My mom introduced me to Neil Young. Well actually… my mom introduced me to music in the first place, but Neil Young sticks out in my mind as one of the most prominent and premier artists that was played because of her glowing introduction.
“Some people hate his voice, but I sort of like it,” she told me. This was when I was nine years old and complained that I hated Neil Young’s voice. “He never sold out, and he never abandoned his artistic integrity.”
Last year for Christmas, I got my mom the Neil Young box set for Christmas and listening to it with her, I discovered the joys of live acoustic versions of Sugar Mountain and amazingly bleary, drugged-out banter about the pains of the world and about drugs themselves, and making oddball rambling jokes.
Seeing Neil Young live, I was absolutely mesmerized by some truly dark material played with an invigorating vitality that only someone like Young, who has been everywhere and done everything, could perform; while his songs are heartfelt, raw and often just sad and burnt out and disillusioned… there’s something amazing about the way in which they’re played, with endurance and fervor and wisdom. In that darkness, there’s so much there that shines through; Neil Young is truly still a hero, and still makes relevant music; he’s incapable of failing, because he’s set himself up as someone who overturns and remixes and sometimes even, resurrects, in an ability to burn out rather than “fade away”, as he so eloquently stated years ago. For that reason, as well as social and political reasons, Neil Young still remains a hero and relevant poet and musician today.
I can’t imagine being someone that legendary; what goes through one’s mind on a daily basis when one is so talented and so shrewd? How does one always live up to their status as a living legend? How does one even realize, if they indeed did, their own destiny, and make a lifetime out of the pursuit of a perfect piece of art, while never really realizing that they have already found it–many, many times over?
Watching Neil Young live, last night, on July 23, 2010, was as important to me as people who saw him in the 1960s. Through someone else, I was able to once again, re appreciate and re-evaluate my love of music, and my need to keep pursuing a career as an artist.