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

  • A Record of Many Colors

    Carlos Arzate branches out in different sonic directions on the adventurous Camaleón
    • Apr 5, 2018
  • History & Hope

    Lucy Dacus’ brilliant sophomore album takes on life’s biggest challenges
    • Mar 15, 2018
  • Man Behind the Designs

    As the go-to artist for Tucson’s hip hop scene, Marcoso has it covered
    • Feb 22, 2018
  • 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

  • Turn On, Tune In…

    Downtown Radio’s Psych-Out Festival promise to be a trip, man.
    • Apr 19, 2018
  • Addictive Sound

    War on Drugs performs in the Old Pueblo for the first time in seven years
    • Apr 12, 2018
  • More »

Facebook Activity

© 2018 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation