Neil Young is all over the place, and has been for quite some time.
He's got a not-so-awesome reputation for being a totally unreliable performer, sometimes deciding randomly to not please the crowd with any of his great hits and instead just moaning painfully into a microphone. My dad remembers seeing him at Madison Square Garden in New York - a massive, massive venue - and having thousands of people walk out of the show after only a few minutes because they knew that they had come on the wrong night, and that Young had no intention of playing anything worth listening to.
Lots of his recorded music is inconsistent, too, though I really do like most of it. When he's good, he's one of my favorites, though it's tough to say why.
Next week (June 30) will see Young release his thirty-sixth (thirty-sixth!) studio album, "The Monsanto Years". He's recorded it under the name Neil Young and Promise of the Real, a band made up of Willie Nelson's two sons, among others. It's an album that attacks the controversial practices and influence of agribusiness, particularly Monsanto. After a quick listen, it sounds, for the most part, like the good kind of Neil Young. His voice still sounds good despite his age (which never really seems to bother him) and the instrumentals are pretty much what we've come to expect from Neil Young at this point. Without a more detailed listen it's hard to say if the content matter is worthwhile or well thought-out, so the jury is out on that respect; we'll give the album a chance to experience its full release before answering that question. For now, though, we can get a glimpse of what's to come via NPR's First Listen. Above, check out "A Rock Star Bucks a Coffee Shop."
Give it a shot - what do you think? Good Neil Young? Bad Neil Young? Would you be OK with him playing something like this at a concert you payed good money to attend, or are you still going to prefer his older, more seasoned hits? I'm afraid this is more of a political rant than anything else, something that perhaps would've been better suited to an op-ed in a newspaper, or even a book, than an album. But, boys will be boys, and when someone with a reputation like Neil Young has something to say, he's going to say it in song.