Comments: "Old Man"

And he's still good; "Living With War" is good music and still (sadly?) relevant.

Posted by Murfyn at May 6, 2009 12:24 AM

Hello Bernard,

Another one of your always refreshing music post!! I guess people like and appreciate Neil depending on their age. I am 47 and I always liked him as a songwriter, but given my guitar sensibilities-see my previous comments to you regarding Mr. Malmsteen!!-I have always found Neil's lead playing painful if not downright dreadful....basically slop city. But that is not what he is all about, so to critique him on his lead playing is besides the point...he is one the great songwriters of his time.-Tony

Posted by tony at May 6, 2009 08:29 AM

love. in the simplest ways, music is transcendent.

Posted by ltl at May 6, 2009 10:40 AM

As always, I'm impressed by and envious of the breadth of your musical receptiveness. (To say nothing of knowledge!) For the longest time, my reaction to Neil Young's singing was "For pete's sake, quit whining!". (Not as bad as Axel Rose's whining, but still.) It struck me, and still does to some degree, as affected and artificial: it feels like he's trying to be someone he's not. But then lots of people seem affected in that way, notably Dylan (except maybe on Nashville Skyline), Mick Jagger....

I understand that such a reaction says much more about my expectations of what is "natural" than about anything else. It does mean that I may prefer other peoples' versions of NY's many great songs to the originals; for example, Cassandra Wilson's version of "Harvest Moon" is just lovely.

As for this particular song, I can't separate any specific appreciation of its merits from the amorphous nostalgia I feel when hearing it; some songs do that more than others, and this one especially is a "memory song".

Posted by Ken Clarkson at May 6, 2009 01:26 PM

A very lovely song indeed! Thank you Prof Chazelle.

A great interview about his "Living with War"....
(music to my ears!)

And the lyrics.....

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 6, 2009 01:54 PM

Hey, thanks for the kind words you all. (Kind words ain't this blog's forte usually.)

The "recall" power -- not sure that's the right word -- of pop music can be astonishing. I associate some song with certain memories so strongly I can shut my eyes and feel I am almost back in time. I guess some smells do that, too. I remember in a restaurant once, washing my hands, and wanting to keep the soap with me, because the smell took me back 20 years to my grandparents' place in the south of france that I used to visit as a kid. The emotional "recall" power of that smell was overwhelming. Somehow I am sure everyone of a certain age has experienced that.

Posted by Bernard Chazelle at May 6, 2009 05:18 PM

Can someone provide a reference book, or some other means, so that I can learn to understand the type of analysis that Bernard provides ?
Thank you.

Posted by lem at May 6, 2009 07:20 PM

Bernard, it occurs to me you could post tab charts for the chords to illustrate, although I don't know if that would help or confuse the people who don't know any theory. Just a thought.

Posted by Save the Oocytes at May 6, 2009 08:58 PM

Someday can you talk about Jerry Garcia's solos? I would be interested to hear your analysis of what I consider the finest guitar work (or music) ever.

Posted by Deadhead at May 7, 2009 12:18 AM


you can get a wealth of info on music theory on wikipedia...just enter a concept that Bernard mention in his post and you should find pages of info on wikipedia...I've studied the guitar for over 25 years and I am still learning theory. Bernard knows a heck of lot more than me, but if you just got some of the basics-like what is a sus 4 than Bernard mention in this post, sus stands for suspension of the third scale tone, in this case with the forth, etc...or if you dont know what a 1,4,5 chord progression means-which is the pattern most rock, pop, blues, songs follow, by and large....or if you want to know what modal playing refers too, basically playing say the c major scale, as one example, but starting and ending on a different scale tone within the scale, ie playing from the d note to next d note an octave higher within the c major scale(dorian mode), or say the e note to the next e note (Phyrigian mode)all of this and more is available on wikipedia for free! is great guitar site that I am a member of...There is free material there to look at, plus thousands-literally-of video's that are available for members, that cover different styles, theory,technique, players etc...its a great site.-Tony

Posted by tony at May 7, 2009 08:45 AM


I should have given you an example in a song of that sus4 move Bernard mentions that will make it easier for you to understand. The beginning of Queens "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" is the sus 4 move that is easy to is just dropping your pinky finger-in this example-down on the g note, the forth of D, instead of playing the f# which is the third of D.

I hope I havent totally confused you!!-Tony

Posted by tony at May 7, 2009 10:43 AM

Thanks Tony. I've used Wikipedia for many topics but hadn't thought of music being covered there.

Posted by lem at May 7, 2009 04:34 PM