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193 of 204 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blowin' In The Wind
Neil Young has always been a musical chameleon. Shifting from hard rock to rockabilly to grunge to futuristic synth music, he's tried every music genre. But the style he keeps returning to is country-rock. Prairie Wind is yet another superb album in this vein. The past few years haven't been kind to Mr. Young with the death of his father and the mother of his first...
Published on September 28, 2005 by P Magnum

15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Prairie Wind Blows
Boy, was I excited for the new Neil Young album, Prairie Wind. I'm a long time Neil fan, and even through rough patches (by which I mean insanity like Trans and Neil and the Shocking Pinks) he's always bounced back with something good.

Well, not this time. Coming off his latest rough patch (the Broadway show wanna-be Greendale) he moves right to another...
Published on October 6, 2005 by Mike

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193 of 204 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blowin' In The Wind, September 28, 2005
This review is from: Prairie Wind (Audio CD)
Neil Young has always been a musical chameleon. Shifting from hard rock to rockabilly to grunge to futuristic synth music, he's tried every music genre. But the style he keeps returning to is country-rock. Prairie Wind is yet another superb album in this vein. The past few years haven't been kind to Mr. Young with the death of his father and the mother of his first child or finding out that he has a brain aneurysm. With the sense of loss and mortality, Prairie Wind reflects on life and family. "The Painter" brilliantly sets the tone for the album as it a brooding, moody piece that shows music gives eternal life to its artists. "Far From Home" is a lovely ode to his parents and "Here For You" is a sweet song for his kids that has a great harmonica solo. "Falling From The Face Of The Earth" is a gentle lament and "He Was The King" is a goofy salute to Elvis Presley, but one done with spirit. "When God Made Me" has a full gospel chorus and "This Old Guitar" is the best track on the album with its simple story and laid-back charm. Country-rock is the skin Mr. Young feels most comfortable in and Prairie Wind is his best album in a decade.
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193 of 205 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here For You, October 3, 2005
K. H. Orton (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Prairie Wind (Audio CD)
Everytime Neil Young releases a mellow country rock album, it's immediately hailed as another HARVEST. Well, this is no HARVEST nor another rather overated HARVEST MOON. COMES A TIME might be more applicable, but as far as I'm concerned, any such comparisons are a waste of breath.

This is quite simply the most satisfying Neil Young album I've heard in years. Warm, organic & damn haunting. Death & loss are the major themes & you'd have to be deaf not to notice it comes from the gut. All 9/11 & Chris Rock references aside, "No Wonder" sounds amazingly like vintage 70's Young. His singular warble has never sounded so faltering as it does on, "Falling Off The Face Of The Earth". The horns on "Far From Home" lend a sense of humor to what is by and large an introspective album. The goofy Elvis ode, "He Was The King" seems to be another one tossed in to keep things from getting too serious. For songs like "Painter" & the title track, the tone is certainly nostalgic but a thick coat of regret keeps things from flying away. In the hands of anyone else the sentiments of "This Old Guitar" would come off as a Hallmark greeting, but Young's whispered delivery lends it undeniable gravity.

I saw Young & choir sing "God Made Me" on the Katrina Relief concert & it stopped in my tracks. It still does here. Further proof, that if lent an unprejudiced ear, herein lies a moving & poignant album full of subtle melodies that will stick in your head if given a proper listen. Let audiophiles & die hard fans whine & gripe till they're blue in the face.

I'm a discerning fan, not everything he's touched turns to gold but Young's albums are always heartfelt. Some just find themselves in your cd player more often than others. PRAIRIE WIND is destined to be one of those.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Album, October 1, 2005
This review is from: Prairie Wind [CD/DVD] (Audio CD)
Its been a while since a new album has caused as many immediate repeated listenings for me as Prairie Wind. I guess its inevitable to compare this recording with Neil Young's very best songs and albums because it stands up well in that context. Many songs have touching, reflective lyrics, and maybe a philosophical maturity that is beyond anything he has written before. Several songs are standouts, and the melody that I find running through my mind later seems to vary among those. "Its a Dream" is so touching and absolutely beautiful; I think anyone who has experienced significant personal loss will be moved by such an accepting interpetation of our own mortality.

I'm delighted with the accompanying dvd in this package. What a great concept, being able to see the entire album being recorded exactly as you hear it on the cd. It causes me to ponder 'what if' scenerios of similar documentation of any of my all-time-favorite recordings. The upgrade to this duo-disk set is well worth the few dollars more.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Like a Letter from an Old Friend, November 18, 2005
This review is from: Prairie Wind (Audio CD)
There are a precious few artist/musicians who can claim to have remained valid for forty years. Bob Dylan is one, Van Morrison another. Perhaps the same can be said for Paul McCartney, but of this list, it is arguable that Neil Young did the best job of remaining relevant for most of that time. His music has accompanied me throughout my life, and with "Prairie Wind," it appears as though that journey is bound to continue.

"Prairie Wind" is about reflecting on old times, and acknowledging the importance of good friends, family, and time well spent. Listening to this album is like getting a letter from an old friend who you haven't heard from in a few years. The reminiscent tone is immediately familiar and deeply touching, especially as he discusses old memories from the perspective of a person who wants to communicate thoughts that may have gone unspoken, as in "Falling Off the Face of the Earth"; "It's such a precious thing, the time we share together. I must apologize for all the troubled times." Philosophically speaking, it is pretty much true that most of us do not get to really know many people - In a lifetime, we might claim a few family members and a handful of friends as truly close. Young suggests this himself in the song "The Painter," when he sings "I have my friends eternally, we left our tracks in the sound. Some of them are with me now, some of them can't be found."

Over the course of his career, Neil has often confounded the public by constantly changing directions, including a few chameleonic shifts in style. However far he wanders, though, he eventually returns to his roots as a reflective country-folk artist. In that sense, "Prairie Wind" was inevitable, and it is welcome because it allows Neil Young to be extremely honest with himself and with his audience, at a time when honesty is a very rare commodity. "Prairie Wind" is the most reflective album in Neil Young's entire catalogue, with many songs that are culled from old memories and which then evaluate how well his time has been spent. Perhaps the album's centerpiece is a track entitled "It's a Dream." It starts with Young comforting a loved one after a bad dream, and then drifts into a dreamlike vision of a young boy fishing by a river piling. The next verse conjures an old man who watches as a train pulls away from the station and vanishes in the distance. Each time, he concludes with a chorus that states "It's a dream. It's only a dream, and it's fading now, fading away...just a memory without anywhere to stay." The emotional effect of these words is deeply sad, and yet it is simultaneously comforting, telling us that in the end, we are left with our memories, and even these fade away from us, so it is good to acknowledge those who have shared their time with us.

The great illusion of pop culture is how it deceives us into believing that we actually know the artist. Unless it's abused, I don't think that's a bad thing. We listen closely while they share their innermost thoughts in an eloquent, artistically appealing song. We interpret their words, relate to them, and develop a sense of familiarity that in some ways transcends many `flesh and blood' relationships. Over the course of four decades, I have come to feel as though I genuinely know Neil Young, and "Prairie Wind" does nothing to dispel that notion.

A- Tom Ryan
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neil Young's latest is one of his best, November 16, 2005
This review is from: Prairie Wind (Audio CD)
First the disclaimer: I'm a Neil Young fan, ever since listening to he and Crazy Horse on an old stereo in my dorm room back in the early `70s--which puts Neil and me in about the same age bracket, I guess. There are Neil lovers and Neil dislikers (haters seems too strong a word), and I'm a confirmed member of the former group.

A lot has been made that Prairie Wind is the third installment of a trilogy reaching back through Harvest Moon to Harvest. I can't really contravene the conventional wisdom. All are transitional at-one-of-life's-crossroads sorts of albums. In Harvest, Neil was a young man looking at the direction life would take, sorting out alternatives, making choices, feeling that time was `awastin': "I wanna live, I wanna's these expressions I never give that keep me searching for a heart of gold. And I'm getting old."

Of course, he wasn't getting old at all. In Harvest Moon, though, he was beginning to show some mid-life age spots. This is an album of the beginnings of life's cumulative losses-like Old King, a favorite dog, or going through the big divorce, or wistfully wondering what might have been. But it's also an album of continuation: "there's a full moon risin', let's go dancin' in the light." Harvest Moon wasn't so much a sequel of Harvest as an evocative connection to it.

And now comes Prairie Wind. Here is an artist who has come to be aware of his own mortality and to be bemused by it. On one of the great cuts here, "This Old Guitar," Young sings of his instrument waiting in its case for Young to play it, "or someone else, I suppose." The guitar will outlive him-"Ain't mine to keep, just takin' care of it now." Like many of our best possessions, it will live on, one hopes, in the hands of others. As in Harvest Moon, Young here muses about the roots of his past and the prospects for his future. It's been written that Young recorded the album in a brief week before learning of a potentially fatal aneurism that was successfully treated only after the album was completed. But it sounds more like the work of a reflective man who has that sort of life-altering situation hanging over his head--not one unaware of it.

The last cut, "When God Made Me," is a tribute to Young's own breadth of vision and belief in the universality of man and a commentary on the narrow-minded bigotry of our era-and most eras, I suppose.

The only thing I can find negative to say is that the Elvis song, "He was the King," seems strangely out of place in this album. That aside, here is an album that is among the best work Neil Young has ever done.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, one of Neil Young's BEST!, April 26, 2006
Roger D. Hyman (Knoxville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Prairie Wind (Audio CD)
First the Disclaimer; I've been a Neil Young fan since I was about 15, and discovered CSNY. That was in 1972.

It's generally true that Young's albums generally fall into one of three broad "categories"--his "acoustic" work, his "electric" work, and his . . ."experimental" work (Trans, anyone?). I happen to LOVE both his acoustic AND his electric music . . .I can usually "pass" on the experimental stuff.

Through the years, Young's electric music (particulary with Crazy Horse) has always been first-rate, and his acoustic material has often been either *excellent* (Harvest, After the Gold Rush, Comes a Time), or perhaps a bit disappointing.

After listening to Prairie Wind four times this week, I have now come to believe that this one ranks up there with his all-time BEST, and is certainly Young's best work of ANY kind since 1979-80.

If you're a Neil Young fan, don't believe the stupid "negative" reviews; this one's GREAT. If you aren't a Neil Young fan, you're probably not reading this; but in case you are--try this!

BTW, the DVD looks and sounds terrific. Well worth the slightly extra cost.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prime Neil, May 9, 2006
This review is from: Prairie Wind (Audio CD)
Few artists remain relevant contributors to the world of music after so many years. Neil is not merely relevant though, as recent releases continue to match his greatest works. Prairie Wind is absolutely essential Neil. Of the so dubbed trilogy of Harvest, Harvest Moon, and Prairie Wind, Praire Wind is by far the greatest. The mood is flawlessly set, the lyrics and music complement each other splendidly and every song hits with the impact that great music always does. There's something very unique about Young; no one else sounds quite like him or writes quite like him. His songs just touch me in a way that those of few others can. Praire Wind features some of his most brilliant songwriting. Every single track hits the mark. I don't just recommend Prairie Wind to diehards or even Neil fans, but to everyone and anyone that loves good music.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...and it even FEELS like the original HARVEST !, November 3, 2005
This review is from: Prairie Wind [CD/DVD] (Audio CD)
Neil Young: Prairie Wind (Limited Edition CD/DVD)...


...TRACK #1: The Painter ... A Slow One. A pleasant tune about inspiration and focus, responsibility and remembrance, reminiscent of 'Are You Ready For The Country?' from Harvest (and maybe 'Mansion On The Hill' from Ragged Glory). A nice, calm beat with lilting peddle-steel by Ben Keith in the left channel, and that broomstick-snare sound that keeps you in the mellow groove. Get prepared for the best, by-the-pot-belly-stove, intimate, acoustic, musical get-together you will have experienced in many a blue moon! You'll think that the whole cast of Northern Exposure might show up to sing along at any moment (as Neil's music fits right in with the atmosphere of that good old program)! This song sounds like it could have been a great Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young tune. It also kinda reminds me of the live version of 'On The Way Home' from 4 Way Street when Neil sings, "It's a long road..." It's got that 'and I miss you now' feel to it. I can't take this album out of my discman! I just want to keep on playing it. It's that great.

... TRACK #2: No Wonder ... A Medium One. This one reminds me of the 'World On A String' vocal melody from Tonight's The Night. A haunting song, especially between the verses when Ben Keith is playing that spooky slide lick on that sweet and soulful peddle-steel guitar of his. This one sticks to your ribs. It's that good! This one could have been a real rocker. You really gotta give Neil Young credit for sticking to his guns and intentionally focusing on creating a folk-rock album instead of a Crazy Horse hard-rock album. Any of these songs could have been turned into rockers, but they would have lost the beauty created by this particular ensemble of musicians who are a huge part of Neil's past, present, and future. The magic of Harvest has been resurrected... and it even FEELS like the original Harvest - the album cover as well as the music! (In fact, if you go to Neil Young's website, NEIL'S GARAGE, you can even order a copy of the album as a Gatefold Double LP.) The vocal and organ interplay is beautiful. Another ecological manifesto; the theme echoes the same sentiments expressed in 'Be The Rain' from GREENDALE. 'SAVE ALASKA!' Captain Beefheart would be proud of this one, a song that partly serves to protect the beauty of what he calls "God's Golfball." Indeed, the U.S. Senators are selling us ALL down the river, and the waters are in danger of being polluted even more because of the current, anti-environmental, political climate in Washington, D.C.. Right-On!, Neil Young, for expressing something we all feel so strongly. The fiddles at the end evoke the spirit of Native American Plains Indian music. Beautiful.

...TRACK #3: Falling Off The Face Of The Earth ... A Slow One. This song showcases the sensitive side of Neil Young, up-close and personal. Wonderful harmony vocals that really add a touch of sweetness and airiness to the mix. In fact, the harmony vocals on this whole album are outstandingly beautiful. You hardly even notice that there's a back-up band playing behind Neil - and on this song, that's the way it should be. The words and the vocals are what matter the most here. It's like Neil is whispering a sweet song in your ear. (Thank God for quality mic-preamps and compressors!) Real intimate and pretty.

...TRACK #4: Far From Home ... A Fast One. A rockabilly song with a good beat and tasty horns the way Van Morrison uses them; not overdone. Funky, dobro lap-steel work from Ben Keith on the left - with Piscean soul! (Yeah, that's right, you heard that word 'prairie' again in this song, too. Are you getting it yet?) Almost autobiographical. This one could have been on the This Notes For You album, or the Old Ways album, but it works better here. Come on, everybody! Let's get up and wag our tails!

...TRACK #5: It's A Dream ... A Slow One. You'll swear Neil's gonna start singing 'After The Gold Rush' when you hear the piano intro. Neil sings "on the roof" in that just-woke-up, slurry, 'Tonight's The Night' voice that kind of sounds like a sober Tom Waits. The strings are breathtakingly beautiful and echoe the string work on 'There's A World' from Harvest (the song, I believe, that Bob Dylan told Neil he thought was wonderful - or was that, 'A Man Needs A Maid'?) A song about days gone by and a way of life that has come to an end. Mayberry R.F.D. comes to mind. Neil was made for singing this kind of stuff. He loves both trains and Indians (even though it was the building of the railroads that was a major contributor to the destruction of the Indians' way of life), the real romantic character that he is. The beauty of the west comes to life!

...TRACK #6: Prairie Wind ... A Medium One. Entering Dreamland - the way only Neil Young can take you there! The acoustic guitar is strumming hard on this one, and the harmonica blows out a funky melody. (You'll think of GREENDALE). Again, the harmony vocals really shine here. The organ on the right comes in at the right times, and there's also a very tasty tambourine on the right. (The high-end of the audio spectrum is so well-defined here that it makes you wonder if they are using Apogee analog-to-digital converters at Redwood Digital when they transfer the analog, multi-track masters into the digital domain. It sounds so real!) The image on the album cover comes from this song. At one point, the lyrics remind me of Pink Floyd's 'Learning To Fly' video - the first one - with the Native American Indian shaman teaching the young man how to fly in dreamtime. (Hey, Don Juan!) Neil's singing in that storytelling voice he can get into. Real cool. The brass is tasty and perfectly placed in the mix. I guess Neil wanted to keep this one authentic, down-home, and live-sounding, as he even left in what possibly sounds like a minor, guitar, chord-change flub-up after he sings, "I don't remember what he said." I love the way he sings, "it may be a mirage." This man has PASSION!

...TRACK #7: Here For You ... A Slow One. This one has the feel of Old Ways, and could have been on that album. In fact, this whole album will remind you of Silver & Gold, Harvest Moon, Old Ways, Comes A Time, and Harvest - but, to me, it is closest in spirit and sound to the original Harvest and Comes A Time, which is really great if you love those records like I do. The harmonica is real pretty, and the peddle-steel on the left will soothe your aching bones and weary heart. Neil is singing like he's almost going to cry on the choruses: "You might say, I'm here for you." It's real raw, like Joni Mitchell on her Blue album.

...TRACK #8: This Old Guitar ... A Slow One. Man, if this don't sound just like 'Harvest Moon' with new words, I'll be damned! But hey, if Peter Townsend can milk the hell out of Tommy for all it's worth, who are we to judge Neil Young for recycling a good tune from his own repertoire? Even the piano riff on the right sounds similar. It works for me, and it's a great song. (Maybe this was Neil's intent all along? Frank Zappa called it: Conceptual Continuity! Hey, even Dave Grohl admitted that Nirvana's song, 'Rape Me', if I'm not mistaken, is the same lick as 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' only inverted.) Even the intentional flub-up that Neil puts in after he sings, "searched for gold," is there to add perfection to the lyric of the song when Neil then sings, "It can't be blamed for my mistakes." It's like the archetypal idea of perfection: in order for anything to be truly 'perfect,' it must include some intentional imperfection, so as to be humble in 'the eyes of God' or something. It's like the master, Navajo rug weavers leaving an odd strand in there somewhere, or a Tibetan Buddhist sand painting being destroyed by its makers after it has been completed in order to represent the impermanence of existence in this human realm / bardo of reality. By doing that, Neil speaks volumes! I love this song like I love 'Winterlong' from DECADE. Emmyloy Harris really shines here. You'll think of Comes A Time, for sure, as well as American Stars 'N Bars. Also, the subtle percussion in the left channel is real tasty! Listening to this touching song makes me wonder who'll be playing my guitar when I'm gone. Johnny Cash once gave Bob Dylan a treasured acoustic guitar of his. In 1993, Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter took an ancient Gibson A-40 mandolin of his down off the wall of his home and handed it over to guitarist Christopher Thorn of Blind Melon. One wonders who will end up playing this guitar of Hank Williams that Neil has honored so eloquently with this soulful song, a guitar which Neal carefully puts to rest with a gentle hand after he finishes playing it, as you will see on the DVD part of this album. He truly cherishes this guitar.

...TRACK #9: He Was The King ... A Fast One. Musically, this harks back in spirit to Neil's Everybody's Rockin' album released in 1983. I love the studio banter intro and outro between Neil, Ben, and the band. This one's a real hit! This is the one that will stick in your head! If this ain't the best song ever written about Elvis Presley, I'll be damned! Neil really nailed it on this one. He covers Elvis's whole career in a wide sweep that moves from verse / vignette to verse / vignette in a real rockabilly style that pays tribute to Elvis's raw, rock and roll, early days (as well as his Vegas days, with the horns!) of hayride, flat-bed truck performances with Scotty Moore and Bill Black when they called themselves Hillbilly Cat and the Blue Moon Boys - before Colonel Parker got a hold of him and changed everything. You know these guys were having fun in the studio when they recorded this one. This is Neil relaxed - fun, funny, free, and breezy. This is not the INTENSE, live-on-stage, 'Like A Hurricane' delivery - but it's just as passionate just the same. There's a nice dobro here, too. Even the last, off-the-beat, snare-drum, back-beat hit fits in with the whole spirit and concept of this song, as well as this down-home album. It has that live feel. Damn the pro-tools, fix-it-in-the-mix, digital overdubs! This one ROCKS! Wait till you hear this song! You'll be singing it in your head for days on end. Love it.

...TRACK #10: When God Made Me ... A Slow One. This is Neil Young's 'Imagine,' the anthemic John Lennon song from John's Imagine album that Neil chose to sing during the America: A Tribute To Heroes 2-hour telethon, live broadcast on TV on September 21, 2001 produced to raise funds for the families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.. It is that good! It is also the song he recently played during the "Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast" performance that aired on TV on Friday, September 9th of this year which has so far raised an estimated 30 million dollars for The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, and USA Freedom Corps to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. (That concert also featured Dr. John The Night Tripper, as well as the Foo Fighters appropriately belting out a beautiful cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Born On The Bayou.') This song - 'When God Made Me' - is one of the most beautiful songs ever written by Neil or anyone else. In its beautiful simplicity, the melody matches the lyrics perfectly. It's a great gospel tune, and spiritual in the true sense of the word. I can see this song being sung in every Unitarian Universalist church in the land and at High School graduation ceremonies the world over. This song - and whole album - is a real epiphany. Bravo, Neil Young! Thank you for this musical masterpiece. ... YOWZA! - The Aeolian Kid ...

VIDEO DISC: This is a real treat. You can watch the actual, recording studio performances of all ten songs as they were being performed and recorded onto analog tape. The performances are presented in a multiple, split-screen format like the movie WOODSTOCK was presented, with solos featured in the center of the screen at times. The sound is pristine, as it is of the highest quality, 24 BIT / 96 kHz DVD Audio sound commercially available at this time. Some believe this to be better than the SACD 1-Bitstream medium, as DVD Audio is less prone to digital jittering and more stable as an archival medium. Speaking of archives, those of us who have been waiting for 'DECADE TWO' all these years can't wait for Neil Young's ARCHIVES to finally be released! The very first thing you see on the DVD is a white sheet blowing in the breeze, hiding the words of the MENU options behind it. It soon gets blown away by the nightime prairie wind. The MENU choices are: Sessions Movie, High Resolution Audio Info, and More. Sub-Menus include: Play, Song Selection, Audio Info, Songs - all 10 of them, Sessions Audio Information, Player Setup Tips, Color Bars: Shakey Pictures Logo with Color Bands (a hoot!), Biographies / Discographies, and DVD Credits - all of which are accompanied on the screen with photos of Neil Young's studio. The Biographies / Discographies section is really detailed, thorough, chronologically accurate, and interesting. It includes information on all the players on the album: Neil Young (Neil's Discography has things in there I never even heard about, let alone heard; things like: "Elyse" released in 1968 by Elyse.), Ben Keith, Rick 'The Bass Player' Rosas, Karl Himmel, Spooner Oldham, Chad Cromwell, Wayne Jackson, Diana Dewitt, Gary Pigg, Anthony Crawford, Grant Boatwright, Emmylou Harris, and, of course, Neil's wife, Pegi Young. (Rick and Chad both played with Neil on ELDORADO!) It's very well done, and was obviously put together with great care and precision. The whole DVD is a labor of love, for sure. Watch it and feel the wonder! ... YOWZA! - The Aeolian Kid
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another strong album, May 4, 2006
Dagwood (Arlington, VA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Prairie Wind (Audio CD)
This is an excellent album with a lot of strong songs. I was not disappointed with any of the tracks, because they're all "Neil Young."

Before I bought this album, I have been buying some of the earlier Neil Young albums, most especially "After the Gold Rush." After being a fan in the 1960s and 1970s, now I hear him and say--wow! This is a brilliant artist that I can really identify with! In fact, this is my favorite guy! I saw the Jonathan Demme movie "Heart of Gold" about Young's performance of Prairie Wind in Nashville, and it was great; loved to see the band in concert; bought the album. The tracks I personally like best are "Far from Home" for being a rollicking song and "It's a Dream" for making me want to cry.

This led me to reflect on what it is that I like so much about Neil Young. Before, I always liked him, but when "After the Gold Rush" exploded off the stereo into my consciousness several months ago after buying the old CD, his work has captivated me, much more so that before. Why? I'm 52 years old now, and I think there is such a thing as the "lonely bull" persona in which a guy feels on his own, in charge of his own life, which has good points (happy and fast-moving songs)and bad (makes for the sad songs). Neil Young songs are prime examples of that. Frank Sinatra had that appeal (although he's way before my time; my Dad loves him), which may account for why he was so popular. Same for Tony Bennett, whom I really like. Neil Young's songs, in 2006, put me in moods that I want to be in, and the core is his particular spirit, whatever that is. You want to tap into it. The emotional landscape there is attractive, whether happy or sad. The voice, the spare arrangements, but most of all the writing take you there.

In terms of emotional power, to me, only John Lennon the solo artist is on a par with Neil Young. Now, I'm the biggest Beatles fan in the world, really loved all of their stuff, and loved Lennon's solo work. But Neil Young goes to some of the same places, and hits similar heights. For example, Lennon's song "Mother" (I think that's it's name) also makes me want to cry and I almost can't listen to it. Similar effect on me, although much mellower, for "It's a Dream" on Prairie Wind. To me, that is emotional power. Few artists have it.

Women often seem to wonder where men's emotions are. I say, they are found in good music.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's the guitar..., October 3, 2005
o dubhthaigh (north rustico, pei, canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Prairie Wind (Audio CD)
... like the Tinker's Coin from Jack Hardy's songbook. In any case, Young has come up with a brilliant CD. And it's simplicity is its calling card. These are songs about a marriage, about a father's dementia, about what was sacred in a family setting, about the way Music invokes a special relationship, and the songs are delivered with an authenticity that sometimes is disarming.

All of it works. And that's remarkable for a Neil Young record. Perhaps his own brush with potential catastrophe sharpened his focus. This IS a focused CD. There is only what is necessary for the song herein. Emmylou Harris once again delivers such a perfectly complementary touch to Young's songs that it's a wonder they don't work together as closely as she did with Gram Parsons. Ben Keith, Spooner Oldham lead the band through their paces. The gospel choir is understated. This is a document for the ages. Having riffed through more incendiary rockers than any of his contemporaries, Young has found via Hank Williams' guitar an instrument to take him places. Much like Metheny with his baritone guitar on ONE QUIET NIGHT, Young here plays with something so close to ineffable grace that you wonder if the guitar isn't in some way playing him.

He alludes to as much in the paean to the instrument. And that's key to the whole album: it's Life living through us. We need to be reminded of that every so often. Young does so with a compassion and a rootedness that comes with having grown up among family on the Canadian prairie.. He brings the album to a beautiful conclusion with "When God Made Me." It is a simple church hymn that lays out the importance of what Abraham Lincoln said: "I pray not that God is on our side, but that we are on God's side." Young's spiritual is a hymn for understanding and tolerance, not something you hear often in the Bush-Cheney Berchtesgarten.

The Cd also includes one of the most important songs Young has ever written: "No Wonder" . In it Young has developed a parable for the world as it is now and it is at least the equivalent of Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower," or "Idiot Wind." Even the title portends more than you realize: when you consider that Thales, the father of philosophy, said thinking was born of wonder, then the prospect of a culture that would restrict wonder, martial the way you think, curtail your freedom in service to an ideology, well, then quite literally no wonder is exactly what they have on the menu. Wonder leads to Thinking and that can be dangerous to those who only believe. For my 2 quid, this is the most profound Young song ever.

The DVD version of the studio sessions is brilliant. Young forgets to lip-sync a couple of times, but no matter, the way the image takes so long to fade to complete black is entirely the point to "Prairie Wind," Young's homage to his father and his descent into dementia. There are a lot of ghosts throughout this record. That long fade concludes "When God Made Me" as well and it packs an emotional whallop akin to his minimalist rendering of "Philadelphia" from the Demme film. It is so spare that it haunts you.

Young has called this a rumination on what's important. Well aye.
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Prairie Wind
Prairie Wind by Neil Young (Audio CD - 2005)
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