By Steve Newton
My morning commute from Delta to Vancouver can really suck—mainly because of a concrete montrosity called the Alex Fraser Bridge—but every now and again I slide in a CD that makes the trip a little less painful.
Today I chose Neil Young’s Mirror Ball album—that awesome one from ’95 that he recorded with the guys from Pearl Jam—but I didn’t get past track three, “I’m the Ocean”.
I kept on playing “I’m the Ocean” over and over again. I guess it was the highway-ready lyrics of the first verse that hooked me:
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.
There’s a shitload of verses in “I’m the Ocean”—nine to be exact—and I’m not about to reprint them all here (just watch the video). But I love how the last one–just before Eddie Vedder starts joining in on that closing “I’m the Ocean” chant—returns to the vehicular vibe.
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, tryna turn against the flow/I’m the ocean, I’m the giant undertow.
Fvck do I love the way Neil Young writes songs! Not always sure what he’s on about, but I guess that’s part of the attraction.
It’s not just his thought-provoking lyrics that make a person play “I’m the Ocean” eight times on their morning commute, though. Ya gotta give it to Pearl Jam: they brought it on this track.
Skinbasher Jack Irons deserves the Golden Drumstick for the way he anchors the seven-minute tune from beginning to end.
And how about that gloriously ragged guitar noise that comes from Neil hooking up with Stone Gossard and Mike McCready? I’m pretty sure that’s one of the sweetest sounds ever heard in the history of recorded music.
As I write this I’m listening to “I’m the Ocean” for about the 13th or 14th time today. Gotta stop now, though.
Aw, fvck it. Bring on number 15.