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Time Fades Away/The Ditch Trilogy (Neil Young/Constantines content)


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music_perlichspicks-1.gifYesterday I became exposed to a ridiculously good Neil Young album that I never knew existed. I'm sure there are a few of you who can provide some insight, maybe you own the record or have heard it. Let's see if I can explain this is some sort of organized fashion.

A friend of mine bought an LP a couple weeks ago, a new release. It's a split LP between The Constantines and The Unintended (a band comprised of Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo, Rick White of Eric's Trip, and the Sadies), with the Constantines covering four Neil Young tunes on one side and the Unintended covering four Gordon Lightfoot tunes on the other. Limited print, 1000 copies, pretty sweet.

time-fades-away-cover.jpgSo the first tune on the Cons side is a Neil tune I've never heard called Don't Be Denied. I had the LP with me at the radio station yesterday, cued up the tune while something else was playing and heard the first few seconds, and figured I'd spin it. It's an awesome tune if you're into that ragged, early Neil Young style. So I figured I'd consult Allmusic to figure out which album it's from. Turns out it only ever appeared on a live album called Time Fades Away, released in 1973 - one of only two Neil Young albums that have never been issued on CD.

Here's a selection of the Hyperust review of the record:

"The key to understanding and appreciating Time Fades Away is in knowing the conditions under which it was recorded. In the fall of 1972, Neil Young put together a band to tour in support of his Harvest album. He had not been out for almost two years, since his solo acoustic tour of early 1971. In that time, both After the Goldrush and Harvest had been huge albums, thereby creating a demand for live shows. An arena tour was booked for the early part of 1973, and to no one's surprise tickets sold quickly. The band that Young had assembled was a combination of the Nashville players from the Harvest album, and Crazy Horse. The initial tour lineup featured Young, Ben Keith (steel guitar), Tim Drummond (bass), Kenny Buttrey (drums), Jack Nitzsche (piano) and Danny Whitten (guitar and vocals). After rehearsals, it was obvious that Danny Whitten was in no condition to tour, as Whitten was in the midst of trying to kick a heroin addiction by substituting large quantities of other drugs in its place. He was fired from the band, and given an airline ticket home and fifty dollars. A day later Whitten was dead of an overdose, having used the severance money to buy the drugs that killed him. The start of the tour was right around the corner, so Young and company made the difficult decision to continue as planned...As the strain of the road and the grief of Whitten's death began to catch up to Young, the shows became more and more ragged and raw."

This page has a pretty good rundown of what they called Neil's "Ditch Trilogy", or the three albums that document his decent into depression as a young man after the death of Whitten and later roadie Bruce Berry. The other two albums are On the Beach and Tonight's the Night. These two are albums that I know well and love, and I guess it just struck me as puzzling that an album from this incredibly classic era of Neil's career is being swept under the carpet in a way and not getting a CD release.

On the other hand though, from what I've read, Time Fades Away is an incredibly raw document of a 28-year-old Neil grieving the loss of a friend in a very public setting, combined with the rumour that he consumed tequila like it was water on that particular tour (and who could blame him). In any event I thought it was pretty interesting, and found an mp3 of Neil's version of Don't Be Denied (must have been ripped from vinyl), and thought I'd include the Constantines' version too, also ripped from vinyl. Enjoy.

Neil's original

The Constantines' cover

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Yeah that's a cool tale indeed. The Constantines mp3 link doesn't work (edit - see below for fix)

I have Time Fades Away on vinyl, I'll have to pull that out after I listen to the Cons cover of that tune.

Thanks for posting that.

AD

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Time Fades Away has always been my favorite Neil Young album. Along with Journeys Thru the Past its the only Neil album you can't buy on CD. I also love the album cover. It was all recorded live. My favorite tracks would be the TFA, LA and Last Dance. What a wonderful album. I'm glad to see that the Constatines have resurrected Time Fades Away. Don't be Denied is an autobiographical tale of Neils' childhood. For any music fan, this one is worth checking out.

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I (used to) have Time Fades Away on cassette. I love this Neil Young recording, as it is a live recording and I love the raw, emotional, jammy feel to the lyrics and the music. Harvard Mouse plays the song Time Fades Away ... hopefully Neil would like our interpretation of the song if he heard it.

Peace, Mark

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hopefully Neil would like our interpretation of the song if he heard it.

I'd think so. I went a few years not having heard the original and only knowing our cover of it, and then finally heard it one day on the radio, and thought, wow, Neil Young sure sounds like Mark here :). (Seriously!)

I only recently picked up on the Bank St. reference in the lyrics, too, which not only suggests that we'll have to play it when you guys are here, but also that I'm really kind of dim.

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hopefully Neil would like our interpretation of the song if he heard it.

I'd think so. I went a few years not having heard the original and only knowing our cover of it' date=' and then finally heard it one day on the radio, and thought, wow, Neil Young sure sounds like Mark here :). (Seriously!)

[/quote']

Thanks for the kind words, Dave ... you aren't so evil after all! :)

Looking forward to playing some music in Ottawa, and will be sure to add Time Fades Away to our list of song possibilities for that show.

Peace, Mark

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