Articles by Lopy

Certain Songs #1294: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Ramada Inn”

Album: Psychedelic Pill
Year: 2012

Recorded at Redwood Digital on February 26, 2012

So naturally, after perhaps the most experimental album of his entire career, Neil Young returned to the basics, and after the longest non-Crazy Horse drought of his career, released not one, but two NYCH albums in 2012.

The first one, Americana, is a bit of a controversial entry in the canon: it’s all covers, and covers of traditional songs — and, er, “Get a Job” — to boot. Oh, and they fucked with the melodies of the more well-known songs as well.

I don’t love Americana as much as its biggest fans, nor dislike it as much as its detractors (or dislike it at all, actually), but for me, it was just table-setting for Psychedelic Pill, which turned out to be my favorite Neil Young & Crazy Horse album since Ragged Glory two decades prior.

The thing about Psychedelic Pill is that it was made for people who thought that at 14:00, “Change Your Mind” wasn’t long enough, so it spreads itself across two CDs, opening with the 27:36 of “Driftin’ Back,” to date the longest song on any Neil Young album. I mean if you don’t count “Arc,” I guess. Or the bonus track on the Blu-Ray version of Psychedelic Pill, the 37-minute “Horse Back,” which is one half jam session and one half “Cortez The Killer.”

Because why shouldn’t Neil Young & Crazy Horse have a song that’s longer than any songs by Genesis or Yes or Pink Floyd? Or longer than the entirety of Zuma? I mean, was any of this strictly necessary?Sure, us crazies and die-hards will always welcome new music from the man, but still probably not, yet the fact that Neil Young doesn’t really need to write and perform any new music is definitely part of the reason he still does, especially when he hits upon a song as affecting as “Ramada Inn,” the story of a pair of empty nesters.

So many years now together
All those good times, ups and downs
So many joys raising up those kids
They’ve moved on now out of town
So many times she tried
So many times she cried

As always, “Ramada Inn” is just a handful of chords playing against each other, Neil playing leads whenever and however he feels like it, but when Crazy Horse sings the pre-chorus without Neil, it’s as emotional as all hell.

And every morning comes the sun
And they both rise into the day
Holding onto what they’ve done

Most of the song takes place in a Ramada Inn near the Grapevine on a roadtrip to visit some friends. It’s clear that they’re at a crossroads, in a weird space after their kids have left, but as Neil’s lonely chorus makes clear, some things remain the same.

She loves him so
She loves him so
She loves him so
She does what she has to

He loves her so
He loves her so
He loves her so
He does what he needs to

So will they make it? The song is unclear, even as Neil piles waves and waves of sympathetic guitar, which tells us he’s rooting for them. If he wasn’t, the guitar solos would be dissonant, noisy and disjointed.

Both the unresolved story and the melody of “Ramada Inn” are as classic as Neil Young & Crazy Horse get, though my guess is that only a fraction of people who might love this song have ever heard it, and it definitely would have been a highlight of Alchemy, the live album recorded and subsequently shelved from their 2012 tour, for, you know, reasons.

“Ramada Inn” Official Video

“Ramada Inn” live in Austin, 2012

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Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The Daily Loper – Dec 17, 2010

Today’s links of interest:

The Daily Loper – Aug 30, 2010

Today’s links of interest: