Mark Bates carries a torch for Neil Young

Mark Bates and Neil Young

Mark Bates and Neil Young

Mark Bates’s recommendation: “I’d have to say that the artist who always moves me with what he’s doing (regardless of where his muse takes him) is Neil Young. There aren’t many writers left that can follow their dreams without compromise. Compromise is not a word in Neil Young’s vocabulary and it never will be. As a performer, Neil allows himself to be incredibly vulnerable on stage, and that enables the audience to become a part of his world. Most artists have difficulty being that naked on stage. For example, you’ll never see Bob Dylan (my second favorite artist) sitting alone behind an antique pump organ in a sold out theater. Neil is a little introverted publicly and is a very private person but seeing him perform is an open window to his soul. That’s a rarity these days.”

New to Neil Young? Mark suggests you start here: Harvest Moon is an absolute masterpiece. I relate to this album in the same way that I relate to my first love. A magical experience. My mother played the album while I was still in a car seat, so it’s been around most of my life. The meaning of the songs have changed for me as time has gone on. Anyone who has loved, lost, and longed for whatever it is they used to have will be emotionally attached to the album. “The same things that make you live can kill you in the end,” sums up the whole record (and life) for me. The late Ben Keith plays lap steel and helps produce the album. It brought tears to my eyes when he passed a few weeks ago, but this album is a great example of how amazing he was too. They were a great team. I think it’s the quintessential Neil Young album.”

Mark BatesAbout our guest author, Mark Bates: Mark is only 21 years old, but he has already written over 21 songs. His rootsy Americana caught the attention NPR and in July they made his heartfelt song, Death Sucks the the song of the day. His 2009 release, Down the Narrow is available at Amazon and you can hear samples from that album here.

MP3: Flyin’ Shoes, written by Townes Van Zant, performed by Mark Bates

Matt Pond carries a torch for Neil Young

Matt Pond and Neil Young

Matt Pond and Neil Young

Matt Pond’s recommendation: “Neil Young gets me going. It seems as if he has no choice in the matter of music. He has to make it to be alive. I would very much appreciate being catapulted in his direction.”

New to Neil Young? Matt Pond recommends you start here: “Start with Tonight’s the Night. I can’t think of an album more imperfectly perfect. The performances push against everything orthodox. The voices scrape and scratch apart all the right words. The guitars are brittle and broken. And yet everything that could be perceived as a mistake somehow makes sense. Honestly, the lines between music, art and feeling become indistinguishable… If you want to laugh at my words, you’re fully invited.

You really can’t go wrong with After the Gold Rush, Chrome Dreams or Harvest, either.

A Man Needs a Maid is probably the most misunderstood and elegant
self-deprecation song written. After my catapult crash-landing, I wouldn’t mind being sweetly buried in it’s orchestration.”

Matt PondAbout the guest author, Matt Pond: The Matt Pond PA group burst on to the music scene in 1998 when they won an unsigned band competition on CDNow (remember that site?). Since then, this Philadelphia-moved-to-Brooklyn outfit has opened for the likes of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Liz Phair and Keane and most recently has released the lovely The Dark Leaves collection, an indie record that can competitively sit next to one of your Wilco selections in your CD carousel. Check their official web page for tour dates.