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Musical Thank You #5: Neil Young


Neil Young's autobiography Waging Heavy PeaceI have been reading Neil Young’s autobiography Waging Heavy Peace this week. It is the most scattered, meandering, unfocused memoir I can imagine. Like an improvised Neil Young guitar solo, though, it is almost never dull. Almost. It is written in a very conversational style, as if the reader is riding cross-country in a vintage car, listening to a wired Neil Young talk and talk.

One thing is clear to me after reading this book: if ADHD drugs had been available in the 1950s, rock music would be much poorer and this autobiography wouldn’t exist.

While reading this book I have been obsessively playing all of my Neil Young albums. I have 19 of them–22 if you count the three I ordered from Amazon.com today. These make up less than half of his catalog. But for the most part, I think, when these three discs arrive in the mail I will own all of his best-regarded albums. (I have two or three that aren’t so well-regarded.) Possibly no artist except Bob Dylan has created such a scattered, meandering, uneven body of work. But it is almost never dull.

Neil Young's Decade album coverI fell in love with the music of Neil Young while living in Humboldt County and wearing flannel shirts in the early 1980s. His three-LP “best of” album Decade set the hook. During part of this time I shared an apartment with my friend Timothy K. I am sending this out to Tim as a bit of a joke. Tim and I didn’t agree on much when it came to music. He wasn’t much of a fan of Neil Young in general and not a fan of the early 80s albums Hawks and Doves, Re.ac.tor and Trans in particular. He will certainly remember the lyric “got mashed potatoes, ain’t got no T-bone.”

Tim’s disdain only seemed to encourage me to keep Neil Young’s music on heavy rotation in our Ferndale apartment. As belated compensation, I offer Tim this sincere “musical thank you.”

Here is a live version of Neil’s “Unknown Legend”. This song appeared originally on 1992′s Harvest Moon and was written about Neil’s wife Pegi. Sadly, just yesterday news broke that they are divorcing after 36 years of marriage.

Musical Thank Yous:
DATE TITLE
08/19/2016 #11: Van Morrison
04/11/2016 #10: Conor Oberst
01/29/2016 #9: Reina del Cid
10/01/2015 #8: Ron Sexsmith and Neko Case
05/13/2015 #7: Elvis Costello
10/09/2014 #6: Longhair Music
08/27/2014 #5: Neil Young
06/19/2014 #4: Arcade Fire
03/14/2014 #3: Mike Doughty
02/10/2014 #2: Lucinda Williams
02/07/2014 #1: Richard Thompson

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