An Open Fan Letter To Neil Young
photo by MICHAEL-MULLER-CORBIS
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.