Thursday, June 08, 2006

Neil Young - Living With War

I know that I’m way behind the crowd in writing about this record, but it took me a while get a copy. That said, this is a fantastic record – for both r’n’r and for politics!

Starting out with a burst of over-driven Neil Young guitar, he lets us know what this record is all about from his first few lines in “After The Garden” – “won’t need no shadow man, runnin’ the government, won’t need no stinkin’ war”.

This leads into the title track, which adds the unusual musical addition of a trumpet that repeats the guitar lines and returns throughout the record. This is so strikingly odd that it throws you off-balance at first, but it totally works, and makes sense when it starts to play “Taps” later in the record. This song pretty well embodies everything that this record and this country is about these days.

In “The Restless Consumer” Neil puts into words what most of the world is thinking and sums it all up in his repeated refrain of “don’t need no more lies”!

“Shock and Awe” rails against the hypocrisy, cover-ups and lies around “shock and awe” and “mission accomplished” and bush’s assorted bs. The trumpet figures prominently in this song, and is explained in the lyric “thousands of bodies in the ground, brought home in boxes to a trumpet’s sound, no one sees them coming home that way”.

“Families” and “Flags of Freedom” shows some of the consequences of this administration’s actions of the people of this country. I especially like the Dylan references and the line that sums up just about everything: “do you think that you believe in yours, more than they do theirs somehow?”

“Let’s Impeach the President” (with the trumpet playing “Taps” in parts) is the obvious centerpiece of the record. Neil basically recounts some of the well-known reasons why bush deserves to be impeached – of course, he can’t list everything, but he gets the gist of it all! The bridge with the “flip / flop” refrain is especially effective as he uses clips of bush contradicting himself and lying to us all.

“Lookin’ For A Leader” is a song of optimism and hope that someone can turn this tide around and bring America back to what it is supposed to be and not the abomination that it is now.

A melancholy song about a friend who has passed on, “Roger and Out” could be sung by all too many people these days.

The record closes with a pretty traditional version of “America The Beautiful” – with his 100 person choir - apparently for those who otherwise would not understand how much Neil loves this country and the fact that that is the reason why he had to make this album.

Neil was smart enough to wrap all of this up in a sound that most of his fans know and love – the distorted guitar noise that has been the basis of many of his hits throughout the years. This would be one of his better albums regardless of what the songs were about, but with the timely lyrics – even the NSA wiretapping scandal is referenced – this is one of his most important – and certainly most patriotic - records ever.

Neil has a major online presence these days and you can find his pages here, here and here. I'm sure that there are more out there, also!


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