Saturday, August 11, 2018

Certain Songs #1289: Neil Young – “Music Arcade” | Medialoper

Album: Broken Arrow
Year: 1996

Recorded at Plywood Digital, Woodside, CA on March 29, 1996

But the best song on Broken Arrow wasn’t one of the long Crazy Horse jams, but rather just Neil alone with an acoustic guitar singing in an incredibly hushed manner, like he really didn’t want to sing the song, but also felt obligated to, as well.

Mood-wise, it’s almost a companion piece to “Borrowed Tune,” and while utter despair conveyed by that tune has been replaced with acceptance, the tone is still sad:

Have you ever been lost
Have you ever been found out
Have you ever felt all alone
At the end of the day
Yeah I’m talkin’ bout gettin’ down
Take it easy – there’s no one around
Just a mirror and you and me
And the TV screen

I don’t think I realized it at the time, but I now think this song is definitely another elegy for David Brooks, who helped produce eighteen of Neil’s albums, and died a few months before the recording of Broken Arrow.

At the time, though, what struck me was the opening lines of the second verse.

I was walkin down main street
Not the sidewalk but main street
Dodgin’ traffic with flyin’ feet
That’s how good I felt
Took a spin in the laundromat
Played a game in the music arcade
Kept winnin’ while the band played
That’s how good I felt

While I’m pretty sure that Neil meant it as a metaphor of some kind, I was instantly transported to 1991 / 1992 when — after ending up at a post-party until 3:00 or 4:00 or 5:00, I’d walk home to my apartment in the Tower District, but never on the sidewalk, always in the middle of the street.

This was purely practical: I figured that if there were any bad people who wanted to jump the drunk dude walking home, I might be able to at least see them coming and outrun them, though 25 years later, it now seems like a bad plan. Just not as bad of a plan as driving after a whole night of drinking.

In any event, it was the end of the song that kinda worried me.

There’s a comet in the sky tonight
Makes me feel like I’m alright
I’m movin’ pretty fast
For my size
I really didn’t mean to stay
As long as I have
So I’ll be movin’ on

Uh-oh. Had Neil Young finally burned out? The fact that he undertook nearly a year-long tour with Crazy Horse definitely undercut that thought, but on the other hand, he didn’t release another studio album until 2000’s Silver & Gold, which stands as the longest break in his career.

“Music Arcade”

The Certain Songs Database
A filterable, searchable & sortable somewhat up to date database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page


No comments: