a past world. "Here Comes a Regular," a ballad of endless sorrow, sums up in just under five minutes the often silent terror of alcoholism. It does it in a way that is as surreptitious as the disease itself, with the music giving the knockout punch at the end of the song. It is never less than devastating, and there are even moments when it is too much to endure. Because it shows without doubt that the real killer of the addiction isn't alcohol itself, but it's the shame that travels secretly with it. For that, there is no cure.
Breathless and without rebuttal, TIM ends with such gravity that for a moment life seems to stop as well. Still, nothing ends. The chance continues to once again grab the life offered to us, then hold on for all we're worth. Punishing upheavals always come and sweet uplift sometimes follows, and that is the cracked secret code we can hold out for. In playing the odds, existence evens out. After favorite bands the Rolling Stones, 13th Floor Elevators, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Velvet Underground, Moby Grape, Crazy Horse and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, it turns out the Replacements are my last favorite band. But as rock & roll has permanently branded on our hearts, there is always tomorrow. Nothing is written, and the swinging party starts again.
Dear Jerry, You would have been 70 today. I lined up your five albums this morning on the side of the wall and started playing them front to finish, over and over. It's the best way I can get in touch with your spirit, which you shared with me so generously for 30 years. I still get warm chills of joy when I think about how much your music--and you--changed my life. And it all started so normally. Sort of.
In 1979 I was spending some quality musical time in New Orleans and picked up the weekly newspaper there, The Figaro. Almost Slim's review column was about your 1979 album GONE, or what was supposed to be your new album. More on that later. One of Slim's lines mentioned "Stax-like horns." Whenever I saw those words my soul always perked up. It was like a secret code for those of us who worshipped the sound trumpets and saxophones made in Memphis at the McLemore Avenue studio. It had something to do with the joyous cavalcade of notes filtered through a battling front of humidity and racism. The way the horns got past those challenges was a life-affirming example of what the human heart can do. It was the sound of freedom, no matter how the odds were stacked up against it.
It only took me a couple of weeks to find a promotional copy of GONE in the used bins at Inner Sanctum Records in Austin. I felt giddy when I saw the cover drawing: a multi-colored hand with the middle finger looking like Martian-inspired insect pinchers. Immediately I knew a normal artist would never have allowed that kind of image on their album. When I saw that you had drawn it, I was tipped there was some multi-dimensional boogie woogie going on inside your head.
Once I listened to the ten songs, I knew I had found a brother. Your voice came from the street, but there was an element of eternity in it too, like you'd seen the other side and wanted to let everyone know there was nothing to fear. Instead, the hereafter looked like an endless meadow of harmonious love, where people could climb on a cosmic groove and ride it forever. True soul music had been on the losing end as the '70s progressed, but these songs married the past and the future in a way I'd never heard. As my own life was clearly hitting the wall, I heard something I was positive was going to get me over any and all obstacles. In the music of the spheres there is an undeniable hopefulness that cuts through everything. I like to call it a circle of fate, because doubt simply disappears when melodies and lyrics meld into that saving grace and the light breaks through.
Now I just had to find you and what had happened to the GONE album. When I moved to Los Angeles a few months later, I figured you'd be there somewhere. Wasn't everyone in Los Angeles? Not sure why I thought that; it just came to me. I've learned to trust those visions because sometimes they're all we have. In 1983, three years after arriving, at a musician's kind invitation I went to see Leon Russell play in Beverly Hills. Backstage before the show began I saw a tall man wearing a cape leaning up against the wall. I knew, I just knew it was you Jerry, never mind that I had no idea what you looked like. So I went up, introduced myself and said how I'd been looking for you for four years. You gave me an irresistible grin and said, "Well, now that you've found you me what can I do for you?" We talked a bit, and you invited me out to a studio in Malibu where you were living then. It made me laugh because I was still a little new to the city, and here I was getting asked to join Jerry Williams at a studio in Malibu. A long way from Austin to be sure.
Driving there that weekend, looking at the shimmering Pacific Ocean out the window on my left, I felt the brush of a higher hand guiding me. How does this happen, I thought? Instantly, like always, I admitted I had no idea and never would. The why isn't the point. The trick is to graciously accept these gifts, and do your best to follow their flow. When I got to Shangri La studio on Morningside Drive in Malibu, it was obvious the place The Band used to call home had seen better days. You and your son were living in one of the sheds in back, the only people on the property. You mentioned how times had been tough, but you just knew better days were ahead. It was always about your faith Jerry, one so strong it was contagious a continent away. You told me the story how the album GONE had been deleted from release at the last minute. It had something to do with you pulling a gun on chairman Mo Ostin in the Warner Bros. Records parking lot, asking for money to record more songs. The album that was destined to finally find the spotlight never got heard past the few initial promotional copies. Of course, giving up was never on your mind.
You gave me a cassette that Saturday with nine new songs on it, and promised it was only an inkling of what you had stashed away. I left floating on a cloud of inspiration. Spending time around a true artist has always done that for me. It's probably why I found a career being around music that moves me, and trust in its power to provide.
Soon things began to rev up for you. At Warner Bros. Records president Lenny Waronker's suggestion, Eric Clapton recorded three of your songs, and one, "Forever Man," hit big. Lenny, along with A&R exec Ted Templeman, had signed you to Warner Bros. to record the GONE album. He once told me that when you first auditioned on piano in his office, you levitated a few inches off the floor when you played. And Lenny is not one to invoke those words lightly. Bonnie Raitt also heard your music and signed on as a lifetime fan. Your old Fort Worth running buddy Delbert McClinton had a Top 10 hit with "Giving It Up For Your Love," which was on the GONE album, the one that never came out.
A pattern began to appear. Other artists who heard your undeniable songs were moved enough to sing them for themselves, betting they'd connect with the world. And over and over they were right. But as we talked more and became friends, I could hear the pain in your heart that no one was listening to you singing your own songs. You always felt that's where your real strengths were: inside you. You wanted so much to share that love and it was painful to watch you wonder why it wasn't possible. The night you played a show at the Trancas club in Malibu in 1984 was going to be a breakthrough, you thought. You had several special guests scheduled to be in the band, including Mick Fleetwood on drums, and invited all your friends. Unfortunately that evening none came, including Fleetwood. So you sat onstage alone at the piano and played an hour of the most divinely-wrought music I've ever heard. It was like watching a man in communion with God, no matter that he was alone on the mountaintop. I've never seen anything like it in my life.
As false record label offers came and went, your song publishing royalties might have made you wealthy but the burning desire inside you to touch listeners directly became like a fading light in the distance. The fact that it had happened your entire career drove the knife in deeper. Your very first Atco Records release in 1970 with your band High Mountain Hoedown, produced by Charles Greene fresh from his work with Buffalo Springfield and Sonny & Cher, sank without a trace. Your debut solo album, produced by David Briggs and released on his Spindizzy Records imprint, also disappeared, along with its follow-up. The music business isn't one for the faint-hearted, but you never quit believing in yourself Jerry. Over and over you'd try again, even after the GONE disaster on Warner Bros., never hiding in defeat.
As the 1980s were ending, you kept trying to hit that spark in the record industry to light a new fire. In his 2007 autobiography, Eric Clapton described you as "an incredible, larger-than-life character who looked like Jack Nicholson and sang like Stevie Wonder...I really loved his writing. In fact, musically I loved everything about him. He could be a little overwhelming in person, but that was entirely forgivable given the scale of his talent. He was great to work with, a wonderful guy, very funny, very talented and I knew we would be friends forever." In real life, no label executives returned your call. From your big ranch in Oklahoma artists came and went to write with you, but still no one would give you a record deal. It was heartbreaking to watch it happen, and when you moved to St. Maarten in the Virgin Islands I thought it was your way of saying a small goodbye to the music world you loved so much. Still, the songs always came and your dreams somehow stayed the same.
The last email you sent me in 2005, from your firstname.lastname@example.org account, made me feel the path ahead was calling you again. You wrote, "I am ready to give all my music to the world, because I know it will help heal the planet. My songs are sent from angels, and it is those angels who have never let me down. I know where I belong and it is in my music. When the world hears it, everything will be as it should." A few months later, on November 16, 2005, you were gone. I heard you had steered your yacht into an incoming storm, maybe chasing the sound in your head and the longing in your heart. You never came back.
A few years later I was trying to release an album of those nine songs on cassette you had first given me at Shangri La studio. But I felt one more song was needed, and through an associate was sent what I think was the last song you ever recorded. It was called "Love and Shelter," and felt like a goodbye prayer from a higher ground, one man's final request for redemption. I only listen to it on special occasions, like today, because it makes me feel like you had so much left to give. It also reminds me of our early friendship, when you would tell me of stories about joining Little Richard's band when you were only 16 years old, and the other guitarist in the band, Jimmy James, took you into a train car's bathroom to teach you the songs. James told you he'd make you a deal: if you taught him how to sing he'd teach you how to really play guitar. And how you weren't surprised when a few years later, you saw a picture of Jimi Hendrix and realized it was the same Jimmy James. And playing Jack Ruby's Dallas nightclub as a young teenager, and all kinds of other wild-eyed tales. They were never going to end.
I hear your songs constantly now, whether it's Eric Clapton singing "Running on Faith" or "Pretending," Bonnie Raitt's inspired versions of "I Will Not Be Denied" and "Real Man," Delbert McClinton's stunning "Sending Me Angels," and, yes, the Eagles "Guilty of the Crime." Through them all your undiminished soul strikes through. There you are Jerry: grinning, laughing, talking, glowing; the man who taught me that believing in yourself is the prime prerequisite in life, fueled by a passion for the world and the knowledge that we are all the same, a fantastic floating realization of the continual expression of the human spirit. And that there is no end to this evolution. It is why we are here.
Thank you Jerry. I should have known that when I first saw you in that cape all those years ago that you had come to save us all. And you tried. Good Lord you tried Jerry. Which, in the end, is your greatest lesson of all: to never quit trying. I'll think of the words in "Save Your Love," one of your early demos you gave me: "I've always wandered alone / afraid and on my own / often I would think of you / memories lost and regained / often refrain me / on days that aren't quite so good," and ended ""You've often told me your feelings / hiding down deep within / where do I begin / I'll keep on singing this song / hope you'll sing along / maybe someday we'll be friends / save your love like it means the world to you / that's exactly what your love means to me / like a spirit lost and finally set free / save your love save your love for me…"
Saving your love Jerry (aka His Majesty Jerr), saving the love, Bill
Very often a great artist stands alone in a party of one. It can be a lonely time, one that can test a person from all angles. Even though they might enter the world with little notice, their music can be so wondrous and compelling it is obvious it will make its way someday. Lucinda Williams did just that, starting more than 45 years ago standing on the corner of a street in Austin nicknamed the Drag. Officially called Guadalupe Street, it is directly across the entrance to the massive University of Texas. In the early '70s, there was a burgeoning collection of characters asserting their freedom around the college, whether in song, dress, music, talk or just taking a different road than most of the 45,000 students around them. It could be a joyous time of self-discovery, dashed with the character-building hardship of going up against ironclad Texas conformity. Sometimes Williams stood alone on that street, singing songs she gathered from the backroads of American blues. It was her against the world, and the woman wasn't asking any favors. She may have even liked it that way.
Watching Lucinda Williams then was almost like looking at a musical Statue of Liberty. She had an unbending stare in her eyes, like she knew what she was getting herself into but no way was she turning back. At the time, Austin had a bit of rebel spirit in its step, but also had a way of crushing those who took on tradition. The country was just getting rid of President Nixon, but no way was the Lone Star state going to let the bohemians into the big rooms of social acceptance. Myself and a handful of others had started a weekly newspaper, the Austin Sun, and because I was a professional typesetter the Sun's editor, Jeffrey Nightbyrd, said if I would help typeset the paper he'd also let me be the music editor. Never mind that I had never written a word. As Nightbyrd explained, "Neither have the other clowns I've got working here." That, in a sentence, is the true beauty of generosity: allowing someone to find themselves in public.
When I first wrote about Lucinda Williams in 1974, none of us knew her last name so in the Sun we just called her Lucinda the Folksinger. Looking back, I should have walked up to her between songs and asked her, but she had such a determined look on her striking face I was a little hesitant to enter that zone with a semi-stupid question. Whenever I could find her there, singing and playing that big acoustic guitar on the Drag amidst the incense-stick burners and bead and bell-bottom sellers, I would sit on the curb and listen. I don't think I had ever heard someone in their early twenties sing with such force. It was like she was handing out barrels of chillbumps for anyone who would stop for just a few moments and listen. I thought back to stories of how Janis Joplin had started in Austin only ten years earlier, singing in the acoustic trio the Waller Creek Boys, struggling to find her way forward. She was a book-reading intellectual who took on the bawdy ways of a blues singer, trying to bust out of her provincial childhood in Port Arthur, Texas. When the straight-laced college crowd actually voted Joplin "Ugliest Man on Campus, it wasn't long before the singer lit out on the freedom trail to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury and changed the world with a wide-open soul in Big Brother & the Holding Company. There was also never a doubt that Lucinda Williams would find her own path too. There are those that project such strength and determination it is impossible to not feel their future being written in stone every day. It is one of the endless rewards of being open to tomorrow.
At first, Williams hit the typical resistance by being a woman. The Hole in the Wall, home to a slew of male folksingers, told Williams they already had a female singer, pointing to Nanci Griffith's Sunday night sets at the club. Undeterred, the superbly stubborn Lake Charles, Louisiana-born Williams kept at it, earning those early accolades the hard way until she found an audience in Austin. And played the Hole in the Wall. But that wasn't enough, so off she went to other challenges, showing the kind of resolve that every artist has to reach down deep and discover inside themselves. Others can not put it there for you. It's the hardest part of being creative, to believe beyond any doubt there are listeners in the world who will want to share your creations. It's almost always a stacked-deck against those who specialize in being unique, but that's the rules of the road and there are no shortcuts. When Lucinda Williams recorded her first album in 1978 it was appropriately for the Smithsonian Institute's Folkways label, a prized plum in the music business because of the heritage of all those who have had their music gathered there. It was originally titled RAMBLIN' ON MY MIND, and announced the coming of a new voice in American music. Its follow-up, HAPPY WOMAN BLUES, made it clear her debut was no fluke. A new road was being created by a singer who had studied long and hard how music affects the heart and soul, and had every intention of forging her own place. That's how musical breakthroughs work: start with a small rumble and never look back.
With a songwriting style that could buckle the knees and a voice that gave no quarter, Lucinda Williams began making moves to be heard. It was the start of the MTV era and mega rock bands, along with a continuing New Wave invasion and all kinds of other diversions. At the same though, a small but mighty crowd of listeners for bands like the Blasters, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Los Lobos, Rank & File, Dwight Yoakam and others were holding court in clubs around Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin and other cities. Still, Williams remained in her own world, writing songs that reverberated from the West Coast, through Nashville and all the way to New York. Her manager, David Hirshland, fought the good fight with record labels, and got close several times to making a breakthrough. But almost isn't all the way, so the fight continued. In Los Angeles then, I had fallen into a dream position of producing shows at a Sunset Boulevard spot called Club Lingerie. I liked to go for concept affairs, and in 1985 came up with an idea for an evening called "Millions of Williams." It only took a few phone calls to secure Lucinda Williams, Victoria Williams, the Williams Brothers, Jerry Williams and M.C. Marvin Williams. Unfortunately Jerry Williams pulled out when he asked for more money to assemble a 13-piece band, while Marvin Williams was detained in Houston, replaced by the semi-lookalike James "Big Boy" Medlin, an honorary Williams-for-a-day. It was a night to remember as all the Williams outdid themselves onstage. Of course, Lucinda Williams closed the show, and sang one new song after another with such breathtaking beauty that every single person who walked into the 2 a.m. night on the Sunset sidewalk knew they'd just witnessed something for the scrap book. If there was any doubt before the concert that the woman from Louisiana and a lot of other places was destined for the history books, it was a sure thing now.
Still, it took another three years before a new album came out. Titled, simply, LUCINDA WILLIAMS, Rough Trade Records, a known harbinger of the future, released it to unanimous acclaim in 1988 and the singer-songwriter has never looked back. Follow-ups SWEET OLD WORLD and CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD in the '90s kept upping the ante to where it was clear there was no competition for the kind of knife-in-the-heart songs Lucinda Williams writes with such regularity that it's like there's a super-power guiding her passion.
In life, we all look for love. It can be a lonely pursuit, and seems too often to end in despair. The glory, though, lies in that place when the door is opened and the heart soon follows. From there, a new world is born. The Sufi poet and mystic Rumi once wrote: "Don't turn away. Keep your eye on the bandaged place. That's where the light enters you." Lucinda Williams has always spoken truth to the idea that love is life, at the same time knowing it can cause pain beyond belief. Her gift is showing us the way through that pain to the other side, one that breathes hope and courage against the long odds. She still stands as a party of one, with a guitar and words to continue her fight for the light to enter us all.
by Bill Bentley
Loneliness was Townes Van Zandt's very best friend. When the young Texan first started singing, the world looked like a forbidding place to him. Van Zandt had always been different from most people. He came from a family in Fort Worth with some serious Texas history and money in their genes, but that didn't mean much to someone who saw and heard a different world for himself. He favored the hard-living Fifth Ward of Houston, and the sharp-edged attack of Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins' mighty blues. Once Van Zandt started playing the Jester Lounge there, he found onstage what he'd always dreamed of: a place that felt safe enough to call home.
The young songwriter had crystalline visions that were capable of turning into a joyous reality, but at the same time heard the undeniable sound of hearts breaking and lives tilting towards ruin. Professionals might call it manic-depression, or today bi-polar disorder. Those that lived with those feelings, though, simply looked at it as a gambler's hand they been dealt and would have to struggle with for the rest of their lives.
Van Zandt was likely someone who kept the ultimate escape hatch of suicide tucked deep in his back pocket for most of his life. Through songs and singing, he hammered out a living compromise that allowed him a place to exist and to show the world what a true troubadour was capable of.
Those nights at the Jester Lounge and then folk clubs like Sand Mountain and the Family Hand in Houston were like high-wire acts of musical majesty to teenagers like us. Van Zandt came onstage barely able to look at the audience of a few dozen people, but when he flashed a smile, it seemed beamed in from outer space with an irresistible glow. We all became permanent acolytes of an artist whose luminosity we wouldn't see the likes of again.
And when he began singing songs like "No Place to Fall," "Tecumseh Valley" and "For the Sake of a Song," not only did time stop but it became frozen forever. Our small group of five or six 15-year-old boys would turn away to wipe away our tears in secrecy, unable to show even a small touch of vulnerability with our friends. Tears just weren't acceptable in Texas then. The baseball-sized lumps in our throat made it hard to breath when Van Zandt sang lyrics like, "The name she gave was Caroline / daughter of a miner / her ways were free and it seemed to me / the sunshine walked beside her," only for the song to end in the ultimate tragedy of dying young. No one grabbed the sadness from so deep inside them as Townes Van Zandt. No one. We felt like we'd stumbled into some secret society, and shared feelings known only to the fortunate few sitting in the club. Van Zandt sang with his eyes closed so tight that it looked like they would never open again.
Slowly the singer began to make a reputation around the country. Townes Van Zandt, like so many others then, was hailed as a successor to Bob Dylan in being able to communicate profound truths with only an acoustic guitar. Who knows why, but such accolades seemed to scare him, and his fondness for drinking, rambling and gambling took over much of his life. The 1970s were always a combination of incredible possibilities, dashed with full-tilt runs into the gutter and beyond. He even titled an album THE LATE GREAT TOWNES VAN ZANDT in 1973, laughing at constant predictions of an early demise. The Texan knew the great gifts he'd been given, but didn't seem to always accept them. It was like he had tricked fate into an uneasy gift, but would do his best to head for the road to oblivion when the sky became too blue.
But when Townes Van Zandt was fully present and onstage, no matter the size of the room, his presence felt like a prophet had entered the cosmos. Wearing a time-torn fringed jacket, and projecting the hopefulness of new love, he would begin a set with often corny jokes, but it was more to earn a laugh or two, knowing the songs coming next were no laughing matter. These were tales from a torn-up heart and used up body, sung by someone who had seen the frozen moments when the end of life seems so much closer than the beginning. The ultimate beauty of Townes Van Zandt, though, was the spirit-changing glory of his music, something that constantly led his listeners out of the deep waters of despair, and so often onto the hallelujah road to redemption. For that, the artist's pact with a finite mortality made sense.
Sometimes during the '70s Van Zandt would roll into our 3 a.m. twist-off parties in Austin, fueled by Pearl beer and Little Richard records. It felt like he was plugged into an electrical socket in the wall, his eyes bouncing off all the faces that could not help but be drawn into his mesmerizing orbit. He would immediately get a dice game going, and more often than not lose everything he had. His happiness came in the chance that someday he might win, no matter the reality it was a slim chance. For Townes Van Zandt, living was the final reward, and there was no winning or losing. It was all about continuing to breathe.
Whenever I think of Van Zandt and my unlikely luck of being taken into his world at such a young age on those unforgettable nights of songs and, yes, madness, happiness and sadness become one. To try to split them apart is like splitting the atom: in the end it doesn't really matter. The immediate allure of living is what he taught, and while we all knew it could not go on forever, to find a spot to land in the present was enough for us.
Often Townes Van Zandt's song "Sad Cinderella" plays in my mind. Its unblinking ability to address the challenges of life feels chiseled in steel: "When your magazine memory has spun you around / and you realize your lovers were just painted clowns / outside your window you start hearing the sounds / where they're building a cross for to burn you / when all your bright scarlet turns slowly to blue / will you stop and decide that it's over..." Paranoia might be kicking down the door, and the endless sleep of death starts to feel like an easy answer. But it's not to be: the melodies fight against finality, and the savior of tomorrow's promise, no matter how slight, comes floating through the ozone. For that we can thank Townes Van Zandt, freedom's warrior. When he died on New Year's Day in 1997, he did not leave us. That is not possible. He is always here.
By Bill Bentley
In the early 1950s, semi-fresh from the end of War World II and the looming of a new day, a man from Dunleth, Mississippi found his way into a Chicago recording studio to share his soul with the world. He would become an unlikely prophet to a changing America, but he never doubted his abilities. Jimmy Reed brought a cosmic twist to the blues, bouncing curved realities with a hypnotic beat, singing and blowing harmonica in a passionate drawl fueled by memories of despair crossed with dreams of release. No other musician had ever created this sound, and Reed made it feel as natural as crossing a small-town Delta street in 105-degree heat. He would go on help integrate a nation in a solitary date with musical destiny, and show the world that magic can come from many places.
Jimmy Reed found the key to the highway on a battered electric guitar and a harmonica wedged into a flimsy metal rack he hung around his neck. His first single was called "High and Lonesome," because that's what he was. He had moved from Mississippi to Gary, Indiana to work in a meat-packing plant, where the slaughter of animals on ten-hour shifts became a way of life. Probably feeling backed into a corner and twitching to get out, Reed turned to his only card: blues. Luckily, he possessed an idiosyncratic genius at it, a fevered vision of what it would take to get heard. As he played a circular stride on guitar, sang like he talked and blew blues harp in a new language he created from scratch, anyone within earshot quickly realized this was no backroad shuffler. Jimmy Reed snatched a singular sound from somewhere out in the ozone and brought it down to the bandstand. Playing with Mississippi friend Eddie Taylor on second guitar, and about as elemental a rhythm section that ever existed, Reed injected an electricity that would not be denied into every corner of America. His first hit single, "You Don't Have to Go" was released in 1955. Elvis Presley may have been primed to supercharge rock & roll around the planet, but his fellow Mississippian had a larger calling. Jimmy Reed's incredible run of hit singles on white radio stations would introduce whites in the United States to the humanity of the African-American population. Music has always been a mighty equalizer, and as Reed's songs invaded listener's minds and hearts, the doors to equality for all races cracked open an inch.
If there is one bluesman who planted a flag for the music that had a way of slamming listeners in the heart, it was Jimmy Reed. Every young guitarist in the early '60s heard the man's endless parade of hits with maximum regularity on Top 40 radio: "Big Boss Man," "Bright Lights Big City," "Aw Shucks Hush Your Mouth," "Baby What You Want Me to Do," "Hush Hush," "Found Love," "Honest I Do," "You Got Me Dizzy," "Take Out Some Insurance," "Ain't That Loving You Baby," "Going to New York:" the sounds of Jimmy Reed became something young bands had to play at teen dances and school sock hops, or run the risk of losing their listeners. It is often said the Rolling Stones began as basically a tribute band to Reed. Guitarist Brian Jones was on a religious quest to spread the word about the blues, and Jimmy Reed was his biggest hero to make that happen. There was something about the way the chords were just short of chaotic, but became like automatic reaction to how to play guitar. As drummer Charlie Watts once observed, talking about Reed's drummer Earl Phillips, "He's really a jazz drummer when you listen closely. And when Reed would hit a high note on his harmonica and hold it there for what seemed like an eternity, that's when the molecules in the universe got rearranged and there was no other sound which made any sense. Captain Beefheart once called the bluesman's sound "one head music." He meant that if all the instruments weren't playing perfectly in unison out of one head, even the slightest variance would turn the whole thing into a tumbling mess. That never happened with Reed. It was like his recordings sprang full-born from a heart full of troubled love.
Jimmy Reed, along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., did more to unite the races than any other person. When I first saw him at a club in Houston in 1965, he walked onstage and on the first downbeat offered a path to another planet. One where people mingled out of a shared spirit, and would not be divided by false thoughts. He sat in a chair for most of the show, smiling that lopsided smile he flashed between songs, his left leg bouncing up and down. He started and stopped songs on a seeming whim, while his drummer and rhythm guitarist, who used his low strings to play bass, did their best to follow him. It became a seamless run at ecstasy, and without ever raising his voice Jimmy Reed led his followers to the promised land.
As the '60s progressed, epilepsy and increasing alcoholism took some of the drive out of the musician. But his innate power never left him, like the night at Austin's Vulcan Gas Company in 1968. The audience at the club included a large contingent of University of Texas frat rats who crowded near the stage and started screaming requests for their theme song, "Louie Louie." Finally Jimmy Reed had had enough, and looked down at one of them and said, "Jimmy Reed don't play no 'Louie Louie'." He then reared his right leg back and kicked the person standing before him requesting the song in the head. Stunned, the whole army of fraternity boys yelled insults at Reed before they were forced by the crowd to leave. I will forget the level of fear in the Vulcan that something tragic could easily occur. But it was the heroic act of a black man standing his ground in what was basically a foreign white land in central Texas. It showed the tough-as-nails strength of someone who did more to the bring the blues to the masses than anyone else before or since, B.B. King included.
The '70s were not good years for Jimmy Reed. Health issues worsened, as did his alcoholism. Recording contracts dried up and he was working sporadically, barely enough to stay afloat. Bad record deals and song publishing disputes robbed him of the riches he had rightfully earned. In the summer of 1976, Reed made it back to Austin to perform at Antone's, the new blues club on a shabby downtown street. Owner Clifford Antone asked if I'd like to go upstairs to meet him before he played. Once in the dressing room, I told Reed how excited the audience was that he was there. "You knows," he said, "When I wake up in the morning people had come by and shoved contracts under my door. I looked at this one and said, 'I gots to go.' I done forgot a lot of my words. The wine has got me. But I'm gonna do my best for everyone tonight." When he came out, accompanied by his earliest side kick on guitar, Eddie Taylor, and the rhythm section from the Fabulous Thunderbirds, it was like the clock had stopped in 1963. He played almost every hit song he had recorded during his glory years, and the audience were screaming and jumping up on the tables between each one. It was a night of high church for the blues, and no one there has ever forgotten it.
A month later Clifford Antone called me at my newspaper job one morning in tears. All he could say was, "Jimmy's gone." Nothing else was needed. The world had lost a musical warrior, only 50 years old and one we will not see again. Now, whenever I feel the world's confusion need to be put in place so we can attempt to understand them, I put on "Jimmy Reed at Carnegie Hall." As the double album plays through, everything starts to make more sense again. On the last song Jimmy Reed sings, ""Well the sun is shining on both sides of the street / oh the sun is shining on both sides of the street / I got a smile on my face for every little girl that I meet." Amidst all the anguish and unfairness in modern life, the man who sang his way into the world's heart opens his arms and takes us in. With him, we know what it means to be alive and ready to find our own place in life. We also learn that the blues is the happiest sound on Earth if you listen with your heart open wide. The Big Boss Man may no longer be here, but he's not gone. He lives forever on in his songs.
BY BILL BENTLEY