This Is Me--2024 A to Z Theme

My A to Z Themes in the past have covered a range of topics and for 2024 the theme is a personal retrospective that I call "I Coulda Been" which is in reference to my job and career arc over my lifetime. I'll be looking at all sorts of occupations that I have done or could have done. Maybe you've done some of these too!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Battle of the Bands: I'm Jumping in the Song River for Round 3

And Now for the Friday Night Fights
         This is round three of the Battle of the Bands.  I missed rounds one and two but when I saw this going on I just had to dive in--I love this music stuff as you regular readers may be aware.  If you're wondering what I'm even talking about you can check my original announcement or you can go directly to the source at Faraway Series and Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends.   In fact you need to go to those sites to see who the other contenders doing battle are.  Then you vote your opinion.  Don't forget there are prizes at stake.

Here's the Deal

        Let me explain more about this.  On (or around) the first and fifteenth of each month we who are participating will post our selected match-ups.   In the comments readers will vote for their favorite versions of each song.  Be sure to give us your reason for voting on the selection you have chosen.  Then on (or about) the 7th and 21st of each month we who have participated in the BOTB posts will announce the vote tally and tell you our own personal choices.   Easy enough, right?

        Why should you vote?  Here's Stephen T McCarthy's explanation: Every 4 months there will be a new compact disc winner. In other words, ‘Battle Of The Bands’ #1 was posted on August 1, 2013, so at the end of November, one of you lucky voters is going to win a CD that includes one of the songs we’ve featured in our ‘Battle Of The Bands’ installments (you get to choose, and it doesn’t matter if the song won or lost its battle – if you like it, it’s YOURS!)

        Stephen at Ferret-Faced Fascist Friends is monitoring the contest so be sure to vote at his site. And Faraway Eyes at Faraway Series put together this whole extravaganza so be sure to visit her site as well. 

          So on with my part of the show!   Here are my contenders:

Neil Young "Down by the River" (1969)

         This classic song is from prolific songwriter/music artist Neil Young's  second album.   In his sophomore solo effort Young was backed by Crazy Horse, a band made up of most of the members of Los Angeles based group The Rockets.  I probably don't have to say much about the artist or the song since most of you are probably familiar with both.

         Take a listen...

McKendree Spring "Down by the River" (1972)

        McKendree Spring appeared on the music scene in 1969, but I didn't pick up on them until they had released their third album in 1972.   When I noted that they were covering one of my favorite songs by Neil Young and had a violin player in their line up, I decided that this was an album that I had to own.  I was not disappointed.  Their albums frequently include cover versions.

         Lamentably, the third album is the only McKendree Spring album I've ever owned and the only one that I'm familiar with.  Since Amazon and other internet purveyors were not around yet, finding the Spring albums was not always easy.  Back then I rarely ordered albums in record stores and music buying was mostly an impulse thing for me.  If I had seen other Spring albums at times when I had the money on hand, I would have probably picked them up.

        This group is still together and has a few recent recordings.  They apparently still play on occasion.  You can find more about them at the McKendree Spring website.

         Here's their version...

Now It's Your Turn

        Please vote for your favorite version in my comment section.  Then go to the blogs of Stephen and Faraway Eyes  to vote for their contenders.   Your votes will be kept on record for the final tally.

         You may win a CD!

          If  you want to join in and post your own battle we welcome you to do so.  Let us know in the comment section that you are adding your own match ups.   It's not a blogfest officially, but it's kind of like one.  If you're joining us then be sure to link to the three blogs that are in the contest (mine, Faraway Eyes, and Stephen T McCarthy) so readers will know what's going on and join in on the contest.  I've already heard that Alex J Cavanaugh is doing a battle on his site.

          Don't forget to come back on September 7th (or the case of Tossing It Out Friday September 6th) to see which version readers preferred and why I chose my personal favorite.

           Which version do you prefer?   Why do you prefer this version?   Had you previously heard of McKendree Spring?

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Yes, my battle is already up! And I'm stunned it's so close - a lot of rockers out there.
    I prefer McKendree Spring's version. It's cleaner, both musically and with the voice. Sorry, I never cared for Young's voice, so that's the deal breaker.
    Cool Stephen is giving away a CD.

  2. There isn't a huge difference between the two. I think I like the McKendree version better.

    I thought battle of the bands was a fun idea and posted two videos today.

  3. While I'm not a huge Neil Young fan, I liked his version just a tad better than McKendree Spring's

    I'm ashamed to say, though, I've never heard of McKendree Spring...and I'm a pretty big 'classic rock' buff.

    I have some Googling to do now :)

  4. Neil Young, hands down! He was an old soul even back when he was a young guy.

  5. Never heard of McKendree Spring until today.

    I anticipated liking Neil Young's version better, but I was surprised by McKendree Spring. I really enjoyed the voice of the lead vocalist. Now, that might not have been enough to get me, but I liked the arrangement better. McKendree Spring saved their instrumental section until the end and it had PURPROSE (aside from showing off the skill of whomever was rocking it out). I actually felt the tension of the song building to a crescendo as it raced toward the end. Then the boom. And finally the plaintive sound of the chorus. Really well done.

    My vote, with some unexpected surprise, goes to McKendree Spring.

  6. I think I like Neil Young's version better but to be honest with you Lee they're both really good songs, I'm going to vote for Neil Young though.

  7. Alex - I guess if you win you won't be picking any Neil Young CD's.

    L.Diane -- The mood of the two versions is similar, but I think the presentation is very different.

    Mark -- I don't know that McKendree Spring is in the Classic Rock category. They are obscure to most.

    Kelly -- Neil Young has left a huge legacy.

    Robin -- I like the way you broke down and analyzed the McKendree Spring version. Very perceptive I think.

    Yeamie -- Neil Young it is for your vote. After all he wrote the song.


  8. I wouldn't turn off MKS, but Neil is that good old turn-on-the-guitar-and-get-stoned stuff I really love (even if the stoned part hasn't come into play in many moons). Despite Neil being by far my favorite act in the three BOTBs this week, this was the closest contest.

    At one time, I owned a fair number of Neil Young albums and considered myself a fan. Some years later, I began to think of him more as "a poor man's Dylan".

    Today, I own none of Neil's albums, although there is a handful of his songs I still genuinely like, particularly (as I've stated more than once on your blog) 'SUGAR MOUNTAIN'.

    This song you posted is, I think, pretty good. Nothing I'd feel that I need to own, but I don't mind listening to it.

    In my op., if someone is going to cover a song, they ought to think they can considerably improve it, feel that they have a better lead vocalist for it, or believe that they have a VERY DIFFERENT way of presenting it. Otherwise, what's the point in re-recording it?

    I don't feel the cover version here was significantly different enough to justify the re-recording, and I do kind of like Neil's (nearly) trademark raggedy, grungy electric guitar work in his original.

    So... add a vote for NEIL YOUNG.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  10. Sorry that I didn't vote sooner. I stopped by yesterday via my phone, read you post, made my decision, but because my phone is smarter than me, I was unable to leave a comment from it. I guess somewhere in my mind, I thought I had already voted.

    There was a time when Neil really got on my nerves, but then he kind of grew on me and I find that I love some of his stuff.

    I found that McKendree Spring had a sound that reminded me of Buffalo Springfield. Interesting? Tribute? Or some other anomaly (perhaps one of my own).

    In the end I gotta vote for Neil - long may he run.

    Incidentally, I've only ever seen him perform in person once, on my first trip to Tahoe.

  11. I'd have to go with Neil Young -- guess I'm just more familiar with him. Wasn't he on Sesame Street?

  12. I decided to join in on the BOTB fun. Hope you stop in and vote!

  13. Lee -

    Thanks for opening this up to non-blogging, un-documented Yayhoos like me. I'll understand if you need to cut back because you get too much spam. Since StMcC's blog is moderated, that issue is eliminated.

    Anyway... as I said on his blog, voting on YOUR BOTB: my choice is Neil Young by a nose. I like them both. And, thanks again for educating me about McKendree Spring.

    Sheboyganboy VI

  14. CW -- Neil is one of my all time favorite artists.

    Sheena-kay -- Neil seems to be winning over all.

    StMc --I am still a big Young fan and probably over Dylan. To make the comparison you've made seems a bit off to me since Dylan is mainly about the words and for young it's the effect of the music. Your comments on the comparison make me wonder how closely you listened to the MKS version. The are similar in tempo and arrangement to some vague extent, but there is no mistaking one for the other. Spring's vocalist is far better technically than Young and the orchestration takes the song to a very different level. I think Robin said it well.

    Faraway -- I've been a die hard Young fan from the first time I heard him. I do see some similarity to Buffalo Springfield--especially in the songs they did with Young. I only saw Neil in concert once and that would have been in Kansas City. I don't remember much about that concert though.

    Susan Kane -- We are all getting older.

    Milo -- I must have missed Neil's Sesame Street performance unless he we in the Big Bird costume or something.

    Robin -- Yay Robin!

    Sheyboygan --I'll try to keep it this way. Some of my most intriguing comments have come from "anonymous". I've started to get a little spam but so far not unbearable.


  15. Lee-

    It's always hard for me to go against the songwriter's own version, even when the songwriter in question has a voice that is reminiscent of a cat howling when you step on its tail.

    So cast my vote for Neil Young....


  16. Neil Young hands down. Honestly it is a sentimental vote for me. I would spend nights coloring by the fireplace rocking with my dad to Neil Young, while mom was out. Or I would come home and know my dad was in his office working and mom was gone shopping because again Neil would be blaring...Love it, took me back.

    McKendree just kept it a bit to mellow too.


Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.