Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Top 10 Continued

Now that I have caught my breath after the Super Bowl, it's time to get back to the top 10. Jonathan's is all wrapped up, so if we want to get together to have beers and listen, I better get mine done too. Without further ado, and also without any of the cool videos that Jonathan uses, here's more from my Top 10 list:

Neil Young - Helpless

I would have a hard time accepting any list of this kind that did not include at least one Neil Young track. Arguably the greatest singer/songwriter of the past 50 years (don't get excited Bob Dylan fans, I said arguably), I could have filled an entire Top 10 list with his songs alone. What is it about Neil that is so awesome?

1. Lyrics - I do not consider lyrics, especially most rock lyrics, to have much weight. Too often the rhymes are so forced, and the imagery so childish, that it is more fun to make up my own lyrics. Not so with Neil. Here's the opening from Helpless:

There is a town in north Ontario,With dream comfort memory to spare,And in my mind I still need a place to go,All my changes were there

That's good stuff. The lyrics of this song in particular make you think while you enjoy them, which adds to the awesomeness of this song.

2. Music and Voice
He can do beautiful, poignant, angry, rockin, folky - whatever you want. He can absolutely do it all - you cannot put him in a box. And the quality is always top notch, too. He can make noise too (Sleeps with Angels is an often overlooked album, or it is only considered as part of the Kurt Cobain saga). This particular recording, on my top 10 list, is from The Last Waltz concert, with The Band. It starts out acoustic, mellow. His haunting voice (no other word describes it so well, I think) let's the audience know what's coming, and then... By the end, they are absolutely ROCKING on this song, and I can hardly stop myself from screaming it along with them. Talk about having a good time - you can see it. An excellent performance.

3. Attitude/Mystique
My favorite story is from the MTV Unplugged sessions, when he got up and walked out during rehearsals because the band they brought in was not ready. They came back a couple of months later and did it right. Not many rock artists out there would have the guts to maintain that kind of a standard. Another one was one of the guys in Crazy Horse saying that they basically had to operate knowing that any day Neil might show up and say, "that's in, I'm leaving for awhile", and there was nothing they could do about it but accept it. That's the kind of crazy I want in my rock stars! I really think that for Neil it is not about himself, but about the music, which sounds really silly of course, except that for him it is true, so you have to love it.

Last note - this recording features Joni Mitchell singing in the background - they hid her behind a curtain so that the audience wouldn't know she had her own set coming up. And it was very hard for me to cut Coyote from this list, but Neil hits an absolute home run here.

Dave Matthews Band - Seek Up - Live at Red Rocks
Here's another violin song, and believe me, I would LOVE to play along sometime. If you have ever been to Red Rocks, you can imagine what this set opener must have been like - you're about ready to pop waiting for the show to start and then they come out with 15 minutes like this - I am surprised anyone had any energy left be the end.

This one has all of the things that I liked about Dave, and none of the things I don't like. I like his voice, the rhythm section, and the solos in the long jams. I don't like pretentious Dave, Dave that talks too much telling stories, and Dave talking about girls. That's annoying Dave, and it's covered up nicely here. They do a good job of making you wait, not giving away the jam too soon. And the end section with him wailing and the violin freaking out in the background sounds like a lot of fun. Excellent stuff. This song is a fantastic way to spend 15 minutes!

Here's a summary of what I have so far:

  1. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
  2. Bad Religion - Skyscraper
  3. The Velvet Underground - Heroin
  4. Phish - Harry Hood (live)
  5. Felix Mendelssohn - Violin Concerto in e minor
  6. Coldplay - The Hardest Part
  7. Neil Young w/ The Band - Helpless (live)
  8. Dave Matthews Band - Seek Up (live)

Two more entries left, and I am very excited about them. Classics, both of them. One you've heard and one you haven't! (Unless you have been over to my house recently, then you would have heard both of them.)

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