Neil Young BY E L I S E YA B LO N
eil Young has had a storied and prolific musical career over the last 54 years. Whether it has been with Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, or his solo work, there is no doubt that he has influenced and inspired generations of musicians and music fans. The two-time Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee has released over 35 solo studio albums, 7 live albums, 3 greatest hits albums, and a number of live “archived” performances, not to mention the albums he has released with his various bands. He is best known for hits such as “For What It’s Worth” (with Buffalo Springfield), “Ohio” (With Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), “Heart of Gold,” “Cinnamin Girl,” and “Rockin’ in the Free World,” among others. Young began his musical career in his native Canada in the early to mid 1960’s, first with his high school band The Squires, then as a songwriter for other musicians. After a short stint in the Mynah Birds, Young moved to Los Angeles and began Buffalo Springfield along with Stephen Stills. After the success of their debut self-titled album and hit single, “For What It’s Worth,” the band released two more albums before calling it quits. Young then went solo for a while with Crazy Horse as his back-up band, releasing two albums, Neil Young, and Everybody Knows this is Nowhere. Reuniting with Stills, Young joined up with the already successful Crosby, Stills, and
Nash, becoming a full partner for their second album, Deja Vu. While still working with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, Young’s solo career took off. His next two records, After the Gold Rush and Harvest, were some of his highest charting of all time. Impressively, he has managed to continue to release a solo album or two, to various levels of chart success, almost every year for the next 44 years. Young’s latest musical endeavor was released in April 2014, a 12’’ record titled A Letter Home. The album was recorded at Jack White’s (The White Stripes, Dead Weather) Third Man Records, using White’s restored 1940s Voice-o-Graph booth. A cover album, Young recorded songs by Bruce Springsteen (“My Hometown”), Bob Dylan (“Girl from the North Country”), Gordon Lightfoot (“Early Morning Rain,” “If I Could Read Your Mind”), The Everly Brothers (“I Wonder If I Care as Much”), and Willie Nelson (“Crazy,” “On the Road Again”), among others. He even demonstrated the booth on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon earlier this year by making a recording of “Crazy” right on the spot. The album charted at number 13 in the United States and 17 in Canada, proving that Young is still relevant to this day. Under the alias “Bernard Shakey,” Young has directed a number of films. His works include a mix of narrative stories and
concert films. LincVolt is his latest project, the subject of which is to document the rise of electric car technology. Over the years, Young has become an activist of sorts. He has historically been very outspoken in his political stances, writing many a protest song against Bush Sr. and Bush Jr.’s policies. Young and his wife also started the Bridge School for children with disabilities, and subsequently the Bridge School Benefit Concerts to help raise money for it. A noted environmentalist, he helped start Farm Aid to help protect small farmers. His latest cause has been his “Protect Earth” campaign. Young has vowed to stop selling non-organic products at his live shows and webstore as a way to cut down on his carbon footprint. Young has also been working on a new music system. According to their website, “PonoMusic is dedicated to restoring that ear-body connection with a new digital music system that optimizes the listening experience end-to-end.” Since CDs and MP3s get changed during compression, Pono is supposed to give you the sound that the artist intended during recording. The player is set to come out in Fall 2014. Neil Young continues to be one of the most prolific artists of the 20th Century. Through his activism, Ponos, and his continuous release of music for the last 54 years, Young has remained culturally relevant and is still an influential force in today’s music industry.