Monday, July 2, 2012
Tribute to Neil Young by Chuck Joy
Buffalo Springfield, big in ‘67, 1968. Neil Young in Los Angeles. Imagine he’d been all around Canada by then. From Winnipeg. Then Toronto, where they have the Farmer’s Market. I like that about him, Neil Young. The Canada part. I’m not sure how I feel about the Los Angeles.
Yet there we were in New York. New York, New York, borough of the Bronx, a flat on Webster Avenue, behind a red and black Edward Hopper façade. Those were the days. Old Man and Cinnamon Girl. Times were troubled. Some of us entered medical school. Neil Young made a movie, and kept making records. On The Beach. Tonight’s The Night.
I watched the movie in The Kings Court, Pittsburgh, Oakland Pittsburgh, from plush black-and-yellow seats much worse for the wear. I remember dark shapes on the screen, and horses. Years later, in San Francisco, on Haight Street, Amoeba Records, I buy the vinyl Time Fades Away in a cellophane envelope, carried it home on the airplane. I’m listening to it now.
Neil Young’s music has deep roots like a thick tree, down a trail past a small garden or through the mountains, the river valleys, from the colonies, their music, then it meets the blues, making rock, western music, even country. Best place to hear Neil Young on Sirius XM is Outlaw Country. Rocking that sweet spot, often with Crazy Horse. Singer-songwriter, bandleader, colleague, sometimes he seems edgy. Who imagined a world of such success, and grandchildren? Mirror Ball. Chrome Dreams II.
We caught him in Morgantown, West Virginia, the basketball pavilion filled with gunslingers and second-shift nurses, concerned citizens, well-scrubbed Mountaineers, their professors, veterans, unemployed coalminers. Neil Young was either part of or with The Shocking Pinks. Could there have been a more unfortunate period in which to catch Neil Young? An homage to the cultural period just before my own. Maybe Trans, one or two cultural periods later. Meanwhile my little sister gets to see Rust Never Sleeps.
He’s a model for me, Neil Young, creativity through the life cycle. I try poetry and what I call poetry values lyrics including Neil Young’s. Even his handwriting is an inspiration to me, the way he prints, the same way as my dad’s cursive. My wife, her mother, our daughter, her husband, we watched Greendale two floors above Old Harbor Street, South Boston, an ocean beach at the end of Old Harbor Street, the Atlantic Ocean.
Don’t let it bring you down it’s only castles burning. When I was low, turning the big wheels in the tobacco factory. And again, driving west across Interstate 80, on my way to Iowa City, ready to test my chops as best I could. Are You Passionate? You Are Like A Hurricane. Me, I pay attention to Neil Young.
(Neil Young is touring.)