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Neil Young: Waging Heavy Peace and Psychedelic Pill

November 2, 2012

Two Neil Young with Crazy Horse albums in less than six months and an autobiography too! Digg it! This summer’s Americana was a hoot – nifty covers of classic songs – the best being folk songs you remember from kindergarten.

Well my timing was just perfect: flying home from Minot North Dakota I finished Neil’s biography on the plane and picked up the new album Psychedelic Pill on my way home from the airport.

The autobiography was like nothing I have ever read – I felt like I was in Neil’s head witnessing his thoughts as he flitted between the present and the past in nanoseconds. I really feel like I got to know the man and better understand his restless artistic vision. As a Neil fan it was an absolute thrill to get in his skull.

Neil shares his wisdom: “I am not smoking weed anymore. I am a lot more focused now. That’s odd.” I bet it is odd Neil. Giving up weed and drink caused a songwriter’s block, so Neil decided to write a book in to get him over the hump. Thanks for going straight Neil.

Neil has many passions: music, model trains, classic cars, electric cars, audiophile digital files, etc. And he digs into them all in his autobiography. This is not a linear history: Neil goes from the present, to the near past, to his childhood, to the late 60s – sometimes in the course of ten pages. Neil rambles, brilliantly. There is no way this was ghostwritten – no “real” writer would allow this kind of chaos. The one sad part of the book is the Neil has managed to outlived all his best buddies.

The new album Psychedelic Pill is a companion piece to the book – not in a deliberate way, but you can see exactly how Neil could finish the book and walk into the studio with the Horse and record this album. It has the same reflective attitude. Having spent time with Neil in his book, these songs are logical extensions. I can’t judge the two works independently – they are completely intertwined.

This is classic Neil and the Horse – long fuzzy jams, face melting solos, great harmonies – ROCK. I can’t tell you how much a 28 minute ponderous Horse jam like the album’s opener “Driftin’ Back” works for me. It is just so heavy and slow. It feels like the second before you fall asleep – but extended for nearly a half an hour – falling back in slow motion.

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