Articles by Jim Connelly

Jim Connelly has been eye-deep in media of all kinds ever since he can remember, and probably prior to that. Over the past quarter-century he has worked in the radio, film, music, and internet industries, and has been writing about popular culture and technology the entire time. Prior to co-founding Medialoper, Jim's work appeared both online and off in publications such as Wired, The Village Voice, Neumu and Websight Magazine . . . Jim at Facebook . . . Jim on Twitter . . .

Certain Songs #1237: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Helpless”

Album: Déjà Vu
Year: 1970

Recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, Hollywood, on November 7, 1969

And suddenly, Neil Young was everywhere instead of nowhere.

At the very moment that “Cinnamon Girl,” “Down By The River” & “Cowgirl in the Sand” were establishing themselves as once and future hard rock radio staples, Neil took a left turn and joined Crosby, Stills & Nash, just in time for their performance at Woodstock.

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Certain Songs #1236: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Cowgirl in the Sand”

Album: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Year: 1969

Recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, Hollywood, on January 18, 1969

Remember the last time you got really sick with the flu? And you were running a fever of 103? Do you remember what you did that day? Probably planted yourself in front of the TV and were waited on hand and foot. I’m pretty sure that’s what I did.

I know one thing for sure: I didn’t create anything that day. Or any day I was that sick. Not so much Neil Young, who famously wrote “Cinnamon Girl,” “Down by The River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” on a day where he was stricken with that kind of fever.

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Certain Songs #1235: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Down By The River”

Album: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Year: 1969

Recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, Hollywood, on January 17, 1969

In my imagination, Danny Whitten was as surprised as fuck.

“Down By The River” was the first of the Everybody Knows This is Nowhere songs to be recorded, and sure they had jammed, and sure they had probably even rehearsed at least somewhat, but how could Whitten not have been utterly gobsmacked when Neil Young unleashed the opening salvo of his “Down By The River” guitar solo.

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Certain Songs #1234: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Cinnamon Girl”

Album: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Year: 1969

Recorded at Wally Heider Recording Studios, Hollywood, on March 20, 1969

This is where it all begins, isn’t it? Sure, after the Buffalo Springfield broke up, Neil Young holed up with Jack Nitzche, Ry Cooder and made an overwrought and overthought self-titled debut solo album that buried what might have been good songs — only “The Loner” truly shines — with some weird production choices.

Realizing that he was missing the spontaneity and the interplay of working with a band, Neil recruited guitarist Danny Whitten, bassist Billy Talbot & drummer Ralph Molina from a local psychedelic group called The Rockets, and rechristened them Crazy Horse. It was magic: the technical limitations of Talbot & Molina kept the songs simple, while Whitten & Young developed a two-guitar interplay that was less balanced than what he’d previously had with Stephen Stills — Neil was the lead guitarist, no question — but more explosive.

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Certain Songs #1233: Buffalo Springfield – “Mr Soul”

Album: Buffalo Springfield Again
Year: 1967

Recorded at Atlantic Studios, New York City, on January 9, 1967

Hi, and welcome to Certain Songs coverage of Neil Young, who has been making records that I love — or at least like — for a half-century. Seriously: 2016’s Peace Trail is a weirdly good record.

I love Neil for multiple reasons: as a songwriter, he ranks with Bob Dylan and Paul Westerberg; as a guitar player, he quite literally exists in his own universe; he’s always been remarkably prolific and I appreciate that he’s a crank who walks his own path, no matter the circumstance.

Plus, we share a birthday!

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