Neil Young News
Change Your Mind lyrics
Over the past few weeks I've listened to the BRIDGE shows half a dozen times or so. Excellent quality and one of the best audience recordings I've ever come across. There's one song sticks out so vividly I find myself humming it in the shower, on the train into work, and other periods of musical vacuum time. Change Your Mind, which I once considered an average Neil tune, I've since changed my mind about.
Could Change Your Mind be another Neil classic?
After contemplating this question for awhile, it seems that Sleeps With Angels' Change Your Mind could eventually become recognized as another one of Neil's great musical achievements. At least IMHO.
When I first heard Change Your Mind from tapes of the '93 European tour with Booker T & the MGs, the song didn't really strike a deep chord. Listening to the 7/15/93 Milan, Italy performance, probably the kindest comment one could say about CYM were the wonderful backup vocals of Astrid Young and Annie Stocking. Otherwise, the '93 CYM comes off as a nicely arranged and somewhat uninspired song. It was too bad hearing Neil slacking off with a new song. Maybe it was the Booker T arrangement? Definitely nothing monumental and little indication of the potential makings of a Neil Young guitar classic.
I've always considered Neil having 3 monumental guitar classics:
- Down By The River
- Cortez the Killer, and
- Like A Hurricane.
Down By The River, from the 1969 Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, clocks in at 9:13 - a very long song by the '60's standards (even by '90s standards!). While it wasn't until a few years later that I first started hearing DBTR, who can forget hearing a guy screaming out on the radio "I shot my babyyyyy"? Certainly got my attention. "Why did he shoot his baby?", I recall wondering.
My first recollections on Cortez the Killer are much clearer. I can remember getting ZUMA upon release in 1975, putting it on my turntable where it spent months, rarely leaving ( I didn't have a many albums then). Mostly, ZUMA was on Side 2, with CTK. God, I really found CTK to be so intense and mesmerizing. The rising frenzy and the abrupt tempo shift at the final climax of "And I know she's living there". A pure 7:29 of music.
Then there's Like A Hurricane, from American Stars n Bars. Recorded in Nov. 75, but not released until the Fall of 1977, LAH was recorded about the same time as CTK. Similar to ZUMA's release, Side #2 of American Stars n Bars spent a lot of time on my turntable. Another Crazy Horse guitar classic at a healthy 8:14.
Down By The River is probably one of Neil's most frequently performed songs in concert. Just a rough estimate of tour set lists shows that DBTR has been played over 300 times. (It would be an interesting analysis if some Rustie could actually calculate song performance frequency. I know at least one Rustie statistician...)
It's hard to believe Neil has been playing DBTR for nearly 25 years in concert. Concert versions of DBTR have ranged upwards of 20 minutes. Essential DBTR performances include the World's Fair, New Orleans, LA , 9/27/84. As tapes indicate, Neil got pissed at a photographer and took it out on DBTR. DBTR was featured most recently on the 93 tour with Booker T & the MGs.
Cortez the Killer has been played in concert approximately 75 times. This is the least frequently played of the 3 Crazy Horse guitar masterpieces. Essential CTK performances include the Hammersmith Odeon, London, England, 3/31/76. This astounding show featured DBTR, LAH, Drive Back, CTK, and Cinnamon Girl being played back to back. Audiences were reportedly left exhausted.
Like A Hurricane has probably been played over 200 times in concert. It has been featured on most - if not all - electric tours since 76. In concert, Neil and the Horse would stretch LAH into 12 to 14 minutes. Highlight performances include many of the sonic grunge fests from the Ragged Glory/Feedback is Back/WELD tour in 92. A particularly blistering version is the Washington, DC 2/28/92, which unfortunately was not on the WELD video due to it's 14 minute length. Witnessing this performance from the 2nd row was an unforgettable, hair singeing, ear splitting experience. Similar to DBTR, LAH was featured most recently on the 93 tour with Booker T & the MGs.
As previously mentioned, the '93 performances of CYM indicated potential greatness. A diamond in the rough awaiting the rough and tumble polish of a Crazy Horse workout. Lo and behold, this year's Sleeps With Angels gave us a 14:40 Change Your Mind. Long and grungy, CYM simmers along somewhat lazily and haphazardly. The beautiful backup vocals of Astrid & Annie have been replaced by the urgent intonations of Billy, Ralph and Pancho.
SWA's Change Your Mind is certainly a vast improvement from the Booker T & the MGs performances.
Again, CYM is a good song on SWA. But I could not put it in the same league as DBTR, CTK or LAH. I was not sucked in by CYM and transported to another dimension, as sometimes happens with the classics.
But then I saw and heard the BRIDGE performances of Change Your Mind! Wow! Awesome! Unbelievable! All the Rusties there at the BRIDGE shows can attest to the simmering fury of Neil Young & Crazy Horse. And acoustic! With feedback? Go figure? A full blown jam session clocking in at an exhilarating 20 minutes, the 10/1/94 (Sat.) is the one to go with. Far more feedback then the next night, Sunday's (10/2) performance seemed far less frenetic and frenzied. The 10/1/94 BRIDGE version of Change Your Mind just blows me away.
The chorus echoes through my head long after it's over. Played in the context of Sleeps With Angels and Hey Hey My My, CYM comments directly and indirectly on the whole Kurt Cobain saga. What a fuckin tragedy. Too bad Cobain didn't change his mind instead of blowing his brains out.
There's more in common with Down By The River, Cortez the Killer, Like A Hurricane, and Change Your Mind then just very long Crazy Horse guitar classics. They all feature these unattainable love's which are found and lost. Of course, this is one of Neil's favorite recurring themes. The never ending quest for love. Who isn't on that journey?
Regardless of whether it's love that drives one to the point of insanity (DBTR), love that is like a journey to new worlds (CTK), love that is like the eye of a hurricane (LAH), or love that pulls you in so many directions that you are distracted, controlled, and distorted (CYM). But in CYM, love is supporting, restoring, and soothing.
Neil has come a long way from the youthful paranoia of Down By The River to the mature satisfaction of Change Your Mind.
Will CYM be played 100's of times over the years like DBTR? Who knows? Is Change Your Mind a classic? It's too early to tell. But after seeing the BRIDGE shows, I'm hoping for great things.
The acoustic Crazy Horse version of CYM may just be a smoldering ember of a live, electric full blown Horse performance.
I guess we'll have to wait and see on the next tour. Until then, I'm NOT changing my mind.
Also, see review of The Complex Sessions: Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Directed by Jonathan Demme.
Followup comments on "Change Your Mind" analysis.
"Change Your Mind" lyrics
The complete Neil Young lyrics can be found at Human Highway