Skivrecension: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Americana

Artist: Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Titel: Americana
Betyg 5
Släpps i Sverige digitalt 4 juni och fysiskt 6 juni 2012

Neil Young & Crazy Horse är tillbaka med nytt studioalbum efter nio års tystnad. Efterlängtat. Men vad är det då de släpper? Jo en samling amerikanska folksånger som ”Oh Susannah”, ”Clementine” och ”This Land is Your Land”.

Finns det inte tillräckligt många inspelningar med dessa gamla sånger, är en första reflex, kanske. Men när Neil Young tar itu med dem tillsammans med Crazy Horse blir det rockigt och de sätter  sin egen prägel på sångerna. Rockigt, ösigt och en del spår är mxade så det känns som att jag sitter och lyssar på dem i en liten, rökig lokal och det slamrar.

Sista spåret på albumet är ”God Save the Queen”, brittiska nationalsången, i en rockig folkversion. Neil Young påpekar att sången som skrev under 1700-talet troligen hade rötter ner till 1600-talet och den sjöngs ofta i Nordamerika före självständighetsförklaringen och på albumet.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse presenterar ett rockalbum som kunde varit producerat idag fast med arrangemang som gör att rötterna från countryn och folksångerna också känns. Kanske är det så att när Neil och bandet inte behövde koncentrera sig på att skriva texter kunde de ge allt på rockmusiken, som recensenten i Premier Guitar skriver:

On Americana, Young frees himself from the constraints of original material, focusing instead on the textures and raw, adrenal possibilities of his greatest band, Crazy Horse, and a fistful of American folk standards. Like so much that Young does, the concept borders on the perverse, which is precisely why it’s such a kick in the ass.

Lite sorgligt är det ju att en samling amerikanska folk-sånger, nedärvda i generationer och några skrevs så tidigt som på 1800-talet, inte  känns felplacerade i tid. Samhället har inte hunnit mycket längre, känslorna och historierna bakom sångerna reflekterar skillnader/problem som fortfarande finns kvar över 200 år efter att låtarna skrevs.

”Americana” producerades av Neil och John Hanlon tillsammans med Mark Humphreys. Tekniker var John Hanlon, John Hausmann och Jeff Pinn. Albumet spelades in i Audio Casa Blanca av John Hanlon.

För den som längtar efter nytt material av Neil Young tillsammans med Crazy Horse är det nog en bra nyhet att få höra rykten om att bandet börjat processen med att skapa nytt material. Helt nytt alltså, där de skriver texterna också. Men tills det albumet kommer är ”Americana” ett album med jordnära rocklåtar med äkta krutrök.

Lite extramaterial:

Neil Youngs egna kommentarer om sångerna:
OH SUSANNAH
This song written by Stephen Foster was originally performed on September 11, 1847. The Americana version was arranged with a new melody by Tim Rose and was originally perormed by ”The Big Three” in 1963, and updated by ”Tim Rose and the Thorns” in 1964. This band did a lot of arrangements of folk songs that were changed to be rock and roll songs and called folk-rock. Tim Rose was one of the pioneers of folk-rock. Much of the music of Americana is based on this idea.
CLEMENTINE
This American folk ballad is believed to be based on ”Down by the River liv’d a Maiden” by H.S. Thompson 1863. However, it is usually credited to Percy Montrose, 1884, or Barker Bradford from about the same period. The Americana arrangement extends the folk process, using many of the original words and a new melody. The song tells the story of either a bereaved lover recalling his lost sweetheart, or a father missing his lost daughter. In both cases the daughter has drowned in an accident. The song is now famous as an American children’s song. The verse about Clementine’s sister has been emitted from most children’s versions. This verse has different meanings depending on whtether the point of view of the singer is taken as the lover or the father.
TOM DULA
This folk song, writer unknown, is based on the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster, who was stabbed to death with a knife in Wilkes County, North Carolina. Tom Dula, a confederate soldier returned from the war and Laura Foster’s lover, was convicted of her murder and hanged May 1, 1868. Grayson, mentioned in the song, was instrumental in supplying information to the posse that eventually found Dula. Dula had another Lover, prior to his leaving for the war, named Anne Melton. It was her comments that led to the discovery of Foster’s body. She was charged with murder but was acquitted based on Dula’s word. Dula’s last statement on teh gallows was ”Gentlemen, do you see this hand? I didn’t harm a hair on the girl’s head.” Anne Melton died insane a few years later. The Americana arrangement is from ”The Squires” with a new melody and the original lyrics.
GALLOWS POLE
This centuries-old folk song, writer unknown, probably originates in Finland. It is about a woman condemned to die and telling the hangman to wait because someone was coming to rescue her with either money (gold) or information proving her innocence. The folk process enhanced this over the years and it has had many interpretations. The Americana arrangement, which assumes the condemned is a man, is based on Odetta’s interpretation, now an enduring American folk classic.
GET A JOB
A song about a man who has not been able to find work, and is assumed lazy and a liar by his woman. ”Get A Job” is included in Americana because it is a genuine folk song with all of the true characteristics. This song was written by Richard Lewis of the Silhouettes, although credit is shared with the whole group because they did the vocal arrangement. The hit recording performed by ”The Silhouettes” was released in 1957. The Americana version follows the original arrangement.
TRAVEL ON
”Gotta Travel On”, adapted by Paul Clayton and others from a British folk tune, was recorded by Billy Grammer in 1958. his version is an American classic. The song tells of a man who has to keep moving for a variety of reasons, all common with American life. The Americana arrangement is based on Billy Grammer’s version with some lyric changes.
HIGH FLYIN’ BIRD
Written by Billy Edd Wheeler, this is a folk song performed by ”The Company” in 1964. Stephen Stills was the lead singer. The song is about freedom, life and death. The Americana arrangement is based on ”The Squired” 1964 version.
JESUS’ CHARIOT (SHE’LL BE COMIN ‘ROUND THE MOUNTAIN)
Written in the 1800s based on an old Negro Spiritual, this song refers to the second coming of Jesus and ”she” is the chariot Jesus is coming on. Some interpret this as the end of the world. Others have said that ”she” refers sto union organizer Mary Harris ”Mother” Jones going to promote formation of labor unions in the Appalachian coal mining camps. The Americana arrangement continues the folk process with a new melody, a new title and a combination of lyric sources.
THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND
This folk song was written by Woody Guthrie in the 1940s to a pre-existing melody as a response to ”God Bless America” which Guthrie was tired of hearing. The lyrics Guthrie sang varied over time, but the lyrics sung in the Americana version were in the original manuscript of the song.
WAYFARIN’ STRANGER
This 19th century folk song is about a soul traveling through life, perhaps envisioning the end approaching. THe Americana arrangement is influenced by the Burl Ives 1944 recording, with the same words and melody.
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN
Written in the 18th century with possible melodic rooths in the 17th century, this anthem has been sung throughout the British Commonwealth and may have been sung in North America before the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence in 1776, which rejected British sovereignty. The Americana arrangement draws from the original melody and changes some melody and lyrics in the folk process, also adding lyrics of the same melody taken from ”My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. In recognition of the War of Independence and America’s transition to freedom.

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31 maj, 2012

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