My First Indie.

Following on from Kate Bush, I’d like to introduce you to my awakening.

I wasn’t a Pearl Jam fan, you know. All my friends knew the words to “Jeremy” – I knew that they were that band with the singer with the dodgy voice.

But then in 1995, I was surfing the radio stations in my room, after another day of school. I’m not sure which radio station it was – maybe late night 2FM, which at least is a little more alternative than it’s usual daytime top 40 crap – when something captured my attention.

Pearl Jam. With Neil Young on lead vocals.


About a week later, I bought myself the tape of Young’s 1995 album, “Mirror Ball”. It was one of my first independent purchases, uninfluenced by friend or magazine – only by what I heard.

And what I heard was two songs – the epic, heavy “I’m The Ocean”, and the sustained haunting melody of “Fallen Angel”.

Firstly, “I’m The Ocean”: sprawling, overwhelming. Lyrics lost in the whirling maelstrom of guitars. And Young’s voice – high, trembling, but so powerful. Lyrics, when you can hear them, of love, loss, death, searching, redemption. “Gone With The Wind” in song form.

I’m an accident
I was driving way too fast
Couldn’t stop though
So I let the moment last
I’m for rollin’
I’m for tossin’ in my sleep
It’s not guilt though
It’s not the company I keep

People my age
They don’t do the things I do
They go somewhere
While I run away with you
I got my friends
And I got my children too
I got her love
She’s got my love too

I can’t hear you
But I feel the things you say
I can’t see you
But I see what’s in my way
Now I’m floatin’
Cause I’m not tied
to the ground
Words I’ve spoken
Seem to leave a hollow sound

On the long plain
See the rider in the night
See the chieftain
See the braves
in cool moonlight
Who will love them
When they take another life?
Who will hold them
When they tremble
for the knife?

Voicemail numbers
On an old computer screen
Rows of lovers
Parked forever in a dream
Screaming sirens
Echoing across the bay
To the old boats
From the city far away

Homeless heroes
Walk the streets
of their hometown
Rows of zeros
On a field
that’s turning brown
They play baseball
They play football
under lights
They play card games
And we watch them every night

Need distraction
Need romance and candlelight
Need random violence
Need entertainment tonight
Need the evidence
Want the testimony of
Expert witnesses
On the brutal crimes of love

I was too tired
To see the news
When I got home
Pulled the curtain
Fell into bed alone
Started dreaming
Saw the rider once again
In the doorway
Where she stood
And watched for him
Watched for him

I’m not present
I’m a drug
That makes you dream
I’m an aerostar
I’m a cutlass supreme
In the wrong lane
Trying to turn
Against the flow
I’m the ocean
I’m the giant undertow

I’m the ocean
I’m the ocean
I’m the giant undertow
I’m the ocean
I’m the giant undertow
I’m the ocean
I’m the ocean
I’m the ocean
I’m the ocean
I’m the ocean
I’m the ocean

As a counterpoint to the reverb-heavy “I’m The Ocean”, “Fallen Angel”. Brief. Beautiful. A single organ underscoring a few scant lyrics of loneliness.

Fallen angel
Who’s your saviour tonight?
You’re surrounded by these walls and neon lights
Hungry people move like waves behind the beat
Where’s the big drum?
Where’s the feel of body heat?
Where’s the big drum?
Where’s the feel of body heat?

“Mirror Ball” didn’t make me a Neil Young fan. Nor a Pearl Jam one. I’m not even a big fan of the album itself.

But these two songs left an imprint on me that lasts to this day – awakening me to look outside the music I loved and was most comfortable with, and to explore.

Neil Young – I’m The Ocean

Neil Young – Fallen Angel

www: Neil Young

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