Certain Songs #1298: Neko Case – “South Tacoma Way”

Album: Furnace Room Lullaby
Year: 2000

On each of her first three studio albums, you could see Neko Case move ever forward: if her debut, The Virginian was an equal amount of covers and originals, and her third album, Blacklisted — which is where I think I came aboard — is pretty much all songs Case wrote on her own, her sophomore album, Furnace Room Lullaby, was all collaborations.

But there was no question that Case was running the show, and Furnace Room Lullaby is probably my favorite of the records she made during this period, with the highlight being the torch elegy, “South Tacoma Way.”

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Certain Songs #1297: Neko Case – “Duchess”

Album: The Virginian
Year: 1997

When Neko Case’s debut album — credited to Neko Case & Her Boyfriends — The Virginian debuted in 1997, I doubt anyone knew how much of a major artist she would end up being.

For one thing, the alt-country music on the album was miles away from the good-time pop-punk of her original band, Maow, and furthermore, she only had writing credits on half of The Virginian, the last time that would happen on one of her studio albums.

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Certain Songs #1296: Neil Young – “My Pledge”

Album: Peace Trail
Year: 2016

Recorded at Shangri-La Studios, Malibu on September 10, 2016

So, after nearly 50 years and over 60 posts, we come to the end of Neil Young. Well, not really the end of Neil Young, per se — he put out The Visitor in 2017 and a film directed by Daryl Hannah called Paradox just a few months ago — but the end of the Neil Young songs I’m writing about.

So why not end it with a weird, surrealistic confessional from a man who his still burning brightly well into his eighth decade?

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Certain Songs #1295: Neil Young – “Peace Trail”

Album: Peace Trail
Year: 2016

Recorded at Shangri-La Studios on September 11, 2016

After putting out two Crazy Horse albums in 2012, Neil Young didn’t release any new music in 2013, but put out two albums in 2014.

The first was A Letter Home, and it was recorded with Jack White, which on paper seems great until you read the fine print: it was a bunch of covers recorded on something called the Voice-o-Graph, which was basically a phone booth sized chamber with a mic that allowed you to record directly to vinyl. The result was fun, but non-essential.

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Certain Songs #1294: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Ramada Inn”

Album: Psychedelic Pill
Year: 2012

Recorded at Redwood Digital on February 26, 2012

So naturally, after perhaps the most experimental album of his entire career, Neil Young returned to the basics, and after the longest non-Crazy Horse drought of his career, released not one, but two NYCH albums in 2012.

The first one, Americana, is a bit of a controversial entry in the canon: it’s all covers, and covers of traditional songs — and, er, “Get a Job” — to boot. Oh, and they fucked with the melodies of the more well-known songs as well.

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