Neil Young

By - Nov 1st, 2005 02:52 pm
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By Blaine Schultz

Every record Neil Young releases is an enigma in waiting, and Prairie Wind, with its deft orchestral passages, swelling horns and bluegrass touches, is no exception.

On Prairie Wind Young seems to say, “Let me make a record with people I enjoy playing with.” His father’s slide into Alzheimer’s and subsequent passing leads Young to meditate on his own past and take stock. The title track finds Young in that 3 a.m. voice, singing, “Trying to remember what my Daddy said / Before too much time took away his head;” a female vocal chorus echoes “prairie wind blowin’ through my head” as a horn section punches away at Young’s harmonica shards. “Far From Home” is the other side of the coin, buoyed by the horns and sounding like a Saturday-night revival, Young tells of a trek from the trans-Canada Highway to the Promised Land of money and big cars. And only then can you bury him on the prairie.

When Young lapses into a sentimental mood (“Falling Off the Face of the Earth,” “It’s a Dream,” “Here For You”) to pay tribute to friends and family, he avoids mawkishness. “When God Made Me” calls to task in a sincere ballad those who have interpreted God’s will since day one. But he’s not afraid to turn the camera on himself. “He Was the King” is a good-natured romp through memories of Elvis and “This Old Guitar” is a love song written for Hank Williams’ Martin guitar—Emmylou Harris’ vocals only sweeten the deal. “When I get drunk and seeing double, it gets behind the wheel and steers / This old guitar ain’t mine to keep, it’s only mine for a while.”  VS



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