canada.gif

gb.gif

de.gif

us.gif
Neil Young's new album Peace Trail released on December 12th. Pre-order here
(Please shop locally & independently. But if you can't, we appreciate your supporting Thrasher's Wheat by clicking this link . Thank you!!!)
ADVERTISEMENT
<-Older Posts Blog Home Newer Posts->

Sunday, March 06, 2011

So Who Was The "Cinnamon Girl"? The Story Behind The Song

UPDATE: Since publication of this story, it has come to our attention that this tale is highly suspect. Proceed accordingly.

cinnamon-girl-single-cover-3-7-70.jpg
Rare Neil Young "Cinnamon Girl" 45 RPM Picture Sleeve
Recorded Live at The Fillmore East, New York City, March 7, 1970

(41 years ago *today*)

"I wanna live with a cinnamon girl
I could be happy the rest of my life
With a cinnamon girl"


So who was Neil Young's "Cinnamon Girl"?

And why did he want to live the rest of his life with a "Cinnamon Girl" anyways? (Then again, who wouldn't?)

Who was she? Or did she even really exist?

If we look at the Decade box album, Neil's hand written note about the song "Cinnamon Girl" says:
"Wrote this for a city girl on peeling pavement coming at me thru Phil Ochs eyes playing finger cymbals.

It was hard to explain to my wife."

The mystery of "Cinnamon Girl" only deepens.

Which city? What's peeling pavement? Who's Phil Ochs? Finger cymbals?

And why was it hard to explain to his wife, Susan?

Well, in that wild, weird and wonderful little Facebook world we recently got a message from someone claiming to be the song's inspirational muse.

The actual "Cinnamon Girl" herself.

So here's "Cinnamon Girl"'s story as relayed to us over a series of posts and messages. We report. You decide.
I met Neil when I was in high school at Kipling Collegiate in Etobicoke Toronto in late spring, early summer of 1968.

The kids from my high school called me the Cinnamon Girl. I was one of the first flower child kids at my high school. I was living way out in Etobicoke with my parents and we weren't allowed to go to places like a coffee house named The Riverboat. It was there in front of The Riverboat that I met Neil one afternoon.

I only met Neil that once.

Funny thing is if Neil had not been carrying his guitar we never would have met. My best friend had just been bragging to me that her and her sister & another friend now had super cute boyfriends who played in a band. She said they were the singer and guitar & bass player that were playing at El Patio in Yorkville.

I felt so left out.

I told my friend I was going to try and find a drummer to be my boyfriend. Truth is my father was super strict and I wasn't allowed to date. To go to Yorkville I always let on I was going to the movies, or babysitting. All hell would have broken loose if he thought I was with the hippies......

I saw his guitar case first and blurted out "I'm interviewing musicians to be my boyfriend.......are you interested?"

Without hesitation Neil came right over and stood beside me. Oh god. I looked up at him and he was the cutest boy I had ever seen.

He said "What's involved?"

I said you get to hang around with me for a couple of hours. I will ask you questions about dating and relationships and see if you pass. There will be kissing involved...are you a good kisser?"

Neil said "I guess so".

He seemed to be a little shy but amused by the situation. He didn't seem to be in any hurry to go anywhere and so the game started.

When we were together that night, I asked Neil to write a happy song about me and he promised he would. My nickname at school was 'The Cinnamon Girl'. I told him to make it sound Canadian (and even sang him the song from the cartoon ' Pow Wow The Indian Boy' so he's know what I meant). Funny, he's the singer but I was the one doing the singing....He had his guitar with him, he opened the case and showed it to me, but didn't play a note.

Everything in the song is something we did or something we talked about. I had never heard of Neil (or any of his bands) before but the time I spent with him still all these years later feels somehow magical. It was as though I could clearly see his future....and it was as though we had known each other for years, laughing our heads off.I guess the best way to describe it was I found him to be intoxicating.

I think 'Cowgirl in the Sand' is also about me. When we first met I was playing a crazy game with him, and he seemed amused by it. We talked about horseback riding, getting a farm one day, and the fact that I wouldn't tell him my age. I turned the conversation to the ages girls could wed in different provinces yet couldn't drink or vote. We spent the night in a park on the edge of a kid's sandbox talking about our lives, our dreams and the urgency for him to get to California.

I don't know if I'm a muse, psychic or an encouraging Cancerian or a combination of all of these because just as we sat there and talked I knew he would be very successful...just knew it. It was never 'if' it was 'when'.

When I left Neil at the Yorkville subway, I had an overpowering sad feeling that something would happen and i would not see him again for a very long time. It was 6:00AM and we had no paper or pen to exchange contact info.

Who knew I would get so sick?

I got dangerously ill after I met Neil. It lasted 2 weeks, first I was delirious with fever & then Bronchitis. So, I was unable to meet him as planned at The Riverboat.....one of the biggest regrets of my life. My friend saw him there waiting ......she estimated he waited for 2 hours and then was gone...I tried in the early years to contact Neil but letters were returned.

I've always had the feeling that that when the time is right, and the stars are aligned we would somehow meet again.

archives-neil-young-riverboat.jpg
Neil Young Archives Riverboat Disc Sleeve


So here's the thing.

Surprisingly -- or not so much so -- we get all sorts of Neil tales, that -- quite frankly -- we can't make heads or tails of like this one.

But here's the other thing about this story that makes it a little cosmic. As we were doing that Facebook thing with our "Cinnamon Girl", we just so happened to stumble across the 45 single pictured above and noticed the date -- March 7, 1970.

That's tomorrow?!

And as we scanned the Decade box album liner notes, we recall how Neil -- absolutely totally astonishingly -- wrote "Down by the River", "Cinnamon Girl", and "Cowgirl in the Sand" all in a single afternoon -- while sick and delirious with a 103 degree temperature.

Down by the river (boat) he shot his baby (broke up with his young girlfriend) -- a red head (cinnamon girl) -- who was a cowgirl (hippie) in the sand (box at the park).

Both heartbroken and sick at the same time.

sometimes you just never know...

Thanks for sharing the memories cinnamon girl!
~~~~
So what exactly would it be like to live with a cinnamon girl? Well, this is what we think it would be like...


"Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young & His Electric Band with Rick Rosas, Ben Keith, Chad Cromwell, Anthony Crawford and Pegi Young. Madison Square Garden, New York on December 16, 2008.

It was the last stop on his 2008 North American Tour.


... and we'll be happy the rest of our lives...


Links to this post:

Create a Link

30 Comments:

At 3/07/2011 07:36:00 AM, Blogger SONY said...

I've been living with the cinnomom girls for 20 years. My wife and my daughter. Both reds. One a bonified neilhead ('got any southern man' was her first request of me)and the other coming on strong.

That's a very cool story of the origin of an excellent song. The other coincidences are strong enough to set the stage of one of the greatest song writing days in the history of music.

 
At 3/07/2011 07:54:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

I concur with sony....but then again he knows exactly how I feel about this song!...i've told him often enough!!
Never get sick of it no matter how many times I hear it.
now ,this chick has either thoroughly done her historical chronological homework or she is genuine..either way i enjoyed her story...ya know....i just wouldn't be surprised if it is true!

doc

p.s.NEIL: "Hello cowgirl in the sandpit!?
How commanding is this place?
Do you mind if I hang around a bit?
You have such a sweet,sweet smile!
how old do you reckon you are?
I bet ya got heaps of guys swooning over ya, hey?
ya know, ya seem older then that seeing ya playin all these mind games and all?"

 
At 3/07/2011 08:49:00 AM, Blogger Todd said...

The question is, did Neil Young travel back to Toronto in the "late spring, early summer" of 1968? Buffalo Springfield formally broke up in early May and by the late summer of 1968 he was working on his first solo album, according to "Shakey".

Innaresting story.

 
At 3/07/2011 09:57:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

I had to check my calendar to see if it's April 1st.

The story is a fabrication from a very shy but love-sick fan in her late 20's.

According to "Shakey," Neil recorded the Riverboat in LATE January-EARLY February '68 -- not early Spring even by Canadian standards. Yes, he was with Susan (his first wife) but by that time, he had really had it with teenybopper fans.

I think a "chance encounter" was more likely with Neil three years earlier when Neil was doing a hootenanny LATE FALL at the Riverboat.

 
At 3/07/2011 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Sharry said...

Interesting story, but I'm having trouble with the dates. Neil was doing his thing in Yorkville in the late fall/winter of 1965. By the early spring of 1966 he was playing in the Mynah Birds. He left Toronto in March 1966 to go to California. The date for his Riberboat gigs is also incorrect. He played them in Feb. 1969.

 
At 3/07/2011 10:19:00 AM, Blogger SONY said...

"It's all illusion anyway"

Maybe as it should be?

 
At 3/07/2011 10:26:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Sharry,

Neil's performing art series is that entire leg along the Great Lakes in '68, no? He's on the road with Crazy Horse in 1969 from January through March.

 
At 3/07/2011 10:33:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

You should research Phil Ochs - a major, major songwriter, teller of truths, and advocate of human rights. If you care about music, you owe it to yourself.

 
At 3/07/2011 10:52:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

I still suspect one of Neil's young female fans who has a very, very big crush on him is taking liberty with events she read about his life.



In "Shakey," Jimmy McDonough (lucky bastard) asks Neil Young this on page 337:

-Who inpsired all the dancing-women songs?

"I don't know ... I remember this one girl, Jean "Monte" Ray-she was the singing partner of Jim, Jim, and Jean, folk duo. Had a record out called, "People's World," and she did a lot of dancing with finger cymbals. She was really great. Might've been her. Good chance. I kinda had a crush on her for awhile. Moved nice. She was real musical, soulful."

- So is she the Cinnamon Girl?

Only part of the song. There's images in there that have to do with Jean and there's images that have to do with other people."

 
At 3/07/2011 10:58:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Ellen -- Thanks for mentioning that little ditty. Important stuff here when we talk about major influences.

Neil has paid homage to Phil Ochs in several interviews throughout the course of his life.

"Shakey" is just one source that begins and ends with exactly how much influence Ochs had on Neil as a folk songwriter following his muse.

 
At 3/07/2011 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

FWIW - Jean Ray "Cinnamon Girl" was the bridesmaid in Ochs-Skinner wedding.

 
At 3/07/2011 11:26:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

There is youtube video that was upload in 2009 of Jean's first television appearance on Art Linkletter. Google Jim and Jean "Blackfly" and "Relax Your Mind."

I'm listening to "Relax Your Mind" right now.

 
At 3/07/2011 11:36:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

It seems like an entirely different story about Neil's life was left out of the 738 pages in "Shakey."


Jean Ray is quoted in liner notes that "Cowgirl In the Sand" came from a visit Neil made to her and her family living on the beach:

"Of the songs Ray penned, she reveals that "Topanga Road" was "about the Buffalo Springfield getting busted in Topanga Canyon, a totally bogus bust. Neil Young's song 'Cowgirl in the Sand' came from a visit he made to me and my family living on the beach. Neil watched me finishing up the tune, written on cheap paper with purple ink. I think he was so touched by my caring about their suffering through that awful ordeal, that his song came from mine. In it there's his lyric 'purple words on a [gray] background,' etc." - Liner notes from Jim and Jean's Changes/People World CD reissue by Richie Unterberger (2005) [1]

 
At 3/07/2011 02:56:00 PM, Blogger Sharry said...

I double-checked my dates about Neil at the Riverboat and they were correct. He played the Riverboat in a string of dates starting in early Feb. 1969. (See Sugar Mountain setlist link below):
http://www.sugarmtn.org/show.php?show=196902040
He came to Toronto in late June/early July 1965 after Mort (his hearse) broke down near Blind River. He was in Toronto through the rest of the summer, the fall and winter and then until the spring of 1966 when he departed for L.A. in his second hearse, Mort II.

 
At 3/07/2011 03:02:00 PM, Blogger Sharry said...

Here's another official link from Warners regarding the date of "Live at the Riverboat." (It's included as a separate disc in the Archives (Vol. 1)
http://neilyoungarchives.warnerreprise.com/shop/vol1/tracklisting-brdvd.html
I think it can be confirmed that Neil played the Riverboat in Toronto in February, 1969.

 
At 3/07/2011 03:23:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

@ Ellen - at the time of Decade's release i was unfamilair with Phil. Very familiar now 35+ years later.

@MNOTR - wouldn't be the first...

@Sharry - thanks for all the research! Well, i guess the mystery on CG endures!

 
At 3/07/2011 03:29:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Sharry, I stand corrected. Thank you. He was solo on that leg in Ann Arbor Nov. 10 in 1968 and ended up in Toronto February 1969.

 
At 3/07/2011 03:49:00 PM, Blogger Sharry said...

You're very welcome. All dates for Neil's live shows can be checked out the very fine Sugar Mountain website (www.sugarmtn.org)operated by Tom Hambleton or in the most excellent "Ghosts On The Road" by Pete Long.

 
At 3/07/2011 05:34:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

I'd like to get a hold of those lyrics from "Topanga Road."

 
At 3/08/2011 06:00:00 AM, Blogger georges said...

Hello
Really you have no idea who Phil Ochs is ?!?!? Its a pitty since he was a very nice poet and songwriter very politically active anti-war etc.
He comitted suicide in the earlies 70s.

 
At 3/08/2011 07:44:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

For as much as Neil talks about Phil Ochs in "Shakey," one would think there would have been some kind of back story in the book. Instead "Shakey" is superflouos when it's not patronizing.

 
At 3/08/2011 09:27:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher said...

re Phil Ochs - When Decade came out, we were not familair with Phil.

But we've blogged on him previously - Phil Ochs and Neil Young.

 
At 3/08/2011 10:46:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Let's get real, Georges. Unless you are a true lover of folk musicians AND born AT LEAST before 1960, how would anyone know who Phil Ochs was anymore than they would know about "Utah" Phillips?

No one here is on a power trip or pretends to know more than the next person. We nurture curiosity, not criticize it when somebody has a question. (That's why our schools are so fucked up.)

 
At 3/18/2011 08:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a crock-a-s*** as it happens i think,no I'M sure who's that wannabe C Girl..the same one who set the fort on Neil Young's fake Facebook page...i think psychos like her should have their own social(sick)network...somethin' like Psychobook where they can exchange their BS till kingdom comes.Give me a effin break!

 
At 5/17/2011 09:56:00 PM, Anonymous mazzeo said...

neil told me that cinnamon girl was his wife susan who used to put cinnamon in his coffee in the mornings...this was in 1973 when he told me .....mazzeo

 
At 9/13/2011 08:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous
I was sitting by the Cinnamon Girl last evening in the front row of The Princess Of Wales theatre in Toronto, while Neil was conversing with Johnathan Demme on stage. She had a paper with large script identifying herself as the Cinnamon Girl. I saw Neil read the sign and then look at her. He knew this lady. It was written all over his face. It was the same look he gave Mary Ellen, the girl he had a crush on in Grade 4, only more fleeting.
The Cinnamon Girl is still very lovely and she does have a sweet sweet smile, rather unique eyes too. A very memorable face and the kind of personality that intrigues Neil.
Neil is a cagey character, but he doesn't hide his true feelings. Interestingly, he reached down and took the paper from the Cinnamon Girl as he left the stage. She is the one.

 
At 12/26/2011 03:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah right...

 
At 6/12/2012 09:20:00 AM, Blogger Julie Clark said...

Brian Ray, the blonde guitarist for Paul McCartney, has said that Cinnamon Girl is about his late sister, Jean. Here's Brian Ray covering Cinnamon Girl and what he has to say:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm_P1c2PUGw

 
At 10/04/2014 12:50:00 AM, Blogger Grumblethorpe said...

The final word on this should appropriately be Jean Ray's brother, for these two great songs were clearly about her. The cryptic reference by Neil can easily be deciphered by anyone who knew the story of Jim and Jean. Jean Ray's husband Jim was Phil Och's college roommate. Jean performed and recorded several Phil Ochs songs in her duo with her husband Jim Post...and yes she was well known to perform live with hand cymbals. When you see the few surviving videos on YouTube of beautiful Jean Ray and her gorgeous smile you can see how Neil could have easily been smitten. She was a wonderful singer as well. RIP.--Rob Lincoln

 
At 10/05/2014 10:18:00 PM, Blogger Grumblethorpe said...

Correction--Jim Glover not Jim Post was the correct Jim in Jim and Jean. To make up for my mistake here are links to the only two live videos of Jean Ray on YouTube: an early video from when they were folkies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFANftfYNbs and later on from when they went more electric: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm_P1c2PUGw

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

<-Older Posts Blog Home Newer Posts->

Willie for a Nobel!

Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize
for Farm Aid and his work on
alternative fuels, and world peace initiatives.


Demand justice for Aaron:
Support "Aaron's Law" and inquiry into his prosecution


Induct Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame



Please Help Support Independent Media &
Non-Corporate Advertising
This Blog's For You!


The Hypocrisy of the Mainstream Media

It's Been Called The
"Missing Link" in the Ditch Trilogy

time-fades-away-banner2a

Sign the Release "Time Fades Away" Petition
Join The 10,000+ Who Have Already Signed


broken-arrow-mag-new-logo.gif

Neil Young Appreciation Society


sugar-mtn-logo.jpg
Sugar Mountain

Neil Young Setlists
rust-radio-new
Rust Radio


bumpersticker-neil-concert.jpg


i-l-ove-neil-young-sm.jpg
Bands Covering Neil Young songs


bumper-sticker-live-music-better-sm.jpg


ny-times-logo.jpg
Official Neil Young News Site

bridgeschool_logo
The Bridge School


The Bridge School Concerts
25th Anniversary Edition

**100% of Proceeds to Benefit Bridge School***

farm-aid-logo.gif
Farm Aid

Stop factory farms
Go family farms!

linda-eastman-neil-young-sugar-mtn-sm.jpg
The Essential Neil Young

neil-young-sleeveless.jpg
Fans Favorite Neil Albums

neil-young-heart-of-gold-film-still
Top 50 MP3
Neil Young Song Downloads


Top 10 Best Selling Neil Albums Today
amazon-neil-store.GIF
Support Thrasher's Wheat
via Purchases from:
United States - Amazon.com us.gif
Canada - Amazon.ca canada.gif
United Kingdom - Amazon.uk gb.gif
Germany - Amazon.de de.gif




Neil Young Songbook Project

Neil Young + Promise of the Real

Europe 2016 Tour Dates



2015 Rebel Content Tour


Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Alchemy Concert Tour Reviews

Fall 2012 N. America Tour
Spring 2013 Australia/New Zealand Tour
Summer 2013 Europe Tour

Europe Summer 2014 Concert Tour
Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Thrasher's Wheat Radio Supporters Go To Europe

jttp-film-poster-sm.jpg
Neil Young Films

musicares-neil-young-2010.jpg
2010 MusiCares Honors Neil Young

Features Elvis Costello, Crosby Stills & Nash, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Ben Harper, Elton John, Norah Jones, Lady Antebellum, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Keith Urban, and others.
Proceeds from sales go to MusiCares,
which helps musicians in need of
financial and medical assistance.

live-rust-promo-poster.jpg



trans-promo




Neil Young FAQ:
Everything Left to Know About the Iconic and Mercurial Rocker
"an indispensable reference"

paul-neil-bridge2004-sat-sfc-kkomenich-sm.jpg
Paul McCartney and Neil Young

woodstock-poster.jpg


"You can make a difference
If you really a try"

lennon_peace_liberty
John Lennon and Neil Young


"hailed by fans as a wonderful read"

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young:
csny-1974-poster.jpg
The Supergroup of the 20th Century



Director Jonathan Demme's Exquisite film "Heart of Gold"

eddie & neil
Eddie Vedder and Neil Young

buffalo-springfield-poster.jpg
Revisiting The Significance of
The Buffalo Springfield


"The revolution will not be televised"
... it will be blogged, streamed,
tweeted, shared and liked
The Embarrassment of Mainstream Media

Turn Off Your TV



2014 Neil Young Year in Review:
Yes, Only Love Can Break (& Fix) Your Heart

Kurt Cobain
Kurt Cobain and Neil Young

Neil Young's Feedback:
An Acquired Taste?

Young Neil: The Sugar Mountain Years
by Rustie Sharry "Keepin' Jive Alive in T.O." Wilson

"the definitive source of Neil Young's formative childhood years in Canada"

neil & joni
Joni Mitchell & Neil Young

europe 1987.jpg


dylan-young-crop
Bob and Neil

weld
So Who Really Was "The Godfather of Grunge"?


Four Dead in Ohio
kent state
So What Really Happened at Kent State?

concert-pass-europe-2003-solo.jpg


dissent is not treason
Dissent is the highest form of patriotism

Rockin' In The Free World

Sing Truth to Power

emmylou-harris-neil-young-0305-crop
Emmylou Harris and Neil Young

wilco-062305-wide-background.jpg
Wilco and Neil Young

bluenotes-pass-young88crewlam-sm.jpg

bruce-springsteen-neil-young-bridge-oct-1986.jpg
Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young

europe87concertpass


elton-john-neil-young-crop-sm.jpg
Elton John and Neil Young

ronnie-vanzant-neil.jpg
Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young


Neil Young Nation -
"The definitive Neil Young fan book"

powderfinger
"Powderfinger"
What does the song mean?

Random Neil Young Link of the Moment
neil-sad.jpg
Wisconsin-solidarity.jpg
I'm Proud to Be A Union Man

UNITED WE STAND/DIVIDED WE FALL


When Neil Young is Playing,
You Shut the Fuck Up


Class War:
They Started It and We'll Finish It...
peacefully

A battle raged on the open page...
No Fear, No Surrender. Courage

"What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees?"


"I've Got The Revolution Blues"

Willie Nelson & Neil Young
Willie Nelson for Nobel Peace Prize



John Mellencamp:
Why Willie Deserves a Nobel

willie_picnic_poster_070503



Love and Only Love

"Thinking about what a friend had said,
I was hoping it was a lie"


We're All On
A Journey Through the Past


Neil Young's Moon Songs
Tell Us The F'n TRUTH
(we can handle it... try us)

Freedom:
freedom-video
Does Anything Else Really Matter?

"Nobody's free until everybody's free."
~~ Fannie Lou Hamer

Here Comes "The Big Shift"

Maybe everything you think you know is wrong? NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS
"It's all illusion anyway."

Propaganda = Mind Control
NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS
Guess what?
"Symbols Rule the World, not Words or Laws."
Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
Be The Rain, Be The Change

csny2k-plate.jpg
the truth will set you free
This Machine Kills Fascists


war is not the answer
yet we are
Still Living With War

"greed is NOT good"
Occupy the Music

Hey Big Brother!
Stop Spying On Us!
Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

The Achilles Heel
#NullifyNSA
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
~~ Bob Marley

The Essence of "The Doubters"



Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?


churchsign


Share

Words

(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul


Namaste