Tag Archives: Neil Young
Posted: December 22, 2015
Having written more than 40 songs while out on the road touring, the band teamed with the National guitarist Aaron Dessner on the recording effort, spending two weeks at Dreamland in upstate New York, a nineteenth-century church that had been converted into a homey studio. There, the singers found the space to inspire the emotional gravity necessary for the material and the acoustics they were looking for.
“These are true stories,” says guitarist Brian Elmquist. “These aren’t things we made up. We tried to write some songs that had nothing to do with our personal stories, but we just didn’t respond to them. But we’re best buds, so we know each others’ personal stuff and trust each other to figure out what needs to be said and how to say it.”
For instance, Elmquist wrote “Call to War” about his own struggles during his twenties, but gave the song to Kanene Pipkin to sing on the album.
“The content is painful and brutal, but the imagery, the vocals, they build something delicate and ethereal,” she said. “That kind of contrast illuminates the true beauty and power of a song.”
When Gretsch caught up with Elmquist, however, we enjoyed hearing about a happier memory from his youth.
“So for Christmas my dad wanted to get me a guitar because I had been talking about it and I had picked up other people’s guitars,” recalled Elmquist. “He told me he would buy me a guitar for Christmas but I was like, ‘No I want a Nintendo,’ or some games or some clothes or shoes or something stupid. Right after that, I knew there was a guitar upstairs in the attic so I went up in the attic and got him to help me restring.
“But the reason I wanted to (play) was I watched Slash play the lead in ‘November Rain’ and that was the first thing I sat in front of and learned how to play every note. I couldn’t play it for real until I was in my 20s, but him standing on that piano at the end of ‘November Rain’ is just … and like when the train is coming by. Who wouldn’t want to play music?”
Elmquist also explains what turned him on to Gretsch guitars, and reveals that “Heaven Don’t Call Me Home” was a tribute to the rockabilly style of Brian Setzer.
Watch the full package below.
Posted: June 29, 2015
Hopefully you have at least one road trip planned for the summer. And whether you’re driving in a Toyota Prius or a ’64 Chevy Impala, a solid soundtrack is a must. It’s an important list, one that requires the requisite consideration to match the tempo of the ride and the terrain of the pavement.
We take our road trip playlists seriously. After all, conversation with your fellow riders can only last so long.
So as a public service, we’ve pinpointed five road trip songs that will get your list started on the right foot, errr… wheel.
“Drive My Car” – The Beatles
Coming off the British version of1965’s Rubber Soul, the story goes that “Drive My Car” grew from the Beatles’ first recording session that extended past midnight, as Paul McCartney and George Harrison put together the basic rhythm.
“Drive My Car” features a thumping bottom end that is great for rolling down the windows and revving the engine, with an R&B feel that calls to mind the bass-heavy tracks that came out of Memphis’s Stax Records.
“Beep, Beep! Beep, Beep! Yeah!” indeed.
“Rebel Rouser” – Duane Eddy
The king of twang could have several entries on our playlist, with his signature guitar sound shining so bright on every track he released. But Eddy’s “Rebel Rouser” has a rambling groove that is well-suited to flat country roads. The instrumental hit is accentuated with bleats from a saxophone as it winds down, adding a car chase feel to the tune.
But don’t accelerate too fast. It’s best to just take in the scenery when Eddy is doing his thing.
Highway to Hell – AC/DC
Written by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young and the late Bon Scott, “Highway to Hell” is a paean to the rigors of touring and life on the road with “no stop signs/speed limit.”
The riff is instantly recognizable and makes you want to put the pedal to the metal, as it sears through the brain and has the ability to instantly conjure an adrenaline rush. Now, this fact might also make the song a dangerous one to drive with, but sometimes you need to drive fast and take chances.
Just watch out for the speed traps.
“Tush” – ZZ Top
Whether you’re going to Dallas, Texas, or Hollywood, “Tush” fits the bill. The opening riff immediately commands the listener to pull on their sunglasses and secure their cowboy hat. The original recording was found on Fandango and was ZZ Top’s first Top 20 single, with good reason.
Billy Gibbons takes two turns with searing slide guitar solos, and Dusty Hill’s strong bassline rumbles just as much as the engine. The Texas trio’s hit is definitely at home when traversing the Lone Star State, but there is certainly room for a lot of “Tush” on the Sunset Strip.
“Long May You Run” – Neil Young
“Long May You Run” is an homage to Young’s beloved first car, a hearse that was known as “Mort.” Seriously.
But this hearse has a lot of historical significance. It was the vehicle that carted Young and his original band around Canada. It broke down in the early 1960s in Blind River, Ont., but that spawned Mort’s successor, another hearse named “Mort Two” which ended up carrying him from Toronto to Los Angeles. There, Young met Stephen Stills and eventually formed Buffalo Springfield.
So long may you run, Mort, in that scrapyard in the sky. We’ll appreciate the song you inspired with our wheels firmly on the pavement.
Tags: AC/DC, Drive My Car, Duane Eddy, George Harrison, Gretsch Top 5, Highway to Hell, Long May You Run, Neil Young, Rebel Rouser, Road Trip Songs, The Beatles, Tush, ZZ Top
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Posted: November 13, 2012
The second – October’s Psychedelic Pill - is filled with long, poignant tracks that creep up to the 20-minute mark.
As such, the band has released a fresh video for the Pill cut “Ramada Inn,” a sprawling 17-minute song that is accompanied by archival footage and trippy designs. (more…)
Posted: July 21, 2012
Between the birth of rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s and the British Invasion in the 1960s, Gretsch guitars were all over the place and all over the charts. And if we skip ahead a decade, we find Gretsch guitars very much in vogue during the 1980s, and they’ve remained so pretty much ever since, right through the 1990s and the early 2000s to the present day.
But what about that decade we skipped? Unlike any other decade in rock, the 1970s are a bit more of a challenge when looking for Gretsch guitar hits. Maybe it has something to do with the idea that in many ways and certainly more so than in any other decade, the 1970s was an anxious and uncertain period when rock tore itself down and rebuilt itself -an unusually turbulent adolescence for an art form no longer in its childhood.
Never mind all that, though – the ’70s still kicked ass, and while you might have had to look a little harder to find them between Let It Be and Built For Speed, Gretsch guitars were very much alive and well. Here are five 1970s hits that prove it:
1. Crosby, Still, Nash & Young, “Ohio” (1970). Neil Young and Stephen Stills both made extensive use of the Gretsch White Falcon in the 1970s, perhaps best exemplified by 1970 CSN&Y single “Ohio,” penned by Young that summer in response to the infamous Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970. Young’s instantly recognizable picked intro and main theme is a fine Gretsch moment all by itself, and the song peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.
2. The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again (1971). Pete Townshend played a 1959 Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins Hollow Body on this, the quintessential Who track of the 1970s and possibly even the quintessential Who track, period. Further, he played it on every song from monumental 1970 album Who’s Next – “Bargain,” “Behind Blue Eyes,” “Baba O’Riley,” everything. In fact, he used on just about every Who recording and solo track from 1970 to at least 1993. He still has it and he still loves it, even though he broke it in an “accident” during an October 1973 performance of “5:15” on Top of the Pops.
The guitar was a 1970 gift from Joe Walsh. Townshend was less than thrilled upon opening the case for the first time, but that soon changed. As he told Guitar Player magazine in spring 1972:
Oh, I used that guitar on every track on Who’s Next, it’s the best guitar I’ve ever had. It won’t stay in tune on stage but if it did, I would use it. It’s the finest guitar I’ve ever owned, it’s the loudest guitar I’ve ever owned. It is so loud, man, it whips any pickup that I’ve ever come across. It’s maybe six or seven times louder than anything I’ve come across. If I plugged it in my amp tonight, normally I’d be working on volume 6 or 7, but I would work this guitar on 1.
3. New York Dolls “Personality Crisis” (1973). Honestly, almost any track off the New York Dolls’ hugely influential eponymous 1973 debut album qualifies here – “Trash,” “Looking For a Kiss” and “Jet Boy” all leap to mind – but if the Library of Congress could only preserve one number as the quintessential Dolls track, “Personality Crisis” wins for sheer glammy New York proto-punk majesty.
And OK, calling it a hit might be a bit of a stretch, but c’mon – you can’t talk about Gretsch guitars in the 1970s without at least a special honorable mention for the Dolls, because while David Johansen and Johnny Thunders stole more camera time trying to out-preen the Stones and the Stooges, Egyptian-born guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and his oft-wielded Gretsch White Falcon were the real bedrock of the group’s relentless lawnmower guitar sound.
4. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, “Takin’ Care of Business” (1974). Randy Bachman is one of the world’s great Gretsch guitar collectors, and believe it or not, he sold pretty much his entire phenomenal collection – almost 400 guitars – to the Gretsch museum in Savannah, Ga., in 2008. Unfortunately, the collection didn’t include the late-’50s orange 6120 he used to record universally beloved classic Bachman-Turner Overdrive hit “Takin’ Care of Business,” because the guitar was stolen from a Toronto hotel room in 1976.
Bachman once referred to the 6120 as his “first real professional guitar,” and he played it on the Guess Who’s first hit, a 1965 cover of “Shakin’ All Over,” so it was dear to him, to put it mildly. He has spent years searching for it without success. As for recording the hit in 1973, Bachman himself told us that “‘Taking Care of Business’ was my 6120, played through a 15-watt Garnet bass amp with a 15” speaker that was on a chair facing me. I had to use a lot of hand dampening to stop the squeals, but when I wanted the B.B. King-kind of feedback, I’d just let the lead notes sing out.”
5. AC/DC, “Highway to Hell” (1979). Hell, any AC/DC song from any decade is a shining Gretsch moment thanks to the rock-solid rhythm guitar work of Malcolm Young, but this is where things get going in earnest for Australia’s finest, which formed in Sydney in 1973. “Highway to Hell” comes from the 1979 album of the same name, which was AC/DC’s first million-selling record and first to break the U.S. Top 100, but its last with original vocalist Bon Scott, who died several months after its release.
Malcolm Young co-authored “Highway to Hell” with Scott and younger brother Angus Young, and of course, as on most AC/DC songs before and since, played his modified 1963 double-cutaway Gretsch Jet Firebird on it. He has remained pretty much exclusively devoted to the guitar, which was handed down to him by elder brother George Young (whose own group, the Easybeats, scored Australia’s first international rock hit with 1966 classic “Friday on My Mind”). The guitar was originally red, but Young stripped the top finish down to the maple top sometime around 1977’s Let There Be Rock.
Posted: June 21, 2011
Music photographers Henry Diltz and Joel Bernstein presented an exclusive collection of limited edition prints of legendary musician Neil Young in New York’s Morrison Hotel Gallery on June 17.
This exhibit is considered to be one of the best collections of Neil Young photographs ever presented, containing over 40 candid images of the music icon.
To view the entire collection, including images of Young with his Gretsch White Falcon guitar, visit the Morrison Hotel Gallery’s website here.
To see Neil Young’s tour dates, visit his website here.
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