Posts Tagged ‘Neil Young’

Mere Anachrony: When The President Talks To God

With the ten year anniversary of the Iraq War coming up this month, I’ve been thinking some about the war’s legacy and specifically asking one question: Given the sizable opposition to the war, why were there no real notable protest songs about Iraq?

Of course, there were some protest songs, mainly from the traditionally political acts you’d expect to release antiwar songs: Neil Young, Pearl Jam, The Beastie Boys, etc. But all these acts were long passed the peak of their relevance, and the songs were so predictable that they were greeted with little more than a shrug. There were some attempts by mainstream acts, like “Mosh” by Eminem, but nothing commensurate with controversy the war generated. Sadly, the most substantial political moment of the last decade in pop music probably involved the Dixie Chicks…

There are certainly a lot of reasons for this: the political apathy of the post-Baby Boomer generations, the corporatization of the music industry, the blandness of pop music in general, etc. But it’s also worth pointing out a simpler explanation: It’s hard to write a good protest song. Continue reading

The Top Ten Songs Over Ten Minutes Long

In last Friday’s edition of the Bob Dylan Rankings, I linked to Led Zeppelin’s version of “In My Time of Dying” from Physical Graffiti, an 11-minute blues rock rendition of the song that somehow doesn’t feel as long as Dylan’s version, which clocks in at just over two and half minutes. This got me thinking about the somewhat lost art of the long rock song. I’m not just talking about long by the standard definition of long—I’m talking about songs that make “Stairway to Heaven” and “Free Bird” feel inadequate. Pop songs over 10 minutes have always been rare for the obvious reason that sustaining interest for that long is quite difficult. When a song does manage to maintain an exciting and powerful sound over such lengths, particularly one that steadily evolves, it can result in a totally riveting song. There are actually a surprising number of great, marathon-length songs; putting together a Top 10 list was a surprisingly difficult task. Here are some notable songs that didn’t make the cut: Continue reading