Guest reviewer Fumo Verde
Neil Young, the name says it all. Rock Star, Pop Icon, Musical Dissident, Legend. Whatever words you use, Neil Young by any other name is still rock and roll, the roots of rock and roll that is. Prairie Wind is being touted as one of, if not the best album Young has made. That’s a hard call, but I can tell you that Prairie Wind is as basic and as close to home as Young can be. It’s gentle slow waltz rhythms on songs such as “It’s a Dream” to its rockin’ rhythm of country blues on “Far From Home” show the diversity that has kept Neil a musical superstar all these years. Prairie Wind is no compilation album; its Neil Young at his purest.
The lead off song is “The Painter” (Critic’s Choice- Time Magazine) which lays the groundwork for the rest of the album. Like wheat fields blowing in the summer wind, the melody takes you along for the ride, but the words warn otherwise, “If you follow every dream, you might get lost,” certainly good advice.
The haunting song “No Wonder” follows it. This one gave me goose bumps as it played. Young’s lyrics in this one talk of days past when birds blocked out the sun on their journey south and tell you why we are “losing time”. It also had a line in there that has me wondering, after 9/11, what did Chris Rock say? This is Neil’s political “gotcha” song where he just tells it like it is.
Other songs, such as “This Old Guitar” pays homage to the tool that gave him the keys to the car that has driven him all this way, and hopefully for a little while longer. Prairie Wind, the title track, is another one of Young’s gritty blues tracks that send messages such as, “You can see into the future, but it maybe a mirage/Like a new car sittin’ there in your old garage”. Young can feel the times changing around him, and he puts thought to what our world once was not that very long ago. “He Was The King” is Young’s tribute to Elvis as he had seen him through the years.
The final track is “When God Made Me”, this sure won’t be Dr. Dobson’s favorite, because it really asks questions about the way things are being presented. “…did He envision all the wars that were fought in His name?” Young never shies away from controversy, and in this hymnal melody with very simple words, Young challenges the religious sects from all over, asking “what makes you think you are so right.” (That’s not a line in there, but a feeling I got from the song.)
I wouldn’t say this is his best album ever, because I hope he has more to come, but this is certainly one of his strongest. In a time where people are being fed fear from all directions, and you don’t feel you can trust anybody any more, here comes Neil Young, not charging in like the cavalry, but approaching soft and quiet, ever-changing like a prairie wind.
A bonus edition comes with a DVD that features the recording of Prairie Wind.
If you like Neil Young, this is a must. Happy Winter Solstice, babies. FV
Fumo Verde is a member of The Masked Music Snobs.