This is a ten-minute-long guitar-heavy love rum­bler from Neil Young and Crazy Horse, from the 1990 al­bum Ragged Glo­ry. It’s a beau­ti­ful song, with strong mes­sage and great tune; about half the run­ning time is one of a set of in­can­des­cent gui­tar break­s.

Neil Young

I like a lot of dif­fer­ent Neil Young mu­sic, but am most moved by the hard-rock out­ings, as on this record and Zu­ma. The qual­i­ty of songs doesn’t shift that much from one re­lease to the nex­t, and on the hard-rock of­fer­ings you get the big am­bi­tious gui­tar con­struct­s; what’s not to like? On Ragged Glo­ry, along with this one you get Over and Over, Man­sion on the Hill, Love and On­ly Love, and of course F*!#in' Up which, Wikipedia care­ful­ly notes, is pro­nounced “Fuckin’ Up”, and is in­com­pre­hen­si­ble even by Neil’s stan­dard­s.

Love To Burn is about just what the la­bel says: That’s how much you have, so go take a chance on it: You got­ta move to start / You got­ta take the first step / You got­ta crawl to be tal­l.. Neil isn’t try­ing to be gnom­ic or por­ten­tous, he’s just de­liv­er­ing a lit­tle life les­son with tor­rents of elec­tric beau­ty be­tween the vers­es. The gui­tar in­ter­ludes are not fast and not flashy; they are care­ful­ly con­sid­ered, stay­ing most­ly in the mid­dle of the guitar’s range, full of grace, the tone strong as trees and gold as au­tumn leaves. It’s re­al­ly some­thing spe­cial.

It turns out that Neil’s pri­ma­ry gui­tar has its own Wikipedia page Old Black. One time I went to a Neil Young con­cert with my wife and she’s not re­al­ly one for ex­tend­ed elec­tric ex­cur­sion­s. On the way out I said “I hope that wasn’t too much guitar-bashing for you” and she said “No, it’s OK, be­cause he en­joys play­ing it so much.”

This is part of the Song of the Day se­ries (back­ground).

Links · Spo­ti­fy playlist. This tune on iTunes, Ama­zon, Spo­ti­fy. Live video? Oh my good­ness yes, there’s lot­s, some a half-hour long. This one is a mere 11:31 and burns bright. Neil even record­ed it again on a live al­bum called Weld, which is an­oth­er fine mu­sic col­lec­tion. But the one on Ragged Glo­ry is the keep­er.


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May 31, 2018
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