EARLY WORD: Horse Latitudes

NEIL YOUNG & CRAZY HORSE will release a very special album titled AMERICANA on June 5, 2012. AMERICANA is the first album from Neil Young & Crazy Horsein nearly nine years. Crazy Horse is: Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina, Poncho Sampedro, and Neil Young. As you’ll see from the track-listing, AMERICANA is collection of classic, American folk songs. In their day, some of these may have been referred to as “protest songs,” “murder ballads,” or campfire-type songs passed down with universal, relatable tales for everyman. Some of these compositions which, like “Tom Dooley” and “Oh Susannah,” were written in the 1800s, while others, like “This Land Is Your Land” (utilizing the original, widely misinterpreted “deleted verses”) and “Get A Job,” are mid-20th-century folk classics. It’s also interesting to note that “God Save The Queen,” Britain’s national anthem, also became the de facto national anthem of sorts before the establishment of The Union as we know it until we came to adopt our very own “The Star Spangled Banner,” which has been recognized for use as early as 1889 and made our official national anthem in 1931. Each of these compositions is very much part of the fabric of our American heritage; the roots of what we think of as “Americana” in cultural terms, using songs as a way of passing along information and documenting our past. What ties these songs together is the fact that while they may represent an America that may no longer exist, the emotions and scenarios behind these songs still resonate with what’s going on in the country today with equal, if not greater impact nearly 200 years later. The lyrics reflect the same concerns and are still remarkably meaningful to a society going through economic and cultural upheaval, especially during an election year. They are just as poignant and powerful today as the day they were written. Neil has penned brief historical details about each of the songs on AMERICANA that can be found here.

PREVIOUSLY: 5 Things You Should Know About Neil Young @ The Tower

1. It takes a lot of dead dinosaurs fossil fuel to bring Neil’s folksy brand of crunchy laidback-ness to a theater near you, just so he can deliver in person that iconic line in that iconic song – “Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 21st Century”– like that old Indian chief in the commercial standing in the white man’s trash with a tear running down his cheek. And the audience can break into spontaneous cheers and applause, as was the case Sunday night at the Tower. By my count there were at least seven semis and two huge, deluxe, diesel-belching buses out back. Just sayin’.

2. Most rockers of Neil’s stature that get to be his age without asphyxiating on their own vomit become boring-ass institutions. Neil is more like a funky University: a bit of a party school, truth be told; hacky-sack casual but soulful; not cheap but worth it, plus tuition gets you access to a vast and richly cross-referenced archives. In the last 20 years, Neil has become fairly obsessive about documenting his legacy. Jonathan Demme and film crew were on hand at the Tower Sunday night making what will prove to be, by my count, the 37th or 38th Neil Young concert film. I can’t wait to see it. MORE

Live at the Fillmore East, 1970. Note the opening act.

TANGENTIALLY RELATED: It was to be the largest sculpture in the world: a granite portrait of a Sioux leader on horseback whittled out of a mountain in the Black Hills here. In scale and complexity, the carving would dwarf the imposing collection of presidential profiles on nearby Mount Rushmore. Ruth Ziolkowski, left, helps carry on the work started by her husband, Korczak Ziolkowski. Monique Ziolkowski, right, one of the 10 children the couple raised, is the artistic adviser for the mountain carving. As he started the Crazy Horse monument in 1947, short on money, manpower and the credulity of just about anyone who heard his plans, Korczak Ziolkowski, a sculptor from Connecticut, promised the tribal leaders who had recruited him and the local residents who scorned him that he was dedicating his life to the effort. But he underestimated the scale of the undertaking. His promise, it turned out, was a multigenerational commitment. The sprawling country clan Mr. Ziolkowski reared at the base of the mountain has spent the 30 years since his death honoring his final plea to continue the effort, to which he supposedly added, “But go slowly, so you do it right.” Now led by his 85-year-old widow, Ruth, with the help of their 10 children and, more recently, their grandchildren, this eccentric family effort has plodded forward through doubts and controversy at a deliberate pace more in keeping with the age of the pyramids than the age of Twitter. As the mountain carving effort begins its 65th year as one of the top tourist attractions in the state, few family members are deterred by their doubt that any of them will live to see it to completion. MORE

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