Neil Young’s “On the Beach”, time, space, loss

A book that I think everyone should own, 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, a comprehensive and well-written music lovers’ guide to the best of the best (though that can often be contested, or added to), calls Neil Young’s (in my opinion, best) album, “[an] odyssey of regret, disgust, and disappointment” and “marked the end of a love-in” (331).

I kind of think it might be one of the greatest albums of all time, particularly the title track, which evokes such a heavy-handed mellow bleakness, it’s difficult to imagine any happiness seeping into the cracks of the song, but easy to imagine how black pools of depression might leak out from underneath it.  It’s a depressing record and going back to what I’ve said about loving extraordinarily tragic songs, it is the gold standard of classic sadness.

The record reminds me of people I may have lost, figuratively, and times that are gone, and the bleak times that might forge ahead if something doesn’t happen soon.

It’s almost September and I’ve spent all summer in a wasteland of food and drink excess, spending and spending and spending, and doing very little in terms of productivity or action, and I haven’t done much GOOD for myself; I did, but it only started in the past month.  Other than that, I’ve been griping, selfish and desperate.  And soon it will be October and I’ll be looking back at those wasted months and wondering why I didn’t do more, and wondering what I could have done differently, or wondering where the time went, wondering when this rut will pass and I’ll stop being the victim of an economic crisis and start living my life again.

I feel guilty and bad about something I did today that I REALLY shouldn’t have done, and now I feel like my world, the world I’ve been so proudly building for myself in the last week, was all for nothing.  God Damnit.

And now I’m listening to Neil Young’s On the Beach, “Ambulance Blues” to be exact, dreaming about all of the good things that could happen, and have happened, and I love it and hate it at the same time.  Only music can make you feel that way.  I love “Ambulance Blues”.  One of the many reasons is the following quote:

I guess I’ll call it sickness gone;
It’s hard to say the meaning of this song
An ambulance can only go so fast;
It’s easy to get buried in the past
When you try to make a good thing last



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