“He trusted in a woman/And on her he made his bets…”
–Neil Young
“Barstool Blues”

Marc Ford ranks as one of the world’s most gifted guitar players. He’s the former lead guitarist of Burning Tree, The Black Crowes, Ben Harper and The Magpie Salute. He’s an underrated songwriter, and has toured with his own bands through the last two decades. Ford’s released six studio albums, and earned the distinct honor of being one of the few Caucasians to win an NAACP award.

Last month, Ford produced Red Shahan’s new record at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals. Ford and Chris Goldsmith produced  Grianne Duffy’s upcoming May 2023 album. Ford also discovered Ryan Bingham back in 2006. Ford told me today he’s currently shopping his new solo album In Dope Country to various labels now. So, Neil Songs serves as a timely release…

I asked Ford about this latest EP. “It took three days to record”, he told me. Ford’s a big Neil Young fan. He selected six electric tunes to record: “Lookout Joe” (Tonight’s The Night), “L.A” (Time Fades Away), “Southern Man” (Harvest), “Don’t Cry No Tears” (Zuma), “Barstool Blues” (Zuma) and “Albuquerque” (Tonight’s The Night).

Phil Jones is an American drummer and percussionist who played drums and percussion with Tom Petty, both live and in the studio, including Petty’s album Full Moon Fever. Neil Songs was recorded at Jones’ Robust Recordings.

The musicians on Neil Songs feature Jones (drums), Jim Wilson (bass, vocals), Phil Pariapiano (keys) and James “Hutch” Hutchinson (bass). Great group. Neil Songs kicks off with “Lookout Joe”. Ford’s a tone guru and on this number he emits a cleaner sound compared to Young’s gritty “Old Black” rendition. When Ford sings “Lookout Joe/We’re coming home/Old times were good times” and then plays an incandescent solo you know this release is worth owning.

Ford performed “L.A” when he was in the Black Crowes, and it’s great to hear a studio version of Young’s song about the Golden State’s beauty and its deadly earthquakes. Few would dare to cover “Southern Man”–one of Young’s trademark tunes–but Ford delivers with a more laid back approach that sounds remarkable.

“Don’t Cry No Tears” adheres to the classic Crazy Horse version, but Ford injects his own six-string snakebite. Neil Songs ends with two of this writer’s favorite Young numbers–“Barstool Blues” and “Albuquerque”. “Barstool Blues” retains the wide-open desperation of the original. Ford’s sidewinding solo evokes a resonating twang, which causes this listener to grin.

The final cut, “Albuquerque”, may be my one preferred track. When Ford sings “So I’ll stop when I can/To find some fried eggs and country ham/I’ll find somewhere/Where they don’t care who I am/Oh, Albuquerque” you almost visualize Super 8 film footage on some desert highway as Marc Ford drives away in a 1971 Cadillac Eldorado with his signature Asher guitar in the backseat.

Pure gold.



(Read my definitive interview with Marc Ford in Insured Beyond The Grave Volume 2.)