Neil Young Essays

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Somewhere in America, a coffeehouse singer is fingerpicking “Old Man.” But I assure you it doesn’t sound like the version here, sung by a wealthy 27-year-old with a couple of screws loose, facing down loss too young, his entire life ahead of him.

—Nate Chinen You can also download and read this story as a PDF.

For Davis, that development has been posthumous: the trumpeter died in 1991, just as the compact-disc reissue boom was getting under way.

His music has since been endlessly repackaged and repurposed, and in some instances — like , a 10-DVD or Blu-Ray set consisting of obscurities, rarities and assorted other flotsam from a roughly half-century career.

It also happened that they were each in the midst of creative transition as they took the Fillmore stage.

Few musicians of any era have outdone Davis or Young when it comes to catalog savvy.

Gary Giddins has credited him with “a thoroughly original style built on the acknowledgement of technical limitations.” The conservative orthodoxy often compares Davis unfavorably to Dizzy Gillespie or Clifford Brown, which is not unlike saying Neil Young was no Stephen Stills.

In a 1993 essay, musicologist Robert Walser analyzed the most notoriously flawed performance of the Miles Davis canon, a 1964 rendition of “My Funny Valentine,” and argues that Davis had mastered the process of signifyin’ famously articulated by Henry Louis Gates.

But I wager these documented in-betweens are just as important. He records and performs as Other Houses and has bylines in Billboard, Huff Post, the Recording Academy, Vinyl Me, Please, TIDAL and more.

Through the lens of the Archives, these songs aren’t just lyrics and melody; they’re like wine varietals, taking on the attributes of the weather that they’re grown in. He is also the co-founder and editor of North of the Internet, a series of conversations with creative people.


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