My Top 1000 Songs #570: Cortez The Killer

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

One of Neil's darkest, heaviest epics, this monster--a mere 7:30 on the original 1975 Zuma version (or the recent Dume extended alternate LP), but usually given a few more minutes of breathing room when played live--is a haunting blast of history. It starts out boldly, taking the obligatory extended Crazy Horse jam and frontloading it, a nearly 3 and a half minute wait before the lyrics even kick in. And when they do, it's devastating and unforgettable, colonization rendered with poetry, old age romance with horror just outside the frame. Neil's guitar has never sounded more forceful, and the dense, atmospheric mood lingers long after the endless jam fades into the horizon.

Live 1991:
Built to Spill say hell with it to the early fade-out, giving the song 22 minutes of wailing guitar glory, captured on 2000's Live LP:
A much pithier, acoustic take from Matthew Sweet and the Indigo Girls, 1992: