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Chrome Dreams ll
Artist: Neil Young 
Label:  Reprise / Wea 
Length:  10 tracks

As he ages, Neil Young has been becoming more spiritual. When I say spiritual I mean in the Canadian sense of the word. Though living in America and married to an American wife with American kids, Young’s formative years were under a prairie wind and nothing that he has experienced in recent conservative Christian White House days has convinced him to take on board the common or garden Christian faith of his adopted homeland. I remember sitting in traffic trying to get into a Presbyterian Church in Seattle just 100 miles from the one I was used to attending in Vancouver and being amazed at the difference in Church attendance. Douglas Coupland has well documented secular Canada and the need in a spiritual vacuum to use art to create the spiritual structures that human beings seem to need, at least Coupland confesses to it. Young might be on a similar road in the latter part of his life and work. Indeed road is an interesting word to use because many of these songs seek guidance and light and a way to some place called home where the pilgrim belongs. On, the beautifully familiar guitar work out, "Spirit Road" he puts it this way - There's a long highway in your mind/The spirit road that you must find/To get you home to peace again/Where you belong my love lost friend.” On the almost Sufjan Stevens-esque The Way he almost repeats himself, “If you're lost and think you can't be found/We know the way, we've got the way/We'll lead the way/To getcha back home/To the peace where you belong.” 

I came to the career of Neil Young with my mate Rab’s purchase of American Stars N Bars in 1977. "Hurricane" and "Hold Back the Tears" are the sound of Neil that I love most. Why this is relevant to a review of an album thirty years later is that those songs were originally to be released on an album called Chrome Dreams and this album is named Chrome Dreams II and must therefore in some way be related to that unreleased album. Young must feel that there is a spirit and feel to these songs which reflect Chrome Dreams just as Harvest Moon was equated with the original Harvest_ album. So, it is more than likely that I’ll be subjectively drawn to this work. And I am. The opening Bluebird is that rustic Neil Young Roll and Ordinary People is that long played out guitar Neil Young Rock jam, messing with the attention deficiency of the days youth culture by being the first single at 18 minutes plus; most of my students would have six songs through their iPod shuffle in that time! Where Young gets the balance between these two aspects of his sound, I find a more satisfying piece of work and this album sure does satisfy. 

Steve Stockman   

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has written two books Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2 which he is currently updating and The Rock Cries Out; Discovering Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music. He dabbles in poetry and songwriting and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ He has his own web page--Rhythms of Redemption at . He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine.

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