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The Old Homestead song meanings
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  • +2
    General CommentThis is a pretty oblique song, but there's one line in it that makes it possible to interpret as quite autobiographical.

    That line, of course, is "Why do you ride that crazy horse" - or more precisely perhaps, "Why do you ride that Crazy Horse". In 1974, CSN&Y had "pushed it over the end" (to quote a phrase) with the disastrous tour and aborted album. Neil reformed Crazy Horse and over the next few years recorded, threw away, pieced together and released a number of erratic-but-great records - now with Crazy Horse, now solo, now with various friends. Sometimes he it brought him success ("Rust Never Sleeps"), sometimes he was on bar band tours as a backup guitarist in The Ducks.

    It's the story of Neil Young's career: he follows his whims, wherever they take him - sometimes for good, sometimes for bad.

    So in other words: the rider and the shadow are BOTH Neil, galloping through his own head - trying to understand himself. The shadow could be seen as the more perverse side of his artistry - the one that keeps wanting to head for the ditch, try something different and doesn't show remorse when colleagues get left behind (viz Neil's written note to Stephen Stills as he left their 1976 tour; "Funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach, Neil.")

    The three birds - connected with money - might be Crosby, Stills and Nash; financially sound, artistically dead ("prehistoric" - see also "Thrasher": "There was nothing that they needed, nothing left to find"). The telephone booth - the possibility to "sell out" and go back to the big time anytime he wants. But the rider wants the moon, not the birds blocking it. And as the sky is filled with beautiful birds - all the little popstars - his shadow makes him leave the phone booth (though he keeps the change - keeps his options open) and keeps riding on his own, searching for his own path. Still feels the pull.
    beer goodon March 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentExcellent analysis, although hard to know how much is accurate. Certainly the first "Byrd" was David Crosby, who has been quoted the most on his incredulousness as to Neil "riding the Crazy Horse". Your take on the Shadow is the most insightful - food for thought. The links with Thrasher are tantalizing.
    Moonmadnesson July 17, 2016   Link

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