Favorite

Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Americana (Reprise) 

Leave it to Neil Young to issue his take on classic American folk songs through a cranked-up amplifier.

While contemporaries like Bob Dylan and Roger McGuinn have hewed close to the folk tradition on new recordings of old standards—Bruce Springsteen got rowdy, but stayed acoustic—Young chose to put songs like "Oh Susannah" and "Clementine" in new contexts.

After more than 50 years, rock is every bit the American tradition that folk has been, but these songs have never been welded together in this way. Young's interpretation is pure Crazy Horse.

He digs out some of the forgotten verses—either too dark or too subversive to fit into elementary-school classes. Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land," played in a loping country-rock style, gets its communist verses back, while "Clementine," played through brooding distortion, is far spookier than I remember.

Then there's "God Save the Queen"—the melody is more familiar as "My Country 'Tis of Thee"—a reminder that even the strongest pillars of our tradition have antecedents elsewhere.

Crazy Horse does an admirable job of rocking within the limitations of the songs. And while there's a subversive joy in hearing Young's sneering rock vocals twisting around some of these familiar melodies, it's the instrumental passages that are the album's greatest strengths.

Americana is an interesting experiment, showing how close rock and folk truly are, while striving for balance between continuity of tradition and reinvention in America. In doing so, Young provides a lesson in both history and artistic expression.

More by Eric Swedlund

  • In the Moment

    Austin Counts on soul, Lonesome Desert and Pima County Jail
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • Remembrancing

    Tucson’s new, rising Lowlife makes, yes, a concept record
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Legends & Shadows

    ChamberLab’s latest draws together mariachi and puppets to bring Mexican folk tales to life
    • Mar 2, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Latest in Rhythm & Views

  • Rhythm & Views

    American Monoxide “In Flight Mode” (People In A Position To Know)
    • Dec 18, 2014
  • Rhythm & Views

    Wight Lhite “Beyond the Satellites” (Paisley Shirt Records)
    • Dec 11, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

Facebook Activity

© 2017 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation