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Neil's Recent New Songs
Mike Cordova a.k.a. Expecting to Fly
(as of January 1999)
Since May of '97, Neil has introduced nine previously unheard songs. No
telling how long he's been sitting on some of these, but he never played
these in front of paying audiences before the last couple of years. Some of
these tunes have been with us for a year and a half, but it has taken me a
long time to "digest" them because they are scattered on a wide range of shows.
I finally collected them onto one tape to listen to repeatedly which
I've been doing for the last week or so. Here some of my thoughts on each
one in the order I put them on my tape:
- Distant Camera (Mtn View 10-18-98)
The intro sounds reminiscent of You And Me and Old Man.
The theme appears to be that of a man struggling to express his love in a
"All I need is a song of love,
This seems like background music; I'd never put this song forward to show
Neil's great ability as a song writer.
to sing for you."
"Now forever we will be as one,
Neil wrote that??? Elliott Roberts mentioned, I think in a Mojo article,
that this song, as well as Buffalo Springfield Again and Looking
Forward would not be in the album because Neil was writing more new tunes.
This is good. I think it shows Neil and/or Elliott recognize this is a weak song.
floating in love's atmosphere.
Love is a piece of dust
shining in the sun."
- Modern World (Santa Cruz 5-19-97)
Hmmm. Pretty catchy tune there. Nice to hum along.
. . .
When I listen to this song, though, it makes me think Neil lost his lyric
sheet and accidently picked up Amber's junior high journal and started
singing the entries.
"But under the stars above,
Yechhh. Indescribably sappy.
We just don't recognize
the power of love is free" ?????
- Buffalo Springfield Again (Mtn View 10-18-97)
I would trade this song and each performance of it, and the sentiment it
represents, to have been able to see Neil join his old friends on stage at
the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame induction for Buffalo Springfield.
I'm sure Stephen, Richie, Dewey, and Bruce would have been more impressed as well.
Okay, time out... More reviews in a moment (and they won't all
be this negative). I even like some of the songs...
I remember back in '86 when I saw the Rusted Out Garage show at the
Cow Palace and recorded it from the radio; I enjoyed for the first
time listening to live versions of songs from an upcoming album. I really
liked those songs a lot. So much, that I was a little disappointed when
the Life album came out.
I didn't feel that the overdubs on the live songs on the album really added
anything. And I continue today to prefer those purely live versions of
And now, again I have had an opportunity to hear some songs which may show
up on the next record. Let's continue with the song reviews...
- Looking Forward (Mtn View 10-18-98)
Is this one about Neil's recent bout with writers' block? Maybe. It's also
not a bad song. Not a centerpiece tune or a classic by any means, but not
a bad song. Neil even pokes fun at his own songwriting:
"Writing a song,
The tune leaves me wondering and longing for more.
won't take very long,
trying not to use the word 'old'"
- Horseshoe Man (Santa Cruz 5-19-97)
I enjoy both the electric and piano versions of this song, but prefer it
electric with the Horse. I don't know exactly who the "horseshoe
man" is, but I like him and I like this song.
- Out Of Control (Santa Cruz 5-19-97)
This is a difficult one. The melody and song structure are slow to build,
and it has taken quite sometime for this tune to get through to me. Some
of the lyrics remind me of Neil's career:
"build myself up,
I think he has said as much about his approach to how he presents himself
professionally. There is an empty sadness to some of the words here that
This song does get to me and I'm glad it's been played. Might even make a
good selection on an album.
tear myself down,
build myself up again."
- Good To See You (Mtn View 10-19-97)
Lightweight sentiment meant for Pegi but played to us. A very minor song
in Neil's catalog.
Time Out again...
I was thrilled to hear that Neil has been writing more. I thought that
Broken Arrow was pretty weak in the songwriting department.
To follow that album up with these nine new songs performed for the first
time in '97 and '98 would have been a mistake I think. Still, there are
some very good tunes amongst them...
- Slowpoke (Mtn View 7-11-97)
Okay, I admit I cannot get over the similarity between this melody and that
of Heart Of Gold. I do like this song, but I cannot imagine Neil
idolizing anyone enough to wear all of his clothes and do what he does.
"When I was faster I was always behind"
would be a good slogan for a traffic safety campaign in the DC area where
I live. Decent lyrics, ok melody, nice acoustic guitar.
- Pictures In My Mind (Mtn View 10-18-97)
"Pictures in mind:
To me, powerful stuff. This is a great song.
Rows of poppy fields,
Changing gears that grind.
Pictures in my mind.
Pictures in my brain:
Fighting drugs with pain,
There's a war inside.
Pictures in my brain."
"Like visitors from space,
Universal, hard hitting, won't let me go. Neil sings this one in his
lowest voice and I think that gives it even greater impact. I sincerely
hope this one makes the record.
It's hard to find a place,
To blend in and go unrecognized."
That's it. I know songs come through differently for all of us; this is my
take on them. I'm interested in seeing what the rest of you think of these
Expecting To Fly
Postscript (added March 9, 199):
I've now had the opportunity to listen to Neil perform some of his new tunes
during his An Evening With Neil Young
tour. So I'd like to add a postscript to my original comments.
I got to see Neil perform five of the songs above, over two successive nights:
Looking Forward, Out Of Control, Distant Camera, Slowpoke, and Good
To See You. All of these songs were delivered with energy and conviction
not present in the earlier performances. They fit real well with the classics
he played those nights. Of these, Out Of Control is a standout. I think
it's a really fine song and I look forward the the release of this and all the
other songs sometime soon.
In addition, he also played a song not previously performed before this tour
began: Daddy Went Walkin'. This one is immediately likeable and is an
instant classic for me. He sings about his aging dad and his late mom in a tune
that has elements of a sort of bluegrass style. Very touching. I'm very much
looking forward to the release of the next album!
Expecting To Fly
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