Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Rockin' in the Free World

Quote of the Day: "You didn't bet on the Dodgers to beat the Giants/ And David came up,/
Now you gotta pay up/ You didn't count on that."
-Neil Young, "Bandit"

A couple of years ago, Neil Young came to Albuquerque during his "Greendale" tour. My family and I went to the show, and it was probably the most unique rock concert I'd ever encountered.

"Greendale" is a fascinating concept album that focuses on the fictional town of Greendale, a town of "about 20 to 25,000 people." Throughout the album, recorded with Crazy Horse, Young takes us on a journey through the town and we visit Greendale's inhabitants and are allowed to witness their trials and tribulations. It's fun, it's thought-provoking, and it rocks. It maintains that hippie spirit, the almost overly idealistic but unapologetically pro-peace and anti-injustice lyrics such as "We've got to save Mother Earth!" and songs about the summer of love. It could come off sounding so corny, but Neil Young makes it work. Even if it didn't, who cares? It's Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and some of us are rather inspired by his idealism. I couldn't stop the war on Iraq, but I'll always make it clear that it is a battle that I can't stand it, and like Neil Young, I'll revel in my dissent (By the way, check out Erik's Choice for a wonderful post entitled "Louder Than Bombs" that addresses the country's contemporary burgeoning revolutionary spirit).

For the concert, Young performed the album in it's entirety, and the stage was set up as if it were a play. There were Greendale stores and homes as well as actors playing the characters Young introduces in the album. It was pretty cool, albeit quite unexpected.

My family and I allowed ourselves to get absorbed into the show. We stood, we clapped, we cheered. Lots of the audience, however, were inexplicably angry. "Southern Man!" they'd shout, as if Young was taking requests, as if he could actually hear them, crying out from the nosebleeds.

Neil Young's worn face and "I owe you nothing" attitude makes it clear that this man has a story to tell, and how he chooses to tell this story is up to him. We go to concerts for the surprises, for stories to tell our friends. If Young had given a typical concert, this post would simply read, "He played the hits. It was cool."

Recently, Young had an aneurysm, followed by brain surgery. What did he do afterwards? He recorded another album. This man is tough as nails. Ever seen Scorcese's The Last Waltz, where a wild-eyed Young gives a killer performance of "Helpless" with a roach clip hanging from his shoulder and a pebble of coke in his nostril? This man can do what he wants.

After the performance of the "Greendale" album, Young and Crazy Horse followed up with an encore that included the hits, including the always timely "Rockin' in the Free World." There's no way he did this for us, the undeserving audience. His lively, emotional performance was for himself. He owed us nothing.


At 8:36 PM, Blogger Laura said...

Sounds like the concert was a really cool experience.

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Erik Donald France said...

Aw, sweet -- thanks for the shoutout, too. It's funny, I saw Neil Young with some of my fam, too, but not this tour, which also sound great. Neil Young keeps on keeping on, which is also great. Thanks for this post, it brings good cheer.

At 1:05 AM, Blogger ShadowFalcon said...

Neil young?
must be an american thing...

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

No, not an American thing... I don't like him.


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