In this day of digital downloads, YouTube, and music sharing, it seems that the album (or “LP”) has gone the way of the dinosaur. Music fans simply scan websites, select their song selections, and move on to the next site before they even have a chance to hear the tune they just downloaded. This revolutionary approach to obtaining music has replaced the days when music fans would buy an album of ten to fourteen songs by a given artist and, in the process, discover musical “gems” hidden somewhere on those tracks. “Mr. Disappointment”, from Neil Young’s 2002 release You’re passionate? It is one of these buried treasures.
Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young made his first impression with the bands Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Since starting as a solo artist, Young has made musical explorations in swing, electronic music, the 1950s style, and grunge (to name a few). Young’s 26th studio album. You’re passionate? represents his foray into soul music with Booker T and the MGs, as well as Young’s band Crazy Horse. While many of the tracks are soul-inspired, the tune “Mr. Disappointment” jumps out of the collection like a Neil Young classic.
“Mr. Disappointment” begins with the slow 2/4 tempo of Bob Dylan in his recent work (ie “Mississippi”, “Shooting Star”). This rhythmic and rhythm “pocket” is the perfect canvas for Neil’s grunge tune. The electric guitar inspired intro that we later learn is the chorus melody of the song. But what is truly captivating is Young’s vocal approach. Again, it is very reminiscent of recent Dylan, as the song’s verses are essentially spoken rather than sung. The opening line sets the mood and tone of the song: “Where did all the feelings go? What about that happy glow? Was that so long ago, when we first fell in love? Instead, everything was still. The same. And when that moment came, I did not know. “
In the chorus, Young switches from the spoken word to his characteristic high, nasal and tenor tone and sings sadly: “I would like to shake your hand, Disappointment. It seems that you are winning again, but this time could be the last … . “
The song moves between verse and chorus juxtaposing the spoken word with Young’s singing and in between are Young’s heartbreaking guitar riffs in Les Paul tones. His guitar solo at three-quarters of the piece is as beautiful as any solo Young has ever played.
From a songwriter’s point of view, Neil Young’s “Mr. Disappointment” is one of the most compelling and honest songs in Young’s catalog. However, it is Young’s rendition of this tune that makes it completely unforgettable. Browse to your favorite music website and see for yourself. But bring the Kleenex.