07 May 2009

Not Your Typical Rock Star

I came across this very recent photo of Neil Young performing and loved it, so I'm sharing.

Not a lot of 63 year-old rock stars out there still laying it down. I've posted on Young before and still think he is an American original. His work with Buffalo Springfield was very influential. When supergroup Rush (also pushing retirement age and still selling out arenas) did an album covering the classic rock that most influenced them, two of the eight tracks were Springfield songs with one written by Young himself ("Mr. Soul"). We took a vacation when I was a kid on which we listened to nothing but a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young 8-track, and one other tape I can no longer recall. I rediscovered Young as a college student when I heard a track from his MTV Unplugged album on the radio. I bought it immediately. It's still brilliant. Wikipedia says he's sold seventy-nine million albums worldwide as of 2008.

Young's personal musical hero, "the master," is Bob Dylan. Young has received less attention than Dylan, of course, and Dylan at his best is shockingly great. Few would dispute that. But few would also dispute that Dylan is hugely inconsistent. He has bounced back in recent years somewhat (I like "Modern Times"), but for now I'm just an early Dylan fan (at least until a much-needed Rick Rubin-produced album comes out).

Neil Young, on the other hand, is consistently Neil Young. Most of his notable hits were early, but I think his vast body of recording, while genre-spanning, is more of a single piece. Certainly more new work is yet to come, and he is undertaking a huge remastering project of old. But more releases of early boots like Sugar Mountain would be grand.

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