Somewhere there’s a rainbow for me: Neil Young & the Shocking Pinks’ surreal “Cry, Cry, Cry”

By on October 4, 2018

We thought it’d be nice to take a look back to Night Flight’s rarely-seen “Playback ’83” episode, which provided our loyal cable TV viewership with a nice little survey of the year’s most popular music videos, including Neil Young & the Shocking Pinks’ surreal, color-infused “Cry, Cry, Cry” video, which established, once and for all, that Neil Young was likely to occasionally offer up an unexpected “course correction” in order to keep his fans a “wonderin'” what was comin’ next.

This comprehensive wrap-up looks back at the year’s best music and films, not to mention reviewing the hottest-selling tours of the year, the top 5 albums, the latest fashions (including Norma Kamali’s “Street Beat” — read more about it here), the hot new dance moves, and oh so much more!

Watch this fine vintage episode — which originally aired on November 14, 1983 — now on Night Flight Plus!

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Celebrated video director Tim Pope — best known for his work with the Cure — lensed Young’s very first music videos, “Wonderin'” and “Cry, Cry, Cry,” which were both credited to his brand new band, Neil Young & the Shocking Pinks.

“Cry, Cry, Cry” — which features Young, lookin’ a little like Link Wray, trying to flag down passing vehicles on a desert highway after what appears to be car trouble, or band trouble, or some kind of trouble — was produced by British producer Gordon Lewis for GLO Productions, whose GLO Productions’ main focus was to get music videos back to the the kind of creative, experimental phase that had characterized them at the beginning, way back in 1981, when MTV and the USA Network’s “Night Flight” both launched (we beat MTV to the airwaves by a few months, in case you were wonderin’).

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According to a Billboard magazine article (June 21, 1986), Pope and Lewis were openly discussing their desire to expand Neil Young’s music videos into a full-length, longform program, depending on his availability.

By that point, of course, Young had already moved on down the road, and we’re guessing he wasn’t too interested in looking back in the rear-view mirror at where he’d been, preferring instead to always look forward in his career.

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In the lyrics to “Cry, Cry, Cry,” Young had even foretold how he wasn’t likely to stay in one place for too long:

“Well, somewhere there’s a rainbow for me, I know it’s my time/I am getting so tired of standing in this light/Can’t you hear me cry?”

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Read more about Neil Young & the Shocking Pink’s Everybody’s Rockin’ below.

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Young had essentially created the Shocking Pinks for the sole purpose of recording of his new album, Everybody’s Rockin’, which clocks in at just short of 25 minutes long.

It was supposed to have included two more songs, “Get Gone” and “Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me” — which both ended up on his odds & sods compilation Lucky Thirteen – but his record company Geffen cancelled the recording sessions.

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Everybody’s Rockin’ — Young’s somewhat-unlucky thirteenth studio album, released on August 1, 1983 — was the direct result of his label’s head honcho, David Geffen, declining to release Old Ways, the straight-up country album Young had recorded for them over the previous fall.

An infuriated Geffen demanded Young record “a rock ‘n’ roll album,” which is what led to Young going back to 1950s-style rockabilly for these recordings.

The Shocking Pinks album — the cover photo even had a retro-ish ’50’s color scheme, showing Young and his band with their hair slicked back and wearing rockabilly-styled suits — seems like it would appeal to the fans of ’80s-era bands like the Stray Cats, the Blasters, and Los Lobos, but the album pretty much confused and surprised everyone who took it for a spin, particularly since it had arrived just seven short months after the release of his previous album, the synth-heavy, electro-rockin’ Trans.

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The following year, Geffen sued Young for turning in recordings that were “not commercial” and “musically uncharacteristic of [his] previous recordings,” because of this record and its predecessor.

As a part of the suit, Geffen demanded that Young repay the $3.3 million dollars he’d received in advance for Trans and Everybody’s Rockin’.

Young responded to Geffen’s lawsuit by counter-suing for $21 million dollars, alleging breach of contract and fraud, since Young had been promised no creative interference from David Geffen.

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Both lawsuits were dropped in 1985 — the same year that Old Ways was quietly issued by Geffen, with little promotion or fanfare — and Young, as we said, moved on, re-signing with his longtime label Reprise Records, who were distributed by Warner Music (as Geffen was at the time).

The Geffen lawsuit also resulted in something unexpected for Geffen: R.E.M. — who instead of going with Geffen, as they’d planned — ended up signing with Warner Bros. Records, because they hadn’t liked what had happened to their friend Neil. They also scuttled their plans to pair up with Young to record an album for Geffen.

Everybody’s Rockin’ would end up being Young’s lowest-charting album since his 1969 self-titled solo debut, and Young wouldn’t release another album for two years (his longest break ever between records at that time).

Watch “Playback ’83” — which also features videos by Culture Club, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, Lionel Richie, Elton John, David Bowie, the Police, Def Leppard, Dean Martin (“Since I Met You Baby”),Eurythmics, Bonnie Tyler, Prince Donna Summer, Stevie Nicks, Men At Work, ZZ Top, Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and the Beatles — on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.