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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

"Captain Kennedy": The Story Behind Neil Young's Song

Released in November 1980, Neil Young's album Hawks & Doves was his tenth studio album and featured the enigmatic song "Captain Kennedy".

The album "Hawks & Doves" was recently the Album of the Week on Neil Young's Archives. Neil Young commented that "Hawks & Doves" reveals him as "A redneck and a hippie, all rolled into one album."

Thematically speaking, the 1st side of the album Hawks & Doves is the "Doves" side, with the 2nd side is the "Hawks" side. The "Doves" side has the "softer/hippie" songs like "Little Wing" and "Captain Kennedy", while the "Hawks" side has the "harder/redneck" songs like "Stayin' Power" and "Union Man". Also, the "Doves" songs are on the blue-label side and "Hawks" songs are on the red.

Subsequently, we have learned the following about the song "Captain Kennedy" from Brian:
"Neil Young's song, Captain Kennedy, was inspired by the mariner's life of my grandfather Captain Louis Kenedy.

Neil Young (along w Jimmy Buffet) met my grandfather in Nassau, Bahamas in the early 70's and loosely chronicles one of his life events, the sinking of his schooner (Wawaloam) by a German U-Boat (U-86) August 6, 1941. In all, Captain Kenedy skippered 10 sailing vessels all while making a living hauling cargo between the Caribbean and the Canadian Maritimes. If interested, please reference Joe Russell's book "The Last Schoonerman" which chronicles his life at sea and the ships he captained."

"Captain Kennedy" aboard the schooner VEMA with his dog Gotlik

More on Lou Kenedy | Wikipedia.

More on Neil Young's Album of the Week: Hawks & Doves | NYA.

Which Side Will You Choose?
The "Blue Side" or "The Red Side"?
The CHOICE Is Yours


Quite coincidentally (there are NO coincidences), Neil Young became a U.S. citizen in January 2020. See CITIZEN NEIL: Neil Young Becomes A U.S. Citizen.

Also, see more on the other "Captain Kennedy" @ other "Captain Kennedy".

U.S. President John F. Kennedy - 1961
The Day The Music Died: 50 Years Ago Today and Why It Still Matters Now, More Than Ever

Hey, hey, My, My, is this the story of "Captain Kennedy" & 'CITIZEN NEIL"?


Hey, hey, My, My, is this the story of "Abraham, Martin & John"?

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At 3/16/2020 02:21:00 AM, Blogger Rod (on the Red Deer) said...

I always loved that song -- although it was a short one. Interesting to know who it was about. Thanks.

At 3/16/2020 12:02:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Great album and great song. Even though the critics didn't really like it, it has always been one of my favorite albums, one of many of his. I've always wondered about that song, was it World War 1 or 2? And how was a wooden schooner even on the Open Sea to be sunk by the Germans? Now I know. Thanks, TW

At 3/16/2020 02:18:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Whenever critics pan an album or film, I assume there is greatness to be found there in.


At 3/25/2020 03:26:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dan - yes, agree.

And might this not be one of the greatest, if not the greatest?

will time only tell? Another Neil Nostradamus prophecy to come? we can be just a dreamin man.

And we always thought this was about President Kennedy & RFK.

We got to thinking about all of this after listening to My Pledge and the line about "Abraham, Martin and John"

a silver lining ... after the storm comes the son.
not a typo?! the son WILL come up tomorrow.


At 5/29/2020 08:56:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

there is great cover of this song on The Bridge tribute album by Nikki Sudden & the French Revolution: at the 9:58 mark

At 6/05/2021 08:17:00 AM, Blogger Hans said...

Neil's Captain Kennedy sounds a lot like Eric Anderson's Blind Fiddler on 'Bout Changes & Things. Eric wrote this song in 1966. Wonder if Neil knew this song when he wrote Captain Kennedy.

At 7/23/2022 07:00:00 PM, Blogger JenKenedy said...

It’s true. This song is about my grandfather, Lou Kenedy, the last schooner man in North America at the time it wa written. Neil Young spent time with him on his schooner and then wrote this song after hearing his stories.

At 7/25/2022 01:27:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Jen - so cool. thank you so much for dropping by to verify.

What a remarkable grandfather.! Pls come visit again!


At 3/03/2024 10:49:00 AM, Blogger Phil said...

Captain Lou Kenedy (I recall he spelled his name with one "N") was indeed a real person. Actually, his experiences were enough for at least two people. For example, he really did have his schooner sunk from under him by a uboat. Years later he met the uboat captain. He was featured in a multi issue feature in LIFE magazine back in the '50's. I heard that he'd let his kids swim on one side of his vessel while he shot sharks on the other. He lived in Bridgewater NS for a time and when he left he secured his Jaguar XK120 to the deck. He eventually retired back to Bridgewater. While a big and very strong man, he was also very kind. Loved rum!


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