Monday, October 24, 2011


The event is nothing. It's what made the event happen - which is no longer where the event is. The event is the leftovers - it happens so the entity, the spirit, or what made the shit happen can move on.

So all these events, no matter what the hell they are, are nothing. What is meaningful is what is left and  gone beyond that. So all we have is people standing around a pile of shit, looking at it. You wouldn't expect the thing that shit to go back and sit in the shit, would you?

Neil Young, Shakey
He was talking about Woodstock, & more. I understand what he's saying.

I'm learning more about Neil than I need or want to know from Shakey, a semi-authorized biography published in 2002, took over a decade for Jimmy McDonough to write - assemble may be  a more apt  word. That's why I avoided reading it for years.  Neil, perverse Scorpio  that he is (rumored double or triple Scorp), basically dared McDonough to dig up what he could dig up, sat for several extensive interviews, but didn't smooth the author's path through Neil's associates & employees, many of whom have been with him for decades & would take a bullet for him, although he's terribly difficult to work for. 

I took positive notice of Neil Young with  "Mr. Soul" & "Expecting to Fly" on the Buffalo Springfield Again album. Bought his first solo album. liked some of the songs, hated several, & disliked the production, thought the album was a mess, & forgot about Neil.  Some months later, visiting a friend in his dorm at Fordham around final exam time,  we smoked some weed & he asked if I wanted to hear the new Neil Young LP, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. I said, sure, why not? It was a revelation. Something completely unexpected. Neil had stripped his music of artifice, the attempts at Beatlesque studio creations  were gone. Crazy Horse sounded like a band he'd found in a bar, which wasn't far from the truth.  Raw emotion untempered by any display of virtuosity.  It was artless art. Some of it sounded like Link Wray influenced by Ornette Coleman, or vice versa. Some of it was great country rock. To this day it remains one of the most powerful,  memorable first-time encounters I've had with a record. & I played organ in a band. You couldn't imagine an organ on that record.

I've been a fan ever since, although I probably don't like half of what Neil has released. I never assumed he was a nice guy.  I figured  he was single-mindedly, selfishly, sometimes brutally  devoted to himself & his own art, & it cost him plenty in busted friendships, busted tours, & crap album sales. Much of the misery the asshole side of Neil  brought upon himself.

Throughout his career  Neil has pushed  me to think about love & hate in the starkest ways.    No rocker deals with this more explicitly than Neil Young. You don't need to understand his lyrics to get it.  In  his best performances, the process by which he creates the music does it.  Some Neil Young purists (& a few music critics) - I think they're masochists - can't abide when Neil is just being pretty, or choo-ga-looing. But the majority of his older audience  still expects him to play the flannel hippie.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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