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Parody or for-reals? More bad ideas becoming good ones

Neil Young has had an amazing career where musically speaking he’s done just about everything: doo-wop/rockabilly, electro-synth, experimental feedback noise, rock opera, and more.

Rock music (or any media) lends itself to parody, of course. Neil himself has been lovingly lampooned by Jimmy Fallon over the past few years, as Jimmy plays Harvest-era Neil singing some unlikely songs (here, here, here). The collision between artist and material is an easy (and hilarious) one; here’s an SNL classic, Kiddie Metal

But now we have Americana, Neil Young’s latest album. With Crazy Horse (his grungiest of bands), he’s covered old old folk songs, including Oh Susannah, Clementine, She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, and This Land Is Your Land.

Just to be annoying, Neil’s also got a 40-minute silent film to promote the album. He was interviewed on Fresh Air this week, as well.

Of course, there’s no objective measure of this as a “good idea” or a “bad idea” (and for Neil Young, it’s definitely not album sales). But despite my initial grouchy skepticism (that’s gonna suck!) about the concept, I did have “whoah” and “oh wow” smiles when I first heard any of it. So I’m voting good idea for the result, but what an awesome bad idea in the creative process.

Also see Ideas so Bad, They’re Good and my recent Core77 piece The power of Bad Ideas.


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