I have this connection with Neil Young. I’ve always appreciated him on some level, I guess. He’s a Canadian legend. He’s cool. But this past winter I would say that I became intimate with his music. I must have listened to Decade disc 2 a zillion times. It was a lifeline to me. I wonder if artists of this calibre ever know how much their contributions are appreciated/needed?
Last month I saw Neil in concert. It was a strange experience. I went with all of this imagery in my mind and the reality was such a contrast. (A mostly pot-filled haze thanks to the guy sitting directly behind me who kept billowing smoke and spontaneously shouting, “Yeah, Neil!”) Neil has aged. He’s not a young man any more. I felt a tremendous sense of compassion for him as he energetically performed. The songs on the album Psychedelic Pill conjure up the same emotion for me. The lyrics are revealing in their simplicity. I respect that Neil has remained true to his art form. He hasn’t compromised himself; rather, as all amazing artists do, he continues to be extremely vulnerable in his work. Bless him!
His autobiography Waging Heavy Peace was published in September, which I hope to acquire soon. I was leafing through a copy at the Superstore and was surprised to learn that his life situation has been anything but easy. On top of only just recently quitting his excessive alcohol and marijuana use, his son Ben was born with cerebral palsy. The song “For the Love of Man” has deeper meaning when you know this about Neil’s son: “Who could understand what goes on. / What is right and what is wrong. / Why the angels cry and the heavens sigh / when a child is born to live, / but not like you or I?” (By the way, Ben is doing amazing and has his own organic free-range chicken farm in California.)
I’m still getting acquainted with Psychedelic Pill, which is a good thing. Winter is coming (it’s snowing like crazy as I type this) and who knows how dark it will get. Thanks Neil Young for everything. You have no idea how much my poetic heart needs you. (♥)