Boneyard Media

Archive for the ‘Neil Young’ Category

Neil Young on Dave Marsh’s “self-mythology” barb

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

youngI wondered how Neil Young would have responded when I read these words by Dave Marsh many years ago in the 1980 edition of the Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll (p. 404): “Young has mastered Dylan’s greatest trick, the art of self mythology… Neil Young has scripted his own myth boldly, in the song selection and liner notes to a succession of retrospective albums. The most important of these, the three-record anthology called Decade, represents nothing less than his claim to be considered the preeminent American rock performer of his generation.”

Thirty-two years later, Young has responded in this year’s Waging Heavy Peace (pp. 222-223): “A writer accused me of building my archives just to further my own legend, whatever that is. I hope you don’t believe that. What a shallow existence that would be! I remember reading that article saying that about me. It pissed me off. It’s my life, and I am a collector… The fact that I want to create a chronological history of my recordings and supporting work is proof positive that I am an incurable collector, confronted with an amazingly detailed array of creations that I have painstakingly rat-holed over the years.”

Neil Young, Shocking Blue & the Big 3

Friday, July 6th, 2012


One of my favorite “borrowed tunes” is Shocking Blue’s “Venus” (1969), which was lifted from the Big 3’s 1963 version of “Oh Susannah,” which they called “The Banjo Song.” I like how Neil Young’s new version of “Oh Susannah” is directly inspired by “The Banjo Song.” I like the fact that many people who listen to it will think that Neil’s lifting from Shocking Blue. I also like how Neil once had a group called the Shocking Pinks and he will now be accused of lifting from Shocking Blue, who were actually lifting from the Big 3. I also like how I lifted my “Borrowed Tunes” heading from a Neil Young song he lifted from the Rolling Stones.

The Big 3 – “The Banjo Song” (1963)

Shocking Blue – “Venus” (1969)

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – “Oh Susannah” (2012)

Song ID: Kendell Kardt – “Mr. White’s Song” (1971)

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008


More prime Americana from Kendell Kardt’s unreleased 1971 Buddy Bolden LP. This is a sweet slice of Old California that features the fiddle of Bay area bluegrass stalwart Ed Neff. Kendell refers to “Mr. White’s Song” as his “tribute to Gene Autry.” Mr. White, incidentally, is a former police chief of San Anselmo who’d built the Bay area house Kendell was living in while recording the Buddy Bolden album. Kendell liked the house so much that he located Mr. White in a retirement home after which the two developed a friendship. It’s a song that anyone from Neil Young to Mr. Autry himself would have been proud to have in his catalog. (Postcard freaks: The above says “Beautiful Foot Hills, Santa Clara County, Ca.)

Kendell Kardt – “Mr. White’s Song”

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Have a Cigar, Boys: Checking in with Kendell Kardt of Rig

Thursday, January 24th, 2008


Rig – Rig (1970)

Not long ago I found this album by a group called Rig at an east Texas thrift shop – I saw it was a Capitol release and recognized the name of Elliott Mazer (of Neil Young’s Harvest fame) who was listed as a co-producer. It had obviously been listened to many times over, and because I’m instantly drawn to mysterious records that appear to have served some kind of purpose to someone, I took it home.

What I heard was an appealing batch of early seventies Americana-rock songs dressed in piano and pedal steel and featuring lyrics that placed the album (released in 1970) right in step with an era that also gave us Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection, The Band LP, and Jesse Winchester’s debut. I especially responded to the songwriting of pianist/vocalist Kendell Kardt. At once evocative and playful, his songs had a way of sticking in my head. My favorite is “Have a Cigar” (give it a listen at the end of this post) which opens up the album and zeroes in on cigar-smoking as a time-honored ritual accompanying the act of conquest. You can take it literally or figuratively – it pleases either way, and musically, it’s got a latin-tinged instrumental refrain that’s hard not to love.

My curiosity got the best of me, so through a bit of sleuthing and good luck, I was able to get in touch with Kardt, who’s currently working as a professional pianist in the New Jersey/New York area (when we first talked on the phone he was driving to his regular rehearsal gig with the New Jersey Ballet Company). He was gracious enough to field my questions, and here are some of the things I found out: The group’s deal with Capitol happened after a label scout caught them at New York’s legendary Electric Circus. This happy turn of events got them into the good graces of promoter Bill Graham and landed them high profile spots at Fillmore East. The group’s core lineup at this point was Kardt, guitarist Artie Richards, and bassist Don Kerr (who wrote the album’s beautiful closer, “Last Time Around”). With its eye-catching cover art featuring the trio’s profiles, the final product has the look and feel of a true group effort.

But this “group” aspect was as much of a “too many cooks” hindrance as it was a help, Kardt feels, because the band members and producers weren’t able to agree on a unifying purpose during the recording sessions. A shame, he says, because the group did have a true essence that never translated over onto tape. And the label’s own vision of how Rig should sound hardly made things any easier. “Internal friction is finally what caused the band to fall apart,” says Kardt, who was presented with the option of working on a second Rig album with a line up of his own choosing, or going off on his own to make a solo album. He didn’t feel it was fair to appropriate the group’s name, so he chose the latter. (Kardt, incidentally, is still in touch with Richards, although neither of them have been able to locate Kerr.)

Capitol, then, recognizing Kardt’s own prolific songwriting talent as an asset, flew him to California to record a new set of songs as a solo album. Having access to members of the Grateful Dead and New Riders of the Purple Sage, Kardt was able to enlist their help and finished up the album to his liking. But in classic music biz fashion, particularly in the volatile early 70s, personnel changes and priority shifts led to the album’s unceremonious shelving. “It was that common situation where the artist is trying to accomplish something, but the business pressure makes it almost impossible,” he says.

By the early 80s, Kardt quit working as a solo performing songwriter in favor of the workhorse piano gigs he’s taking to this day. But ever the artist, Kardt does continue writing and recording in his home studio, even though he feels, as most any artist would, that “it really helps to get even the smallest sense that someone’s listening.” So add Kendell Kart’s LP to your list of Great Lost Albums to keep an eye out for, and let’s hope that that – along with other unreleased material from both his past and present – will see the light of day sometime soon. I, for one, will be listening.

(I’m posting two versions of “Have a Cigar” here. The first one is taken directly from the Rig LP, but the second one is a later demo version I’ve received from Kendell and which he’s given me permission to post. It’s a live take from 1971 that he recorded as a publishing demo for some of the artists Bill Graham was managing. I really love its spontaneous, energetic vibe. He was a solo artist at this point, so you can get a sense of how his other work might have sounded.)

Rig – “Have a Cigar” (1970)

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Kendell Kardt – “Have a Cigar (demo) (1971)

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posted by Kim Simpson