Archive for June 2008
I was hoping to end our Neil Young week last month with some of my favorite versions of Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand,” as suggested by dedicated J&B reader Brian Johnson. I found some good ones, among them…
a live acoustic version from Massey Hall, 1971
and a more recent live version from earlier this year.
And I’ll add one: Live in London, solo, during his 1973 tour with the Santa Monica Flyers (MP3 format, 15.3M), a distant audience-recorded bootleg, but a performance that manages to be both wavering and strong simultaneously
But wait. Those performances show only one side of Neil: the quiet, precise, intense solo side. The wild, messy electric attack on “Cowgirl” isn’t well-documented on YouTube or any video side I could find (let me know in the comments if you found anything) so Jewels and Binoculars wants to deliver a pair of messages from that side:
Live with Crazy Horse at the Fillmore East, 1970 (M4A format, 15M): Young and Danny Whitten trade scorching solos, Jack Nitzsche adds muscle to the rhythm section; at 16:09, this is way too short (Like it? Buy it.)
Live at Red Rocks in 2000 (M4A format, 16.9M): gets off to a rough start (roughly half the band, including Young, starts leaning into “Like a Hurricane” — with headphones on, you can hear a woman in the crowd yell “Like a Hurricane!” — until everyone agrees which song to perform), then they work up to the expected level. (Like it? Buy it.)
I finally figured out how to get the last six months or so of my Blogger posts into WordPress. The site will look weird for the next day or so while I make sure the transfers worked. Sorry for any inconvenience.
I have two tickets to see Dengue Fever at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts on July 9. Turns out I can’t go. If you’re interested AND YOU AND I KNOW EACH OTHER ALREADY, please let me know and we’ll set up, as they say in crime shows, a drop.
For a few weeks, colleagues and friends have been pointing me to Wordle, a web app that takes text and presents it as a “word cloud.” I tried it with a few pieces of my own writing with the expected pedestrian results, but then I copied one of my favorite-ever pieces of someone else’s writing, the “Combray” intro to Proust’s Swann’s Way, and saw this work of art:
(You can click on the image for a larger version.)
Why is this so great? Because, despite being a mere text cloud, it tells the story of the first section with elegant precision. The young narrator is in tremendous psychic pain awaiting the arrival of his mother to kiss him goodnight. So “mother” and “mama” are in large type in the center of the image; even larger is the “room” to which he is confined, as is, just below it, “time,” the narrator’s great obsession. And then, in small type, hiding, is that elusive “kiss.” It’s an intriguing alternate way to consider or enter a story. I’ll play with it some more.
One of my regular correspondents has requested “Cowgirl in the Sand” to end Neil Young week. I’ve been scouring the Interweb for good versions to share. I’ve had no problem tracking down acoustic takes (including a pair from Massey Hall, 37 years apart), but I’ve had no luck locating many electric versions, either with Crazy Horse or the strong one from the Road Rock video. If anyone can direct me to sturdy cowgirls, please do!
(Brian, I’m trying…)