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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Second Life Neil Young Archives: A Virtual World

A regular reader of Thrasher's Wheat, Zak Claxton is unveiling the Neil Young Archives in Second Life. Second Life is an online world where the residents purchase virtual land and build whatever their imagination can envision.

Zak writes:
"As a person who has admired and appreciated Neil Young for the last 25 years or so, I decided to build a tribute to Neil in this virtual world, which I somewhat tongue-in-cheek am calling my "Second Life Neil Young Archives". I'd love it if the real Archives came out before my little tribute was fully complete, but I digress.

As explained in the video, a visitor to the Archives can check out album artwork, tracks listings, and personnel of every officially-released album that Neil's done solo, with Crazy Horse, Buffalo Springfield, CSNY and so on. I've also made virtual replicas of Old Black, Neil's Martin D-45, and his Fender Deluxe. There's more to come; I still feel I have a way to go to complete this small representation of Neil in the virtual world, but it's got enough going that I'm sure people who are true fans will dig it already.

The best way to think of Second Life is like the Internet, in a 3-D environment that you can walk/fly/teleport through. My tribute is similar to a fan site on the Internet, so if any Thrasher's Wheat readers are users of Second Life, I'm sure they'd enjoy checking it out. For readers who aren't yet SL residents, basic membership is free, so they should check it out too. :-)

If anyone wants to get more information or comment to me about this project, I can be reached via my MySpace page ( or directly at zakclaxton (at) slcoyote (dot) com.

More on The Archives Vol.01 1963-1972: Let The Speculation Continue.


At 8/12/2007 12:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! So can someone add little Neil villages like the Bridge concert or Farm Aid?

At 8/12/2007 01:04:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To answer your question, the way Second life works is that anyone can join for free and cruise around and check out what other people have built.

To build something like I did with the SL NY Archives, you need to do a full (read: paid) registration, and then buy virtual land on which you can build whatever you can envision. There are plenty of existing concert venues there, but if someone wanted to get a property and put on a virtual Bridge Benefit or Farm Aid, it would be quite possible.

The aspect in this regard that would make it worthwhile is that it's quite possible to exchange real money for their virtual in-world currency, so a benefit show would be quite feasible.

Anyway, I know this all sounds super geeky and confusing, but it's pretty simple in practice. For the time being, I'm happy that I decided to use my passion for Neil's music along with my tech chops and creativity, and give Neil a well-deserved presence in Second Life. I'm looking forward to continuing to build it up with more and more stuff for Neil fans!

At 8/13/2007 08:35:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw a documentary about Second Life or something like it. There was this guy who created a virtual persona called NeverDie. He wrote a virtual pop song and played it in a virtual nightclub, became a virtual superstar and made a virtual fortune in the real world. Is this the same place?

Then when his virtual girlfriend and real life wife died he sold his real world home, bought up property in the virtual world, subdivided it and planned to sell it off to his virtual buddies to make a profit in the real world.

It would be really interesting to see what you've done Zac, but this stuff really messes with my head.

At 8/13/2007 11:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha ha! Hey, I'm not here to say that Second Life isn't weird, or to promote it (or defend it) in any way.

But when the Internet first started, people thought that was pretty weird too, and now it's part of the daily life of most folks. There are 8.6 million people who've signed up to SL, so if it's weird, at least I'm not alone in my weirdness. :-)

I guess the point is, whatever your passion is, you can realize it in Second Life. I often perform my own music in SL. I've played a show on a Thursday afternoon to more than 50 people, which is a lot more than I'd get at the coffee house across the street.

In any case, this is more about a tribute to Neil, and in that regard it's no more weird than making a fan site on the web, as so many have done. Mine just happens to be the first in Second Life that I'm aware of, and it probably won't be the last.

At 8/13/2007 02:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Zak, Your SL Ny Archives is an amazing idea. Is there a program you need to install in order to view it.

At 8/13/2007 03:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you! Much appreciated.

Yes, Second Life requires its own application, which is free. You can go to and get all the info you need, and then download the application.

It'll take you a little while to get the hang of it, but once you get the idea down it's really easy. If you choose to get into it and need help finding my NY Archives, drop me a line, and I'm happy to help. You can reach me at zakclaxton (AT) slcoyote (DOT) com.

At 8/13/2007 05:40:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zak, I certainly don't think you're weird. I actually find the whole concept fascinating. What a world we live in! I remember playing video games as a kid and it was just a green screen with two balls and a white line to hit them with. Now we have a whole parallel universe! Anyway, I might venture in to see your Neil stuff. As long as I can get out again OK? ;)

At 8/13/2007 07:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My journey through the past of virtual worlds started with a Pong game as well. :-D

And no doubt about it, Second Life is pretty fascinating. Like anything, it's what you make of it. Like the real world, there are sprawls of crappy malls, casinos, and general tawdriness. But some folks have built some amazing areas, covering every imaginable purpose and environment.

For instance, my ladyfriend currently lives quite far from me, and we don't get to see each other in person nearly as often as we'd like. But we can have really fun dates by hooking up in SL. It definitely brings us closer than just talks on the phone and so on. We can go out and dance, go to restaurants (and yes, virtually eat), see/hear live music, go to the beach... you name it.

So yeah, if you're interested, do try it out. And unlike the Hotel California, you can definitely check out anytime you like. Just hit "quit". :-)

At 8/15/2007 09:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've met Zak at hit NYA in SL. It's fabulous. The technology is really revolutionary and the promise of the internet is starting to get realized. It's a very satisfying synergy of browsing information and interacting with like-minded people. It seems like it would be a no brainer to control movement through the environment with a VR interface to enhance the "you are there" experience.

This is a VERY friendly site to first timers. I'd strongly recommend this as your foray into the world of Second Life. I for one would like to see how these SL concerts are pulled off.

At 8/15/2007 12:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Omar, it's been great getting to know you and the other folks who have wandered into my SL NY Archives after reading about it here and on other Neil-oriented places.

While everyone is welcome to come by any time, for those of you who might like to say hi to me in person (so to speak), I'm trying to be there at around 7:00pm Pacific Time each evening.

As Omar mentioned, there are live music performances of a wide variety every day in Second Life. I'm going to be doing a solo show in the next couple of weeks where I intend on doing a full set covering Neil's songs. When it's scheduled, I'll post the date and location here as well as on my web sites, and

In case you're wondering, "How does a musician perform in a virtual world?", it's pretty simple. My real body is located in my little recording studio here at my home. I have microphones set up that go into a computer audio interface. This audio is streamed to a server which is then accessed in Second Life.

Meanwhile, my virtual self (called an "avatar" in SL lingo) is standing on a virtual stage somewhere, holding a virtual guitar and standing in front of a virtual mic. :-)

People in the audience show up, dance, talk, hoot and holler, just like any rock show you've seen in real life. Again, it's easy to understand once you've seen it. I'd love to see a group of serious Neil fans at my next show, so I'll let you all know as soon as it's set in stone!

At 8/23/2007 09:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey, I'm there. This sounds like so much fun. I can't wait. Let me know right away. I need to get a few things done like figure out how to play. But the stage show, let's go. This might be the only way to play act Neil. Somehow. We can't be Neil, yet we are all wanting to be Neil. Right? I know I do. Get up and shout your Peace. My brother Neil, he one bad ass, he so mad he foaming at the mouth. He taking back Mother Earth. Watch out.


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