While watching the new Neil Young DVD titled Greendale, my mind began to wander. I considered what I might do if I had Neil’s money. Here is a list of the following things I considered:
1. Buy a summer home in Santa Barbara
2. Buy a new Range Rover
3. Begrudgingly give some money to charity
4. Buy my own night club where I was the only performer
5. Save the rain forest … nah, them trees should hold up a while longer without my help
6. Build a nice home studio
7. Try desperately to remain relevant
8. Write better songs
And item # 8 brings me to the content of this DVD. Greendale is the new film by Neil Young; or what I would more appropriately classify as a ponderous Dante’s inferno of a VH1 video. This concept record is the story of the Green family who are just plain folk that don’t want to be bothered by big government eroding their civil rights, the media intruding upon their privacy and evil corporations killing wildlife, cutting down trees and dumping toxic waste on their property.
From the beginning of the record the writer seems to be searching for his muse and on track one he even states, “Is their anything he ain’t said.” However, he still manages to allude to his fear of the Bush regime infringing upon our civil rights. The civil liberties theme continues on “Leave the Driving” where Jed Green gets stopped while carrying some dope in his car by that pesky Officer Carmichael, who he subsequently shoots in a moment of bad judgment. This song also addresses the Patriot Act, which poses the question that by enacting such legislation, have we not already lost the war on terror?
On “Grandpa’s Interview,” the patriarch of the Green family suffers the ramifications of his Jed’s blasting poor Officer Carmichael and is hounded by the intrusive media. Fortunately for the old gent, he has a stroke and while lying face down on the porch, asks his wife the question “that guy who just keeps on singing, can’t you shut him up?” And after about 6 songs on this DVD, those were my exact sentiments.
For this outing, the music is played by a stripped down Crazy Horse trio including Neil Young, Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot. For me, the sound is a bit dry and Young’s tedious guitar playing wears thin after about two songs. Additionally, the songs are lacking in structure and the melodies are nebulous. Though Young is attempting to be topical, the tedious and bleak story line is forced and far from engaging. Though he wants to save the fish, preserve the wild life and to that end quotes Bob Dylan, Neil would do better to brush up on his own lyric writing or listen to Blonde on Blonde to refresh his memory on what good songwriting sounds like.