Published on September 8th, 2013 | by Chris Laramee


Midnight Revolutions – Neil Young’s ‘Tonight’s the Night’

Memory Beasts – ‘Tonight’s the Night’


For me, there’s a few records I have that have a serene, almost narcotic-like memory to them. Time is suspended and put away, like dirty dishes in the sink. One is not aware even of listening as an act in and of itself. Scenes flow, time ticks away in a half-conscious kind of way and the heart slows to a memory long past. Damn if I even know what the fuck the memory itself was in the first place. Neil Young’s ‘Tonight’s the Night’ hurts me, heals me, laughs, groans, and tickles like a living thing, not merely a sensory-derived experience. My experience of it cannot be qualified by tired old crit-speak. I don’t care that it’s a tequila-soaked wake to Danny Whitten, Neil’s old guitar foil in Crazy Horse who stuck the needle in and never came back again, also Bruce Berry, a roadie for CSNY and a good bud, who did the same. I don’t care about the storyline of the album being a eulogy of sorts for the sixties dream, a time I was never alive and present for. Why imagine sympathy for an imagined time you never new? I mean, if you want to listen closely to the lyrics and get into it, they could’ve been written yesterday, that old adage about the more things change, the more they stay the same pertinent as ever. True timelessness is never prescribed and never can be, as long as you have at least a few functioning brain cells left floating around that dead pool we call a brain. Right? Well, that’s the way I figure it.

‘Albuquerque’ has peals of pedal steel guitar and words of existential and physical escape are, for me, akin to floating down THAT OLD RIVER, be it concrete, liquid, or atmospheric. Gently stoned or stoned gently, take your pick. An idea emerges as this song as pure cotton candy glossalia stuck to the roof of the ever-expanding sky, smearing and spreading slowly. Yeah, that’s an idea, I guess. Doesn’t do the track much justice.


Images. Got some country ham, cars with bullet holes in the mirrors, tired eyes blinking through windshield light, probably of the five AM variety. Intimations of drugs. Burnout. And speaking of burnout, this thing stinks of it. Bucolic shots of young boys swinging golden fishing poles in aquatic afternoons dissolve into shady robberies. A fantasia emerges of muttered histories. The aural equivalent of being the last guy awake after the party’s LONG been over, tapping cigarette ashes into a warm half-full beer as the DIRTIEST sun mankind has ever seen rises over the treeline. Yeah, burnout. Bad times swim at you like shadowy beasts. But for every bad vibe and terrible fear on this record, there’s the attendant mercy. Glimpsed fields, new beginnings and fresh roads yet to be taken. Stoned movie viewings. “You’re holding my baby, and I’m holding you. And that’s all right…” as Neil’s voice fades like a showman in the spotlight (ripped that off from somewhere, dunno). Deep rivers. Childhood and adult life drift into one another and the story is not clear or linear. Sometimes I get the notion of desires being like that. A collage of where you’ve been disappearing into the unknown ahead. Uh huh.

OK, one more track. ‘Borrowed Tune.’ Real good rip of a Stones track. How do I know? Neil sez so. In the song, stupid. Piano, harmonica, and voice. When the human race finally releases its last stinking breath on this rock we call home, this will be one of few true works of ART (ugh) we can leave behind that will mean a goddamn thing. Why? Well, hard to explain, it’s more of a scent this one’s got. Fuck all the grand ambition, all comes to naught finally, at the end of it. “I hope that it matters,” his voice croaks out in the face of the sheer evidence that it don’t. But still… I hope it does. And that’s it, in a nutshell. Throw your fancy books out the window to the fire below and hold that caveat in your hands instead. Existence explained. At least for this asshole. Pretty song, to boot.

So I love this album a lot. Duh. It’s got me through some of the toughest times of my life and patted me on the back during the good ones. Some folks get it, some don’t. I can’t let too much time go by without slapping it on and having a visit. It’s an old friend, really. And unlike most things, it gets younger everyday.

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About the Author

makes a hell of a racket in bands like Shooting Guns, Wasted Cathedral, and The Foggy Notions. He contributes to sites like this one and Weird Canada.

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