Friday, February 01, 2008

Pocahontas, Marlon Brando, and Me

Listen: Johnny Cash - Pocahontas (buy album)

Wasn't that good? It really works for me. Powerful images, understated yet dramatic delivery, bold and intersting instrumentation (cello, flute). Epic. American.

It's rare for a popular musician to produce such compelling music so late in their career. So this song, a Neil Young cover available on the excellent Unchained box set, stands as a real testament to the abilities of both Cash and producer Rick Rubin.

Pitchfork's reviewer didn't agree. He objected to Rubin's decision to add the cello and flute, a la Eleanor Rigby, and wished that Johnny could have just stuck to his old "tunk-tukka-tunk" style of the 1950s: Pitchfork review.

I give it "two thumbs up": One for Cash's intense delivery and one for Young's striking, if somewhat unusual, lyrics. Each part compliments the other.

Let me know what you think (and I won't be offended if you agree with Pitchfork).

Here's Neil Young's original version of the same song:

Neil Young - Pocahontas (buy album).

Question: Is Johnny doing his best Marlon Brando impersonation in that photo above?


lil m said...

unrelated to Johnny...i just wanted to give ya a shout out on the Blawg Dawg & turn ya onto a Tom T Hall vid I uploaded last week to the ol' You Tube ranch...


brendan said...

here's a question for you paul. why are you wasting your time reading pitchfork reviews? ;)

Anonymous said...

Its nice to see the same song by two artists who have very intense vocal presense. Two thumbs up.

free mp3 downloads said...

We are building wyplanet on friendship and music. Wyplanet beta site launches in a few days sign up for a free beta account today and become a part of our neighborhood.

free music downloads

Jordy said...

It's interesting, but I stand by the NY original on Rust Never Sleeps.

Paul said...


I agree Neil's version is hard to beat. And, for me, this is one of his best songs. I probably should've spent more time on Neil, but I was falling asleep by the time I finished the post!

Paul said...

lil m, thanks for the tip! It's a great video.

Two songs by Tom T. Hall