Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Line That Really Did It For Me

Readers of this blog, especially those that have been around these parts for a while, are aware that I am what one would call a "fan" of the music of Neil Young.

From my childhood days, I recall hearing his songs on FM radio. I was seven in 1977, and recall vividly drowning in the meandering, stinging guitar licks of "Like A Hurricane" in the back seat of my dad's car. You know how the car stereo is usually about 3 times louder in the back seat than the front? That was especially true in the '70s when none of our cars had the "fade" feature to balance between front & back. Anyway...

Another early favorite was "Southern Man." Oh, yeah, and "Ohio." Is there a more distinctive introductory guitar riff than the one in "Ohio?" Well, is there? [Say "Layla," motherf*ckers. I dare one of you rat bastards to say "Layla."] I know it buries the needle on the "balls-out"-o-meter. That's for sure.

But, all that said, it wasn't until sophomore or junior year in high school that I really started collecting all of Neil's albums. The line that really got me hooked was from "Old Man." It's a simple enough line, "Doesn't mean that much to me/To mean that much to you." I thought that was the coolest line ever. As a student in high school, a place where it means everything to mean something to everyone possible, that just captured a cooler-than-thou attitude I could only dream of cultivating. Little did I know, all I needed to do was grow up. It's pretty easy not to give a shit about what strangers and casual acquaintances think about me now. As a 15 year old...not so easy.

By the time I was in college, my favorite line had become "I was thinking about what a/Friend had said/I was hoping it was a lie/Thinking about what a/Friend had said/I was hoping it was a lie" from "After The Gold Rush." Enough reminiscing...back to work.


Blogger Beth said...

What a lovely, cool post. I especially enjoyed the wonderfully visual description of you riding in the back of your dad's car, swimming in "Like a Hurricane." Isn't the pure love of a musician's body of work just the best? Respect grows, Haahnster.

But ... what the hell are you doing at work at 6:40 on Saturday night?

10:11 PM, November 04, 2006  
Blogger Old Lady said...

He still didn't hang the moon. While I like Neil Young's music, talent and most of his songs, I sometimes get aggravated with his holier than thou, non-commercial attitude. He could have written 'Southern Man' differently and still had the same effect. While I understand the premise of the song, I will always think that it denigrated the image of all people who live in the South and portrayed them as ante-bellum bigots with a penchant for torture and violence.

'Ohio' was the fight song of my generation, but 'Southern Man' was a complete embarassment.

10:47 AM, November 05, 2006  
Blogger Writeprocrastinator said...

"Say 'Layla,' motherf*ckers. I dare one of you rat bastards to say 'Layla."

Um, "Whole Lotta Love?"

As brilliant as Neil is as a lyricist, he doesn't get enough credit as a guitarist. Is the "Trans" tour on DVD? The one he did on HBO back in '83?

When he switched over to the CSNY & Crazy Horse material, he blew my mind away. Especially "Like A Hurricane" and "Cinnamon Girl."

4:45 PM, November 05, 2006  
Anonymous Glassmeow said...

I was a little older than you - 12 or so - when my Mom's little brothers, my only-6-years-and-11-years-older than me uncles John and Mike, came out to stay with us and brought all their music with them. I loved, loved, loved (and still do) all of CSNY Four Way Street. I think "Chicago" (Won't You Please Come to Chicago) was and still is my favorite track.

They introduced me to Elton John before he turned camp; Clapton and Cream; Led Zepplin and the more grown up side of the Beatles' catalogue.

We set up the stereo in the living room with 4 speakers around the room & I still remember freaking the absolute sh*t out of myself listening to the White Album in the dark one night in the house all by myself on a sultry turning to stormy summer night.

Thanks for the nice memory trigger!

7:58 PM, November 05, 2006  
Blogger mat said...

O.K., I'll be the sacrificial lamb..."Layla"!!

10:41 PM, November 05, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

Beth: "what the hell are you doing at work..." Rust never sleeps!

OL: Neil is nothing if not aggravating, but I couldn't disagree more on "Southern Man." It's an all-time classic! (By the way, little-known secret: Neil and the boys from Lynyrd Skynyrd were actually on quite friendly terms, and they never would have been "inspired" to write "Sweet Home Alabama" without Neil's "Southern Man" and "Alabama.") I've always loved that song and it hasn't caused me to view all Southerners in a negative light.

WP: Not a bad call on "Whole Lotta Love." And, yes, there has been a reissue of that special on DVD called "Berlin." It's great!!!

GM: We're all about the memories here at HH.

Mat: Don't get me started...

11:15 PM, November 05, 2006  
Blogger Keith Kennedy said...

After the Gold Rush did it for me - I was hooked. Not to say I'm a hooker, just hooked on Neil Young.

His mysteriously ambiguos imagery is still amazing when he tries and then the guitar just puts the icing on the cake.

And he did invent grunge, whatever that really means......

7:39 AM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

Neil at his best is my favorite lyricist this side of Bob Dylan. I'd put Michael Stipe on the short list as well. Beyond that, I'd probably have to think about it for a while.

And, "grunge" is an ambiguous term at best. The best definition would probably be an audio link to a loud, live performance by Neil Young & Crazy Horse...maybe "Hey Hey, My My".

10:10 AM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Beth said...

Haahnster scores a point with the Stipe mention!

7:52 PM, November 07, 2006  
Blogger haahnster said...

YES!!! Haahnster 1, unknown opponent 0.

11:05 PM, November 07, 2006  

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