Recap: Neil Young and Promise of the Real in Telluride, CO (10-1-2016)

Neil Young and Promise of the Real 10-1-2016
Neil Young and Promise of the Real 10-1-2016

Where do I even start? Months ago, when it was announced that Neil Young would be playing two dates in Telluride, Colorado for the very first time, I knew I’d make the trip up from Phoenix. Not a doubt. On my live music bucket list, Neil ranked at the top, numero uno.

It took me 46 years, but there I was Saturday night, leaning against the barrier left of the stage, my 12-yr old daughter by my side, watching Neil Young – just a few weeks shy of his 71st birthday – rock our faces off with his amazing backing band, Promise of the Real.

The setting? Telluride Town Park. Not your run of mill venue. Rather, one of the most picturesque settings on God’d green earth. See for yourself:

Up front for Neil Young.. (Hour til showtime)

A video posted by Pete (@ick1999) on

Friday night, we rolled into town just before Neil took the stage around 6:30. My folks have a place just across the beaver pond from Town Park, so although I didn’t go to Friday’s show, I grabbed a beer and parked myself on the balcony. Neil’s voice filled the box canyon as he started off the night with “After the Gold Rush,” “Heart of Gold”, and “Long May You Run”… The sound was so crisp and clear that I took in the whole show, all the way to the final notes of “Cinnamon Girl.”

Saturday, it was time to get in and get close. My daughter and I walked into Town Park about an hour and a quarter before show time, and, as you can see above, we did just fine.

Neil walked out from stage left and quickly took a seat at the piano for the opener, “After the Gold Rush.” The next few songs featured Neil with his acoustic guitar and harmonica: “Heart of Gold,” “Sugar Mountain” (the first time he’d played it outside of his Bridge School Benefit since 1993), and “Old Man.” Then, a seat at the organ for “Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)”, which sounded sacred in the beautiful setting.

Then out came Promise of the Real. It’s worth mentioning each of these guys, because they each add so much to the experience.

Lukas Nelson – guitar; Willie’s 27 year old son and de facto front man of POTR. Great voice and guitar chops.

Micah Nelson – guitar, keys, etc.; Willie’s youngest son, early/mid 20’s I’m guessing. More vocal chops and handy with the bow and guitar.

Corey McCormick – bass; Corey is the most animated of the bunch, jumping around, dancing, deep in the groove. His spirit is infectious and he’s a lot of fun to watch.

Anthony LoGerfo – drums; partnering up with Corey for a killer rhythm section that held down Neil’s tunes, old and new.

Tato Melgar – percussion; solid percussionist, although I couldn’t see him from my far front/left-side vantage point.

I heard Neil in a recent interview talking about Promise of the Real, their talent, and how intimate & familiar they were with his back catalog – deep cuts included. And how apparent that was. Their playing was the perfect accompaniment to Neil: raunchy and raw, or dialed down to a mellow folk-rock feel – whatever the song called for, they were there delivering it just as well as any band that’s ever backed Neil.

And the background vocals and harmonizing! Lukas, Micah and Corey were on point the whole night, enriching classics like “Powderfinger,” “Down by the River” and “Harvest Moon” with beautiful harmonies (three of my all time Neil favorites).

The “moment” for me came during the raucous and powerful choruses of “Down by the River.” Live music lovers all know it. That moment when the goosebumps are in full effect from the sheer force of the Music, a smile plastered across your face…and a glance around the crowd shows you hundreds of others feeling exactly the same way. It’s transcendent and inspiring and gives you hope for humanity – much needed these days.

Down by the river 🎸🎸🎸 #neilyoung

A video posted by Pete (@ick1999) on

“Winterlong” was a cut I wasn’t all too familiar with (released on Neil’s 1977 compilation album Decade, and limited pressings of Tonight’s The Night). I loved the feel of that tune – the wistful tinges of sadness and the really pretty melody.

“Out on the Weekend” !! Also one of my favorites, and the first tune of the night with Promise of the Real.

We were treated to “Cortez the Killer” with its sinister vibe, made all the more interesting by a nearby woman succumbing to a combination of altitude and substance – passing out a few feet behind us, then being lifted by security over the front barrier. “Cortez, Cortez, what a killer.”

Family highlight: My daughter was fully aware she was seeing a legend that Saturday night – she was reminded often by yours truly in the weeks and days leading up to the trip. By the end of the night, she was bouncing and singing along to “Rockin’ in the Free World” with all the rest of us. Smiles all around as the song was about to end three or four times, with Neil counting off “1-2-3-4!” and lunging back to the microphone for another round: “Keep on rockin’ in the free world!” It’s something special to make memories with your kids – especially live music memories.

With temps dropping well into the 40’s, Neil and POTR wrapped the night with the encore, “Roll Another Number (for the Road),” then met at center stage where they all huddled, jumping up and down in a shared primal grunt.

After two hours and forty-five minutes of breathtaking folk and wild, reckless rock & roll, we walked off into the cold Telluride night, savoring the evening..

Age is irrelevant. Rock & Roll is timeless.

Linkage:

SET LIST – October 1st, 2016 Telluride, Colorado

Pete’s Top 10 in Music – 2013

One of my new year’s resolutions for 2014 will be to spend more time banging out some thoughts on this blog (which will turn 10 in December). It mystifies me how fast time flies between my posts here (and time in general).  I want to come here more often and blurt out my reactions to all the good tunes swirling around out there. So what holds me back? It’s things like growing older, deepening responsibilities, two children growing up, work, stress, obligations, laziness, Netflix, bourbon…

Still, it’s important for me to continue to have this outlet. Although attention spans on the internet are fleeting and fragmented, and not many eyes gaze upon this site anymore, I still like having my own little virtual nook. So continue on I shall, and hopefully more frequently.

So what of my musical interests in 2013? As usual, not so much time was spent jumping voraciously into newly released material (although there are a few that rattled my core). I still love jumping back in time (often with the help of Rdio and Spotify) to discover and re-discover the myriad tunes I’ve missed and/or neglected all these years.  It’s overwhelming, but it sure is exciting to know that so much music exists with the potential to have that profound impact that makes it so special.

So here’s my top 10 in music this year. These are the albums, songs, shows and moments that moved me in 2013…

10. [Album] Billie Joe + Norah – ‘Foreverly

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This album came out in November and absolutely floored me. I had no expectations, and frankly wasn’t even aware of it until the week it came out. I took a listen, and I was hooked a minute into the album opener, “Roving Gambler.” The voices of Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day fame) and Norah Jones mesh perfectly in this sublime song for song cover of the Everly Brothers’ 1958 album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. The whole album soothes my laid back, old folkie soul.

9. [Song] Kings of Leon – “Temple

Saturday Night Live still has some great moments. Besides the regular appearances of my favorite cast members Cecily Strong, Kate McKinnon, and Taran Killam, the music guests can deliver and surprise. I enjoyed Haim this year, and I really enjoyed the Kings of Leon appearance, particularly “Temple,” the best straight ahead rock tune I’ve heard all year.
Here is KoL’s performance of the song from Live on Letterman:

8. [Song] Alice Smith – “Loyalty

Deep. Stunning. What a flawless voice. This slow burning, soulful track from Alice’s album, She, was an early year highlight. I saw her open for Citizen Cope several years back, and here’s hoping she makes it back to AZ soon, ’cause Alice, I Want You Just For Me.

7. [Song] Guy Clark – “My Favorite Picture Of You

Photo credit: Nashvilleportraits.com
Photo credit: Nashvilleportraits.com

Want your heart ripped right out of your chest, tossed around like a hot potato, and shoved back in? In a good way? Then this tune is for you. This is Guy’s tribute to his late wife, Susanna, who passed away in 2012. Here’s an intimate intro and performance from Guy’s home:

6. [Show] Steve Earle & the Dukes – Scottsdale Center of the Performing Arts – October 14th

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It had been 10 plus years since I last saw Steve perform with his band the Dukes. This year’s incarnation included long time members Kelly Looney on bass and Will Rigby on drums, and husband and wife-duo the Mastersons (Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore) on guitars, violin and background vocals. Seeing them in the hoity-toity confines of Scottsdale among the older set (okay, blue hairs) was entertaining in and of itself, but the main event was clear as could be: the bad-ass Steve Earle front and center, ripping through songs new and old, including his great new record The Low Highway. Highlights for me came from my favorite Steve album, I Feel Alright, with rip-roaring performances of “Hard Core Troubadour” and “Billy & Bonnie.”

5. [Album] John Grant – ‘Pale Green Ghosts

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Thanks to Later with Jools Holland, a British music show which started airing stateside this year on the Palladia HD channel, I was introduced to the talented John Grant. ‘Pale Green Ghosts’ is electronic, melodic, grandiose, and beautiful. One of its best songs, “GMF,” will have you singing along loud & proud: “I am the greatest motherfuckerrr that you’re ever gonna meet / from the top of my head down to the tips of the toes on my feeet.” I’m telling you.

4. [Show] Prince & 3rd Eye Girl – Marquee Theater, Tempe, AZ – May 1st
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It was a really long drought for me between Prince shows. I hadn’t seen him since his One Night Alone tour in 2002, when he was touring behind The Rainbow Children album. This time, it was Prince (full on ‘fro in effect) and his new all-female backing trio 3rd Eye Girl, in the intimate setting of the 1000-capacity Marquee Theater in Tempe. I wasn’t further than 50 feet from him, and as you could guess, the experience was unforgettable. There were the impressive new cuts like “Screwdriver” and “Fixurlifeup,” but the true magic for me came with tunes like “Forever In My Life” (with P on bass), “Joy In Repetition” (with Larry Graham on bass), and “Purple Rain” performed at the piano. Ain’t no party like a purple party.

3. [Album] Phosphorescent – ‘Muchacho

phosphorescent-muchacho

Matthew Houck released a hell of an album this year with ‘Muchacho.’ Its lead single, “Song for Zula” was a gorgeous introduction, an honest look at love and the frailty of the human condition. The album is rich with poignant, beautiful moments. Take for instance one of my favorites, “Down to Go”:

You say, Oh, you’ll spin your heartache into gold
And I suppose but it rips my heart out don’t you know
But if I’m waking each morning babe
All aching and ornery babe
All vacant and thorny, hey I’m down to go

Seeing Matthew and his band sing these songs live back in October at their Crescent Ballroom show – magnified the beauty and brilliance of this album, and showed how great music lives and breathes.

2. [Show] The Who – Jobing.com Arena, Glendale, AZ – February 6th

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This may go down as the best last minute decision I’ve ever made. I had just wrapped up Pete Townshend’s great autobiography Who I Am early in the year, and was fully immersed in The Who and Pete’s solo work. It turned out that The Who were stopping through Phoenix in February, performing Quadrophenia in its entirety, followed by a greatest hits set. They are definitely  a Bucket List-caliber band to me, so I recruited a friend and got a couple of tickets. I’m so glad I made that decision. Watching Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey live (yes, even in 2013) is a must for any fan of rock & roll. Seeing them blast through hits like “Baba O’Riley,” “Who Are You,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” and the full epic performance of Pete’s rock opera, Quadrophenia, was a once in a lifetime thrill. I soaked it all in, and walked out with a Who-induced buzz that lasted weeks. Fantastic show.

1. [Artist] Neil Young

neil young2501

I’ll finish with Neil.

Once again, a book was the catalyst in inspiring me to jump into a catalog of work. I found Neil’s bio, Waging Heavy Peace,  a very entertaining read. It jumps from past to present and back, and you just never know what topic he’ll cover from chapter to chapter – whether it’s his Buffalo Springfield days in the 60’s, his adventures in Topanga Canyon in the 70’s, his passions in this century of developing a superior quality audio file or his alternate-fueled LincVolt car project… he’s all over the place (sort of how my brain behaves most of the time), and that appealed to me in the book.  So to accompany the book, I jumped head first into Neil’s catalog later this year – his vast collection of solo albums (wow, still a long way to go), the Springfield stuff, his Crazy Horse records, etc. Now, I’ve always loved Neil’s stuff – the stuff I’ve been familiar with over the years, that is. Albums like Harvest, Harvest Moon, and Rust Never Sleeps.  But for some reason, I hadn’t tracked down other gems – the biggest miss being his second album, 1969’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Yes, I know “Cinnamon Girl” and “Down By The River,” but damned if I didn’t discover that I had never – not once – listened to this 44 year old record in my entire 43 years on this planet! Over the past couple months, as I’ve listened repeatedly to masterpieces like “The Losing End (When You’re On)” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” – and I realize that this record would have been right up there with some of my landmark “life” albums (like ‘Sticky Fingers,’ ‘Hard Promises,’ and ‘Purple Rain’)… well, I feel like a dope.

But such is life. Better late than never. And speaking of Bucket Lists – Neil Young, you are right up there near the top. Cheers to a legend.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62XcMCzIIas

Pete’s Music Highlights: My Top 12 of 2012

I’ve been as quiet here on Ickmusic as I ever have during its eight year run.  Worry not, nothing (outside of my family) has taken a back seat to music in my life. It still fuels everything I do. But there has been a definite lull in my desire to sit down and type out regular blog posts. I know it tears you up inside (whoever “you” may be).

But it’s okay, Ickmusic.com is still here when I need it. Like today, for instance, when I feel like sharing my music highlights from the year Twenty-Twelve.

Here are some of the albums, songs and live shows that enriched my world in 2012…

1. Album: Band of Horses – ‘Mirage Rock

Fans and critics who were praying for another Everything All The Time or Cease to Begin cried foul when Mirage Rock was released this year. Me? I ate it right up. The album, produced by legendary classic rock engineer/producer Glyn Johns (The Who, The Stones, to name a couple) definitely steers heavily into 70’s classic rock and even soft rock category. I am just fine with that. In fact, the wistfully sweet “Long Vows” and “Slow Cruel Hands of Time” are two of my favorites. But the boys sure crank it up with tunes like “Dumpster World”, “Knock Knock”, and the early 70’s Stones-ish “Electric Music.” Yep, I’m all in on this record. Oh, and if you’re looking for beauty, track down “Relly’s Dream” from the Sonic Ranch Sessions bonus disc on their deluxe edition. I spun this album start to finish more than any other release this year.

2. Show: World Party – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix – 12-02-2012

worldparty1

Thanks to Zia Records, the top independent record store here in Phoenix, I won a pair of tickets to see Karl Wallinger and his band World Party. As a big fan especially of the Goodbye Jumbo album, it was a rare honor to see Karl play an intimate venue like the Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix (my #1 room in town). After a serious health scare in the early 2000’s (a brain aneurysm), Karl’s voice is as pure and dynamic as you’d hope for. Along with his sharp young Nashville bandmates, he tore through WP classics like “Is It Like Today”, “Ship of Fools”, “Way Down Now” and (my favorite) “Put The Message In The Box”; and also sat down at the keys for “She’s The One” and “God On My Side.” This gig far exceeded my expectations (I didn’t know what to expect, really), and I sincerely hope Karl continues on with making music and touring. I can’t wait to see him again.

Here’s a video I shot of Karl and violin/mandolin/harmony vocalist extraordinaire David Duffy singing “Mystery Girl” (bump up the quality to 720p or 1080p):

3. Show: Band of Horses, Marquee Theater, Tempe 10-26-2012

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I’d seen Band of Horses a couple of times before, but only in a festival setting (Austin City Limits). This first true headlining show came out of the cancelled Railroad Revival Tour with Willie Nelson. Ben Bridwell and the boys set up at Tempe’s Marquee Theater in late October and tore the roof off the dump. Drawing from all four of their studio albums with a couple covers thrown in (Them Two and Hour Glass, nice & obscure!), the songs were rambunctious, mellow, inspiring, wistful, beautiful, rocking… all the adjectives that reminded me (and the full house) why we love them so much. Not to mention getting to chat for a while with Ben after the show. The dude abides.

4. Album: Ryan Bingham – ‘Tomorrowland

Ryan-Bingham-Tomorrowland-album-cover

Give me the cool, gravelly roots/folk/country rockin’ twang of Ryan Bingham any day of week. Tomorrowland is a return to the more straight-ahead rockers that seemed to be missing on his last album, the T-Bone Burnett produced ‘Junky Star.’ He wastes no time on Tomorrowland’s opener, launching into “Beg for Broken Legs” with urgency and force. “Guess Who’s Knockin” is another strong one, featuring a satisfying F-bomb chorus. “Never Ending Show”, “Flower Bomb”, “The Road I’m On” – all standout tracks. If you haven’t checked out Tomorrowland (or Ryan Bingham) yet, you’re missing out. Just do it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftBWG1U09OA

5. Show: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Jobing.com Arena, Glendale 12-06-2012

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I took a couple of Bruce first timers a few hours early to go through the wristband lottery to try and get up near the front of the stage (“in the pit”, as they say). Sadly, our numbers were not of the lucky variety, and we were shut out. So we ended up behind the pit right next to the sound booth. The disappointment was very quickly washed away with Bruce’s first strum of the acoustic for the opener “Surprise, Surprise.” The first 30 minutes was a showcase of career nuggets: “No Surrender”, “I’m a Rocker”, “Hungry Heart”, “Prove It All Night”, “Trapped”, and “Lost in the Flood” – and all those before launching into the new Wrecking Ball material! Three plus hours from a tireless 63 year old and his very large troupe of supporting members – the E Street Band and then some. My eighteenth live Bruce experience, and yet another reminder why The Boss sits on the top of the pile in my world.

6. Show: Girls – Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix – 03-03-2012

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Who would’ve thought I was seeing Girls the band in one of their final performances? For not long after, frontman, songwriter, and singer Christopher Owens announced on Twitter that the band was done. He’s moving on in another musical direction (his debut solo album, Lysandre, comes out in just a couple weeks). So I am fortunate to have seen Christopher and the band play songs I’ve come to absolutely love since discovering them a couple of years ago: “Laura”, “Alex”, “Honey Bunny”, “Love Like a River”, “Die”…

Something about Christopher’s music draws me in – the beauty and innocence, the light in the darkness – and I’ll basically be following him around for however long he decides to make music. A great show – short, but sweet.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J6aXK39qVQ

7. AlbumNeil Young & Crazy Horse – ‘Psychedelic Pill

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A 27 minute album opener with the lyrics “I wanna get a hip-hop haircut”? Check. Something about this record, particularly the longer running tunes (“Driftin’ Back”, “Ramada Inn”, “Walk Like a Giant”), really grabbed hold of me. It’s the loud, distorted (and long) guitar solos, it’s the way Neil sneers his way through the lyrics… It’s the unconventional and F-you attitude of it all. Everything Mr. Neil Young represents.

And of course Neil has a 27 minute long official video for “Driftin’ Back”…

8. Show: Lenny Kravitz – Comerica Theater, Phoenix – 02-12-2012

lennylive

Rock Star. Completely and indisputably. It’s fun to sit back and watch a performer just turn on all the glamor, glitz, and poses of a Rock Star. Lenny has perfected this persona over his 20+ years of performing. He’s got a quite the catalog to choose from, and watching him perform the hits (“Are You Gonna Go My Way” being my favorite) as well as tunes from his surprisingly strong latest album, ‘Black and White America‘, had us out of our seats the entire gig. Lenny has always been and remains a total badass. Such an entertaining show.

9. Song: Bruce Springsteen – “Jack of All Trades”

This is my favorite Bruce tune in years. I thought about including the whole ‘Wrecking Ball‘ on the “list”, but that wouldn’t be an honest assessment. While I enjoy Bruce’s Great Recession album from earlier this year, I just haven’t connected too much with the songs (of course, hearing them live is a whole ‘nother ball of wax – see above for my December 6th Bruce show). “Jack of All Trades” though, wow. A slow, dirge-like bass drum and piano start off the song. It builds and builds with each verse and ends with a forceful guitar solo from Tom Morello. The theme of strength, perseverance and optimism in the face of adversity is a common one in Bruce’s music, but he really connects with this tune in a goosebumps and tears kind of way.

“I’m the jack of all trades / honey we’ll be alright”

10. Album: Delta Spirit – ‘Delta Spirit

deltaspirit1

Matt Vasquez and company continue to evolve, refusing to stay pigeonholed the way some fans prefer (see Mirage Rock comments). “California” was the lead single and the most obvious stray from their former indie/folk sound – a more electronic modern pop sound. But they still rock out – “Money Saves” is one of my favorites, as are “Tear It Up” and “Tellin’ the Mind.” Nothing matches my three standout tracks from their last album, ‘History From Below‘ – “911”, “Bushwick Blues” and “Salt in the Wound” – but that’s not a knock on this record. I love a band that explores new territory and challenges themselves to try something new – Delta Spirit is a band I’ll be following for years to come.

11. Album: Fred Eaglesmith – ‘6 Volts

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It wasn’t until about midway though the year that I reconnected with Canadian singer/songwriter Fred Eaglesmith. I listened to him in the late 90’s and early 00’s, but for some reason, I seemed to veer away. ‘6 Volts’ was released in January, and quickly reminded me what drew me to Fred: clever songwriting and storytelling, and great folk/root-rock sounds and rhythms. ‘”Betty” is a standout track from 6 Volts, with Fred conjuring up dark imagery on as cheerful a melody and cadence as possible: “Betty what’d you do with the gun? There’s strangers at my door / and there’s more where they come from / …was it the money, was it the drugs / was it somebody that you used to know / …Betty Betty why won’t you tell me”.

12. AlbumTrampled by Turtles – ‘Stars and Satellites

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Straight out of Duluth, Minnesota, I became aware of Trampled by Turtles when I saw them at the 2011 Newport Folk Festival. I’ve seen categorizations bandied about in the past for this band, like “newgrass” and “speedgrass”… but with this year’s release, people will have to search for new adjectives. They jump into more rootsy, Americana-inspired territory here, bringing the tempo down with some great tunes like “Midnight on the Interstate”, “Alone”, “Widower’s Heart” and “Beautiful.” Of course, they haven’t abandoned their bluegrass roots, their banjo and fiddle players remain. So if you want your speed fix, listen to “Don’t Look Down” or “Walt Whitman.”

Autumn Delights

There is something magical about this time of year. It’s hard to put my finger on it but the changing colors, the crispness in the air, and the mood of the people all combine wonderfully for me in a near perfect, romantic and quite comforting melange. Essential to all of this, of course, is great music.

Many of my favorite bands have released new music this fall (reviews coming soon!) but it’s going to be a while before I decide if any of their albums are Classic Fall Records. What makes a Classic Fall record? Well, it’s not an exact science for me but it starts with an album that came out in the fall (obviously) or sometime a little before that and I just didn’t get around to fully absorbing it until the autumn. Sometimes it’s an album that I have heard a million times, didn’t come out in the fall and simply took hold with me sometime in October.

This is the case with The Yes Album, which, in my opinion, is the best in their catalog. I played this album constantly on my then newly purchased Sony Walkman in October of 1982 when I was training for cross country. Even though it came out in February of 1971 and I had heard my dad play it a million times, I think of this record as Classic Fall. The music just goes along with the spirit of the season. The same is true for bassist Chris Squire’s Fish Out Of Water album, an often overlooked classic. Here are tracks from each:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S24By31HMZA&w=480&h=360

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kfI76YeX90&w=480&h=360

Mostly a Classic Fall Record stirs memories that are profoundly overwhelming. Such is the case with The Lexicon Of Love by ABC, an album also heavily played in the fall of 1982. I first heard it courtesy of the brother of our esteemed host, Pete. He, too, was on the cross country team and he loaned me the tape to play on a long bus trip to a race at St. John’s Military Academy. I had never heard anything like it and was completely blown away. Here is my favorite track from the album, “Many Happy Returns.”

Saint Etienne’s Finisterre is another album that oozes autumnal magic. A Dickensian voice asks in the first few seconds of Track 1 (“Action”), “Have you ever been to a harvester before?” and we are instantly transported to a world of crunchy leaves, hot chocolate, home, hearth, and our town. Somehow Sarah and the lads have managed to capture leafy Americana while talking about life in the villages and towns of Britain, proving that the moods and feelings of autumn are indeed universal. Here’s the best track on the album, “Shower Scene,”-a must for any scenesters out there.

One very key element in a Classic Fall Record is the atmosphere. It has to be haunting…echo-y…shimmering…dark, but in a comforting way…and melancholy. Forth by The Verve is a fine example of this theme and style. The atmospheric quality of “Judas” is exactly what I’m talking about here…you just drift when hearing it.

The expression of home and hearth, as we saw above with Saint Etienne’s Finisterre, really do figure heavily into classic fall records. Tired Pony’s The Place We Ran From radiates both of these themes as does Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. “Northwestern Skies” from the former has that autumnal echo and melancholy while the title track from the latter demonstrates unequivocally that autumn is the most romantic time of the year.

While these are all fantastic albums, there is only one record that is the pure, living embodiment of autumn and that’s The Unforgettable Fire by U2. Released on 1 Oct, 1984, this record was the soundtrack to my senior year of high school. Every time I listen to it, I’m right back there and can see, taste and feel exactly what that time was like. Sometimes I literally leave my body and travel back in time!

I also played it quite a bit on the drive between Minneapolis and Racine for the holidays so it really became the soundscape for Interstate 94 in Wisconsin. I bring it with me every time I drive home to see my mom and all the great memories of autumns past wash over me and warm my heart and soul. Here is the title track.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHa4y0uGKZw&w=480&h=360

How about you? What are some of your Classic Fall Records?

Red House Painters

Red House Painters

Red House Painters. I think I listened to their latest album, Songs for a Blue Guitar, only once before tonight – and didn’t give it a good listen at that.

Some cool tracks on this one…

A Neil Young-inspired 11 minute thrasher here with “Silly Little Love Songs”…

A Cars cover! “All Mixed Up”! Completely revamped…

And the song that pushed me again toward the album after hearing on Sirius XM’s The Loft – the title track. I thought I was hearing a slowed down, acoustic version of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”, but it was this…

Tunes from The Last Waltz

The Last Waltz – best concert film of all time? Certainly right up there. When I stumble upon it on TV, like I did tonight, there’s no way I can turn away.

Thanksgiving 1976. The Band. Bob Dylan. Van Morrison. Neil Young. Dr. John. Joni Mitchell. Muddy Waters. Eric Clapton. Neil Diamond. Ronnie Wood. Ringo Starr. Ronnie Hawkins. Paul Butterfield.

Still such a thrill to watch.  Here’s the last song of the show, as Dylan leads The Band and all the guests in his own tune, “I Shall Be Released”…

Oh hell, let me add a few other tunes…

The Band w/ Neil Diamond
“Dry Your Eyes”

The Band w/ Joni Mitchell
“Coyote”

 

The Band w/ Muddy Waters
“Mannish Boy”

Powderfinger

Yeah, well, I can’t enough of Neil Young’s “Powderfinger”….

Shelter me from the powder and the finger
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
Think of me as one you’d never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love,
I know I’ll miss her.

That’s the final and most goosebump-inducing verse of the song. And this 10-22-78 performance at the Cow Palace near San Francisco (the shows that spawned the Rust Never Sleeps and Live Rust albums) ratchets the intensity up even further. Especially when guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro comes over to Neil’s mic to join in for the final verse.

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Thrasher

A couple weeks back, I finally got a couple of good CD display cabinets, mounted them on the wall, and released my CD’s from years of exile in plastic storage bins. It’s nice to have them in my face again, and it’s making me revisit a lot of favorites from my past that haven’t yet made it to the iTunes rip machine.

One such CD is Neil Young & Crazy Horse‘s Rust Never Sleeps, which I initially bought because of my love for the song “Powderfinger”. But upon listening to it recently, it was the beautiful lyrics, intense imagery and the simple & sweet melody of “Thrasher” that hit me.

The amazing lyrics have undoubtedly been absorbed and closely studied by longtime fans of Neil, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around them – even just the last few lines:

Where the vulture glides descending
On an asphalt highway bending
Thru libraries and museums, galaxies and stars
Down the windy halls of friendship
To the rose clipped by the bullwhip
The motel of lost companions
Waits with heated pool and bar.

But me I’m not stopping there,
Got my own row left to hoe
Just another line in the field of time
When the thrashers comes, I’ll be stuck in the sun
Like the dinosaurs in shrines
But I’ll know the time has come
To give what’s mine.

There’s magic in those words. And the sort of melancholy, matter of fact style in which Neil sings it…  Wow… Such a good tune…

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Thrasher (mp3)

Buy Rust Never Sleeps

A Day in the Life: Paul joins Neil Young

Now this had me grinning ear to ear. Last weekend at Hyde Park, Neil Young was closing with “A Day In The Life”, and out strolls Paul McCartney. The look on Neil’s face while they’re singing together is just priceless. Pure joy.  And they don’t call it a night until they’ve done a duet on the vibes. Killer!

Harvest Moonin’

I’m in a “Harvest Moon” sort of mood tonight, so I went searching on YouTube for the MTV Unplugged performance complete with the sweeping broom. But I couldn’t find it. But I did find the video below. And wow, are there a lot of homemade covers out there! Some good, some – ehh. Like this or this or this. Or this or this. Or this. Or this or this, or this one by the Neil Youngsters!