Probably top of my list of influences is the Godfather of Grunge a true Americana Folk hero.From strong grit teeth guitar solo’s to honest sentimental lyrics Neil Young has it all. He was born in 1945, started his career in the early 60’s and has since released over 35 studio albums in 45 years. for a history go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Young
My First album.
My first Neil Young Album was ‘Harvest’ which was released in 1972. In college I had some pretty turned on friends and they introduced me to some of my most treasured artists. Neil Young was one. I was singing with a friend who played guitar and he suggested we cover ‘Heart of Gold.’ I’d never heard of Neil Young at that point and when I he played me the rest of the album I was born again!! I realised for the first time that there was this whole other layer of songwriting that i’d just missed with the bands that i’d been listening to in my teens.
‘Old Man’ and the ‘Needle and the Damage done’ and indeed ‘Alabama’ and ‘A Man needs a Maid’ showed me that there was a way of writing that just cuts deeper. And yet Young has always managed to do this without bogging down the melody or overcomplicating the message. As i write this I’m still in awe of his ability to take us below the surface with just the simplest of lyrical suggestion.
How long have you got.?
I’m going to attempt to keep this list to 3 tracks.
Hey Hey My My & My My Hey Hey!
This is in my top 3 simply because I have been playing this song for nearly 15 years. Originally released on the 1979 Album ‘Rust Never Sleeps’ 2 versions that start and end the live album that accompanied the most bizarre tour of the same year with Crazy Horse. In a way this song gave Young his foothold in the sweeping Punk movement of the time. The Album cover pictures the crazy oversized amps and Roadies dressed as Jawa’s from Star Wars. You can play this song in any style and it just works. I’ve played this track with my Ska band, as an acoustic, full on Rock, reggae. You name it this song foots them all which is why it is a Punk classic.!
Don’t Let it Bring you Down
This introduced detuning to me and the lyrics are just fantastic. As always painting a picture. From the ‘After the Goldrush’ album released in 1971 the track is played with a double dropped D and the whole guitar a further half step down. leaving your tonic note in C. ‘After the Goldrush’ Is one of my favourite chill out albums for it’s pace and tone. Nothing to heavy but some great sentiment from ‘Only Love can break your Heart’ and ‘I believe in you’ to the light hearted ‘Cripple Creek Ferry.’ ‘Don’t let it bring you down’ reminds me of a Kerouac novel when Young sings about ‘Red light flashing in the window in the rain.’ and ‘Blue moon sinking from the weight of the load’ Fantastic.
Like a Hurricane
Again, I love this song for the lyrics and the haunting Pump Organ on the version that appears on ‘Unplugged’. Originally written in 1975 this track has been played on every tour that Neil Young has ever done. It was released as a single in 1977 and was edited from over 8 mins to 5:24. I found playing this song as an acoustic that i could start to pick out the mesmerising melody line through a finger picking style and this has become one of my stable tracks. The lines ‘There’s a place where the feeling stays, I wanna love you but I get so blown away.” remind me of those love affairs that don’t last in life.
special mention Alabalma Because he has never been shy of the political, but, also, because he manages to poetry his ideas in a poetry that is succinct and beautifully expressive at the same time. To me he is like a Woody Guthrie, a Yeats, a Byron, for our times.
Even just writing this and reading about the man himself leaves me wanting to rip off this shirt walk out the back door and grab my Steel String. He is such an influence on me. His lyrics or the songs. That dirty roar of his electric guitar. He is the godfather of Grunge because he says it’s ok to be tender it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to let it out through the medium of Music however that may sound. He stands up for what he believes in and will not lie down even now…
Please check out his website to see what i mean..http://neilyoung.com
He’s basically taking on Monsanto… bit.ly/1TqAjVv
Also check out the CSNY ‘Freedom of Speech’ Tour 2006.