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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day! Neil Young, "Old Man" & The Story Behind The Song + PODCAST: Thrasher's Wheat Radio - 6/20/15



Happy Father's Day!

Neil Young's "Old Man" seems an appropriate song for the day.

From BBC 1971.... back when Neil was a young man ...

look at how time flies past....

i'm a lot like you were...

From his 1972 album Harvest, "Old Man" is definitely one of Mr Young's most enduring songs of all time with brilliant banjo and steel guitar. James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt provide backing vocals.

The song was inspired by the caretaker of the Northern California Broken Arrow Ranch, which Young purchased for $350,000 in 1970 when he was just 25 years old.

The song has themes of loneliness and lost love: "Live alone in a paradise that makes me think of two" recalled with a certain pain "love lost/such a cost/give me things that don't get lost."

Yet Neil searches on for that oh-so elusive heart of gold:

"I need someone to love me the whole day through
Oh one look in my eyes and you can tell that's true."
In the film "Heart of Gold", Young introduces the song as follows:
About that time when I wrote (Heart of Gold), and I was touring, I had also -- just, you know, being a rich hippie for the first time -- I had purchased a ranch, and I still live there today.

And there was a couple living on it that were the caretakers, an old gentleman named Louis Avala and his wife Clara. And there was this old blue Jeep there, and Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep. He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there's this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, 'Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?'

And I said, 'Well, just lucky, Louie, just real lucky.' And he said, 'Well, that's the darndest thing I ever heard.'

And I wrote this song for him.
Although some have serious reservations the song is about a ranch hand and more likely to really be about Neil's own father, Scott Young being the real "old man" behind the song.

The "Old Man" Louis Avala & Neil Young
1970 Dutch documentary film by Wim Van der Linden
So happy father's Dad ... from a not so young man to our old man...

The "Old Man" Louis Avala
YouTube - Neil Young - Old Man - Live at Massey Hall
Also, watch & listen to why Neil Young will never sing "Old Man" with a band again.

And here are a few more appropriate Neil Young Father's Day songs...
(Thanks Ralf B.!)

- "Daddy Went Walking"
- "Far From Home" ("Daddy took an old guitar and sang ...")
- Sixty To Zero (talk to my daddy On the telephone ...")
- Don't Be Denied ("daddy's leavin' home today ...")
- Prairie Wind ("Tryin' to remember what my Daddy said ..."
‎- This Old House ("thinking 'bout daddy, And how he always made things work ...")


A Father, A Son, and A Project

Anders and his Neil Pinewood Derby Entry
(Click photo to enlarge)

Over the past few days -- we and many, many others -- ponder how did we get to this sea of madness?

And where do we go from here?

Well, we certainly don't have any better answers than others or all the "talking head experts" who are so consistently so wrong, about so much, so often.

Which brings us to this touching note (via The Guitar Refinishing and Restoration Forum :: This year's Pinewood Derby Car...), we received awhile back and felt like sharing.

From a father who proudly helped his son, a Boy Scout, complete a Neil-themed pinewood derby car. Anders ( age 11) is with a Cub Scout in Minnesota and is a big Neil Young fan and guitar player. He's also a big fan of Neil's Old Black guitar since he was 5 when he played harmonica for his dad's band on a cover version of "Flags of Freedom" at a benefit gig in Minnesota.

Anders' Pinewood Derby car was pretty slow in competition but he won a trophy in the best Not-a-Car category. As the Father said, "My son continues to Keep Rocking in the Free World."

To which we say, love and only love.

Thanks Ray "Old Black"!

Best of luck.


ps - yes, we've hugged the ones we love today.
Podcast from last night on Thrasher's Wheat Radio on Wbkm Dot Org, with Neil Young coverage, discussion and analysis is now ready for download here.

Don't be denied!

Tune in details and podcast info @ Thrashers Wheat Radio Hour.


Thrasher's Wheat Radio
Tune in on WBKM.org, Saturdays @ 9P EST

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