Neil Young – A Day In The Life (Godfather GR326)

A Day In The Life (Godfather Records GR326)

(65:50) Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA – September 20th, 2008 “Farm Aid”:  Love And Only Love, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Powderfinger, Mother Earth, Unknown Legend, Old Man, Get Back To The Country, A Day In The Life.  Bonus tracks, Escenario Mundo, Madrid, Spain – June 27th, 2008 “Rock In Rio”:  Mr. Soul, Cinnamon Girl, Hey Hey My My, Heart Of Gold

The last Farm Aid charity concert was held on September 20th at the Comcast Center in Mansfield and broadcast on television.  With close to twenty artists with varying styles ranging from Willie Nelson to Jerry Lee Lewis to Dave Matthews, this was one of the most eclectic bills in the festival’s long history.  Many people (mostly Neil Young fans) say that he, with his short set, stole the show with his performance.  Fandom aside, watching his set on television was absolutely mesmerizing and Godfather thankfully released the full set in excellent quality straight from the telecast.

Young’s set begins with a blistering truncated, full-of-pathos version of “Love And Only Love” from Weld and says, “We’re trying to bring back the family farm.  The one’s we lost.  We want them back.  We need them now, we know what good food is.  I wanna go back home” before starting “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.”  He makes his first pitch before “Powderfinger” by saying to those watching on television, You folks at home.  Stick your credit card in  the computer.  Send us a little injection of love.  Direct TV says they’ll match it dime-for-dime.  I feel like I’m on NPR right now.”

“Mother Earth” received many good comments on the Neil Young message boards.  Even though the lyrics are too hippy and maudlin, it does fit into the overall message of the event.  “Old Man” is a song of timeless beauty and is a highlight in this performance.  The final song of his set is the cover of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life.”  Only an artist as self-secure and of the stature of Neil Young could close an important show with a cover of another artists’ classic.  Young began playing this live this summer after McCartney finally pulled it off in Liverpool. 

But unlike McCartney, Young plays the entire song instead of going into “Give Peace A Chance.”  It does miss the strong piano melody from the original version and Chad Cromwell’s drumming on the song sucks big time (how hard could it be to duplicate Ringo??)  But Young’s reedy tenor adds a dimension of existential regret and pain, something the song hints at strongly but could not be expressed by the vocals on the original version adequately.  The song ends in a cloud of feedback. 

As a bonus, Godfather include four tracks from the Rock In Rio performance on June 27th from an excellent soundboard recording.  Having a great version of “Mr. Soul” is a bonus, being one of the better songs in the live setlist the past couple of years.  The artwork is tastefully designed in a tri-fold cardboard gatefold sleeve with several photos of the Farm Aid performance included.  Whenever an unofficial release of a charity gig is released, it’s always a good idea to donate the price paid to the charity in question.  It would be a good idea that, for those purchasing this title, to make a donation to Farm Aid at, as Neil says during the show.    

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