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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Certain Songs #1285: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Change Your Mind”

Album: Sleeps With Angels
Year: 1994

Recorded at the Complex, Los Angeles on December 6, 1993

Lets talk a bit about David Briggs, who was Neil Young’s go-to producer for the first 25 years of his solo career, including nearly all of the records I’ve covered in depth here: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, After The Gold Rush, On The Beach, Tonight’s The Night, Rust Never Sleeps & Ragged Glory, to name just a few.

If you check his wikipedia, he’s credited with a total of 18 producer or co-producer credits on Neil’s records before he died in 1995 (and one posthumous, Hitchhiker, which was one all-night session in 1976), and the remarkable thing is that — if you take the live albums out of the equation — no two of those records sounded alike.

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Certain Songs #1284: Neil Young – “Natural Beauty”

Album: Harvest Moon
Year: 1992

Recorded at Portland Auditorium / Broken Arrow Ranch on January 23, 1992

With the basic track recorded live in Portland during the early 1992 tour where Neil previewed the Harvest Moon songs, and overdubs — backing vocals, keyboards, marimbas, rainforest — done at his ranch, “Natural Beauty” stands at the very top of the list of Prettiest Songs Ever Recorded, Neil Young Division.

While I loved nearly all of Harvest Moon, I kept playing it to get to this last song, a long mysterious meditation on the intersection of technology, nature and Neil Young.

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Certain Songs #1283: Neil Young – “Dreamin’ Man”

Album: Harvest Moon
Year: 1992

Recorded at Redwood Digital on September 21, 1991

I know that the title track to Harvest Moon seems to have been the one that has stuck around the most in the last quarter-century, and while it’s a perfectly lovely song — and had the really cool idea of using a broom as a percussion instrument — it just never became one of my favorites.

I preferred the slightly dramatic “War of Man;” the ode to a great dog, “Old King,” (and dig how Neil makes the banjo bark throughout); and today’s subject, “Dreamin’ Man.”

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Certain Songs #1282: Neil Young – “From Hank to Hendrix”

Album: Harvest Moon
Year: 1992

Recorded at Redwood Digital on September 20, 1991

As the first song cut for Harvest Moon, “From Hank To Hendrix” definitely set the tone for the sessions: laid-back and mellow, just a bunch of friends playing and singing songs together. Not so far off from Ragged Glory, absent the waves of distorted guitars.

Which I think gets at the reason I love both of these albums so much: they feel loose, unforced, with the quality of the playing, singing and (especially) the songwriting so top-notch you hardly even notice how casual it all sounds.

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