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Monday, July 05, 2010

An Open Fan Letter To Neil Young


So, here's one from the TW letter bag to pass along.

From the oh-so delightfully handled ShittyHorse:
OK, so I've never written a fan letter before.

Except besides things I've written on here, which may be considered directed at Neil, which I believe all of us do to some degree.

I never put much faith in fan letters as I'm sure they rarely actually reach the intended's eyes, but in thinking about what I'd say to Neil if I ever had the opportunity to meet him, which I never have, what would I say?

Well, what I'd like to say and what I'd actually say are two different things I'm sure. Chances are I'd just stammer a bit and hopefully manage to get out a typical "Thank you for the music" kinda thing. But anyway I wrote a fan letter and don't know where to send it so I figured I'd post here on Thrasher's Wheat. I'm sure it has as good a chance, maybe a little better, than good ole' fashioned US mail.

So here it goes.

I know I've expressed many of these things on here before but I hope it is a little more cohesive now and less rambling and hopefully this letter will actually reach Neil's eyes. Again I just felt the need to express gratitude at all he's given...which is a lot.
Hello, I’m a 30 year old fan and first came across your music when I was a 15 year old music nut. A friend of mine had Rust Never Sleeps on CD. I thought the album art and lettering, as small as it is on CD, was interesting, so I put it on.

To be honest, at that time, I didn’t know you from Neil Diamond but as soon I heard the opening of My, My, Hey, Hey, I knew I had found something special and as I discovered more and more of your music in the following years, I developed a fascination with the art you create. I’m afraid people, especially people my age and younger, have forgotten that music is ART, in every sense of the word, and not just background noise to party to, etc.

I was a fan of Hendrix, the Beatles, The Doors, Dylan before discovering you but no other music has touched me at the deepest nerve, buried away in somewhere in far back- that one nerve that truly connects to the soul, that one place where physical meets metaphysical. Your music completely wipes away the bullshit and doesn’t put on a pretty face to please anyone. Real art cuts through the thick film of reality that coats our eyes and our minds, and it gets down to it; the emotion, the feeling and reverberates against that driving force which we all have to some degree- that thing that somehow gets us through any lousy day and reminds us that we are alive and breathing.

Listen, I’m a big fan of your ART and I’m not going to rub your shoulders and whisper to you how great you are, I’m sure you have plenty of people that do that for you…and plenty more fans who would be more than willing, but I don’t think that is what an artist needs. I believe an artist is a conduit to forces greater than us, a live feed or fiber optic cable to the gods. An artist deals in real magic, creates magic out of thin air. An artist creates for himself simply because he has no other choice, he is driven and for reasons he cannot begin to explain.

The results are something else entirely. The result is to please the artist, but that is not always the case either for the artist cannot always face himself or cannot face, nor understand message transmitted to him, it’s like staring at the sun. Art is not created to please admirers, of course, I’m sure it is always great to have others understand what you are trying to put out there but all in all the art is for the Artist. But the ART is the boss….always.

Neil, you are an artist of the highest level. I always compare you to Picasso who always created, never stopped, no matter how misunderstood and even at the expense of those who loved him. I have also been fond of saying that you have more soul than Motown, which is also true.

Being such a huge fan, I’ve had a hard time understanding why EVERYBODY doesn’t love your music. Honestly, I mention to many peers that I’m a big Neil Young fan and I am inevitably met with a strange look and a response like “oh, yeah, Neil Young” but I’ve come to understand why. Neil you are the Artist’s Artist. Creative people are drawn to what you create because they recognize that creative force behind you, they know the muse what they hear it or see it. Neil, you are one of a kind and there are (or were) precious few that may have been cut from the same cloth. In music, I have to say Cobain and Dylan though the three of you are so different, but what is similar is the approach and the trust in the form.

I’ve had the pleasure to seeing you perform live a number of times, most recently solo electric at the Oakdale in Wallingford, CT and I believe it was one of the greatest exhibits of an Art I have seen. A man, alone, baring his soul, his passion, his sorrow and his love before an audience like what I witnessed, takes balls. Many people in attendance walked away confused by the performance, but I believe I understood. People were disappointed by the length of the performance but I believe it was the perfect length; again, one cannot stare at the sun for long, one cannot look death in the eye and walk away unscathed.

A friend of mine once asked me why I am so fascinated with your music and my response at that time was that I was unsure, but I believe it to be important, that there is something to be learned.

Now I know why, it is what I’ve spoken of, it is the way you’ve done things always on your own terms, even in the face of the some of the terrible things that you’ve experienced, you’ve come out stronger, learned, and carried on. You’ve followed the muse, which, truth be told, is the hardest and most destructive job of all. You’ve followed your heart all the way and nothing can be more inspiring to an aspiring artist than that. It is my hope that you will continue to carry on for many years to come.

I believe your masterpiece is still ahead of you.

Most of all, and the reason I’ve written this letter is to say thank you. Words will never do justice the gratitude I have for all you’ve done.


Nice SH. Now, about that handle....

More fan mail to Neil.

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At 7/05/2010 12:25:00 PM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

Thanks, SH. Ya know - I often "write" the same type of fan letter in my head a few times a week. Listening to 'River of Pride' (original 'White Line') did it yesterday - I just can't ever seem to get over just how damn good that song is. And that's just ONE song.

God bless Neil and those of us who get it - all around the world.

At 7/05/2010 01:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But is it news ?

At 7/05/2010 02:11:00 PM, Anonymous cosplusisin said...

Nice message - it is exactly how i feel, and I'm sure many others who read this. like Jonathan above, i had a moment the other day when I put on Sleeps With Angels and listened to those guitar SOUNDS at the end of "Driveby". And then later in "Change Your Mind". The feelings I get when I listen to that is something larger than life. It has nothing to do with "virtuosity" or even the artist himself. It is just the art, and it's perfect. I'm also around the same age, 28, and i got into Neil more recently. But ever since it started, I have not looked back. 6 concerts and 40 cd's and 5 or 6 dvd's later, I'm eagerly awaiting the next one. Thank you Neil for letting the world in on your art.

At 7/05/2010 05:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's like looking at a Van Gogh.Some people hate it ,some people like it...I'm still amazed that he painted the motion of the air...An artist's artist.Exactly.
Chris from you know where.

At 7/05/2010 06:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha! I blew the speakers in my Jeep listening to Sleeps with Angels! Sandy Horne

At 7/05/2010 08:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great comments SH. I think just about all of us have a "first time I heard Neil I was hooked moment". For me it was walking outside my sisters bedroom one time when she was playing the album After The Goldrush. It was just so immediate and captivating. So much of his music/art is that way, but then there's also so much that takes a little getting used to, and then your left wondering how that was ever possible. Right now I'm "overlistening" to Broken Arrow. I remember being more than a little surprised that it was nominated for a Grammy, but now I just can't get over the guitar work. All of his music/art just wears on me so well, because it's the perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. There's so much there, it just doesn't quit. Then on top of it all, there's so much subtle color, and there's so much heart in it. So many times, over so many years, it was just like you said SH: "... the emotion, the feeling and reverberates against that driving force which we all have to some degree- that thing that somehow gets us through any lousy day and reminds us that we are alive and breathing." Thanks for saying what a lot of us who "get it" feel and think. And if you are reading this Neil, thanks also for everything we would never be able to explain even if we had the chance to tell you.

Greg M (A Friend Of Yours)

At 7/06/2010 06:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah SH, I know the look you get when you mention you are a NY fan. At least the wife hasn't given it to me since we saw him in Louisville. Ohio had her bouncing up and down.

Greg M. - the moment my "Neil Light" came on was during This Old House at Farm Aid I. I said to myself, "He really gets it!" A co-worker taped a cassette of Rust Never Sleeps for me to take on vacation with my daughter. Only then did I recognize the depth of his body of work. One morning she said to me, "If I hear Sugar Mountain one more time....." Take a guess at her favorite Neil song now. A Rust Never Sleeps CD will accompany me with her and the grandkids on vacation next month.

I'll Walk With You, Neil.

Rusted In KY

At 7/06/2010 09:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that reminds me the fist time I heard Neil singing.

I was 16 and I was playing basketball at school when a beautiful and capturing sound reached my ears:a friend of mine was playing, in an old Philips cassette player, what I realized later was ' Out on the weekend' !!!
that sound really conquered me and the next day I run to buy 'Harvest'...

that's how it all started!!
tks Neil

At 7/06/2010 10:34:00 AM, Anonymous setlistthief said...

Nice, SH.

For me, it was a 13 year old who was just discovering rock and roll on the radio and "Heart of Gold" kept playing. (What used to be called "heavy rotation!")

Soon, I was tracking down everything Neil had put out to that point, After the Goldrush, Everybody Knows..., Harvest. Then a couple years later I discovered the doom trilogy.

I saw Neil perform "Ambulance Blues" during CDII in 2007 and was that 15 year old all over again discovering just what rock music is really all take a simple blues-based chord progression, turn the melody inside out, and then say something that can change a life.

Yes indeed. Thanks, Neil.

At 7/06/2010 01:32:00 PM, Anonymous NFFL said...

I've been staring into the sun for over 40 years now and I'm still discovering the art. Is Neil touched by God? I sure think so. And I'm thankful to spend the journey of life with Neil providing the soundtrack. I hope it continues for many years to come.

But the art. The muse. The sound. Where does it come from? Neil says it just comes to him. From God?

Listen to Walk with Me from the Worcester, Mass recording. Before the song even starts, Neil is laying down an electric beat that to me sounds like a heart beat, and then right before the song flatlines. Anyone else pick up on that? Neil? Was that on purpose?! Or was it just God working his muse through you? It's fucking brilliant whatever it is. Thanks Neil!!! Come back to Texas soon. SH, I hope Neil reads your letter.

At 7/06/2010 04:49:00 PM, Anonymous Mother Nature on the Run said...

Our special listening devices are tuned to the same channel and frequency which explains why some people don't get Neil's music and some do.

In another words, it's genetic. Some of us are tuned for Neil's pitch and specific wavelengths he creates with his sound.

At 7/07/2010 12:43:00 AM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

Thanks guys, and thanks for publishing Thrasher. Always appreciated.
Who knows, maybe Neil will read. I just hope he knows that in spite of all the complaining from some baffled fans, there are those of us who at least try to get it and are extremely grateful for all he's given.


At 7/07/2010 02:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way I sum up Neil is the following...You are either tuned in to the right frequency and get it or you don't. People who do get it love Neil and understand what you are saying .You can not explain or convince someone to appreciate Neil so I do not bother trying.
I find myself sitting back and like the recent solo tour just saying "Wow" as my eyese teared up at what I saw and heard live at the Buffalo show. I witnessed something very very special and have not witnessed this before in my time and I am over 50.
Imagine the ability to sit on a stage by yourself playing a variety of instruments and touching the souls of the people. I wonder who else could pull this off with the emotional connection that Neil did.
I actually caught the show again in Dallas and loved to watch the faces of the people who were watching this for the first time.

At 7/08/2010 11:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I make hit records, my fans they can't wait
They write me letters, tell me I'm great

Get a life...

At 7/11/2010 05:18:00 AM, Anonymous LittleRaggie said...

Hey Joe Walsh, this isn't your site. Go fly with the eagles....

At 7/11/2010 06:18:00 AM, Anonymous LittleRaggie said...

I'm old, I'm tired, I've been a listener and a buyer of NY since the BF daze, and I reminisce more than I should. My eyes perspire at the slightest hint of nostalgia and there is nothing I can do about it. It’s a by-product of growing old and remembering.

Danny Ray the years and tears have fallen
Stained our faces highlighted our pain
And in your mouth a cigarette you’re holding
While you dream of good times again.

I remember Danny. So can you!

At 7/11/2010 06:19:00 AM, Anonymous LittleRaggie said...

I'm old, I'm tired, I've been a listener and a buyer of NY since the BF daze, and I reminisce more than I should. My eyes perspire at the slightest hint of nostalgia and there is nothing I can do about it. It’s a by-product of growing old and remembering.

Danny Ray the years the tears have fallen
Stained our faces highlighted our pain
And in your mouth a cigarette you’re holding
While you dream of good times again.

I remember Danny. So can you!

At 3/14/2011 08:37:00 PM, Blogger Katie said...

I have to be a millionare to see Niel Young play in Richmond, VA. A huge fan and the tickets are waaaay too expensive. It stinks.


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