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Artist: Neil Young

Neil Young

Bio

Neil Percival Young (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and social activist who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation, particularly as Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Young was born in Toronto, but he moved to the family home of Winnipeg as a child, which is where his music career began. Young began performing as a solo artist in Canada in 1960, before moving to California in 1966, where he co-founded the band Buffalo Springfield along with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay. Having success on his own for a bit, he later joined the folk rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash as a fourth member in 1969, thus forming Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He forged a successful and acclaimed solo career, releasing his first album in 1968. His career has since spanned over 40 years and 34 studio albums, with a continual and uncompromising exploration of musical styles; his musical vision is notably referred to by his autobiographical tune"The Loner". Music critics have often called him one of the best single artists of all time, and several tunes such as "Heart of Gold" and "Rockin' in the Free World" remain popular on rock radio. According to the Don't Be Denied Songfacts, the 16-year-old Neil was raising chickens and selling the eggs, with plans to go to Ontario Agricultural College and be a farmer. Only his leisure activities foretold his future, when he would hide from his family problems in his room with his transistor radio playing local station CHUM. From this, Young experienced a growing admiration for rock n roll originators such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and, of course, Elvis Presley. In 1958, his father bought Neil his first music instrument, a plastic ukulele. His father would later recall, "He would close the door of his room... and we would hear plunk, pause while he moved his fingers to the next chord, plunk, pause while he moved again, plunk." In Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Neil started his professional music career in the mid-60s with a number of bands in Canada, including the Squires and later the Mynah Birds, which also included fellow future Buffalo Springfield bassist Bruce Palmer and future funk star Rick James. When the Mynah Birds broke up, Young and Palmer headed to California to me
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News

Neil Young - Storytone - Exclaim! (Reviews)

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Neil Young - Storytone

Less than a year after he released A Letter Home, a '60s-heavy covers album recorded inside Jack White's 1947 Voice-O-Graph vinyl recording booth, Neil Young is back with another totally different (yet still idiosyncratic) recording project. Storytone is a collection of ten new Young songs presented two ways: solo and symphonic. The solo side isn't just acoustic guitar, mind you; there is also piano, harmonica, electric guitar, and what sounds like resonator guitar and ukulele in the mix. And "symphonic" is a bit of a misnomer, as the arrangements for "Say Hello To Chicago" and...Read More

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Letter Home (Bonus Tracks) by Neil Young - ArtistDirect

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05/12/2014
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Live at the Cellar Door by Neil Young - ArtistDirect

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11/26/2013
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Articles

Neil Young: Still a Young Man's Game The Times, May 2003

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HE CALLED one of his albums Rust Never Sleeps. But does Neil Young ever sleep? In the 12 months since he last played in Britain, the veteran Canadian from California has not only written and recorded a new album, Greendale, but also scripted and directed an 80-minute movie of the same name.

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On a one-man tour of Europe, between playing acoustic versions of all the songs from the new album (which won't be released until September), he relates in cosmic detail the plot of the movie, an allegorical tale about the life and times of the Green family who live in the fictional town of Greendale, California.

Nobody knows what the hell he's on about, nor has anyone heard any of the songs before, but the shows have proved an unqualified success. Meanwhile, a steady stream of Greendale-related activity continues apace: family trees and profiles of the main characters are being posted on the internet, together with an obsessively detailed map of Greendale showing where all the key events of the story take place. Extra video footage of Young and the band (who don't appear in the movie) is also being made available, as is live footage shot at a show in Dublin on this tour.

Young is addicted to his work. He tours, writes and releases albums as if it were no more than taking the dog for a walk -but just as necessary. Ideas flow like surf towards the shore, but he never knows what to expect until the next one reaches him. Meanwhile dozens, possibly hundreds, of songs remain unreleased. Like a hurricane, indeed.

Only he doesn't move that fast when you meet him. Now 57, he sits down carefully on a sofa in his hotel suite, accepts a cup of herbal tea and instructs an assistant to turn off the air conditioning. His long hair is a natural, smudgy grey. Ditto the straggling, mutton- chop sideburns which frame his ruddy cheeks. He has few qualms about growing older.

"Experience helps, as long as you can stay in shape, stay alert," he says in a deep, well-modulated tone that belies the high, quavery pitch of his singing voice.

And the disadvantages?

"Oh Christ! I'm an old fart. That's the disadvantage. I look at myself in the mirror and I go: 'Who the hell are you?' I used to be so cool. But it's no big deal. I'm in a young man's game, except it isn't any more. Rock'n'roll has moved on."

It has certainly moved on since Young first made his mark as part of Buffalo Springfield, the group he founded with Stephen Stills in 1966, before going on to forge a career both as a solo star and with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in the 1970s. That story, together with many revelations about Young's troubled childhood – when he nearly died of polio – and his later family life, is told in fascinating detail in a biography of Young entitled Shakey by the American writer Jimmy McDonough, published last year.

Young, who initially helped McDonough gather much of the information, withdrew his support before it was finished, and even took the author to court to try to prevent publication. So why did he authorise it in the first place?

"I wish I knew. Jimmy's a great writer and I really admire what he's done with other artists. It may have been ego that persuaded me to do it. At some point it must have appealed to me. But I still think he's a really good writer.
"I think everybody has some things that they'd rather they hadn't done. Other than that I'm not worried about it. I just wish I hadn't done it because it made me and my friends vulnerable to...mostly my friends. It was just not a good idea.

"The main reason for the court contest was strategic. I just wanted to delay it until my daughter was 18. I didn't want her to read it when she was just 15 or 16.

I wanted her to be mature enough to understand what was going on. As it turns out, I don't think she's even read it. She's never mentioned it to me."

At what point during the writing of Greendale did he think that it would become a cohesive story? "It came song by song. I didn't really know what I was doing when I started. I just started writing the songs and after two songs I realised the same characters were in the two songs. So I just continued to explore it. I just wrote one song at a time. Kinda like an alcoholic. One day at a time. I thought if they stop coming with these characters then I'm finished. If they don't then I keep going."

One of the strongest of these characters in the movie is the teenage daughter, Sun Green, an eco-activist college student who hauls a truckload of hay up a hillside and fashions a giant anti- war slogan that can be seen for miles around. In a strange arrangement, all the dialogue in the movie exists within the songs that Young is singing on the soundtrack. So whenever any character opens his or her mouth to speak, it is Young's (singing) voice that emerges. It is a device which enables Young to express a broad range of views in his music, some of which you suspect he wouldn't feel comfortable claiming entirely as his own.

"They're all speaking for me," Young says. "When Sun Green is talking, I can get away with saying a lot of ideas that are young and naive. But when Grandpa Green is speaking, you have the clutter of time behind everything he says. So I can be all of these people and I don't have to deal with it myself. I'm liberated."

So we know what the Greens think. But what are his own views on the war in Iraq?

"I don't like war. That was my number one feeling," he says, choosing his words carefully. "I particularly don't like the celebration of war, which I think the administration is a little bit guilty of, and the American media – particularly Fox.

"I feel for these younger bands who are coming along today. If they write something anti-war, they can't do it. The radio programmers won't let it on the air. It's an act of censorship. What we have now is the best breeding ground for revolution that we've had in the US since the Nixon era. It's very fertile right now. It's gonna end in another 1960s-type upheaval within the next three or four years. I don't think it'll be too bad. In fact, it's coming from the youth, so it'll be good."

He leans back, very much an elder statesman of rock'n'roll, allowing me to ponder for a moment the weight of experience informing these pearls of wisdom.

"Mind you. I've been wrong," he says, with a rueful laugh. "Many, many times."

Neil Young: Unsettling Looseness Music World, Jun 1973

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WRITING ANYTHING about Neil Young is always a labor of love, but the tendency to be both overly critical and sympathetic concerning his artistic fluctuation always remains a distinct possibility. This set of mixed emotions is now very much in evidence after experiencing his three recent concerts in the Los Angeles area.

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These were Neil's first concert appearances since his remarkable Dorothy Chandler Pavillion performance more than two years ago. At that time he chose to concentrate on presenting an emotional and moving acoustic show with just guitar and piano. It seemed at best a turbulent period in his life, with his divorce and impending second marriage, his move out of Los Angeles and Topanga Canyon consciousness and his bitter, outspoken diatribe against dope. Neil set down these subjects in song and presented them in the precise and accurate manner his fans are accustomed to. His guitar work was always careful, at times intricate and contributed a great deal to the overall effect. Neil often sat in silence between songs, pausing only for a friendly and witty quip. But, above all, one got the impression of seriousness on his part and realized the great amount of time and love that went into his preparation.

Now, after a long delay, Neil has returned with an almost totally different direction. Where his older material was divided between acoustic and electric, his new compositions are totally energy oriented and were seemingly written with the intent of performing them with a band. Neil's new tunes seem to have been conceived electrically whereas others have seen both acoustic and electric versions. Neil's shows have also assumed an unsettling looseness that tends to leave an ardent Young fan slightly disoriented. He just plays his songs now rather than performs them and he concentrates on including the band in almost every other. His reluctance to perform solo may have stemmed from the fact that he was quite hoarse and in generally poor physical condition after two months of hard touring, but I'm inclined to think he was just intent or exposing another facet of himself.

The new material contains some potentially classic pieces. 'Don't Be Denied' is about the "Canadian folksinger" Neil used to be. It catalogs his life to the present including references to Buffalo Springfield, life in Canada and a cynical view of how he thinks the music business looks at him. Others included 'New Mama', a tribute to his wife and new born son; 'Last Dance', a hypnotic crowd pleaser in two parts, the second of which verges on being a chant; 'Look Out Joe, You're Coming Home', about the returning GI's and 'LA', a love-hate song to the city. 'Yonder Stands the Sinner' and 'Time Fades Away' round out the bunch.

Lyrically, Neil is taking a more worldly outlook instead of relying on the introspective dissections of pain and pleasure he is usually identified with. He seems to be more settled within himself and has turned his creative powers to what's going on around him.

Not unexpected, but nontheless distracting, was the fact that Neil's audience on these nights was definitely a young one. As a result, the average frame of mind was geared for 'Southern Man' and 'Heart of Gold' and showed no restraint in demanding them. However, Neil dealt nicely with the "boogie baby's" and other such deleterious outbursts. Surprisingly though, the first two concerts seemed overly sloppy and disorganized on Neil's part and the third was only slightly better. Even with Graham Nash and David Crosby present at each performance, it took all three shows to finally come across well.

If nothing else, the stance taken in these concerts served to shake up more than a few Neil Young zealots. The man has definitely changed his musical outlook and nobody should resent that. Performers have to grow to remain sane and it should follow that his audience, the true fans, will grow with them. I anxiously await Neil's forthcoming album and the imminent release of Journey Through the Past. They should give us a good idea of where Neil has been and where he's going, something that I, at this point, am very uncertain about.

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