[Neil Young has been exploring the possibilities of multi-media work for decades now. So it wasn't much of a surprise when his 2003 concept album Greendale, a narrative falling somewhere between heavy social commentary and mystical fable, reemerged a year later as a feature film.
Now Young's Greendale project has reemerged once again, this time as a comic book on DC's alternative line Vertigo. Written by Joshua Dysart (Violent Messiahs, Swamp Thing, Hellboy) with art by Cliff Chiang (Human Target, Green Arrow/Black Canary), Greendale the comic book fleshes out the album's story, providing a more linear, Young-endorsed version of the tale implied by the songs.
Artist Cliff Chiang guest-blogged for West Coast Sound yesterday. Today is writer Joshua Dysart's turn.]
Joshua Dysart on his favorite Neil Young songs.
“In compiling this list I found that while I dig many of Neil Young's rockin' tunes, it is the sad, hallucinatory inflections that live with me the most. Most of the songs at the very top of my list were all created previous to 1979. That's when I was old enough to start digging through my mom's records and first discovered so much of the music that shaped me. So, in chronological order, these are the first five songs that come to mind when I think of Neil Young…
I Am a Child (The Live version recorded at Canterbury House) (1968): From the amazing Sugar Mountain album. A live recording that has Neil telling stories, being generally wacky in a low-key stoner way and laying down some outstanding live music. This song simply speaks to me. It makes me want to stretch out on green grass and stare at blue skies.
After The Gold Rush (1970): A melodic time tripping dream with Neil's oddly angelic, perennially melancholic voice carrying us through a three-verse tour that starts with “Mother Nature on the run in the 1970's” and ends in a space migration aboard silver rockets gleaming in the sun. Absolutely transcendental.
A Man Needs a Maid (1972): A veritable epic (recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra) about the very mundane needs of the man-child. This song is about every flawed aspect of my character. It is a prime example of Neil's ability to get at the truth of the human heart with just the smallest hint of an idea combined with music that makes you cry and a singing voice on loan to us from heaven.
Devil's Sidewalk (2003): I would be remiss if I didn't include at least one song from the album that inspired the graphic novel. There's so much great stuff on Greendale, but this is the song I most heard in my head while I wrote the book, probably because of its references to a “woman delicious and a matter of fate” as well as the female voices chanting “Greendale” in the background in time with the saying distortion. Head bobbing rock and roll bliss.
I can't believe I only get five. That's hardly fair.”