1. Buffalo Springfield, “Mr. Soul” (Buffalo Springfield Again, 1967)
Neil reportedly yammered about finally getting a chance to “combine Dylan with the Stones” when he met Crazy Horse, but I think he’d already made a strong crack at it here. Granted, the “Satisfication” rip makes the reference point blatant, but afaict Neil sees the two poles as stand-offish trippy folkie wordplay and stand-offish rockin’ out and if there’s a both-cooler-and-colder outro than “is it strange I should change, I don’t know. Why don’t you ask her?” I haven’t heard it and would probably quibble if you suggested it.
The problem with the “Dylan with the Stones” thing is that a) the Stones and Dylan had already combined each other with each other at this point to some degree and b) Neil will never be Dylan or the Stones. For all his lyricism, Neil’s always made the emotional thrust of his music far more coherent than Bob does - even here he’s saying “YEAH, WELL, WHATEVER” outright, without the cloaks and trap doors his hero would throw in. And while Stones may signify the urge to GO WILD to Neil, he’ll never have the same sense of irony that Mick and Keith bring to their efforts. He’s like their little brother, anxious to beat the guys who stand above them at their own game, only his goal is so apparent that he’ll never have a shot at their mystique.
So it’s a good thing that, despite this sunglasses-on-a-rollercoaster tantrum, Neil stayed part vulnerable folkie, part hard rock wildman, and just kept plugging away decade after decade. His inability to truly play cool, unlike fellow “New Dylans” who managed to be become “Old Themselves” like Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed, means he gets to roll with BTO and people who prefer to listen to BTO, while throwing just enough of a heavy vibe to play “profound artist” to power chord addicts. Pays pretty good and you get to play arenas as well as concert halls.
I’m a big fan of contradictions in music, of people who can have disparate influences, impulses and sentiments, and manage to juggle them all the way through an album. Or in Neil’s case, all the way through a career. Increasingly, I tell people that I want to know what they “love” about a musical act, and usually it’s something the artists do that nobody really asked them to do, a choice they made (or regularly make) that flies in the face of the ordinary, of being merely passable. The reason I decided to ramble on about the 40 songs on my ILX ballot is so I could try to get closer to why Neil is the king of this shit for me. I wish I knew if the clip above was just another merry band of psychedelics for the audience, or if anyone had a “holy shit” Beatles-on-Sullivan moment watching Springfield switch songs midstream, and unleash this quivering, conquering eccentric on the world. In hindsight, I always do.