* November 22 update. Neil talks about the warehouse fire. See below.

 

 

 

Born in Canada, but closely associated with northern California, Neil Young’s massive fan base appreciates his simple yet complex lyrics, his energetic live performances, and his authentic presentation of himself. I think one would be hard-pressed to name a time when the viewer did NOT have the experience of what you see is what you get when it comes to Neil Young.

 

 Neil will be 65 years old on November 12th. He's survived much in his lifetime: polio at age 6, epilepsy that began in his 20's,his first child Zeke born with mild cerebral palsy, his second son striken with the same affliction but much more severe than Zeke and is mostly non-verbal and quadripalegic, and his daughter was born with epilepsy. Neil suffered a brain aneurysm at age 59 which required emergency surgery. A few days after surgery he collapsed on the street and nearly died from a bleeding femoral artery. But Neil is a survivor and one of our most prolific musicians having released a new album each year from 1966-1984 as either a solo artist or part of a band.

 

I've been fortunate enough to have seen Neil perform at several Bridge School Benefit concerts at Shoreline Amphitheater . The Bridge School concertsstarted in 1986 by Neil and his wife Pegi help fund the school  they started to help children, their son included, with severe physical and speech impairments. Neil plays every year at the concert which has become the main fundraiser to keep the school going. Despite my best efforts, the show sold out so quickly this year I was unable to get seats. One reason it sold out so quickly was the reformation of Buffalo Springfield for the show. 

 

 

I especially love this little interview with Steve Stills and Neil reminiscing about the early days of Buffalo Springfield.

For What It's Worth- Buffalo Springfield ( 1967) Live from the Monterey Pop Festival.  The band formed in 1966 with members Neil Young, Steven Stills, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer, & Dewey Martin and soon recorded this Steven Stills composition which  became a number one hit for the group.

 

Heart of Gold - Neil wrote this song while reccuperating from a back injury that left him unable to stand for long periods of time. The song showcases his softer, acoustic side and allowed him to play while sitting down.

Old Man- Written shortly after he purchased Broken Arrow Ranch in northern California in 1970 the song compares the life of a young man and an old man( the caretaker on Neil's ranch) and how they are more similar than different.
Helpless- Originally recorded with his band Crazy Horse, the song had huge success when recorded with Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young on their Deja Vu album in 1970.
Don't Let it Bring You Down- Many have covered this song ( Annie Lennox is my own personal favorite cover) and it was used in one of my favorite movies, American Beauty. I cannot listen to this song without singing along. C'mon. Sing with me...and Neil.
 Old man sittin' by the side of the road
With the lorries rolling by,
Blue moon sinking from the weight of the load
And the buildings scrape the sky,
Cold wind ripping down the alley at dawn
And the morning paper flies,
Dead man lying by the side of the road
With the daylight in his eyes.

Don't let it bring you down
It's only castles burning,
Find someone who's turning
And you will come around.

Blind man running through the light of the night
With an answer in his hand,
Come on down to the river of sight
And you can really understand,
Red lights flashing through the window in the rain,
Can you hear the sirens moan?
White cane lying in a gutter in the lane,
If you're walking home alone.

Don't let it bring you down
It's only castles burning,
Just find someone who's turning
And you will come around.

Don't let it bring you down
It's only castles burning,
Just find someone who's turning
And you will come around.
Like a Hurricane- I love this song's simple and powerful lyrics. Sit back and enjoy this live performance that is featured in the 1996 documentary The Year of the Horse, an artistic look into Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
  
Like a Hurricane
Once I thought I saw you
in a crowded hazy bar,
Dancing on the light
from star to star.
Far across the moonbeam
I know that's who you are,
I saw your brown eyes
turning once to fire.

You are like a hurricane
There's calm in your eye.
And I'm gettin' blown away
To somewhere safer
where the feeling stays.
I want to love you but
I'm getting blown away.

I am just a dreamer,
and you are just a dream,
You could have been
anyone to me.
Before that moment
you touched my lips
That perfect feeling
when time just slips
Away between us
on our foggy trip.

You are like a hurricane
There's calm in your eye.
And I'm gettin' blown away
To somewhere safer
where the feeling stays.
I want to love you but
I'm getting blown away.

I am just a dreamer,
and you are just a dream.
You could have been
anyone to me.
Before that moment
you touched my lips
That perfect feeling
when time just slips
Away between us
on our foggy trip.

You are like a hurricane
There's calm in your eye.
And I'm gettin' blown away
To somewhere safer
where the feeling stays.
I want to love you but
I'm getting blown away.

Sedan Delivery- Classic live Neil & Crazy Horse. Extended solos, passion in every strum. I had to include this one because it's one of my husband's favorite live songs--enjoy it John! It has a punk-like feel that transitions into a slower beautiful moments and then catapults back into that driving riff. 
Hey, Hey, My, My -The  Farm Aid benefit concerts  began in 1985 started by Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and John Mellencamp. This year celebrated 25 years since they began the concert and $2 million was raised from ticket sales alone.  Here is a live performance from that first concert.
Neil had a great appearance on David Lettermen's show in 2008. It profiles him as an activist on alternative fuel and a filmmaker. Favorite quote: "If I fail, who cares? No one expects me to succeed." 
I simply couldn't resist including this next video. Click it and you'll see why.
Neil is a man of many interests. A life long enthusiast of model trains, when he heard that the Lionel Train company was facing bankruptcy and would have to close its doors, he invested his own money into the company, became part owner, and it is now a thriving company once again. Wanting to share his love of model trains with his son Neil spent countless hours developing adaptations for son Ben to control the trains. He created The Big Red Button-a domed button almost three inches across  built so  Ben, who didn’t have the fine motor skills necessary to use the switches, could enjoy making the trains run just like any other enthusiast. His next creation allowed Ben to rerun any previous train manuever with a single tap. The Big Red Button hooks up with another of Young’s inventions, the CAB-1, the first remote control device for model trains.
 Big Time- Neil plays with Crazy Horse in this video from the documentaryThe Year of the Horse.This performance shows a bit of the grimacing, trancelike rocking Neil often does during his solos.
Cinnamon Girl- This song debuted on Neil's first album with Crazy Horse in 1969, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.
 
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The Needle and the Damage Done- From the 2009 Glastonbury Festival. The song is over 30 years old, first released in 1972, and in my opinion still sounds current. 
Harvest Moon- I'm having great difficulty leaving out any of my favorite songs. Please indulge me in another. I love his use of harmonics in this song. Neil wrote this song for his 1992 album of the same name following a prolonged bout of tinnitus. He was determined to return to the recording studio and this beautiful album was the result of that determination.  
Le Noise is Neil's newest album. He paired with Daniel Lanois (mostly known for his work with U2) to produce the album which is just Neil- no band- only Neil accompanying himself on guitars and using assorted electronics to convey the sound that he wanted.  
 
I opened this post with a video of Neil and Steven Stills talking about how unique Buffalo Springfield was. I'd like to end it with a performance of them reunited at the Bridge School Benefit last month. How I wish I were there! Hopefully next year I will be able to return to the annual event.
For now, happy birthday Neil and thanks for the music. 
   P.S. Nov. 9:  This morning Neil lost personal memorabilia, musical equipment, and paintings in a storage warehouse fire. Officials are investigating the cause of the fire.
P.P.S. Nov. 22

NEIL YOUNG'S LINCVOLT SURVIVES WAREHOUSE FIRE

 

November 16, 2010 -- (Burbank, CA) - Reprise recording artist Neil Youngreleases this statement to the media today: We are thankful that no one was hurt in the fire at our warehouse last week. My wife Pegi and I would like to thank the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Dept for doing such an exemplary job. A lot of archival items were threatened and the fire department did a first class job protecting them. We are lucky to have these professionals in our area. Rest assured that we have the very best fire rescue and protection with the Belmont-San Carlos Fire Dept.

However LincVolt suffered a disastrous accidental fire stemming from human error. The car was plugged in to charge and left unattended. The wall charging system was not completely tested and had never been left unattended. A mistake was made. It was not the fault of the car.

So now we pick up the pieces.

We are rebuilding. The reason we started this project has not changed. As a nation we are still excessively burning fossil fuels, doing damage to our planet that will hurt our children's lives and future generations as well. Our project is to demonstrate alternative energies for transportation that are clean. We're still in a race against time. On a project like this, setbacks happen for a reason and we can see that very well from here. "Barn's burnt down. Now I can see the moon".

LincVolt was presented well at SEMA less than a week before the fire. We are glad we have a film of that to share.

Additional films and footage here. She was just about to emerge into the world to show what she could do. LV is smart for a car, as she likes to say in her blog.

Now she's back in her staging area and pieces are being assembled. We have done this before and know much more now. Our accumulated knowledge will help this process. We have a solid committed team. This is an opportunity.

Our rebuilding LincVolt at Brizio's is beginning now. We have already started the preparation process.

Cleaning LV continues in preparation for bead blasting her down to bare metal. Once that is done we will be ready to begin the build. LV will be built using parts from two other Lincoln Continentals.

My lovely wife gave me a parts car just like LincVolt for my 65th birthday a couple of days ago. This donor car, which we have nicknamed "Miss Pegi" in her honor, will roll in and park alongside LincVolt today, at the staging area. Parts will be contributed from Miss Pegi and placed on trays for assemblage. Miss Pegi is a 1958 model with the same metal as a 1959 in the areas that need replacing. The Uni-Body construction will enable replacement of panels warped from the heat of the fire. Miss Pegi is in perfect shape to contribute these large body parts. Quarter panels will be removed and readied for re-introduction into LV's timeless form. Even as injured as LV appears, beauty shines through.

Another car, a 1959 model, will be used to harvest detail parts that are unique to LV. In this way, old forgotten cars get a chance to live again in the timeless beauty of LV, re-powered and ready for the future with "GREEN CHARGING."

We are in talks with a Canadian battery supplier and have most of the control components for the rest of the car in house or on order.

The Capstone Micro-Turbine and its engine compartment under the hood appear to be totally intact and undamaged. The UQM prime mover under the former rear seat also looks to be uninjured. Testing will be done to confirm this is correct. The underbody of the car appears to be essentially unchanged. The engines are both made in the USA. These are encouraging signs.

LV is ready for the next chapter, and the next ride. The mission unchanged.

Stay tuned.

Neil Young

Nov 16, 2010

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Comment by Joan H on November 12, 2012 at 4:50pm

What a great tribute to an incredible musician and poet!

Comment by Schmoopie on November 12, 2012 at 5:24pm

Happy to share some Neil love with you, Joan!

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