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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Big -- Yet Sad -- Neil Young Day: "Hope For Haiti", Final Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien and "Long May You Run" for L.A.

Dave Matthews and Neil Young
Covering Hank Williams’ “Alone and Forsaken”
Hope For Haiti Telethon

Screen Grab by Patricia

A very emotional day for us.

Yesterday's sudden sad news that Neil Young's long time producer, director and friend Larry "L.A." Johnson had died really hit us hard. And there have been so many, many heartfelt notes of sympathy for L.A. that touched everyone.

So after all the enormous excitement and hype of Neil Young as Conan O'Brien's final musical guest, we were struggling to find a sense of emotional balance on the upcoming broadcast. There had been so many goofy and absurd nominations for what song Neil should play like "Cough Up The Buck$", 'This Note's For You', or "Surfer Joe & Moe the Sleaze" that all of that was out the window.

Would Neil even play after learning the news of L.A.? If so, would he go ahead with whatever was planned? Or respond to the news with a song that would bring it all home?

Neil Young - "Long May You Run"
Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien

Screen Grab by Patricia

Neil Young On Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien on Final Show "Long May You Run"

Naturally, Neil came through with a stark and mellow rendition of "Long May You Run". Certainly, many interpreted this as a song for Conan and his last show. But we know better.

Long May You Run L.A.

From Telecaster Guitar Forum by elihu:
"'Long may you Run' brought a tear to my eye.

Question: has there ever been a musician with more integrity than Neil Young?

He really stands out in a business devoid of such concepts as honor, honesty and determination. The man has followed his muse for five decades, stubbornly refusing to bow to popular demand.

Inspirational is what I call it..."

From Neil Young Closes Out the Conan O'Brien Tonight Show - Associated Content - by Ron Hart:
The man known as the 'Godfather of Grunge Rock', Neil Young, closed out Conan O'Brien's tenure as host of the Tonight Show tonight with a gripping version of "Long May You Run". Young was slotted in the middle of the show, and, true to his reputation, all Young needed was a guitar and a spotlight.

Aslo true to his reputation, Neil Young did not go for the obvious. 'Heart of Gold', and 'This Note's For You', both would be more transparent selections to end Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show.

While Young looked noticeably aged, he has not lost anything off of his vocal abilities. Probably more importantly, his guitar playing is as forlorn and plaintive as ever. Neil Young is one of those older rock stars that somehow are household names while still being underappreciated.

Conan O'Brien's first Tonight Show in 2009 featured Seattle grunge rockers Pearl Jam. Neil Young was one of the biggest influences on Pearl Jam and the fact that he closed the show, at least from a "serious" musical perspective, brings a certain and special closure to the unfortunate era of NBC late night.

Conan, in living up to his reputation as a class act, gave a very gracious farewell to NBC and the Tonight Show after Young finished his song. While choking back tears, O'Brien asked that his viewers reject cynicism and work hard to achieve the best that they could.

Will Farrell, himself the opposite of cynicism, closed the show as he impersonated (scarily well) Lynyrd Skynyrd singing 'Free Bird'. Conan joined the "band', playing one of the lead guitars, all the while with a big smile.

The irony of the lyrics were not lost. The delivery of, "Lord, I cannot change", a lyrical staple of classic rock, was not lost on the millions viewing at home.

Conan O'Brien is who he is...he not only does not want to change, he will not. But as offbeat and at times marginal as his brand of humor is, this is only the beginning for Conan.

As Neil Young paid him a serious tribute in "Long May May You Run", and as Will Farrell paid him one less so in his Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute, the audience wondered what Conan O'Brien's next move would be.

And backing up in the evening, we had Dave Matthews and Neil Young perform on the Hope For Haiti broadcast.

Dave Matthews and Neil Young: Hank Williams’ “Alone and Forsaken”

(Note: Neil Young playing Hank Williams' Martin D-28 Guitar.)

And -- lastly -- this really helped lift our spirits a bit. The conclusion of the Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien went completely over the top with Will Ferrell playing Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" wearing a "Tonight's The Night" t-shirt.

Now we think that a lot of folks totally got this. If not, get the whole story on Ronnie and Neil: Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young. Ferrell's performance gives lie to the whole Lynyrd Skynyrd/Ronnie Van Zandt/Neil Young feud on the bogus "a southern man don't need him around anyhow" and the "supposedly" racist lyrics, as he performs in front of a USA flag (instead of a confederate flag, as some would prefer.)

Then check this HILARIOUS clip. And -- you too -- will finally know why a southern man needs Neil Young around anyhow.

"FreeBird" meets "More Cowbell"
Will Ferrell channeling Ronnie Van Zant channeling Neil Young via Blue Oyster Cult


Ronnie Van Zant sporting Neil Young "Tonight's The Night" T-shirt
Oakland Coliseum Stadium, July 2, 1977

Photographer: Michael Zagaris on Wolfgang's Vault

Will Ferrell, Beck, Ben Harper, ZZ Top, and Conan O'Brien: Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird"

Conan O'Brien - By Mary Elizabeth Williams:
"Did Ferrell rock out with his cowbell out? Oh yeah, he did. And Conan, playing away on guitar, was smiling. I was, too, through the tears. Because it was a silly and genuine finale for one of the most inspired, ridiculous shows ever to air on a network, and the end of a strange, lovely moment in time when the weirdoes banded together behind their late-night king to say, enough with mediocrity. Enough with DVR-proof bullshit.

Give us talent and inspiration and the unpredictable."

What a day. A big -- yet so sad -- day.

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be travelling on, now,
'Cause there's too many places I've got to see.
But, if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
'Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can't change.

Bye, bye, its been a sweet love.
Though this feeling I can't change.
But please don't take it badly,
'Cause Lord knows I'm to blame.
But, if I stayed here with you girl,
Things just couldn't be the same.
Cause I'm as free as a bird now,
And this bird you'll never change.
And this bird you can not change.
Lord knows, I can't change.
Lord help me, I can't change.

bye L.A. You're a free bird now and long may you run.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


At 1/23/2010 09:44:00 AM, Blogger designschicago said...

All about L.A.

Definitely, watery eyes. Perfect song, perfect moment, as always by Neil.


At 1/23/2010 10:00:00 AM, Blogger The Loner said...

Yes, very emotional indeed and a good choice on a day like this. Thanks, Neil.

Thanks, Thrasher, for sharing this moment with fans outside the US.

Rest in Peace, L.A.

The Loner, Norway.

At 1/23/2010 10:08:00 AM, Blogger Shadow said...

Neil and Dave Perfect. Neil as always perfect song on Tonight show for the time with Larry passing and his friend Conan situation . To all of them Neil, Dave, Conan , Larry , the people of Hatti " Long may you run "

"The Searcher"

At 1/23/2010 11:56:00 AM, Blogger karen said...

long may you run was absolutely heartbreaking. so real. and so brave. he is amazing. lovekaren

At 1/23/2010 12:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two courageous songs. Alone and Forsaken blows my mind. Thanks Neil.

At 1/23/2010 01:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This world we live in can hit us
hard with no warning. The loss of a
loved one can drive us to our knees in tears. Our empathy and sympathy for others losses can touch our hearts, sometimes surprisingly, just as hard.
As we look to Haiti and that unimaginable hit they took, to losing someone we admired. We are all like that "Distant Camera", watching and waiting to capture just a glimpse of something we want to hold and feel.
Like Tom Hanks said in the film
"Castaway", "The sun will come up tomorrow."...a reason to keep going. Music is and always has been a big reason to look forward. We are all hearts and minds in this world together. As the Na'Vi in "Avatar" say, "I see you."

"There's a world you're living in
No one else has your part
All Gods' children in the wind
Take it in and blow hard."

Along with time, music is truly a beautiful way to heal.

At 1/23/2010 02:48:00 PM, Anonymous Keith Burris said...

All have said it well here, esp, Elihu

As he ages NY becomes more and more Mr Soul.

He touches the heart and inspires

At 1/23/2010 07:13:00 PM, Anonymous Thos said...

Hi Doc - I agree with Thrasher on this one. People who are using the site to post genuine messages of love for someone who has passed away shouldn't be confronted with abuse. And neither should Thasher, since he is the one who has made this wonderful site which is so very good that people from all over the world are gravitating here to express their grief at LA Johnson's death. So I fully expect both this comment and your previous comment to disappear in the near future, and agree with the reasoning for it (since technically we are off topic!)

But I am going to post it because I want to thank Thrasher for all that he does, and to say that we're thinking of you too at this time. While the rest of us are getting to spend a few moments reflecting on mortality and good friendship, you are working your ass off to keep this site up to date.

Thank you Thrasher for all that you do, and all that you are.


At 1/23/2010 08:02:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful rendition of 'Long May You Run' ... Neil is such a class act ... the clip I watched had Conan mention that the first person to call him after reports of the late night commotion started was Neil ... and what a lovely choice of songs, fitting for LA, fitting for Conan, even fitting for Haiti ... Long May You Run Neil, you are truly an international treasure!!

At 1/24/2010 05:37:00 AM, Anonymous Brynjar said...

New link for the Long May You Run broadcast here:

R.I.P. Larry

At 1/24/2010 12:13:00 PM, Anonymous No Expiration said...

No Expiration - a blog about timeless music: NEIL YOUNG - LONG DAY, GREAT PERFORMANCES: "Neil performed at the telethon with his fellow Farm Aid chairperson Dave Matthews. They did a pretty stark acoustic duo version of Hank Williams' 'Alone and Foresaken.' On Conan, he performed one of his classics, 'Long May You Run' (the title track of the lone Stills-Young Band album, released in 1976). If you saw the show, it ended with Will Ferrell dressed as the late Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zant, leading Max Weinberg and the band through 'Freebird.' The performance was cooler looking than sounding, because Will's voice got annoying. But when he wasn't singing, he was making out with some chick, or playing (what else?) the cowbell. But a funny point was that he was wearing the same Neil Young Tonight's The Night t-shirt that Ronnie used to wear. The band were joined by supporters Ben Harper, Billy Gibbons and Beck. And Conan actually played a pretty face-melting guitar solo himself.

Back to Neil. What I didn't know (until I checked the great fansite Thrasher's Wheat) was that yesterday, Neil's long time film making collaborator L.A. Johnson passed away. L.A., who worked on the Woodstock film, worked with Neil as a director or producer on many of his films, including Journey Through The Past, Human Highway, Rust Never Sleeps, Weld, Year Of The Horse, Silver and Gold, and also worked on Neil's albums including Greendale and Living With War. He also worked on the video content on the Archives box set, and was working with Neil on the Linc-Volt documentary."

At 1/24/2010 02:11:00 PM, Anonymous ShittyHorse said...

It was a great day for Neil fans..."Alone anf Forsaken" was really, really, awesome" I caught it live and was unexpectedly blown away.
Then I stayed tune for Neil on Conan- what a great performace. At one point it looked like Neil was tearing up...any one else catch it?

Really sad News about LA- those of us who were following the linc volt live broadcasts got to speak with LA (and I still think Neil too, at one point) via the chat room and he couldnt have been cooler. LA is a great loss for the Neil camp, for movies and fans.

All in all a great Neil weekend for me, sweeted by the fact that I found an original, completely mint, copy of Old Ways on Vinyl, at a second hand record shop for $10!!! Almost completes my Vinyl collection of every Neil record- except two now- Harvest Moon and Eldorado. Someday.

At 1/24/2010 08:44:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Did anyone else notice the weird double-take Dave did at the end of "Alone and Forsaken"? It's like he was taken aback that Neil stretched that last note out a bit long. Interestingly, Neil did the exact same thing on Long Road with Eddie Vedder on the 9/11 tribute. I don't want to take anything away from heartfelt performances for great causes, just curious if anyone else saw that.

At 1/25/2010 12:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrash, you don't have to imply people are "goofy and absurd" for suggesting cough up the bucks or This notes for you, Hindsite is 20/20 so I guess your a genius. I don't contribute money to your cuase so you can insult me. Neil is capable of doing anything, If Neil suprises you then you don't know neil.

At 1/25/2010 01:20:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

C'mon Dug, lighten up buddy.

That observation wasn't made in retrospect of LA's passings.

If LA was OK today, it was "goofy and absurd" to suggest CUT$'s, etc.

Sure it was funny. a joke. no problem.

But the likelihood of Neil playing CUT$'s, etc. was about as remote as Crazy Horse showing up.


At 1/25/2010 02:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conan's Last 'Tonight Show' A HUGE Ratings Hit


NEW YORK — Preliminary Nielsen ratings suggest that Conan O'Brien won a hefty audience for his final hour hosting "The Tonight Show."

O'Brien scored a 7.0 rating for his farewell appearance on NBC Friday, compared to a 2.5 rating for CBS' "Late Show with David Letterman" and, on ABC, a 2.8 for "Nightline" followed by 1.3 for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

These early figures, which reflect viewership in roughly 70 percent of the country, can't be reliably translated into audience numbers. An accurate viewer count is expected later this week.

At 1/25/2010 04:16:00 PM, Anonymous SONY said...

Will Ferrel has now climbed up my list as Entertainer of the Decade (pic this one or last). When not off key he sounded a lot more like Jim Morrision than good 'ol Johnny VZ. The skit was excellent, Neil was excellent and Conan wasn't too bad on the guitar either. A Jimmy Fallon encore would have put me over the edge. Even better, I came in from a blues show memorial for one of my best guitar playing buddies and there was Neil and Dave on the Haiti telathon doing Hank as I walked in the room. God bless us, one and all.

At 1/25/2010 07:47:00 PM, Anonymous Martin Lav said...

Paul -- yeah I caught that look and almost giggle as Dave Mathews was tripping on Neil. It was pretty classic. Neil although it takes him a while to warm up these days (who doesn't at this ripe old age) he really delivers the goods and invokes a soul in any song that he helps harmonize on. Truly a great song and kudo's to Dave Mathews for inviting his mentor to play with him. I wondered why Neil was announced even though he was in town for Conan. PS: why didn't Beck or Ben Harper do down the road to lend their name? Hmmm....

At 1/26/2010 12:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The audience for Conan was chump change compared to Haiti telethon.

But between 2 broadcast, Neil was definitely heard by many, many millions.

Haiti Telethon Ratings: 83 Million Viewers Tune In To 'Hope For Haiti'

LOS ANGELES — More than 80 million people tuned in for last week's all-star "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon.

The Nielsen Co. said Monday that an estimated 83 million people saw at least a brief part of the fundraiser carried Friday on 33 TV networks. The audience watching the two-hour event at any given time averaged 24 million viewers.

Organizers for the telethon said it's raised $57 million, with more donations still to come in.

At 1/27/2010 01:08:00 AM, Anonymous emu boots said...

Neil and Dave Perfect. Neil as always perfect song on Tonight show for the time with Larry passing and his friend Conan situation . To all of them Neil, Dave, Conan , Larry , the people of Hatti "

At 1/27/2010 01:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I hope this link works.

At 1/28/2010 10:19:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody notice a woman standing in the wings on our left-hand side, right at the beginning of the heartbreaking "Alone and Forsaken" video, before the camera zooms in? You can see her again at the end in the first video I watched.



At 1/28/2010 04:33:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope For Haiti Now album top of Billboard chart

A charity album featuring performances from the Hope For Haiti Now telethon has gone straight to number one in the US album chart.

The compilation album is the first digital-only release to top the Billboard 200 chart.

The album sold 171,000 copies, music sales tracker Nielsen Soundscan said.

The disaster relief telethon, featuring performances from stars including Jay-Z, Madonna and U2, has so far raised $66m (£40.6m), organisers say.

At 1/30/2010 10:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big friggen deal!
We should make this much fuss over our troops who sacrifice their lives for us.

At 2/08/2010 01:23:00 PM, Anonymous Liza said...

Hi Thrasher,

just found this clip and thought people should see it :

When God made me
- The Haiti Children's Choir -

Love, Liza


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