"Long May You Run" - Levi's, You owe me this.
Mornin' folks... Last week I teased that I would make available my cover of Neil Young's "Long May You Run." So here it is. I hope you enjoy...
Listen while you read my thoughts & explanations below, and when you're finished reading...listen again? Thanks for stopping by today!
At first I thought I was attempting a straight cover. Some acoustics and harmony. Instead, I took it a little off course into my own direction, and it happens without thinking. Suddenly you take a step back to listen and realize you've created something different with someone else's parts. Pretty cool.
So, why this song? It's embarrassing to say, but this is the kind of song that just hovered below my radar for too long...which is upsetting because I paid a lot of money for this radar. Neil Young is one of music's greatest beings. I first witnessed him while watching Bob Dylan's 30th Anniversary Concert with my friend Scott when we were 17? I'm the first to admit, I was a late bloomer. While learning how to play guitar, Eric Clapton was my #1, and since we were watching on VHS, Neil Young's performance was a couple of songs before Eric's amazing version of "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright"... Its interesting because, I remember seeing Neil Young and thinking "This guy's crazy"...his solo's were raucous and unpleasant to my uneducated ears. Turns out, it only took me 15 years to realize, he might be the perfect combination of what I'm attempting to achieve. From loud, piercing solo's to soft beautiful songs and he doesn't need an excuse to make the transition. I find myself dealing with this regularly, and how to pull off both, and since my Neil Young revelation, I will no longer care. Thank you, Mr. Young.
A good friend recently played "long may you run" and I recognized it from Conan O'Brien's final week on The Tonight Show. Neil was the Monday night guest, and he performed this with just a guitar and harmonica. Genius. I think it's safe to say that was the first time I'd ever heard it (embarrassing.) I just wanted to keep playing it, over and over again. On my ride home, I listened on repeat. The song connected with me instantly, and if you know me...I'm a sucker for beach imagery, a love song (that may or may not be about a car) or a beautiful melody, and to have all 3...masterpiece.
As soon as I had the idea to record my own version, I imagined the artwork. As you may have seen my post last week, that art is James Vanderberg's "Robert Moses Bridge." I tweaked it a touch, to look like a polaroid. Granted the "polaroid thing" is done and done again, but I wanted to convey that through the eye of the fake camera, I see everything coated in vibrant colors. Maybe why I so strongly connect with most of James' paintings. But this one, specifically, combines those vibrant colors with my little beach utopia. Along a coastal road, with the surf crashing below...this is one of my favorite Vanderbergs without a doubt.
Many thanks to James, as always, for letting me use his work.
So, why do this now and make it available to everyone? Levi's (yes, the clothing company) has put together a campaign called the "Pioneer Sessions," where current artists go into the Levi's studio and record covers of songs that impacted them early on in their careers, or as young musicians. This is exactly the sort of thing I always envy of established artists. That somewhere along the chain of command, they're asked to be a part of this (and they probably get free clothes.) I think they've really done this one right. It's the perfect mix of major pop artists (Jason Mraz, Colbie Caillat) & the well known but "not so mainstream" (She & Him, The Shins, Swell Season) doing great songs. I recommend you check it out after your stay at EsMatteo.com.
Now, to get personal... I'm a little insulted that Levi's didn't ask me to participate. It's a little known fact that my first "proper" job was with Levi's...59th street & Lexington Avenue to be exact. Remember that time I worked through the night on Halloween to do inventory? remember?! You OWE me this, Levi's. You owe me.
Anyway, let's call this the straw that broke the camel's back, or the song that stroked the moose's ego, or the hound that befriended the duck...whatever the case may be, I decided to say "F*&% it!...So what" It may not be posted on the Levi's website, but dammit, I don't care. (maybe Jordache will have me?)
Thanks for reading this far! I hope you enjoyed the track and if you have the ability to somehow steal the audio and pass it on to your friends, I'm not gonna fight you on that. In the meantime, do me a favor and forward this around to anyone you like!
see you soon.