On the Beach (Reprise)
About 10 years ago when Doug and I were clearing out his parent’s attic of our personal belongings from childhood (long overdue according to his folks) we were very much looking forward to doubling our vinyl collection. Fortunately, we found several crates of vinyl marked “Doug” and several marked “Alyssa,” but unfortunately we soon realized that our collections were virtually identical. As many folks know we grew up together in the Jersey suburbs when vinyl and weed were the primary teenage pastime. Our collections ranged from Blood On The Tracks to Blue to Rumors to American Beauty. For those of you who don’t know those records STOP reading this article immediately and go listen!
It’s no secret that we both have been influenced and forever inspired by Neil Young. Learning guitar together at a young age around the campfire and playing in our parents’ basements with friends high as a kite learning every Neil Young song we could. However, for us no album has been as influential as Neil’s 1974, On The Beach.
“The world is turnin’, I hope it don’t turn away,
The world is turnin’, I hope it don’t turn away,
All my pictures are fallin’ from the wall where I placed them yesterday,
The world is turnin’, I hope it don’t turn away.”
The line above, from the title track, still rings true in today’s madness. Though this heartbreaking, bleak and crude record was largely panned by critics, for us it is Neil’s most authentic and most naked moment in his long and prolific career. When listening to the record, particularly side 2 which features, “On The Beach,” “Motion Pictures,” and “Ambulance Blues,” one can’t help but feel they are catching a true glimpse into Young’s soul. An album made during what seemingly was a dark time for Neil, two years after his successful release of Harvest and right before his split from actress Carrie Snodgrass, On The Beach seems as though Neil is saying “Fuck You” to the critics, “here is my heart like it or not.”
For aspiring artists like us, both then and now, this album is a reminder that bearing your soul regardless of commercial success is what art and music are truly about. We’ve listened to this record our entire lives together, through thick and thin, and for both of us it is the reason we keep going (even during times like this). It also reminds us that “Honey Slides” are a thing!
The Grahams’ single “Don’t Give Your Heart Away” is out now.