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Album Review: The Globe and Mail

Neil Young reinvents songs the old-fashioned way
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jun. 01 2012, 5:00 PM EDT, Last updated Saturday, Jun. 02 2012, 3:09 PM EDT

Long before sampling came along, there was an even more dynamic process for reusing and rearranging the materials of existing songs. It was called folk music.

Folk music in that sense began to disappear when scholars started noting down songs that had existed only in people’s shared recollection. The ancient ballad known as The Maid Freed from the Gallows had several other names in other languages, and other tunes and lyrics too, before the Harvard folklorist Francis Child studied its American variants in the 19th century.

Neil Young’s new disc with Crazy Horse celebrates the fluidity of the folk process, and implies that a good transformative cover carries on that tradition. The album includes heavy blues-rock versions of genuinely old songs such as Clementine and Gallows Pole (Young’s version of the ballad studied by Child), and of fifties radio hits such as Get a Job and Travel On.

Young’s Clementine is a towering, doom-laden number with only a ghostly trace of the lilting dance rhythm most people know. He focuses your mind on the fact that the narrator’s darling ends up dead – the latter half of this lengthy track is one long lament. In Tom Dula (a.k.a. Tom Dooley), Young simplifies the familiar rhythm and bears down for eight minutes on the murder and the execution that will pay for it. For Oh Susannah, he sets aside the jaunty Stephen Foster original and covers the raw variant recorded as The Banjo Song by the Big Three in 1963 (cunningly reworked as Venus by Shocking Blue in 1969). Jesus’s Chariot goes back to the spiritual that became She’ll Be Coming ’Round the Mountain, with a simplified melody and lots of heavy grinding on the song’s tonic root.

Throughout the album, Young’s vocals strive for something primal and true beneath the songs’ familiar surface. His slurry yet precise electric-guitar solos move powerfully through the darkest lyrical moods.

After a few of these intense, gloomy performances, you sense that this project is partly a belated retort to the mellowing tendencies of groups like the Kingston Trio, whose wistful Tom Dooley was a No. 1 hit in 1958. Lead Belly’s 1939 recording of Gallows Pole, by contrast, was about as raw and scary as they come. Young’s version, while still dark, has a jauntier gait and an almost comic feeling when he yelps out the repeated line, “Did you come to see me hang?”

In This Land Is Your Land, Young foregrounds Woody Guthrie’s seldom-heard political verses, and omits the more pastoral ones. But surely Guthrie’s point in combining the two was to contrast the beauty of the land with the ugliness of what sometimes goes on there.

The newest numbers, Get a Job and Travel On, feel stodgy compared to the Silhouettes’ 1957 version of the former, and Billy Grammer’s live rockabilly performances of the latter. Crazy Horse fans will probably get a kick out of hearing this revered and rugged ensemble sing doo-wop, but their tools aren’t the best for the job.

The closing number, God Save the Queen, seems like a surprising choice for a disc called Americana, till a children’s choir chimes in with verses from America (“land of the Pilgrims’ pride”) that were laid on the English tune in 1831. It would have been fun to hear Young sing a little of the German variant: Under Kaiser Wilhelm II, this song was known as Heil dir im Siegerkranz and was used as the German anthem right through the First World War. How’s that for a transformative cover?

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: The final clementine video

Neil-Young_Crazy-Horse_Clementine-final-version After two being seen in the last couple of days involving knives thrown at children, here is the final.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, ‘Clementine’ — Exclusive Video Premiere

For Americana, Neil Young’s first album with the band Crazy Horse in nearly nine years, the singer-songwriter revisits classic American folk songs and delivers the tunes, which encompass familiar protest songs, murder ballads and campfire songs, with electrifying ferocity. In spite of — or perhaps because of the approach, the universal appeal of the songs is neither lost nor diminished and they retain their relevance in these challenging times.

Clementine,” the oft-sung tale of a grieving miner, which has become a popular children’s song, is believed to be based on a 1863 song titled “Down by the River Liv’d a Maiden,” by H.S. Thompson. However, Neil writes in the Americana liner notes that the song is usually credited to Percy Montrose or Barker Bradford from about 1884.

“The Americana arrangement extends the folk process using many of the original words and a new melody,” explains the music icon. “The song tells the story of either a bereaved lover recalling his lost sweetheart, or a father missing his lost daughter. In both cases the daughter has drowned in an accident. The verse about Clementine’s sister has been omitted from most children’s versions. This verse has different meanings depending on whether the point of view of the singer is taken as the lover or the father.”

The video for “Clementine” — and for all of the clips produced for Americana — is authentic “found” footage, adding a unique visual element to a project steeped in our nation’s rich, lyrical history.

Americana marks the first time the complete Crazy Horse line-up of Neil, Billy Talbot, Frank ‘Poncho’ Sampedro and Ralph Molina have worked together since 1996’s Broken Arrow.

Americana will be released June 5.

Go here for the video:

viral “Oh my Darling Clementine”

we like it, although it’s dark. The wifey throws knifes at little kids which should build little sandcastles.

How I missed it

video to be found on youtube, gets banned, we hd that already, Neil plays with us, happy to get a ban…

here is the link.


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Oh My Darling Clementine

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