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Saturday, November 18, 2017

Comment of the Moment: The Humanity of Neil Young


"When God Made Me"
Neil Young and the Fisk University Jubilee Choir

Live 8 Benefit Concert - Barrie, Ontario, Canada - July 2, 2005

The recent news that Neil Young is auctioning off his model train collection has brought back many memories.

In response, we posted a video from the mid-1990's of Neil Young filmed at his California ranch around his train layout with his family, Pegi, Ben and Amber.

This brought us our latest Comment of the Moment by TopangaDaze who cited the video as "the definition of HUMANITY".

In followup comments, joe mama questioned: "I don't see why this blog has to continually elevate neil young to some sort of godly status."

And -- as so often the case here @TW -- one of our regular commenters rose to the occasion much better than we. So here's our latest Comment of the Moment by Greg "A Friend Of Yours" on Neil Young As The Definition of HUMANITY:
I remember something Joni Mitchell said one time to an interviewer who asked her about how a lot of her fans thought of her as some sort of paragon of virtue. She chuckled a little, and remarked that they obviously hadn't paid close enough attention to her lyrics.

In Johnny Rogan's(?) career biography of Neil, his analysis of “Ambulance Blues” has always stood out in my mind. As I recall, he suggested that the songs concluding statement- "I never knew a man could tell so many lies. He had a different story for every set of eyes. How can he remember who he's talking to? 'Cause I know it ain't me, and I hope it isn't you.”, taken in the full context of Neil’s acts and words, is actually Neil referring to himself, rather than to Richard Nixon and his ilk, as the lyric has usually been interpreted. In other words, ‘I’m a little fragile at the moment, and not so sure of anything, so it’s probably a good idea for you the listener to tread a little lightly.’

Of course, it’s just a guess, and only Neil knows the truth of it, but I think those of us who have made a close study of the man and the music for so many years, take it as implicit that Neil is no God, e.g. “My cruelty has punctured me, and now I’m running dry.”, “I’ve been wrong before, and I’ll be there again. I don’t have any answers my friend.”, “When you look in those vacant eyes, how does it harmonize with the things that you do?”. So implicitly, that here on a Neil Young appreciation site, where the focus is squarely where it should be- appreciation, but possibly a little sloppily, it goes without saying. It only has to be said, seemingly, when it appears to some that our comments don't take Neil’s just-as-flawed-as-the-next-guys humanity readily enough into account.

This is no knock, either way, it just points up the truth that everything is perception, and that perception is prismatic. Many times, the same thing means different things to different people, depending on their perceptions. Words don't always convey the full intent of things, so it's never a bad idea to kick things down a notch or two, and extend at least a little benefit of the doubt.

I think “Already One” is a great example of all the things being said here.

Here after all, is a man commenting in song form (and so beautifully and profoundly, as Topanga has described) on his failed marriage, which he surely played a part in- it takes two to Tango, and simultaneously recognizing a still intrinsic beauty in it, and at least one positive and loving result (Zeke), but also the indomitable Spirit to go on, despite or because of it all. It’s a stance that many of us struggle with, non-gods alike, who tend to see our failure’s less as opportunities to move on, while carrying forward their gifts, than as sources of regret to mire down into. Mostly we keep it to ourselves, but Neil has the quirk of character to put it out there for all to see, and hopefully aspire to.

Humanity on display, the good and the bad of it.

That’s all.

A Friend Of Yours
Thanks Greg. Indeed, a friend of ours.

Not to put too fine a point on all of this, but this all started with this 4 minute video that literally shatters us.

All of this is about Neil's ability to connect with all of us here. Our musical companion on the road of love and life.

In terms of reeling in the years while on a journey through the past, check:


live8-neil-young-god.jpg
"Did God give me my voice so that others could silence me?"
Neil Young sings "When God Made Me"
Live 8 Benefit Concert - July 2005

(Maybe, just, maybe we R in control... or beware of the "singularity". Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) in Music? Or watch Top Secret ZUMA Payload Launches on SpaceX Rocket as we await the arrival of ‘The Visitor’ in December.)

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2 Comments:

At 11/18/2017 01:15:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

Note: I believe "Already One" references Neil's marriage to Carrie Snodgress, and their son Zeke, not Ben.

A Friend Of Yours

 
At 11/18/2017 02:07:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

You Are so right given song written mid 70s or so.

We'll revert edit.

Thanks!

 

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