I agree with several other reviewers in that this Neil Young collection of songs is a 'classic', especially after repeated listenings. It appears Mr.Young has decided to ground this music in the blues and it works marvelously. The repetitive tone of the songs sets the stage for the lyrics and the stories they tell. This CD is actually a novella put to music. I have seen this production on tour recently and it was one of the most magnificent musical 'experiences' I have encountered in a long time.
Mr. Young's songs are filled with the passions of youth, the torment of tortured souls, and the good feelings of basic day to day life. Mr. Young has reminded me, after all these years, to have faith and still dream. His Greendale CD reflects these ideas. Unfortunately, there are too many people out there who would rather Mr. Young re-hash some of his most popular work, but he continues to evolve artistically after more than 3 decades in the business. Hats off to Neil Young on this effort! "
Greendale live made me wanna puke, September 23, 2003
From caleb363 from federal way, washington United States on Amazon Customer Reviews:
I have to admit I did not buy 'greedale,' but anyone who went to see ole Neil live this summer (2003)probably wouldn't either. His live concert was all about 'greendale' and featured, almost entirely 'greendale' songs. If I hear one more stupid song about 'granpa' etc, I think I'll puke. Generally, I am a huge Neil Young fan, but he really did us a diservice this summer with a rock opera about some bogus hippie family. Give me a break Neil! I'm in my late thirties (like most of your fans, many of which were literally sleeping at your 'greendale' concert)and I don't need to be preached to or 'awakened' to the state of our society. Just go back to playing vintage 'grunge' rock and let us decide for ourselves what political causes we will get involved in etc. "
Does grandpa's interview sound familiar?, October 8, 2003
From Dan McGinn from Council Bluffs, Iowa USA on Amazon Customer Reviews:
First, this is a fantastic album. I am not an obsessive Neil Young fan but I do feel the music on this album is terrific. The way all the tunes move together reminds me of the Who's original 'Tommy'. The concept album 'Tommy' had magic that other artists such as Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson and even Radiohead have tried to capture. Simple and magical.Neil Young has captured that Tommy musical magic on Greendale. 'Be the Rain' is a wonderfully balanced ending to this CD with just enough exclamation.
That being said I couldn't help but notice that the introduction and rythmn guitar of 'grandpa's interview' is exactly like the Rolling Stone's 'Waiting on a Friend' from the Tattoo You album. Listen to them side by side. They are both great songs. Hope the Stone's don't litigate. They have been on the other end of this with K.D. Lang's 'Constant Craving'. "
" I was utterly disappointed in the show. The show consisted of an overwhelming amount of political propaganda regarding the evilness of the media, saving the land in Alaska from being drilled for oil, and basically against anything else that would be considered establishment."
While Grandpa Granola told his adoring fans upfront, "I still remember the old songs," Young and his longtime backup band, Crazy Horse, didn't manage to play them until the last breaths of the two-hour-plus show.
It was too little too late.
The lion's share of the concert was devoted to "Greendale," a 10-song concept album that tried to tell many stories, but instead merely babbled.
With videos, corny set design and a large cast of amateur actors who mouthed what Young sang, the show crawled.
Young slowed things down further by explaining the unfamiliar songs with lengthy spoken-word narration.
I read these reviews and i wonder what drug the people writing them were on when they saw the GREENDALE show.I didn't pay $75.00 to hear about Neils political issues. I PAYED to hear Neil (ROCK). And after I painfully waited through Lucinda Dorkface and Greendale Neil had the sound so distorted I wondered( what in the hell was he thinking?) and playing. Look I am 44, I saw Neil 4 times, loved him every time but not THIS TIME.
ps I saw the Tweeter show in Camden on 7/2/03 In the bathrooms everybody was in total disbelief. They hated it."
"At first listen I didn't care for this album at all. Neil Young's voice is well, let's just say it takes some getting used to. Coming into this album with no knowledge of prior work means it was all new to me. It turns out this is a concept album that tells the story of the Greens from a fictional town Greendale California. This makes the album a series of stories more then it does typical songs. This is clearly the country influence showing through. You could just as easily imagine Johnny Cash singing these songs as Neil Young. However, the music is different. It reminds me much more of modern delta blues then it does country. But that's more in feeling then it is in the actual notes that are played.
Anyway, it's a dirty sound, driven forward by unrelenting drumming that constantly reminds me of people like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. The guitar is particularly distinctive. I'm not too knowledgeable about guitar effects so I'm not sure if the effect is distortion or feedback or something else, but I really like the way it's used. I guess it's a common sound for Neil Young."
Makes 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' sound complex
From LA Weekly column by Judith Lewis on the Irvine, CA 9/27/03 concert:
"Nothing trips the cornball switch faster than lip-synching actors miming activity on an Our Town set accompanied by chords so soporific they make 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' sound complex by contrast. But here at Irvine’s VWA, Greendale is worse than merely weird. When, midway through the show, a billboard pops up onstage bearing the brand 'Clear Channel' and the words 'Support Our War', enthusiastic cheers erupt from the crowd, and Greendale becomes a metaphor for all that’s wrong with America."
"The problem with Greendale-the-CD is that too many songs rely on simple blues vamps that neither Young nor Crazy Horse manages to rave up into their trademark protogrunge. Those that carry the narrative weight simply go on too long, and not once does Young explode into the kind of guitar solo that fueled past storysongs like 'Powderfinger.' But you keep listening because he's created real setting, plot, and character.
The best moments are when he expresses anger through those characters: with Grandpa's ornery wisdom ('It ain't an honor to be on TV. And it ain't a duty neither'), heroine Sun Green's eco-activism ('Hey Mr. Clean, you're dirty now too.'), or the grief of a murdered cop's widow ('Carmichael you asshole . . . you're dead now and I'm talking to the wall'). There are a lot of these writerly moments, but in good stage-musical tradition it's the tracks with the least story to tell, 'Bandit' and the closing 'Be the Rain,' that make the best music."
"Burnt ... out ... hippie. That's what anyone under the age of 112 will mutter after jettisoning the audio portion of Greendale outta their Obstron (hard drive, iPod, whatever). Who cares about some Sixties-loving environmentalist fable when the entire 78-minute musical backing plods along dumbly like a mule pulling a coffin through mud? Neil Young's Crazy Horse cohorts, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, hoof a dead-weight beat that never wavers above the flat line of the bosses' rigor mortis guitar. Unlistenable, grade-A manure."
Less heft than the irate rambling of your neighborhood curmudgeon
"Concept pieces are always a crapshoot, and when they work, it's usually because of the unique ferocity of their ideas, or the risk-taking scope of the music. On the former count, Greendale certainly has plenty of ferocity, but it's hardly distinctive: Young's nomadic narrative requires its own Cliffs Notes, and the lack of cohesion or focus (which Young pretty much cops to in the liner notes) give the record less heft than the irate rambling of your neighborhood curmudgeon."
"Greendale is a gritty, grubby, dirty mess. Neil has forsaken Poncho Sampedro to reduce his troupe to a three-piece, and the result is even more ragged and atonal than usual. It would be good to believe that Young had this all worked out, that the sound was reflective of the dusty, vacant streets in this lifeless, dead-end town; the cacophonous blues trio an imitation of the Saturday night in-house band in John Lee's bar; the repeated melody a signature theme weaving through the songs, but to do so is surely to give the old man too much credit. He confesses as much himself when he says, 'Every day I'd come in with a new song, usually wrote it on the way over there…'
And it is noticeable in the continuous lack of real melody and song structure. Often the song revolves around two or three chords played in a repetitive cycle, with Young singing a two-note verse over the top. Choruses? Forget it. This is narration to music, and little more; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But, for some unfathomable reason, Neil pulls it off."
Real weak, half hearted attempt at something between O' Henry and Bob Fosse
"I saw Neil Young and Crazy Horse do 'Greendale' in Tampa. I never want to pigeon hole Neil, because too many great things have come from his openness to try something new. BUT I thought 'Greendale on it own merits was a real weak, half hearted attempt at something between O' Henry and Bob Fosse. Musically it was mostly a dull, mid tempo riff, lacking any of the unique melodies that are at the heart of Neil's music. One song 'Bandit' was wonderful. "
There's an actual STORY to the damn thing
On the I Love Music board the question "What to make of Neil Young's "Greendale?", Chuck posts:
"But, the thing about *Greendale* is, it's still pretty entertaining to listen to (once, maybe twice, MAYBE more than twice though I can't vouch) in the CAR, if you have to drive for three hours and don't have to go too fast.
There's an actual STORY to the damn thing, and you can indeed follow it -- which is more than I could say for, like, Pink Floyd's *The Wall* or radiohead's *Operation Mindcrime* or *OK Computer* (assuming that last one was a concept album - -I forget) or maybe even The Who's *Tommy*. "
Broken Arrow Readers Dismayed
Even the diehard fans that subscribe to Broken Arrow magazine from the Neil Young Appreciation Society are somewhat dismayed by Greendale. In Broken Arrow magazine issue #92, which features lots of Greendale reviews, some pretty interesting comments from Society members and not everyone is impressed with the Greendale effort. Writes Society member Andrew Byrom:
"All in all a major disappointment. Neil needs to find a new David Briggs [producer] or at least someone who can tell him when something isn't working or is a bad idea. This could have been amongst the very finest albums in Neil's career, the songs are there and still shine on the awesome DVD of the Dublin show."
"Greendale should be seen as nothing less than a serious achievement by an artist who has never been content to simply rest on his past glories--an achievement worthy of even more acclaim in a culture where nostalgia outweighs iconoclasm on a daily basis. "
BBC Greendale Review touches off a firestorm of comments
"This opus comes with a wealth of supporting ephemera (DVD; unfeasibly large CD booklet with drawings by hokey Zuma-era artist James Mazzeo; labyrinthine website with maps, lyrics, narration and even falsified photos for goodness' sake). Unfortunately it's a smokescreen. When you strip away all the merchandising you're faced with a series of desultory, lengthy two-chord strums with nary a tune between them. Crazy Horse, shorn of rhythm guitarist Frank Sampedro, do what they always do: Solidly plod through the material. Yet, where once this served as a bedrock for Neil's stellar guitar wrangling and impassioned voice, it now merely highlights his inability to set fire to the fuse. Despite the bullhorns and grungy harp it's barroom rock that should have stayed in the bar."