Michael Watts

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If "Long May You Run" is about anything at all, it is the concern of friendship.

Appropriately, therefore, the tenor of this record is mellow and reflective, especially on the first side, although there is nothing beyond the title song that is actually nostalgic. The mood is that of old pals, long since gone different ways but still mutually respectful, winding down in each other's congenial company…. For Young,… "Long May You Run" will surely not be credited with the "significance" of his last four scabrous, if often melodramatic, albums, and I confess I'm not altogether sorry about that. Since "Time Fades Away," his records, particularly "Tonight's The Night," have included remarkable, if painful, illuminations about the pop star process and its man-traps, and have been astonishing in their bitter fatalism, but as one big "statement" has quickly followed another, I've often sought to escape the bludgeoning blows in his first three albums, where Young's craftsmanlike abilities were more to the fore.

It's some relief, indeed, to turn from the rough musicianship of this later body of albums to "Long May You Run," where, except for the heavy-handed "Fontainebleau" and the rather flatly sung "Let It Shine," he sings and performs quite sweetly even.

[On] this album he's more self-contained than he's been for a long time. His three songs on the first side—("Long May You Run," "Midnight On The Bay" and "Ocean Girl") are simple and attractive, both musically and lyrically—even the title track when one finally understands the reference to "chrome heart shining in the sun" means his car—and as such they are almost a return for him to the melodic Southern California rock that he has renounced in recent years…. ["Fontainebleau" is] about the famous hotel in Miami patronised by the aging rich, and Young appears to have taken a disproportionate dislike to it. One might look for a deeper interpretation and say that Young resents the way of life such a ritzy place can symbolise, as he implies, indeed, when he sings "I guess the reason I'm scared of it is I stayed there once and I almost fit." But I believe it's a slight theme impossibly inflated by a ponderous arrangement, and at the very least it's wrong for this album.

"Long May You Run" is what Max Jones would call goodish. It will offend no one but those who demand from Young his continual agonising….

Michael Watts, "Home, Where the Buffaloes Roam," in Melody Maker (© IPC Business Press Ltd.), September 18, 1976, p. 21.

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