listening booth: neil young, “prairie wind”

Written by Music


Neil Young – Prairie Wind (2005)
purchase this album

Since rebounding from a decade of mostly disastrous albums with 1989’s Freedom, Neil Young has established a pattern for his releases: Loud record, quiet record, in-between record, repeat. This is an oversimplification, of course, but really, the guy makes albums so frequently that it seems like he’s always putting out something that either features the surviving members of Crazy Horse or is being compared to Harvest. This one falls on the latter end of the spectrum, and Amazon.com’s Don McLeese says it “ranks with his very best”; honestly, I don’t know what makes this any better or worse than Harvest Moon or Silver & Gold, but then, I don’t know what makes Young so special, period. I’ll take McLeese’s word for it.

Anyway, this is quiet country Neil, so there are some really pretty moments, like the hushed “This Old Guitar” (download) and “Falling Off the Face of the Earth” (download), and “When God Made Me” is an appropriately elegaic finish. There are a few unremarkable songs, too, and some trademark Neilian stream-of-consciousness, like these lyrics from “No Wonder”:

I’m hearing Willie singing on the radio again
That song from 9/11 keeps ringing in my head
I’ll always remember something Chris Rock said
“Don’t send no more candles, no matter what you do”
Then Willie stopped singing, and the prairie wind blew

Don McLeese says “No Wonder” is one of Young’s most ambitious songs ever. Again, I’ll take his word for it. Sounds pretty ordinary to me, though.