Texsanity

Saturday, August 23, 2003


A GUIDE TO NEIL YOUNG FOR THE UNINITIATED

A+
Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
Side one (originally released on vinyl) is beautiful acoustic folk. Side two is non-stop heavy feedback guitar rock as only Young and a few others can create. Great writing throughout . "Hey Hey, My My, Rock 'n Roll can never die; there's more to the picture, than meets the eye - hey hey, my my".

A
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969)
"Cinnamon Girl", "Cowgirl in the Sand" and the classic, "Down by the River" plus the underrated "Round and Round". Better versions of the classics exist on live albums and DVD's.

Zuma (1975)
"Cortez the Killer" may be Young's best song. Only the inclusion of CSN&Y on "Through My Sails" keeps this from being an A+

Ragged Glory (1990)
The Godfather of Grunge is back. Beautiful guitar noise from beginning to end.

Update:Freedom (1989)
How could I forget this album? Alternating between acoustic and electric music (some from the unreleased Times Square project) this Young's "comeback" album after the difficult years with Geffen in the 80's.

On the Beach (1974)
Young continues to turn away from the success trap of Harvest. At first listen depressing, but in the end the artist reaches the end of his period of mourning after friend Danny Whitten's overdose eventually leading to the release of Zuma the following year. Money quote: "I guess I'll call it sickness gone, its hard to say the meaning of this song; an ambulance can only go so fast, its easy to get buried in the past when you try to make a good thing last".

After the Gold Rush (1970)
"When You Dance, I Can Really Love", "Southern Man", "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" and "After the Gold Rush" establish Young as an international rock star. He would soon realize the heartbreaking downside of such fame.

A-
Tonight's the Night (1975)
Widely credited as his best album. A musical wake that explores Young's feelings about the loss of two friends to drug overdose and his continuing rejection of fame for its own sake.

Time Fades Away (1973)
A totally unexpected live album of previously unreleased songs on the heels of his biggest hit Harvest. Young's voice cracks as he screams out the lyrics to the stupendous "Last Dance". The music is loud and raw threatening to fall apart at any moment. The autobiographical "Don't Be Denied" is inspirational; "Love in Mind" a beutiful solo piano number within the louder rock numbers. Money quote: "When the suppers are bland and the freways are crammed and the mountains erupt and the valley is sucked into cracks in the earth, will it finally be heard by you L.A.?"

Harvest Moon (1992)
Neil Young at his country/folk best. The songs alternate between autobiographical and stories of common people struggling with the less glamorous side of life.

Reactor (1981)
Crazy Horse stomps noisily through an recording that is widely panned by critics. They're wrong. This album, released for the first time on CD this week, contains a couple of Young's best songs: "Southern Pacific" and "Shots". Most critics were driven crazy by the ultra-repetitive, 9 minute "T-Bone" but it's all about the guitar. And that guitar alternates between sledgehammer, buzzsaw and machine gun through the eight new songs on this album. "Got mashed potato, ain't got no T-bone".

Trans (1982)
Young explores his distrust of computers and Big Brother with a vocoder and a machine-like rhythm section. On the surface, some songs appear to be computers singing to each other or conversations between computers and humans - but the themes run deeper. Inspired by Kraftwerk and the discovery that his second son had cerebral palsy. "Mr. Soul" sounds more ominous when sung by a computer.

Greendale (2003)
Very early to assign a grade. This could move up to an A or down to "Honorable Mention" with more time to evaluate. His best since Ragged Glory.

Honorable Mention
Mirror Ball (1995)
Sleeps with Angels (1994)
Harvest (1972)
Comes a Time (1978)

Live Albums and Compilations
Decade (1978) Great starter for early NY.
Live Rust (1979) One of the best all time live albums. Great versions of "Cinnamon Girl", "Like a Hurricane" and "Cortez the Killer". Also great video.
Unplugged (1993) Incredible acoustic concert. A must have for hardcore and casual fans.


Friday, August 22, 2003


NEIL YOUNG SERVES UP A SPECIAL TREAT

It's hard to be objective when evaluating the new work of your favorite artist; the tendency is to overrate the product. So at the risk of having to reverse myself later I'm going to give my take on Neil Young's Greendale.

I went to see Young and Crazy Horse in concert on August 5th here in Dallas. It might have been the best concert that I've ever attended. For an hour and a half, Young played his new album, which few in the audience had heard (it was released only this Tuesday), from start to finish.

With intentionally crude stage sets and video projections behind him, Young spun the story of the Green family - old-timers longing for a Leave it to Beaver world long past, rural drug dealers, a cop killing, and eco-terrorists. Through the tale of this fictional family, Young hits all his favorite targets: distrust of Big Brother, environmentalism, wistful rembrance of simpler times.

Things are never clear cut in his music; the heroes are flawed and the villians have souls too. While Young can say of Nixon, "I never met a man who told so many lives" in "Ambulance Blues" , he also recoginzes that "Even Richard Nixon has got soul" in "Campaigner". The same is true of Greendale. In "The Devil's Sidewalk" he "believes in action when push comes to shove" much as his character in "Hawks and Doves" says "In history we painted pictures grim, the devil knows we might feel that way again; the big wind blows, so the tall grass bends but for you, don't push too hard my friend" :

I believe in action
when push comes to shove

who cares what you believe
said the captain amazed
if you stood in my shoes
your eyes would be glazed


The Captain believes the town is evil but can't pinpoint the blame:

Its the devils sidewalk,
its the devils door;
I try to avoid it
said the captain of the shore

There's a garden growin
and a million weeds
with no way of knowin'
who has done which deed


It sounds as though he could be talking about the Middle East ("who has done which deed") but its dangerous to make assumptions about the meaning. One of Young's great strengths as a songwriter is that he can veer almost at random from dark revelations about love and morality to political statements blurring the lines and leaving open ended questions for the listener to resolve.


He is clearly being politcal in "Leave the Drivin" at the concert pictures of John Ashcroft at a press confernce flashed behind the band as they sang:

but theres no need to worry
no reason to fuss
just go about your work now
and leave the drivin to us

and well be watching you
no matter what you do
and you can do your part
by watchin others too


And then he apparently takes a swipe at Toby Keith:

and as an afterthought
this too must be told
some have taken pure bullshit
and turned it into gold


But he could just have easily been singing about himself (maybe "Let's Roll"). He clearly pokes fun of himself in "Falling from Above":

seems like that guy singin this song's
been doing it for a long time
is anything you know that he ain"t said?


Lyrically, the album is different and dense. Although he doesn't stretch out on the extended solos that are his trademark with Crazy Horse, the jangly, warm guitar work is familiar and welcoming. It serves as a backdrop for the narrration weaving the songs together in it's strong, steady grip.

This is clearly Young's best work since 1991's Ragged Glory. Five stars out of five.

And for those of you who missed the concert. He not only played the new album in its entirety but played two encores that stretched out to an hour. The encores in Dallas included incendiary versions of My My Hey Hey, Cinnamon Girl, Powderfinger, Sedan Delivery, Cortez the Killer, Country Home and Rockin in the Free World. The crowd left satisfied and exhausted.


Wednesday, August 20, 2003


DESPERATE DAVIS MESSES WITH TEXAS

The hole grows deeper for California's asshat-in-chief (unfortunately Gray doesn't have the sense to stop digging):

"Now let's talk about the recall. This recall is bigger than California. What's happening here is part of an ongoing national effort to steal elections Republicans cannot win.

It started with the impeachment of President Clinton, when the Republicans could not beat him in 1996. It continued in Florida, where they stopped the vote count, depriving thousands of Americans of the right to vote.

This year, they're trying to steal additional congressional seats in Colorado and Texas, overturning legal redistricting plans. Here in California, the Republicans lost the governor's race last November. Now they're trying to use this recall to seize control of California just before the next presidential election."


The sound of a loser to me.

I'm not going to cover all of the reasons why Clinton deserved what he got (read Sellout for a good explanation from a life-long Democrat who voted for Clinton).

The 2000 Presidential Election is a dead horse - Bush won on the first count, the butterfly ballot was designed by Democrats, Bush won in Judge Sauls' court (Florida Second Circuit), Gore won in the Florida Supreme Court and Bush prevailed in the US Supreme Court. Furthermore, every study since the election has concluded that if the votes had been counted in the way that the Gore team was asking he still would have lost. So change your fucking diapers and get over it already.

All of the whining about Clinton is expected, but what really pisses me off is Davis thowing the State of Texas under the bus for trying to "steal additional congressional seats....overturning legal redistricting plans." Hardly stealing Governor Assnugget.

I've spent an entire, and rather lengthy post, discussing this recently and if you want to read it just scroll down a few entries. The fact is that the Democrats threw the issue into the courts in the first place to obstruct the Republicans from drawing a district map that accurately reflects the voting trends in the state (over 58% of the vote went to Bush in the 2000 election and 55% to Republican congressional candidates in 2002).

A recap of Texas attempts at redistricting after the 1990 and 2000 Census:

"Texas redistricting usually proves highly contentious. During the 1990s, litigants brought no fewer than ten cases against the legislative and congressional plans. Plaintiffs in Vera v Richards (or Bush v Vera in the U.S. Supreme Court) challenged twenty-four of the state's thirty congressional districts as racial gerrymanders. Eventually, the courts ruled against three of the districts. The courts provided an interim map, which had to be used for the 1998 elections, and directed the Texas legislature draw a new congressional map by June 30, 1997. It failed to do so; therefore, the past two congressional elections have been held under the court-issued map.

This redistricting cycle has proven difficult. Because of the Legislature's inability to compromise on a plan, the court system has drawn the new map. Inundated by maps from the Republicans, Democrats, two non-partisan organizations, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, state District Judge Paul Davis took on the challenge of deciding upon the best redistricting map in September. Initially he released a map favoring the Republicans, but reversed himself shortly thereafter, drawing a map that helped Democrats. The Republican controlled state supreme court threw out the ruling and the matter passed on to federal court. A three-judge federal panel took the case, rejecting both versions of Davis's map. On November 14, 2001, the panel released an incumbent-friendly plan that will be used in the 2002 elections.
"

So Texas congressional elections have been held under court-drawn district maps since the mid-1990s. I wonder who benefits from that? Might it be the Democrats, since they currently hold 17 of Texas' 32 congressional seats (53%) despite only collecting 45% of the votes cast in the 2002 elections.

Davis, Clinton and their lackeys (like Alec Baldwin who, amazingly, was a guest "commentator" on MSNBC's news show with Forrest Sawyer tonight) continue to spin falsehoods about the evil Republicans and their attempts to steal elections and rob the people true representation when in Texas the opposite is true. The Democrats are using every means, legal or not - ethical or not, to prevent our congressional delegation in Washington from accurately representing the political orientation of the state.

Another big lie from Clinton and Davis. Why am I not suprised?


Monday, August 18, 2003


GENERAL WESLEY CLARK CLOSES HIS EYES AND TAKES A LEAP

Since General Wesley K. Clark is an educated man, I am a loss to understand his opposition to the war in Iraq and his condemnation of the President Bush during his appearance on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.

Number one, Iraq is not -- if it is the centerpiece of the war on terror, it shouldn't be. We went into Iraq under false pretenses. There was, you call it deceptive advertising, you'd be taking him to the Better Business Bureau if you bought a washing machine the way we went into the war in Iraq.

We're there now. We're totally committed to this. We have got more than half the deployable strength of the U.S. Army there. We're taking casualties.

We haven't made America safer by this. We've made America more engaged, more vulnerable, more committed, less able to respond. We've loss a tremendous amount of goodwill around the world by our actions and our continuing refusal to bring in international institutions.


Must be that all of the time spent in Arkansas has caused him to lose his mind or maybe too much time spent dealing with NATO "allies".

Just one point for the General to chew on since he may have missed it - Congress, in 1998, passed the Iraq Liberation Act finding the following:

(1) On September 22, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, starting an 8 year war in which Iraq employed chemical weapons against Iranian troops and ballistic missiles against Iranian cities.

"(2) In February 1988, Iraq forcibly relocated Kurdish civilians from their home villages in the Anfal campaign, killing an estimated 50,000 to 180,000 Kurds.

"(3) On March 16, 1988, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurdish civilian opponents in the town of Halabja, killing an estimated 5,000 Kurds and causing numerous birth defects that affect the town today.

"(4) On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded and began a 7 month occupation of Kuwait, killing and committing numerous abuses against Kuwaiti civilians, and setting Kuwait's oil wells ablaze upon retreat.

"(5) Hostilities in Operation Desert Storm ended on February 28, 1991, and Iraq subsequently accepted the ceasefire conditions specified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 687 (April 3, 1991) requiring Iraq, among other things, to disclose fully and permit the dismantlement of its weapons of mass destruction programs and submit to long-term monitoring and verification of such dismantlement.

"(6) In April 1993, Iraq orchestrated a failed plot to assassinate former President George Bush during his April 14-16, 1993, visit to Kuwait.

"(7) In October 1994, Iraq moved 80,000 troops to areas near the border with Kuwait, posing an imminent threat of a renewed invasion of or attack against Kuwait.

"(8) On August 31, 1996, Iraq suppressed many of its opponents by helping one Kurdish faction capture Irbil, the seat of the Kurdish regional government.

"(9) Since March 1996, Iraq has systematically sought to deny weapons inspectors from the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) access to key facilities and documents, has on several occasions endangered the safe operation of UNSCOM helicopters transporting UNSCOM personnel in Iraq, and has persisted in a pattern of deception and concealment regarding the history of its weapons of mass destruction programs.

"(10) On August 5, 1998, Iraq ceased all cooperation with UNSCOM, and subsequently threatened to end long-term monitoring activities by the International Atomic Energy Agency and UNSCOM.

"(11) On August 14, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-235, which declared that `the Government of Iraq is in material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations.'.

"(12) On May 1, 1998, President Clinton signed Public Law 105-174, which made $5,000,000 available for assistance to the Iraqi democratic opposition for such activities as organization, training, communication and dissemination of information, developing and implementing agreements among opposition groups, compiling information to support the indictment of Iraqi officials for war crimes, and for related purposes.

"SEC. 3. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS REGARDING UNITED STATES POLICY TOWARD IRAQ.

"It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime."


We should note that General Clark's resistance to the use of force did not extend to the people of Yugoslavia when he presided over a NATO bombing campaign that didn't sit well with fellow moonbat Ramsey Clark ("Indictment accusing Bill Clinton, General Wesley Clark and others for war crimes against Yugoslavia"). The last time I checked, the Serbs hadn't lobbed any missles into Tel Aviv, tried to consolidate control of the world oil supply, attempt the execution of an ex-US President or threatened Europe with poison gas or nuclear weapons. Where was the "imminent threat" there General?

Exactly how was the mistreatment of ethnic groups in Iraq less important than the "ethnic cleansing" that Milosevic attempted?

By taking this stance, General Clark clearly demonstrates what a poor grasp he has of the struggle in which we are currently engaged. Apparently he thinks the approval of the French and the Russians must be obtained before we take any action in the War on Terrorism.

What a disaster he would be as president. Thank heavens he won't get the chance to prove me right.



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