Neil Young revives a forgotten era in new live album ‘Return to Greendale’

Neil Young’s tour with Crazy Horse has been released as a two-CD, two-LP vinyl set and live recording, documenting his 2003 performance of his 25th album ‘Greendale’. The album, which was released in 2002, was a collaborative piece with rock band Crazy Horse, and its subsequent tour was a theatrical performance of the various individual stories and experiences of the inhabitants of a fictional Californian town called Greendale.

Image: Gary Miller

The tour shows the ten songs performed by a cast who lip-sync the words sung by Young. The animation of the character’s experiences through theatre form enhances the storytelling aspect of Young’s music which is especially integral to the original 2002 album. Young’s signature tenor vocals are typified by a naïve suggestion that is both juxtaposed to and enhanced by his punchy musical arrangements on electric and acoustic guitar, harmonized with the help of Crazy Horse.

But what about the words? Young emphasises various socio-political issues in his lyric, including ecological concerns raised in ‘Be the Rain’ which urge mankind to “save the Earth for another day”, whilst ‘Sun Green’ touches on the fear and lack of truth in the media which is only further perpetuated by the State; issues that are all the more relevant 17 years later. The release of Return to Greendale, especially with its accompanying concert film, revives what was a previously forgotten album amongst Young’s other works, and ultimately reasserts the pertinence of its socio-political direction to the 21st century.

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