How I missed her! How I missed her
How I missed my Clementine,
So I kissed her little sister,
And forgot my Clementine.
“Clementine, Clementine!” Neil Young howls on Americana, his long-awaited reunion album with Crazy Horse. These are beloved songs of American heritage, many that you already know and can sing along to, and that is sort of the point. It’s not that simple, though. (And nothing related to Neil Young really is, right?)
For example, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” is presented on Americana in its original form, with “misinterpreted deleted verses.” “As I went walking I saw a sign there, and on the sign it said, ‘No Trespassing,’” Young sings. These words are important to Young, as they should be to all of us.
If you know anything about Young, this should come as no surprise; the Canadian icon doesn’t settle for anything that isn’t in its purest and most complete form — just Google “Neil Young” and “MP3.” So, Americana isn’t about what’s popular, it’s more about what was originally intended; of course, these two ideas are often mutually exclusive. Not in Neil Young’s world.
What should be celebrated here, besides the fact that Young and Crazy Horse are collaborating and recording, is that, once again, we have a Neil Young album that has been created on its own terms. Most of these takes, such as “Oh Susannah,” sound as if they were rarely rehearsed and recorded right off the barn floor. Even “God Save the Queen,” which Young notes “may have been sung in North America before the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence in 1776, which rejected British sovereignty,” sounds as if it was somehow made for Young and the Horse to one day make their own.
And thankfully, that day has finally come.