24. Neil Young, “Natural Beauty” (Harvest Moon, 1992)
While Harvest Moon is certainly a pleasant album, most of the songs I’ll take in the less placid versions made available on Unplugged or Dreamin’ Man ‘92, if at all. (Did he release the latter, a solo acoustic performance of Harvest Moon, because he regretted that album’s gauzy production, or because he thought people would buy it twice?) The one big exception is “Natural Beauty,” not coincidentally the only track recorded live. The marimba connects this surreal ’90s ecological meditation to the surreal ’70s romantic meditation “Will To Love,” and if that track was Neil turning “into a salmon while masturbating in front of the fireplace” (as Christgau put it) for eight minutes, this one has Neil turning into crickets after masturbating at The Civic Auditorium in Portland for ten, spouting shit like “We watched the moment of defeat/ Played back over on the video screen/ Somewhere deep inside of my soul.” “Will To Love” just missed my top 40, though, and while I’m not sure “a natural beauty should be preserved like a monument to nature” is poetry, it sounds awfully purty in context.