Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Neil Young Keeps on Rockin In The Free World

One man who must be happy with yesterday's inauguration of Barack Obama is folk legend Neil Young. After all Young is the one who organized Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's tour in 2006 and insisted they play most of the songs in their set off Young's solo album Living With War, all about the U.S.'s current unjust war in Iraq. The most controversial song on the album "Let's Impeach The President" was directed at President Bush, who Young can not stand after witnessing not only our problems in the Middle East, but also an economy that has fallen apart.

At age 63, Neil Young has been around since the sixties, when he pioneered Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills and Richie Furray. In that time he saw political unrest with the Vietnam War, and was part of Springfield when their antiwar anthem about paranoia while fighting in a guerilla war, "For What It's Worth" was released as the first single that launched them into stardom. Young later joined Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and wrote a powerful song, "Ohio" about the Kent State shootings. The song began "Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, we're finally on our own. This summer I hear the drumming, four dead in Ohio. Gotta get down to it soldiers are cutting us down. Should have been done long ago. What if you knew her and found her dead on the ground how could you run when you know."

Recently Neil Young has wrapped up a tour in support of his most recent album Chrome Dreams II. As has been Young's habit, he is composing a lot of new material that has yet to be released, such as the song "Dirty Old Man," while also playing some of his older classics like "Cinnamon Girl," "Cortez the Killer," and "Cowgirl in the Sand." Some of his old songs like "A Man Needs A Maid" off Young's only number one album of his career Harvest have been played at all thirty-one shows. Also Young never shies away from performing obscure songs in his catalog like "Ambulence Blues," off the album On The Beach, which was out of print on CD until only a few years ago. He also performed one of my favourite songs, the politically driven "Campaigner" off his Decade album. The lyrics are great, "Hospitals have made him cry,
but there's always a free way in his eye, though his beach just got too crowded for his stroll.
Roads stretch out like healthy veins, and wild gift horses strain the reins, where even Richard Nixon has got soul. Even Richard Nixon has got soul."

On December 17, 2008, Neil Young graced the cover of The New York Times art section after performing at Madison Square Garden with Wilco and Everest. The review was possitive and talked about how Young played a set with some of his best songs off Harvest like "Heart of Gold," "Old Man," and his heartbreaking accoustic-guitar-driven lament about heroin addiction (which claimed two of his best friends, former Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry) "The Needle and The Damage Done." Young closed his Madison Square Garden performancet with "Rockin in the Free World," a song off his 1989 comeback album Freedom. After years of subpar albums, Freedom seemed to take Young back to his roots of electric rock, while he also returned to his folk rock roots with 1992's Harvest Moon a few years later, as many considered it his best accoustic work since the original Harvest was released in 1972. Overall it was a very successful tour for Neil Young, and now he can go back to his 1,500 acre ranch in La Honda, California and rest up until it's time to work on another new album.

You might enjoy watching archival footage of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young performing live on

If you like statistics on how many times Neil Young has performed one of his songs from his setlist, you might like to visit Numbers On the Site: The Neil Young Tour Statistics. Or, if you want, here you can read all of his lyrics.

I also read an article by Russ Walker on on Neil Young that has good information and links.

A youthful Neil Young. A new live album Sugar Mountain:Live At Canterbury House 1968, with this picture on the cover is now available to purchase at most record stores.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Bob - great blog! these are great articles. I found a link to a great interview with Neil Young and Charlie rose: