Monthly Archives: December 2009

Sett Avett Solo Albums Reissued

Longtime Avett
Brothers-related collectibles finally see a wide release.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Ramseur Records will re-release all of Seth Avett’s solo
albums – originally released under the moniker Timothy Seth Avett as Darling – this week in both physical format and
digitally via iTunes. Considered rarities by Avett Brothers fans (only a few
hundred copies were pressed up), the timing is apt, considering that 2009
marked a watershed year for the Avetts, whose Rick Rubin-produced I and Love
and You
has been turning up on many a year-end best-of list (including
BLURT’s
).

 

 

Avett released a
statement explaining the genesis of the recording projects:

“In the year 2001, at twenty-one years of age, I recorded an album entitled To Make the World Quiet. The
inspiration for the piece was urgent and impatient.  There was no
managerial or label involvement. There was no funding. Without any
consideration towards who (if anyone) would hear the result of this outing, I
happily executed each aspect of the process, including all writing, performance
of each instrument, engineering and modest production.  The following
year, I again, by the same process was obliged to record an album.  Killing the Headlamps was the
realization of this second venture as ‘Darling’.  Both albums were made on
a 4-track cassette recorder. I initially mixed them both on a low-fidelity home
stereo in my kitchen (to yet another cassette).  I spent a perhaps unhealthy
amount of time with a ruler, an X-acto knife, and a real-time dual-deck cd
duplicator, hand-assembling these two albums (along with the first couple
thousand units of the first official Avett Brothers recording Country Was).
 

“Until New Years Eve 2010, the only physical copies of these records laid in
the hands of maybe a few hundred people that I sold them to personally.  I
have been honored by the continued interest in these early works as expressed
by those who have inquired about them at Avett performances.  It is this
kind inquiry that has inspired me again; this time to make them readily
available through a proper duplication and ordering process.” 

Starting on December the 30th in Knoxville, TN, the first two ‘Darling’ records
(in addition to The Mourning, The
Silver, The Bell
),
will be available at each Avett Brothers performance through January the 3rd.
 From then on, all three albums can be obtained from the website (www.timothysethavettasdarling.com)
by download or through a mail-order process for the actual physical copies.
 They will be available on iTunes as well, starting December 29th.

In addition, a set of  5 videos have been created by Crackerfarm to
coincide not only with the newfound availability of these recordings, but with
the New Year as well. Each video is a one-camera/one-angle performance of a
song from one of the 3 ‘Darling’ records.  These visual pieces are defined
by their simplicity, as there has been no editing or audio overdubbing of any
kind.

 

 

Starting today, December 28th two of these videos
have been posted to Avett’s site – and for the next three weeks, a new video
will be posted on Monday morning at ten o’clock (EST) on the Darling website [http://www.timothysethavettasdarling.com/videos].

 

 

 

U2 To Issue Fanclub-Only Remix CD

 

One possible way to
spend that Christmas money…

 

By Fred Mills

 

How many out there got some cash for Christmas? Haven’t
squandered it yet on hookers, blow and other toxic assets yet? U2 has an offer
you may or may not want to refuse, but if you did in fact score 50 bucks, that’ll
get you an annual subscription to the band’s fan club at U2.com.

 

Those things are usually total ripoffs, of course,
particularly those elusive promises of premium seats (that wind up to be
expensive and not-so-premium) and sundry website “exclusives” such as videos,
photos, band diaries, etc. (that eventually turn up for free elsewhere).
However, this time around the band is going to serve up a remix album titled Artificial Horizon, comprising remixes
(duh) from the No Line on the Horizon album. Admittedly, that was a pretty tepid affair, as we pointed out some time
ago
. But maybe this will help up the ante somewhat, even if you’ll basically be
paying $50 for a single CD in hopes that it tops that dollar amount on eBay
sometime in the future.

 

Here’s the info as posted at the U2.com site – go there for
details
on how to sign up.

 

 

 

It’s almost 15 years
since the remix CD ‘Melon’ was released exclusively to subscribers of the
band’s magazine Propaganda. Now comes ‘Artificial Horizon’ , an all-new limited
edition album of U2 remixes only for U2.com subscribers. From Trent Reznor’s
remix of ‘Vertigo’ to Jacknife Lee’s take on ‘Fast Cars’ and David Holmes’s
remix of ‘Beautiful Day’, this specially produced 13-track CD features
stretches from the Grand Jury Mix of ‘If God Will Send His Angels in 1997 to
the Fish Out Of Water mix of Get On Your Boots. Conceived and produced for
U2.com subscribers. ‘Artificial Horizon’ will be mailed to qualifying
subscribers from late January 2010.

 

 

 

Hersh Establishes Chesnutt Donation Site

 

Donate now – it’s
easy, straight through PayPal – if you want to help defray the family’s medical
expenses.

 

By Fred Mills

 

In the wake of the sad news of Vic Chesnutt’s death on
Christmas (details here), his close friend Kristin Hersh has established a
website
where fans and friends can donate funds via PayPal to Chesnutt’s
family. Presumably some relatively high medical bills accrued in the wake of
Chesnutt’s suicide attempt (by overdose) and subsequent coma and
hospitalization.

 

Friday Hersh Twittered the following note: “JesseCASH has set up a donation page for all of you asking
to help Vic’s family –  thank you for all your love & support.” At the page, in addition to the
donation link, is Hersh’s tribute to Chesnutt, which reads, in part:

 

 

What this man was
capable of was superhuman. Vic was brilliant, hilarious and necessary; his
songs messages from the ether, uncensored. He developed a guitar style that
allowed him to play bass, rhythm and lead in the same song – this with the
movement of only two fingers. His fluid timing was inimitable, his poetry untainted
by influences. He was my best friend.

 

I don’t know if I’ll
ever be able to listen to his music again, but I know how vital it is that
others hear it. When I got the phone call I’d been dreading for the last
fifteen years, I lost my balance. My whole being shifted to the left; I
couldn’t stand up without careening into the wall and I was freezing cold. I
don’t think I like this planet without Vic; I swore I would never live here
without him. But what he left here is the sound of a life that pushed against
its constraints, as all lives should. It’s the sound of someone on fire. It
makes this planet better.

 

 

 

 

Burn, Flush or Forward

I have kind of a strange New Year’s Eve tradition: I make a list of everything I’d like to be free of. Then, I burn it. And then I flush it. Double catharsis.

On that note, I thought it might be handy to have a list of the Top 10 CUT THROUGH THE NOISE posts of 2009 to not burn/flush and to hopefully (!) reread/re-forward:
1. Content Is Not King
It’s YOUR job to identify and celebrate your fans, to turn them into super-fans; your brand runs on super-fans.

2. The New Free
Free is dead. Over. Overdone. We killed it.

3. Size Matters
It’s not the length that matters… it’s how you use it.

4. I’m Broke But Here’s $100 Anyway Sell me a shared experience. Not only will you get my money (even when I don’t have it to give) but also free publicity (as I brag to all my friends) []

 

A Triple-A radio programming veteran, Kate has served as Music Director of the Loft at XM, Midday Host at WYEP, Evening Host at both WNCS and WUIN, as well as Content Supervisor for Pump Audio. Currently, she’s the CEO of Outlandos Music, a new-music discovery service for grown-ups. Kate has been nationally recognized for her ardent presentation of music and her ability to champion talented, compelling artists.

Willie Nelson & Barbi Twins Need YOU

 

No, nothing to do with
the IRS – this time, it’s a mission of compassion.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

A letter from Willie
Nelson…

 

Dear
Friends:

My family
and I are joining the Barbi Twins and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) in
their efforts to save the last of America’s wild horses. This is an
important bipartisan cause and I am asking all Americans to join with us before
it is too late.

I’m a little prejudiced when it comes to horses. I have always loved them. I
currently have about 68; 25-30 were rescued directly from slaughter. I got
involved 8 years ago, when AWI first made me aware that American horses are
being slaughtered and shipped overseas for human consumption. It’s a shame
horses – or any animal – be treated this way when horses are the foundation of America. Horses
were a way to travel to get to where we are today, and it is our job to protect
them.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency in charge of protecting wild
horses, has been rounding them up at an alarming rate, supposedly for their own
good. Sadly, there are more wild horses in holding pens than in the wild.
Something is wrong with that, so we must act now before the BLM has managed
these magnificent animals into extinction. I believe that we should leave the
horses to run naturally on their land. Wild horses evolved in North
America before spreading throughout the world so it is important
that we protect them from the BLM. The polls show that over 70% of American’s
agree. The people have spoken.

Folks, please join my family and friends at the Animal Welfare Institute by
visiting, http://www.awionline.org/wildhorses,
before December 28 2009 to see how you can help with this important American cause.

Willie Nelson

 

 

Willie Nelson & Barbi Twins Need YOU

 

No, nothing to do with
the IRS – this time, it’s a mission of compassion.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

A letter from Willie
Nelson…

 

Dear
Friends:

My family
and I are joining the Barbi Twins and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) in
their efforts to save the last of America’s wild horses. This is an
important bipartisan cause and I am asking all Americans to join with us before
it is too late.

I’m a little prejudiced when it comes to horses. I have always loved them. I
currently have about 68; 25-30 were rescued directly from slaughter. I got
involved 8 years ago, when AWI first made me aware that American horses are
being slaughtered and shipped overseas for human consumption. It’s a shame
horses – or any animal – be treated this way when horses are the foundation of America. Horses
were a way to travel to get to where we are today, and it is our job to protect
them.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the agency in charge of protecting wild
horses, has been rounding them up at an alarming rate, supposedly for their own
good. Sadly, there are more wild horses in holding pens than in the wild.
Something is wrong with that, so we must act now before the BLM has managed
these magnificent animals into extinction. I believe that we should leave the
horses to run naturally on their land. Wild horses evolved in North
America before spreading throughout the world so it is important
that we protect them from the BLM. The polls show that over 70% of American’s
agree. The people have spoken.

Folks, please join my family and friends at the Animal Welfare Institute by
visiting, http://www.awionline.org/wildhorses,
before December 28 2009 to see how you can help with this important American cause.

Willie Nelson

 

 

Our Take: Neil Young on Vinyl Rules!

 

Blurt Senior Editor
Randy Harward discusses what just might be the year’s most significant
reissues. No, seriously.

 

By Randy Harward

 

On Neil Young’s Official
Release Series: Discs 1-4
(Reprise; www.becausesoundmatters.com): The
first time I heard Neil Young was on my stereo while lying on the top bunk in
my room. Sunlight beat down on the east-facing window, heating the curtains
until the must smelled up the whole room. That copy of After the Gold Rush was clean, being a recent purchase by my
friend, who lent it to me. I thought he was nuts to have purchased an LP when
cassettes were the wave of the future. I also thought the artwork-patchy jeans,
acoustic guitars-screamed “country and western” artist and, when I played the
record and it didn’t sound like Kiss or Prince & the Revolution, decided it
sounded country enough to be country,
whether it was or not.

 

I didn’t listen to Neil Young-willingly-for years. If he
came on the radio, I made fun, whining along to “Old Man” and “Rockin’ in the
Free World,” even as those songs started to make sense to my (woefully slowly)
maturing mind. Eventually, I grew to appreciate the work of Crosby,
Stills and Nash, but only figured out Young’s connection to them when I ordered
4-Way Street from Columbia House. On
the strength of “Ohio”
and “Southern Man,” I penciled the corresponding numbers to the then-new Young
album Sleeps With Angels into the
boxes on the CH form.

 

When it came, I found myself only really connecting with
“Piece of Crap” and, once more, emulating Young’s voice, which had taken on a
crotchetiness that made “Piece” sound like my grandpa bitching and moaning. Ha!
He said ‘crap.’

 

I know. What a douchebag. Did I really get anything from
listening to “Ohio”
and “Southern Man?” Looking back, I was connecting only to the sound of the
songs and not what they said. I hadn’t learned, hadn’t grown up enough, to
appreciate the hypocrisy of a Bible-thumper’s racism or the significance of a
protest gone horribly wrong. I was happy in my bubble where the events of the
world affected someone I didn’t know-and where my Kiss Alive! poster, a symbol of all that was well and truly cool and
relevant, towered above my headboard.

 

Makes me kinda sick, actually. I know pretty much everyone
starts stupid and ignorant, but man… I took a long time to pull my head out.

 

When I finally did, it was because another friend, much
farther down the road, found the CD copies of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Tonight’s the Night he thought he’d lost and, somewhere along the
line, had replaced. In that time, I’d learned about the discord between Young
and Lynyrd Skynyrd over “Southern Man” and how “Sweet Home Alabama”
was their response to the song, which forever altered how I heard both songs.
The line “four dead in Ohio”
now evoked a heaviness, a combination of dread and remorse, in my viscera, and
sent a chill down my spine. 

 

Finally I got my own copy of After the Gold Rush-it was less than two years ago, and at least
six years since I got Nowhere.
Although I listened to them both plenty of times, start to finish, in car, in
my office, alone and with company, life-and the flood of promotional CDs I’ve
received since taking this job, pushed them to the outskirts of my collection,
where staples languish while new artists file in and out, demanding various
level of attention. Some of them leave strong, defined imprints on me and
others mere footprints in the soft soil of my consciousness.

 

It’s winter now, days before Christmas. The last time I
listened to a Neil Young album was August, on a road trip through southern Utah while my wife and daughters
slept. I don’t think they heard a note, but I did. It was Harvest, and it was one of those magical uninterrupted listens that
happen less frequently now as life hurtles past me. It was interesting to note
how the red rock canyons of St. George gave way to the sagebrush-the normal,
dry variety and the fire-blackened shadows of that-of central Utah as “Old Man” played. I didn’t mimic
Young. Instead, I pondered what the song means to me now as the grown son of an
overgrown infant, and what it could mean to my daughters when they reach the
age of reason.

 

This box set, the fancy 180-gram deluxe limited-to-3,000
copies audiophile’s-wet-dream whose components I’ve considered for the better
part of the last ten days? I don’t know what the format has to do with
anything. To me, it’s just presentation. The quality of sound is superior to my
compact discs and MP3s, but that’s not what I get out of the music. Holding
these records in my hand now, letting them play in my office as snow falls
outside and I sweat road conditions and deadlines and Christmas, I don’t know
what the big deal is about the heavy wax and audio quality.  

 

I do know this: Every time I listen to Neil Young, I get at
least one part of that summer day back… and then some. My youth and the accompanying
sense of wonder and future have eroded, such that they’re beyond my grasp, and
I’m still ashamed for that boy who couldn’t get a handle on Neil Young’s music
when it was handed to him on a slick black platter. But I’m happy for the
not-quite old man who gets to hold the album cover again and hear the music and
know just what Shakey means, why it’s important, and how it pertains to my life
now and my days to come.

 

As this would be a “review,” it occurs I should tell you why
it’s good and why you should pay attention or money-assuming, of course, that
Neil Young still hasn’t creeped into your collection. I would cough up some
adjectives, but since I’m pretty happy with the way I came to Shakey, I can
only recommend that, when you decide you’re ready for his songs, you listen well.

 

***

 

Neil Young’s Official
Release Series: Discs 1-4 features his first four albums on 180-gram vinyl with
gatefold covers and a nice, sturdy box to keep ‘em lookin’ real good.
Incidentally, those four albums are
Neil Young (1969, reissued with the original art/cover), Everybody Knows This
Is Nowhere (1969), After The Gold
Rush (1970) and Harvest (1972). It retails for $149.98 and came out December 1. There’s a gold-disc CD
edition, too. That’ll set you back $84.98. www.becausesoundmatters.com

 

Merry Christmas From BLURT – or Else!

 

Almost as much fun as
that National Lampoon magazine cover involving the dog!

 

By Blurt Staff

 

While you ponder the true meaning of Christmas – the above
image was posted to the web by the good folks at Craftastrophe.net, who meditate
upon whether it’s a statement on the commerciality of the season or simply an
attempt to shock and offend – we’d like to wish everyone a merry one.

 

Is the spiritual side of Christmas being held hostage by the
commercial side? We don’t know; we just like getting gifts. But we do attend
Christmas Eve services, just to hedge our bets.

 

Anyway, thanks for all the support, encouragement, brickbats
and free music over the past 12 months, folks. See you in 2010!

 

 

UPDATE Vic Chesnutt 1964-2009 R.I.P.

 

Much loved Athens
singer-songwriter passes away following an overdose of muscle relaxants; had
been in a coma since early yesterday.

 

By Fred Mills

 

 Vic Chesnutt, 45, passed away this afternoon, following a suicide
attempt Wednesday evening that left him in a coma. Initially, friends and
family were notified and word gradually got out via his friend and  fellow musician Kristin Hersh, who Twittered
the news (see below), which rapidly spread across the internet. Chesnutt’s
family confirmed that he was indeed in a coma, as did his record label, Constellation
(see below). Late last night a close friend of Chesnutt’s, Maureen McLaughlin,
posting to an Athens, Georgia, music-related message
board, added this update:

 

“Here is an update on Vic: he
took 100 pulls of an anti-spasm medication. The pills were in his system at
least 9.5 hours before Tina found him unresponsive. He stopped breathing for a
period of time, which may have caused brain damage. if he lives through the
night, further testing will be done in the morning. S…end your prayers and
good wishes to Vic, [wife] Tina, and his family: Lis, Lorenda & Pete and
their children Ethan and Emma.”

 

This morning news outlets began reporting that Chesnutt did not make it
through the evening, but with no confirmation coming from the family or label,
several of them, including Billboard,
deleted the information from their websites. Starting a couple of hours ago,
however, confirmation finally came and it was reported at both the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly.

 

Wrote EW: Vic Chesnutt died today
at age 45, the head of his label tells 
[us]… Some reports have said Chesnutt attempted suicide before the coma,
but the cause of death has not been announced. A statement on Constellation Records’ official site reads in full: ‘Surrounded by family and friends, Vic Chesnutt died in Athens Georgia
this afternoon, Friday 25 December at 14:59. In the few short years that we
knew him personally, Vic transformed our sense of what true character, grace
and determination are all about. Our grief is inexpressible and Vic’s absence
unfathomable. We will make more information available according to the wishes
of Vic’s family and friends.'”

 

Added the NYT:  “[Chesnutt] died on Friday in a hospital in Athens, Ga.,
a spokesman for his family said. He was 45 and lived in Athens. He
had been in a coma
after taking an overdose of muscle relaxants earlier
this week, said the family spokesman, Jem Cohen.”

 

Chesnutt’s musical career has been long and not without incident, including
struggles with substance abuse and previous suicide attempts. However, his musicality and resilience left him loved
and respected across the board by the musical community, from R.E.M. and Michael
Stipe, who produced his early albums; to the Cowboy Junkies, who enlisted his
help a couple of years ago when they remade their classic album The Trinity Sessions; to Elf Power, who
collaborated with him on the 2008 album Dark
Developments
. There was also a 1996 tribute album, Sweet Relief II, featuring R.E.M. Madonna, Smashing Pumpkins,
Indigo Girls and others.

 

2009 saw the release of two album, At
the Cut
and Skitter on Take-Off,
and just this month he was profiled on NPR by Terry Gross of “Fresh Air.” The
fact that he seemed on the verge of an accelerated career arc makes his death
all the more tragic, and a waste. His acerbic wit and dark humor, not to
mention his haunting yet to-the-point tunesmithery, will be greatly missed. Anyone who ever saw him in concert, scrunched up in his wheelchair and playing his guitar like his life depended on it – and perhaps, in one sense, it did – while alternately crooning and bawling into the microphone, will tell you this much: he was a real as they came, a genuine product of the pre-alternative era when “alternative” actually meant an alternative to everything else out there.

 

***

 

Below is our initial reporting from
Thursday:

 

Word has just been getting out that Vic Chesnutt is in a coma – according to the New York Times, the 45-year old
singer-songwriter’s family “has confirmed” the news but “did not
say what caused the coma.”

 

As of this writing, the NYT blog posting is the only hard news
source, but that posting indicates that ex-Throwing Muses frontwoman Kristin
Hersh, Chesnutt’s friend, began spreading the news yesterday via Twitter. Three tweets in
particular, posted, respectively, 7 hours ago, 4 hours ago and 3 hours ago,
make it sound like a suicide attempt was involved, although we can only hope
it’s some kind of cruel hoax:

 

 

no calls in the night-well, only to talk about how much we love vic-and
no news is good news…if we lose him i’ll have lost my equilibrium

 

yeah, i can tell you what i know, but no one knows much: another suicide
attempt, looks bad, coma–if he survives, there may be brain damage

 

this time, it’s real scary: *this* time, he left a note, *this* time, he
asked them to call me

 

 

BLURT’s prayers will be with Hersh, Chesnutt and Chesnutt’s family and friends.

 

 UPDATE: No Depression is reporting that Vic took an overdose of
muscle relaxants, but there’s no indication yea or nay whether it was
intentional yet, so the suicide angle remains speculation.

 

UPDATE: Constellation Records (Vic’s label) issues brief statement this
afternoon (via Access Atlanta): “Vic is in the middle of a
serious medical condition. He is in a coma, but we have no statement about the
specifics of the situation. His family and friends are with him. His doctors
are continuing to assess his condition.”

 

Neil Young Official Release Series: Discs 1-4 / Randy Harward

 

Official Release
Series: Discs 1-4

(REPRISE)

 

www.becausesoundmatters.com

 

Rating: (9)

 

 

On Neil Young’s Official
Release Series: Discs 1-4
(Reprise; www.becausesoundmatters.com): The
first time I heard Neil Young was on my stereo while lying on the top bunk in
my room. Sunlight beat down on the east-facing window, heating the curtains
until the must smelled up the whole room. That copy of After the Gold Rush was clean, being a recent purchase by my
friend, who lent it to me. I thought he was nuts to have purchased an LP when
cassettes were the wave of the future. I also thought the artwork-patchy jeans,
acoustic guitars-screamed “country and western” artist and, when I played the
record and it didn’t sound like Kiss or Prince & the Revolution, decided it
sounded country enough to be country,
whether it was or not.

 

I didn’t listen to Neil Young-willingly-for years. If he
came on the radio, I made fun, whining along to “Old Man” and “Rockin’ in the
Free World,” even as those songs started to make sense to my (woefully slowly)
maturing mind. Eventually, I grew to appreciate the work of Crosby,
Stills and Nash, but only figured out Young’s connection to them when I ordered
4-Way Street from Columbia House. On
the strength of “Ohio”
and “Southern Man,” I penciled the corresponding numbers to the then-new Young
album Sleeps With Angels into the
boxes on the CH form.

 

When it came, I found myself only really connecting with
“Piece of Crap” and, once more, emulating Young’s voice, which had taken on a
crotchetiness that made “Piece” sound like my grandpa bitching and moaning. Ha!
He said ‘crap.’

 

I know. What a douchebag. Did I really get anything from
listening to “Ohio”
and “Southern Man?” Looking back, I was connecting only to the sound of the
songs and not what they said. I hadn’t learned, hadn’t grown up enough, to
appreciate the hypocrisy of a Bible-thumper’s racism or the significance of a
protest gone horribly wrong. I was happy in my bubble where the events of the
world affected someone I didn’t know-and where my Kiss Alive! poster, a symbol of all that was well and truly cool and
relevant, towered above my headboard.

 

Makes me kinda sick, actually. I know pretty much everyone
starts stupid and ignorant, but man… I took a long time to pull my head out.

 

When I finally did, it was because another friend, much
farther down the road, found the CD copies of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and Tonight’s the Night he thought he’d lost and, somewhere along the
line, had replaced. In that time, I’d learned about the discord between Young
and Lynyrd Skynyrd over “Southern Man” and how “Sweet Home Alabama”
was their response to the song, which forever altered how I heard both songs.
The line “four dead in Ohio”
now evoked a heaviness, a combination of dread and remorse, in my viscera, and
sent a chill down my spine. 

 

Finally I got my own copy of After the Gold Rush-it was less than two years ago, and at least
six years since I got Nowhere.
Although I listened to them both plenty of times, start to finish, in car, in
my office, alone and with company, life-and the flood of promotional CDs I’ve
received since taking this job, pushed them to the outskirts of my collection,
where staples languish while new artists file in and out, demanding various
level of attention. Some of them leave strong, defined imprints on me and
others mere footprints in the soft soil of my consciousness.

 

It’s winter now, days before Christmas. The last time I
listened to a Neil Young album was August, on a road trip through southern Utah while my wife and daughters
slept. I don’t think they heard a note, but I did. It was Harvest, and it was one of those magical uninterrupted listens that
happen less frequently now as life hurtles past me. It was interesting to note
how the red rock canyons of St. George gave way to the sagebrush-the normal,
dry variety and the fire-blackened shadows of that-of central Utah as “Old Man” played. I didn’t mimic
Young. Instead, I pondered what the song means to me now as the grown son of an
overgrown infant, and what it could mean to my daughters when they reach the
age of reason.

 

This box set, the fancy 180-gram deluxe limited-to-3,000
copies audiophile’s-wet-dream whose components I’ve considered for the better
part of the last ten days? I don’t know what the format has to do with
anything. To me, it’s just presentation. The quality of sound is superior to my
compact discs and MP3s, but that’s not what I get out of the music. Holding
these records in my hand now, letting them play in my office as snow falls
outside and I sweat road conditions and deadlines and Christmas, I don’t know
what the big deal is about the heavy wax and audio quality.  

 

I do know this: Every time I listen to Neil Young, I get at
least one part of that summer day back… and then some. My youth and the accompanying
sense of wonder and future have eroded, such that they’re beyond my grasp, and
I’m still ashamed for that boy who couldn’t get a handle on Neil Young’s music
when it was handed to him on a slick black platter. But I’m happy for the
not-quite old man who gets to hold the album cover again and hear the music and
know just what Shakey means, why it’s important, and how it pertains to my life
now and my days to come.

 

As this would be a “review,” it occurs I should tell you why
it’s good and why you should pay attention or money-assuming, of course, that
Neil Young still hasn’t creeped into your collection. I would cough up some
adjectives, but since I’m pretty happy with the way I came to Shakey, I can
only recommend that, when you decide you’re ready for his songs, you listen well.

 

***

 

Neil Young’s Official
Release Series: Discs 1-4 features his first four albums on 180-gram vinyl with
gatefold covers and a nice, sturdy box to keep ‘em lookin’ real good.
Incidentally, those four albums are
Neil Young (1969, reissued with the original art/cover), Everybody Knows This
Is Nowhere (1969), After The Gold
Rush (1970) and Harvest (1972). It retails for $149.98 and came out December 1. There’s a gold-disc CD
edition, too. That’ll set you back $84.98. www.becausesoundmatters.com