Video Review: Neil Young’s Devastating “Ramada Inn”

When you have a spare 20 minutes, grab some headphones and take your laptop to a dark corner to watch and listen to “Ramada Inn.” You will need the extra three or four minutes to compose yourself.

By Kathleen Burke

Life’s journey can be desolate but beautiful. The complicated relationships woven over the years are unique to each of us, but the problems posed by modern life are reliable commonalities. Though there are new changes with each passing decade, the simplicity of the elemental conflict remains. It’s the same old story of man and woman loving each other, hurting each other, and trying to make sense of it all as time passes. These experiences are at the tender/tough center in the emotionally searing, nearly 17 minute video for “Ramada Inn,” from the forthcoming Neil Young and Crazy Horse album Psychedelic Pill set for release on October 30th.

The video for “Ramada Inn” juxtaposes vintage film footage, much of which appears to be shot on the Pacific Coast Highway and meandering, Malibu wine country roads, with psychedelic/kaleidoscope images of wholesome, country landscapes, and Fender guitars. Scenes of vacationing families, holiday visits, and private conversations are layered into the video with the panache of an impressionist painter, splattering nostalgic emotions over the simplistic lyrics of “Ramada Inn.”

Only Neil Young, given his mastery of songwriting and vocal delivery, can make words such as “she loves him so, so she does what she needs to” cut so deeply to the bone. There is a tone of resignation in Young’s voice. He has seen more than his share of life’s chaos, and though the song is devastating, there is a zen-like quality in Young’s presentation. Expansive guitar tones warble beautifully throughout the song, which has all the expected, sweetly gritty signature sounds of a Neil Young-Crazy Horse collaboration.

When you have a spare 20 minutes, grab some headphones and take your laptop to a dark corner to watch and listen to “Ramada Inn.” You will need the extra three or four minutes to compose yourself.

Psychedelic Pill will be released as a double CD album or three album vinyl set and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. More information including tour dates can be found on Neil Young’s official website.

Posted in , ,


  1. Tony Wallace on October 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    The sound is vintage Neil Young / Crazy Horse, the images (except for the psychedelia) vintage Raymond Carver. Odd to see Carver country backed by a Neil Young soundtrack, but I now see that these two artists have more in common than I might have otherwise imagined. The simple language, the everyday concerns, the blank spaces and repetitions –the anguished insistence on the limitations of language and the inevitability of cliche. For most of us, truth does turn inevitably into cliche, but for Carver and Young, cliche turns somewhat magically into truth. Nice work if you can get it.

    Tony Wallace

  2. John Tiedemann on March 4, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    I just wanted to say the review by Kathleen Burke on Neil Young’s Ramada Inn was way cool. She wrote a thoroughly absorbing and in my not so humble opinion, spot on article.

  3. Dave Bowden on January 23, 2014 at 1:46 am

    I’ve lost touch with Young’s work over the years. Not because of anything other than life. I haven’t bought any of his work since Re-Actor. I just had stuff to do.

    The first note of “Ramada Inn” bought everything back in an instant. I remembered the awe I felt watching Live Rust and the peace I felt listening to Harvest.

    It’s like we’re all in his personal thoughts for a brief moment. Thanks Neil.

  4. kim on February 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    your writing is a beautiful, profound expression of the truth

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts