Neil Young & Crazy Horse have a new album, Americana, out June 5.  He gives the Neil Young treatment (lots of guitar, one note solos, ragged vocals) to some classic American songs like “Oh Susanna” and “Tom Dula,” (AKA “Tom Dooley”) “This Land Is Your Land” and somehow in that mix is also the 1957 doo-wop song by The Silhouettes, “Get a Job.”

“She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” is one you probably learned in elementary school (titled “Jesus’ Chariot” on the album). On the video above you can see how he has paired the songs with archival footage (the kind you don’t have to pay any rights for, I assume). In this video, they use a scene from Griffith’s controversial 1915 film Birth of a Nation showing a Cameron family farewell ball for soldiers heading out to fight for the Confederacy. (yes, I’m hearing Neil sing “Southern Man” in my head.)

Interestingly, in his liner notes, Neil writes something I never heard or even considered about this song.

“Written in the 1800s based on an old Negro spiritual, this song refers to the second coming of Jesus, and ‘she’ is the chariot Jesus is coming on.

Some interpret this as the end of the world. Others have said that ‘she’ refers to union organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones going to promote formation of labor unions in the Appalachian coal-mining camps. The Americana
arrangement continues the folk process with a new melody, a new title and a combination of lyric sources.”