Category: Certain Songs

Certain Songs #1290: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Barstool Blues (Santa Cruz 05-09-1996)”

Album: Year of the Horse
Year: 1997

Recorded at the Catalyst, Santa Cruz on May 9, 1996

One of the fun things about Year of the Horse, the live album that Neil Young culled from the nearly year-long tour he undertook with Crazy Horse, was that it contained not one, but two songs originally on Zuma, neither of which was “Cortez The Killer.”

One of those songs was an utterly epic take on the long-lost “Danger Bird,” and other was a great, jammy version of “Barstool Blues,” which was definitely not a blues, but felt like it was written at last call.

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Certain Songs #1289: Neil Young – “Music Arcade”

Album: Broken Arrow
Year: 1996

Recorded at Plywood Digital, Woodside, CA on March 29, 1996

But the best song on Broken Arrow wasn’t one of the long Crazy Horse jams, but rather just Neil alone with an acoustic guitar singing in an incredibly hushed manner, like he really didn’t want to sing the song, but also felt obligated to, as well.

Mood-wise, it’s almost a companion piece to “Borrowed Tune,” and while utter despair conveyed by that tune has been replaced with acceptance, the tone is still sad:

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Certain Songs #1288: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Big Time”

Album: Broken Arrow
Year: 1996

Recorded at Plywood Digital on March 25, 1996

Since 1989, Neil Young had been on a roll: five studio albums and two live albums, not to mention TV appearances, sold-out tours, and an overall acknowledgement that he deserved the lifetime pass he’d already earned by the time the 1980s rolled around.

And while it’s not surprising that all of that critical and commercial goodwill would eventually dry up, what’s weird is that it dried up on the occasion of the occasion of his third Crazy Horse album of the decade; an album that was made up of many of the same ingredients — especially the long, loose jams — that people loved about Ragged Glory & Sleeps With Angels.

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Certain Songs #1287: Neil Young – “Throw Your Hatred Down”

Album: Mirror Ball
Year: 1995

Recorded at Bad Animals on February 10, 1995

For some reason, Mirror Ball has kind of a bad rap, but I prefer it to the two Crazy Horse albums that sandwiched it — Sleeps With Angels and Broken Arrow, as the former is too dark conceptually and the latter is too muddy sonically.

Not to mention that none of the best songs on those records rose to the level of the best songs on Mirror Ball: “Act of Love,” “Scenery,” the titanic “I’m The Ocean,” and the utterly thrashing “Throw Your Hatred Down,” which was as typical of a great Neil Young song as “I’m The Ocean” was atypical.

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Certain Songs #1286: Neil Young – “I’m The Ocean”

Album: Mirror Ball
Year: 1995

Recorded at Bad Animals on February 7, 1995

My favorite Neil Young song of the 1990s doesn’t have guitar solo, or even a chorus, really. And in fact, it might be an initial runthrough that ended up becoming the main take.

What it does have, however, is an absolutely unstoppable momentum, as well as maybe my all time favorite Neil Young lyric. And, yeah, it also has Pearl Jam, too.

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