Ordinary People

Album: Chrome Dreams II (2007)
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Songfacts®:

  • "Ordinary People" is a tribute, of over 18 minutes in length, to the common man who are struggling with everyday issues such as drugs, crime and paying their taxes. Though never released, it became the centerpiece of many of Young's shows in the late '80s and the song has gone down in rock folklore.
  • Neil Young told the October 4, 2007 Guardian newspaper: "I think its time has come. People may have been distracted 20 years ago with the fact that I was doing a song with horns. Some people were upset with me. So I didn't want to have to fight that battle and release the song. It was such a powerful record that it overtook everything that I put it with."
  • The original Chrome Dreams was an unreleased collection of songs mostly recorded between September '75 - November 1976 at Indigo Studios in Malibu Canyon, California. In the same Guardian newspaper article, Young said that Chrome Dreams II takes its inspiration from the original Chrome Dreams album. "Chrome Dreams represents a kind of record that I like to make where there's a lot of different kinds of music," he said. "I used to make those records all the time in the '70s. Every record that I made had acoustic and electric songs on it. And then things changed in the '80s and in the '90s. The records became focused more on one kind of music. And the radio stations have everything separated, so I made records like that for a while. Chrome Dreams II draws on the past."
  • Neil Young recorded his album at a garage studio in Redwood City, California, which features vintage gas pumps on the forecourt.
  • In an interview with Gibson, Young said that "Some early listeners have said that this album is positive and spiritual. I like to think it focuses on the human condition. Like many of my recordings, this one draws on earlier material here and there. I used to do that a lot back in the day. Some songs, like 'Ordinary People,' need to wait for the right time. I think now is the right time for that song and it lives well with the new songs I have written in the past few months."

Comments: 5

  • Eastcoastdave from Everson, WaI first heard that song on The Bluenotes tour in 1988, I think. I was still in the Buffalo NY area at the time. Anyway, it blew my mind. It may be 18 minutes long, but it grabbed my attention by the throat and didn't let go. I had already heard the Bluenotes record, and I thought "Why wasn't that amazingly great song put out on that?". Now I know.
  • AnonymousThanks for the knowledge. Can't turn the song off. It's in my head. Neil does that. Cortez!
  • Lars Clausen from Denmark@David "you can't just record a 18min song and expect it to hold everyone's attention for that long". You may be right 'bout nowadays people, but I think it's sad if it's so. It reminds of Iron Butterfly massive hit 1968-hit "In a gadda-da-vida", approx. the same length, and those days it wasn't seldom to see one song exceed one whole side of an lp. I love Ordinary People, and I believe it to be a masterpiece. - Touches me every time - tune, mood, orchestration, lyrics - and it is exactly the length it should be.
  • Derek from Dublin, Irelandi loved this song since the first time i heard it... the length of it dosen bother me at all... neil young is just a complete legend on the music scene
  • David from Huntington Beach, CaI enjoy this song, but I have to say...Neil you overcame your welcome. I have "Rust Never Sleeps' tatted on my arm, so I'm a huge Neil Young fan, AND I did love this song when I first heard it and those first dozen or so listens...but the fact is this song is just plain to long. If it was supposed to be a "live" version I can see, but you can't just record a 18min song and expect it to hold everyone's attention for that long.
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