Monday, June 23, 2014

A Letter Home -- New/Old Neil Young: A Fine Feast

I have loved Neil Young from the first moment I heard him sing, and yes, he's a little whiny, and his range has compressed over the years--but the emotion has deepened and the guitar and piano still evoke the acoustic magic of the late sixties and the early seventies. Neil's latest effort is called A Letter Home -- and I just today received my VINYL record in the mail -- and I just this minute finished listening to both sides on our turntable in the living room. 

A couple of interesting things about this album is not only how it was recorded but also the fact that none of the songs were written by Neil--they are the songs that influenced him, the songs he holds dear in his musical heart--as he says it:   "an unheard collection of rediscovered songs from the past recorded on ancient electro-mechanical technology [which] captures and unleashes the essence of something that could have been gone forever."  The album was recorded live inside of an old-time recording booth--(like the photo booths that would deliver that strip of four black & white photos of you and your best friend making goofy faces, remember that?)--only this allowed you to record your voice and send it to someone. Well, in this case, Neil sat in the booth and played his guitar and sang--and the result is phenomenal--like hearing a folksinger's recording from the 1930's--the "old-timey" music that speaks to the heart of what this country once was. 

Here's a clip from Three Man Records in Nashville, who produced the album:

The songs are by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Gordon Lightfoot, Willie Nelson, Tim Hardin, and others. To hear them in Neil's old and scratchy voice, with just his guitar (or a piano pulled up to the 'door' of the recording booth, and played  by Jack White) is to re-experience the poignant, heart-breaking lyrics all over again with songs like, "If you could read my mind, love" and "My Hometown" and "Girl from the North Country."

There's a CD available, of course, but if you can, get the vinyl--it's a step back to a slower, more graceful time (imho), and you'll thank yourself for the gift. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bellman & Black - Terrific!

Bellman & BlackBellman & Black by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished Bellman & Black yesterday - read it in ONE day - so compelling, such speaking, magical language, so much mystery, tragedy and wonder in the single life of a (mostly) ordinary man with a special gift--and a flaw so accidental to his nature that it's closer to 'our' inheritance of Original Sin than any conscious act of wrongdoing. The occasional page devoted to the mystical lore of Corvids--rooks, ravens, crows--are like icons, windows into an eternity that holds all of time in its careful hands, nothing ever lost, if only Thought and Memory are allowed to play (like rooks) in our minds, swooping, laughing, reckless and daring. A beautiful, deeply thoughtful story. Thanks, Diane! An even more worthy book than the Thirteenth Tale, which I also loved.

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