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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