Friday, March 8, 2013

SOTW - March 8, 2013

Legend's Legend Neil Young blazed trails in the stars in the 1970's. Beginning with the 1969 Crazy Horse debut, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, and culminating with 1979's Rust Never Sleeps, Neil reeled off a nigh uninterrupted run of epic recordings that saw him wielding sledgehammers (Everybody Knows), delicate chisels (1972's dreamscape album-for-the-ages, Harvest) and searing hot branding irons (1975's recorded-in-a-day pain-riddled Rock cautionary note, Tonight's the Night). These albums represent a raw, unfiltered rejection of virtuosity in favor of earnestness. Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time is littered with material from Neil's hot streak.

Your Song of the Week for March 8, 2013, "Powderfinger," is classic 1970's Neil; vivid imagery welded to an Everyman 1/4 rhythm structure (with minor key flourish) and overlaid with lead work that is gripping in its simplicity. One quality of Neil's music is that it moves the listener to believe he can be both poet and guitarist; here's a prime example. Neil only gave us "Powderfinger" live, supplementing its access-ability. In 5 and 1/2 minutes, your SOTW will put you deeply inside the head of an unfortunate, confused, yet inherently brave 22 year-old left behind to defend a town on an unnamed river Somewhere against a menacing, unknown foe for reasons that only Neil knows. You can feel the conflicting thoughts of youth and manhood running through the narrator's head as the main riff drives us repeatedly towards a tragic conclusion told by one of my favorite verses in any song:

Shelter me, from the powder and the finger.
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger.
Think of me, as one you'd never figure,
Would fade away so young,
With so much left undone,
Remember me to my love, 
I know I'll miss her.  

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