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Young, Neil

Neil Young

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

The Rise and Fall of Buffalo Springfield

Work Became More Autobiographical

Building the Bridge

Entered Cult-Hero Pantheon

Words Come Back to Haunt

Selected discography

Sources

In the 1991 Trouser Press Record Guide, writer Jon Young chose a host of adjectives to describe Neil Young: Dirty rock n roller and hippie narcissist. Rockabilly hepcat and techno-troubadour. Folkie romantic and bluesy bad boy. To that list could be added godfather of grunge, since by the early 1990s Youngs iconoclastic music and personal style had been discovered by a new generation of music aficionados desperately in search of a credible hero. His longevity in the sometimes fatal world of rock and roll, exploration of radically different musical styles, and the consistency of his own distinct sound over time all combined to bring Young renewed popularity as he turned 50 in 1995.

Born in Toronto in 1945, Young is the son of a sports reporter and local television personality. Bouts with diabetes, polio, and epilepsy marred his childhood, and after his parents divorced Young and his mother relocated to the city of Winnipeg in Manitoba. While his first musical endeavors involved a ukulele, Young later switched to guitar, and by the early 1960s he had performed with a number of local bands. His first steady success came with a folk-rock ensemble called the Squires, a group that made regular appearances in both Manitoba and Ontario. In 1965, at a bar in a small Ontario town, Young first encountered Stephen Stills, an American musician who would become an occasional collaborator of Youngs over the next few decades.

Slowly establishing a base in his birthplace of Toronto, by 1966 Young was playing with a group called Rickey James and the Mynah Birds. James later became famous in the 1980s for his hit Super Freak and some well-publicized legal troubles. With the Mynah Birds Young achieved some minor successes, including a jaunt to Detroit for recording sessions at the legendary Motown studios. Yet the tracks were never released, and the Mynah Birds disbanded when James clashed with authorities in 1966. At that point Young and another band member, Bruce Palmer, decided to leave for greener pastures.

The Rise and Fall of Buffalo Springfield

Young and Palmer bought a hearse, filled it with everything they owned, and drove out to California. In a Los Angeles traffic jam, Stephen Stills spotted the vehicle and recognized the Canadians. With Stillss friend Richie Furay and a fifth member, Dewey Martin, the Buffalo Springfield was formed. The group was an almost immediate success and released three albums, but the quick money and fame was difficult for the still-youthful musicians. Buffalo Springfield was often plagued by

For the Record

Born November 12, 1945, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; son of Scott (a sports reporter) and Edna (a television celebrity) Young; first wifes name, Susan (divorced, 1970); second wifes name, Pegi; children: Zeke (with actor Carrie Snodgrass), Ben, Amber (with Pegi Young).

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Member of rock bands the Squires, 1962-64, Rickey James and the Mynah Birds, c. 1965, Buffalo Springfield, 1966-68, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1969-71, and the Stills-Young Band, 1976; solo artist (and with accompaniment from bands Crazy Horse, the Bluenotes, the Shocking Pinks, and Pearl Jam), 1969; composer of soundtracks for films, including Where the Buffalo Roam, 1980, and Dead Man, 1995; director of films (under pseudonym Bernard Shakey), including Journey through the Past, 1972, Rust Never Sleeps, 1979, and Human Highway (co-directed with Dean Stockwell), 1982.

Awards: Winner of Rolling Stone Music Award for album of the year, 1975, for Tonights the Night; citations in Rolling Stone critics poll for best rock artist, best male vocalist, and best album, 1979, all for Rust Never Sleeps, Reprise.

Addresses: Home La Honda, CA. Office c/o Lookout Management, 9120 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069; Record company Reprise, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91510.

temporary defections, including Youngs own just before the pivotal Monterey (California) Pop Festival in June of 1967.

By 1968 Buffalo Springfield had disbanded permanently, leaving Young free to record his first solo album. The self-titled work was released in January of 1969, and Young has sometimes referred to the record as overdub city for its rather overproduced sound. Later that year, Young formed a band with some former members of a local L.A. group called the Rockets. With Danny Whitten on guitar, Ralph Molina playing drums, and Billy Talbot on bass, the ensemble took shape as Crazy Horse, and within a short time they recorded their first release together, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The 1969 work marked the first of many radical shifts, turning to the raw, driving rock many feel still suits him best, wrote Jon Young in the Trouser Press Record Guide. The writer also noted that Youngs backing band display the ratty fervor of punk years before the fact.

As the 1960s drew to a close, Young was fast becoming a pivotal figure in music. He reunited with Stills in the latters new band, Crosby, Stills & Nash, in the summer of 1969, and together the act played at the Woodstock Festival in August of that year. Their first studio effort together was Deja Vu, released in 1970, followed by 4-Way Street ay ear later. Meanwhile, Young continued to work with Crazy Horse and recorded a number of well-received albums during the seventies, including After the Gold Rush and Harvest, a 1972 work remembered for Youngs only Number One single, Heart of Gold. The musician later wrote in the liner notes to 1977s Decade of the mixed demons this country-rock ballad brought out in him. This song put me in the middle of the road, he said of Heart of Gold. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.

Work Became More Autobiographical

The success of the Harvest album was marred by tragedy when Youngs guitarist, Whitten, succumbed to the rock lifestyle and died of a drug overdose shortly before a scheduled tour. The resultant turmoil in Youngs life was evident on the 1973 release Time Fades Away, and on Tonights the Night, written and recorded during this period but not released until 1975. In a 1978 Newsweek article, Tony Schwartz called Tonights the Night a depressing tributeout of tune and repetitive, but hauntingly memorable. Young told Schwartz that it was his personal favorite. When I handed it in to Warner [Bros. Records], they hated it. We played it ten times as loud as they usually play things and it was awful, he recalled in the interview. Tonights the Night was a story of death and dope. It was about a sleazy, burned-out rock star just about to go, about what fame and crowds do to you. I had to exorcise those feelings. I felt like it was the only chance I had to stay alive.

Young rejoined Crosby, Stills & Nash briefly in 1974 for some unreleased recordings and a tour and continued to put out albums with Crazy Horse. He also reunited with Stills for the 1976 release Long May You Run. Youngs 1977 work American Stars n Bars was memorable for its hit Like a Hurricane. The following year he released Comes a Time, another switch back to a less rock-influenced, more country sound, toward which Young often veered during this time. The softer sound prompted Young to tell Schwartz in Newsweek that folk music can be as authentic as rock n roll. Its the in-between that bothers me. Soul and depth matter most. Forty musicians appeared as guests on Comes a Time, while ten engineers added their production skills. The too-many-cooks maxim seemed to work against the LP. Young was dissatisfied with the final product at its first pressing. His label re-did it, and offered to mix in with the first pressing the shipments of the better records at a later date. Young purchased all copies of this first pressing himself for a dollar apiece, setting him back $200,000.

Youngs status in the pantheon of living rock legends had achieved epic proportions by the late 1970s. He released his acclaimed Rust Never Sleeps album in 1979 and toured the same year in support of the LP, selling out shows across North America. Sailing with his wife, Pegi, and young son across the Pacific, Young came up with the scenario for the Rust tour, he would awaken atop oversized amplifiers, role-playing a youngster seduced by rock n roll and then dwarfed by the industry and hype of it. Evil-looking road-eyes with glowing eyes and hooded heads moved the giant equipment around. Young played an acoustic set the first half, replayed announcements recorded at Woodstock during the intermission, then retumedwith Crazy Horse for a full-blown electric set. Live Rust, a chronicle of this tour, was released later in 1979.

Building the Bridge

As the 1980s progressed, Young was sometimes accused of having lost his cutting edge. Yet his musical efforts had taken second place in his life to some other, more personal, issues. His first son, Zeke, with actor Carrie Snodgrass, was born with a mild form of cerebral palsy. A second child, with his wife, Pegi, was also born with the condition, but in a more severe form. In a 1988 Rolling Stone interview, Young spoke of the then-nine-year-old Ben with writer James Henke. Explaining that Ben was quadriplegic and unable to speak, Young described his attempts to develop his sons communication skills through games and computer technology. A lot of the things that we take for granted, that we can do, he cant do. But his soul is there, and Im sure that he has an outlook on the world that we dont have, because of the disabilities.

Having two children afflicted with cerebral palsy from different mothers prompted Young to be tested, and doctors told him that it was literally a one-in-a-million coincidence. A third child, daughter Amber, was not affected. Often in my life, Ive felt that I was singled out for one reason or another for extreme things to happen, Young told Henke. This was hard to deal with and weve learned to turn it around into a positive thing and to keep on going. Pegi became involved in setting up a Bay Area school for disabled children called the Bridge School, while Young put together an annual fundraising benefit noted for its celebrity roster.

Trouser Presss Jon Young termed Youngs releases both with and without Crazy Horse during the eighties particularly erratic. 1980s Hawks & Doves contained a few incisive tunes amidst the throwaways, the writer noted, and was followed by a series of genre exercise that seem more arbitrary than heartfelt. Two years later, Trans ventured into a heavily synthesized sound, while Everybodys Rockinot 1983 experimented with rockabilly. A 1987 work, Life, was made with Crazy Horse and occasionally exhibited a tough edge not glimpsed in years, according to Jon Young. The work was Neil Youngs last for Geffen Records, who initiated a lawsuit against the artist. Rolling Stones Alan Light explained that the court action was taken by the label against the iconoclastic musician for making what the company called unrepresentative albumsfor making albums that didnt sound like Neil Young albums, whatever that could possibly mean.

A bluesy, big-band sound on This Notes for You, released in 1988 with a backing band called the Blue-notes, brought Young back into the limelight. The title song was a biting indictment of the selling-out of rockthe use of classic tunes in advertisements hawking everything from beer to sneakers, and the near-necessity of winning large corporate sponsorship contracts with beverage giants in order to underwrite the increasingly overblown costs of putting on large-scale tours. Youngs video for the title song was banned for a time on MTV, but the network relented and eventually it was voted best video of 1988 in its annual video awards. The year also saw the reunion of Young with former bandmates for a well-received but unimpressive Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album entitled American Dream.

Young ventured back into the world of amplified, guitar-driven rock with 1989s Freedom. Like some of his other releases, the work contained some softer, acoustic numbers as well. It opened and closed with two versions of the same song, Rockin in the Free World, a sing-along ball spinning on an axis of deadly irony, its superficial cheerleading charm soured by Youngs parade of victims, declared David Fricke in Rolling Stone.

In the same review, Fricke also spoke of an apparent pattern in Youngs career: As each decade neared to a close, he released a seminal, biting record that tore apart what rock music, and the promise of the decade, had really devolved into in the preceding years. In the lyrics of this album, Young seemed to indict the hollow patriotic slogans of U.S. President George Bushs administration, and pay homage to the underclass of destitute people government policies of the decade created. Freedom is the sound of Neil Young, another decade on, looking back again in anger and dread, Fricke noted. The album, he wrote, leaves you feeling both exhausted and invigorated, dismayed at what weve wrought yet determined to set it right.

Entered Cult-Hero Pantheon

It was also in 1989 that The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young was released, marking the beginning of the aging rockers entry into the status of cultural icon for a new generation. Several alternative rock acts, at the time heard little outside the college-radio circuit, covered Youngs songs for The Bridge. Artsy New York noise band Sonic Youth took one of his early 1980s forays into electronic music, Computer Age, while Minneapolis rockers Soul Asylum submitted a version of Barstool Blues. The project was the idea of a dedicated Young fan, Terry Tolkin, who coordinated the bands and arranged for part of the tribute albums proceeds to go to the Bridge School, the institution set up with the help of Pegi Young. Rolling Stones Fricke lauded The Bridget saluting not only Youngs enduring songwriting but the iconoclastic spirit and anarchic glee with which he continually challenges rock myth and defies rock convention.

Ragged Glory was Youngs first 1990 release and was recorded with Crazy Horse in a few weeks at Youngs northern California ranch in a session memorable for the series of local earthquakes on its final day. By this point Young and Crazy Horse had been working together for almost two decades, a relationship marked by members periodic artistic differences. After one particularly grueling European tour, Young had declared that he was through working with them, but they regrouped for Ragged Glory and another tour. Its just cycles, Young commented in a Rolling Stone interview of the bond between himself and the band. You wear something out, and you can beat it into the ground, or you can leave it and let the rain fall on it and the sun shine on it and see if it comes back. Weve always done that. Weve had musical low points and musical high points throughout the last twenty years. I think this is one of the high points.

Ragged Glory was marked by longer, solo-laden trackssome stretching on toward ten minutesand a mood Henke compared to Youngs first release with Crazy Horse, 1969s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The writer termed it a classic Crazy Horse album, with lots of rough edges, screeching guitar and feedback. Another Rolling Stone writer, Kurt Loder, praised the collaboration between Young and his backing band, whom he termed maybe the last great garage band of our time and definitely Neils greatest group. Loder called the record a monument to the spirit of the garageto the pursuit of passion over precision, to raw power and unvarnished soul.

Young and Crazy Horse also announced plans for a tourto be designated the Dont Spook the Horse tour, named after a seven-minute bonus track on Ragged Glory. Young invited several alternative acts, such as Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and Social Distortion, to open dates. The tour was held in smaller arenas left behind in the wake of the predominance of the mammoth sports stadiums. Im tired of the sheds, the veteran performer told Rolling Stones Henke in 1990. Its like you go into this big box thats got a brand name on it and play for all these people who are paying exorbitant prices. And everybodys got these big shows, because they got all this money from the sponsor.

The aural result of the successful 1991 tour in the smaller venues could be heard on the double compact disc Weld, released later that year. The tour began during the Persian Gulf crisis, and Young rearranged the set list to include a cover of Bob Dylans antiwar protest song Blowin in the Wind. A companion release to Weld called Arc, 30 minutes of feedback-drenched live guitar, also appeared in 1991. The brain-child of Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, Arc took introductions and endings to Young classics, as well as some solo moments, and distorted them into what Rolling Stones Fricke called utter melodic holocaust and perhaps the most extreme record hes ever released.

Youngs next move was the release of a follow-up of sorts to his acclaimed folk-rock album of 20 years earlier, Harvest The 1992 offering, entitled Harvest Moon, was an introspective look back. Deaths of friends, the disabilities of his sons, and his legal battle with Geffen seemed to have taken their toll. Rolling Stones Light called the record a chronicle of survival, focusing on loss and compromise and the ultimate triumphs of being a married father approaching fifty. Performers who had guest spots on the 1972 worksuch as Linda Ronstadt, Nicolette Larson, and James Taylormade reappearances on Harvest Moon. Young also performed on MTVs popular acoustic show, Unplugged, in support of the record. The year was also marked by Youngs performances in separate concert tours with such disparate veterans and sixties legends as Bob Dylan and Booker T. and the M.G.s.

Words Come Back to Haunt

In the spring of 1994 Youngs seminal title track from Rust Never Sleeps release became tragically infamous when a line from itits better to burn out than to fade awaywas quoted in the suicide note left by Kurt Cobain, frontman of Seattle, Washingtons breakthrough alternative act Nirvana. Young had heard about Cobains drug-related problems and, shortly before Co-bains death, had unsuccessfully tried to contact him through Nirvanas manager. The title track of Youngs 1994 Sleeps with Angels is a response to the death of the young musician.

Sleeps with Angelsother songs seemed to condemn the increasingly violent and consumerist nature of American culture, and the 14-minute Change Your Mind was characterized by Newsweeks Jay Cocks as equal parts rhapsody and guitar dementia that describes the full course of a difficult love affair. Stereo Reviewwiter Steve Simels lauded the LPs plethora of instrumentation and unusual production techniques, a kind of studied primitivism [that] disguises a canny sophistication comparable to Youngs earlier works with Crazy Horse. Simels found Sleeps with Angels rife with extremely interesting songs and a consistently vivid atmosphere.

In a Rolling Stone review, Fricke termed Sleeps with Angels as charged with fighting spirit and romantic optimism as it is fraught with warzone shell shock and deathbed fear. The critic also reflected that the work is not the first album Young has made about the widening cracks in the American dream or whats left of it for the teen-age refugees after the broken promises of the 60s and the worthless covenants of the [Ronald Reagan-George Bush] era [of conservative politics]. But it is among his best, a dramatic wrestling of song and conscience that suggestsno, insists that walking through fire doesnt necessarily mean you have to go up inflames.

As Youngs prolific career chugged well into its third decade, his legions of dedicated fans were awaiting a definitive multi-CD release. Thats a giant, he told Rolling Stones Kurt Loder in 1990. Im still working on it. Its ridiculous. Young supposedly possessed hundreds of hours of unreleased material, and a retrospective record would incorporate many of those as-yet-unheard songs. Youngs own creativity continued to hinder the releasehe had began working on it in the late 1980s, and was continually interrupted by the need to write more songs while digging up the older ones from his archives. The artist had also considered headlining the annual alternative music-industry festival, Lollapalooza, in what would have been the ultimate act of 1990s career reincarnation.

In 1995 Young released the well-received album Mirror Ball, a collaboration with the highly acclaimed and popular alternative act, Pearl Jam. Although Pearl Jams name does not appear on the LPs coverreportedly for legal reasonsthe group serves as Youngs backup band on every song. Commenting on the generational gap between himself and the young grunge band, Young told Times Christopher John Farley, Actually, in many ways, I feel like Pearl Jam is older than me. Theres an ageless thing to the way they play. The result of the two acts winter 1995 recording session in Seattle is, according to Farley, one of the most consistently rewarding works of [Youngs] long, winding career. Further accolades for Mirror Ball came from Rolling Stones J. D. Considine, who gave the album a four-star rating, and Entertainment Weekly critic David Browne, who gave it an A-.

At the age of 50, Young continued to provide inspiration for a younger breed of colleagues wary of the artifice and mainstream hype that periodically corrupts even the most groundbreaking of rock trends. As Rolling Stones Alan Light explained, Youngs primitive guitar screech and yowling voice have served as lasting inspiration for wandering souls and fups of several generations now. In the 1990s, Neil Young is simply so anachronistic that hes cutting edge. Young perhaps best summed up the philosophy behind creating the music that has earned him such a devoted cross-generational following when he told Times Farley, I just play what I feel like playing and every once in a while Ill wake up and feel like playing something else.

Selected discography

Solo and with Crazy Horse (unless otherwise noted)

Neil Young, Reprise, 1969.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Reprise, 1969.

After the Gold Rush, Reprise, 1970.

Harvest, Warner Bros., 1972.

Journey through the Past, Reprise, 1973.

Time Fades Away, Reprise, 1973.

On the Beach, Reprise, 1974.

Tonights the Night, Reprise, 1975.

Zuma, Reprise, 1975.

American Stars n Bars, Reprise, 1977.

Decade, Reprise, 1977.

Comes a Time, Reprise, 1978.

Rust Never Sleeps, Reprise, 1979.

Live Rust, Reprise, 1979.

Hawks and Doves, Reprise, 1980.

Reactor, Reprise, 1981.

Trans, Geffen, 1982.

(With the Shocking Pinks) Everybodys Rockin, Geffen, 1983

Old Ways, Geffen, 1985.

Landing on Water, Geffen, 1986.

Life, Geffen, 1987.

(With the Bluenotes) This Notes for You, Reprise, 1988.

Freedom, Reprise, 1989.

Ragged Glory, Reprise, 1990.

Weld, Reprise, 1991.

Arc, Reprise, 1991.

Harvest Moon, Reprise, 1992.

Sleeps with Angels, Reprise, 1994.

(With Pearl Jam) Mirror Ball, Reprise, 1995.

With Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield, Atco, 1967

Buffalo Springfield Again, Atco, 1967.

Last Time Around, Atco, 1968.

Retrospective, Atco, 1969.

With Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; on Atlantic

Deja Vu, 1970.

4-Way Street, 1971.

So Far, 1974.

American Dream, 1988.

With the Stills-Young Band

Long May You Run, Reprise, 1976.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Musicians, volume 2, Gale, 1990.

Trouser Press Record Guide, fourth edition, Collier Books, 1991.

Periodicals

Billboard, August 19, 1995.

Entertainment Weekly, October 14, 1994; June 30-July 7, 1995.

Newsweek, November 13, 1978.

Rolling Stone, June 4, 1987; November 2, 1989; September 20, 1990; October 4, 1990; November 14, 1991; November 28, 1991; October 15,1992; January 21,1993; August 25, 1994; July 13-27, 1995.

Spin, May 1995.

Stereo Review, October 1994.

Time, October 17, 1994; July 3, 1995.

Carol Brennan

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Brennan, Carol. "Young, Neil." Contemporary Musicians. 1996. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Young, Neil

Neil Young

Singer, songwriter, guitarist

In the 1991 Trouser Press Record Guide, writer Jon Young chose a host of adjectives to describe Neil Young: "Dirty rock 'n' roller and hippie narcissist. Rockabilly hepcat and techno-troubadour. Folkie romantic and bluesy bad boy." To that list could be added "godfather of grunge," since by the early 1990s Young's iconoclastic music and personal style had been discovered by a new generation of music aficionados desperately in search of a credible hero. His longevity in the sometimes fatal world of rock and roll, exploration of radically different musical styles, and the consistency of his own distinct sound over time all combined to bring Young renewed popularity.

Born in Toronto in 1945, Young is the son of a sports reporter and local television personality. Bouts with diabetes, polio, and epilepsy marred his childhood, and after his parents divorced, Young and his mother relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba. While his first musical endeavors involved a ukulele, Young later switched to guitar, and by the early 1960s he had performed with a number of local bands. His first steady success came with a folk-rock ensemble called the Squires, a group that made regular appearances in both Manitoba and Ontario. In 1965, at a bar in a small Ontario town, Young first encountered Stephen Stills, an American musician who would become an occasional collaborator of Young's over the next few decades.

Slowly establishing a base in Toronto, by 1966 Young was playing with a group called Rickey James and the Mynah Birds. James later became famous in the 1980s for his hit "Super Freak" and some well-publicized legal troubles. With the Mynah Birds, Young achieved some minor successes, including a jaunt to Detroit for recording sessions at the legendary Motown studios. Yet the tracks were never released, and the Mynah Birds disbanded when James clashed with authorities in 1966. At that point Young and another band member, Bruce Palmer, decided to leave for greener pastures.

The Rise and Fall of Buffalo Springfield

Young and Palmer bought a hearse, filled it with everything they owned, and drove out to California. In a Los Angeles traffic jam, Stephen Stills spotted the vehicle and recognized the Canadians. With Stills's friend Richie Furay and a fifth member, Dewey Martin, the Buffalo Springfield was formed. The group was an almost immediate success and released three albums, but the quick money and fame was difficult for the still-youthful musicians. Buffalo Springfield was often plagued by temporary defections, including Young's own just before the pivotal Monterey (California) Pop Festival in June of 1967.

By 1968 Buffalo Springfield had disbanded permanently, leaving Young free to record his first solo album. The self-titled work was released in January of 1969, and Young has sometimes referred to the record as "overdub city" for its rather overproduced sound. Later that year, Young formed a band with some former members of a local L.A. group called the Rockets. With Danny Whitten on guitar, Ralph Molina playing drums, and Billy Talbot on bass, the ensemble took shape as Crazy Horse, and within a short time they recorded their first release together, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The 1969 work "marked the first of many radical shifts, turning to the raw, driving rock many feel still suits him best," wrote Jon Young in the Trouser Press Record Guide. The writer also noted that Young's backing band "display the ratty fervor of punk years before the fact."

For the Record …

Born on November 12, 1945, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; son of Scott (a sports reporter) and Edna (a television celebrity) Young; first wife's name, Susan (divorced, 1970); second wife's name, Pegi; children: Zeke (with actor Carrie Snodgrass), Ben, Amber (with Pegi Young).

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter. Member of rock bands the Squires, 1962–64, Rickey James and the Mynah Birds, c. 1965, Buffalo Springfield, 1966–68, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1969–71, and the Stills-Young Band, 1976; solo artist (and with accompaniment from bands Crazy Horse, the Bluenotes, the Shocking Pinks, and Pearl Jam), 1969–; composer of soundtracks for films, including Where the Buffalo Roam, 1980, and Dead Man, 1995; director of films (under pseudonym Bernard Shakey), including Journey through the Past, 1972, Rust Never Sleeps, 1979, Human Highway (co-directed with Dean Stockwell), 1982; and Greendale, 2003.

Awards: Rolling Stone Music Award, Album of the Year for Tonight's the Night, 1975; citations in Rolling Stone critics' poll for Best Rock Artist, Best Male Vocalist, and Best Album, all for Rust Never Sleeps, 1979; Juno Award (Canada), Album of the Year, 1994; Male Vocalist of the Year, 1995; Best Male Artist of the Year, 2001; Adult Alternative Album of the Year, 2006.

Addresses: Office—c/o Lookout Management, 9120 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069. Record company—Reprise, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91510. Website—Neil Young Official Website: http://www.neilyoung.com.

As the 1960s drew to a close, Young was fast becoming a pivotal figure in music. He reunited with Stills in the latter's new band, Crosby, Stills & Nash, in the summer of 1969, and together the act played at the Woodstock Festival in August of that year. Their first studio effort together was Deja Vu, released in 1970, followed by 4-Way Street a year later. Meanwhile, Young continued to work with Crazy Horse and recorded a number of well-received albums during the seventies, including After the Gold Rush and Harvest, a 1972 work remembered for Young's only number one single, "Heart of Gold." The musician later wrote in the liner notes to 1977's Decade of the mixed demons this country-rock ballad brought out in him. "This song put me in the middle of the road," he said of "Heart of Gold." "Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there."

Work Became More Autobiographical

The success of the Harvest album was marred by tragedy when Young's guitarist, Whitten, died of a drug overdose shortly before a scheduled tour. The resultant turmoil in Young's life was evident on the 1973 release Time Fades Away, and on Tonight's the Night, written and recorded during this period but not released until 1975. In a 1978 Newsweek article, Tony Schwartz called Tonight's the Night "a depressing tribute-out of tune and repetitive, but hauntingly memorable." Young told Schwartz that it was his personal favorite. "When I handed it in to Warner [Bros. Records], they hated it. We played it ten times as loud as they usually play things and it was awful," he recalled in the interview. "Tonight's the Night was a story of death and dope. It was about a sleazy, burned-out rock star just about to go, about what fame and crowds do to you. I had to exorcise those feelings. I felt like it was the only chance I had to stay alive."

Young rejoined Crosby, Stills & Nash briefly in 1974 for some unreleased recordings and a tour and continued to put out albums with Crazy Horse. He also reunited with Stills for the 1976 release Long May You Run. Young's 1977 work American Stars 'n Bars was memorable for its hit "Like a Hurricane." The following year he released Comes a Time, another switch back to a less rock-influenced, more country sound, toward which Young often veered during this time. The softer sound prompted Young to tell Schwartz in Newsweek that "folk music can be as authentic as rock 'n' roll. It's the in-between that bothers me. Soul and depth matter most."

Forty musicians appeared as guests on Comes a Time, while ten engineers added their production skills. The too-many-cooks maxim seemed to work against the LP. Young was dissatisfied with the final product at its first pressing. His label re-did it, and offered to mix in with the first pressing the shipments of the better records at a later date. Young purchased all copies of this first pressing himself for a dollar apiece, setting him back $200,000.

Young's status in the pantheon of living rock legends had achieved epic proportions by the late 1970s. He released his acclaimed Rust Never Sleeps album in 1979 and toured the same year in support of the LP, selling out shows across North America. Sailing with his wife, Pegi, and young son across the Pacific, Young came up with the scenario for the Rust tour: he would awaken atop oversized amplifiers, role-playing a youngster seduced by rock 'n' roll and then dwarfed by the industry and hype of it. Evil-looking "road-eyes" with glowing eyes and hooded heads moved the giant "equipment" around. Young played an acoustic set the first half, replayed announcements recorded at Woodstock during the intermission, then returned with Crazy Horse for a full-blown electric set. Live Rust, a chronicle of this tour, was released later in 1979.

Building "the Bridge"

As the 1980s progressed, Young was sometimes accused of having lost his cutting edge. Yet his musical efforts had taken second place in his life to some other, more personal, issues. His first son, Zeke, with actor Carrie Snodgrass, was born with a mild form of cerebral palsy. A second child, with his wife, Pegi, was also born with the condition, but in a more severe form. Having two children afflicted with cerebral palsy from different mothers prompted Young to be tested, and doctors told him that it was literally a one-in-a-million coincidence. A third child, daughter Amber, was not affected. Pegi became involved in setting up a Bay Area school for disabled children called the Bridge School, while Young put together an annual fundraising benefit noted for its celebrity roster.

Trouser Press's Jon Young termed Young's releases both with and without Crazy Horse during the eighties "particularly erratic." 1980's Hawks & Doves contained "a few incisive tunes amidst the throwaways," the writer noted, and was followed by "a series of genre exercise that seem more arbitrary than heartfelt." Two years later, Trans ventured into a heavily synthesized sound, while Everybody's Rockin' of 1983 experimented with rockabilly. A 1987 work, Life, was made with Crazy Horse and occasionally exhibited "a tough edge not glimpsed in years," according to Jon Young. The work was Neil Young's last for Geffen Records, who initiated a lawsuit against the artist. Rolling Stone's Alan Light explained that the court action was taken by the label against the iconoclastic musician "for making what the company called 'unrepresentative' albums—for making albums that didn't sound like Neil Young albums, whatever that could possibly mean."

A bluesy, big-band sound on This Note's for You, released in 1988 with a backing band called the Blue-notes, brought Young back into the limelight. The title song was a biting indictment of the selling-out of rock—the use of classic tunes in advertisements hawking everything from beer to sneakers, and the near-necessity of winning large corporate sponsorship contracts with beverage giants in order to underwrite the increasingly overblown costs of putting on large-scale tours. Young's video for the title song was banned for a time on MTV, but the network relented and eventually it was voted best video of 1988 in its annual video awards. The year also saw the reunion of Young with former bandmates for a well-received but unimpressive Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young album entitled American Dream.

Young ventured back into the world of amplified, guitar-driven rock with 1989's Freedom. Like some of his other releases, the work contained some softer, acoustic numbers as well. It opened and closed with two versions of the same song, "Rockin' in the Free World," "a sing-along ball spinning on an axis of deadly irony, its superficial cheerleading charm soured by Young's parade of victims," declared David Fricke in Rolling Stone.

In the same review, Fricke also spoke of an apparent pattern in Young's career: As each decade neared to a close, he released a seminal, biting record that tore apart what rock music, and the promise of the decade, had really devolved into in the preceding years. In the lyrics of this album, Young seemed to indict the hollow patriotic slogans of U.S. President George Bush's administration, and pay homage to the underclass of destitute people government policies of the decade created. "Freedom is the sound of Neil Young, another decade on, looking back again in anger and dread," Fricke noted.

Entered Cult-Hero Pantheon

It was also in 1989 that The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young was released, marking the beginning of the aging rocker's entry into the status of cultural icon for a new generation. Several alternative rock acts, at the time heard little outside the college-radio circuit, covered Young's songs for The Bridge. Artsy New York noise band Sonic Youth took one of his early 1980s forays into electronic music, "Computer Age," while Minneapolis rockers Soul Asylum submitted a version of "Barstool Blues." The project was the idea of a dedicated Young fan, Terry Tolkin, who coordinated the bands and arranged for part of the tribute album's proceeds to go to the Bridge School, the institution set up with the help of Pegi Young.

Ragged Glory was Young's first 1990 release and was recorded with Crazy Horse in a few weeks at Young's northern California ranch in a session memorable for the series of local earthquakes on its final day. By this point Young and Crazy Horse had been working together for almost two decades, a relationship marked by members' periodic artistic differences. After one particularly grueling European tour, Young had declared that he was through working with them, but they regrouped for Ragged Glory and another tour.

Ragged Glory was marked by longer, solo-laden tracks—some stretching on toward ten minutes—and a mood Henke compared to Young's first release with Crazy Horse, 1969's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. The writer termed it "a classic Crazy Horse album, with lots of rough edges, screeching guitar and feedback." Another Rolling Stone writer, Kurt Loder, praised the collaboration between Young and his backing band, whom he termed "maybe the last great garage band of our time and definitely Neil's greatest group." Loder called the record "a monument to the spirit of the garage-to the pursuit of passion over precision, to raw power and unvarnished soul."

Young and Crazy Horse also announced plans for a tour—to be designated the "Don't Spook the Horse" tour, named after a seven-minute bonus track on Ragged Glory. Young invited several alternative acts, such as Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., and Social Distortion, to open dates. The tour was held in smaller arenas left behind in the wake of the predominance of the mammoth sports stadiums.

The aural result of the successful 1991 tour in the smaller venues could be heard on the double compact disc Weld, released later that year. The tour began during the Persian Gulf crisis, and Young rearranged the set list to include a cover of Bob Dylan's antiwar protest song "Blowin' in the Wind." A companion release to Weld called Arc, 30 minutes of feedback-drenched live guitar, also appeared in 1991. The brainchild of Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, Arc took introductions and endings to Young classics, as well as some solo moments, and distorted them into what Rolling Stone's Fricke called "utter melodic holocaust" and perhaps "the most extreme record he's ever released."

Young's next move was the release of a follow-up of sorts to his acclaimed folk-rock album of 20 years earlier, Harvest. The 1992 offering, entitled Harvest Moon, was an introspective look back. Deaths of friends, the disabilities of his sons, and his legal battle with Geffen seemed to have taken their toll. Rolling Stone's Light called the record "a chronicle of survival, focusing on loss and compromise and the ultimate triumphs of being a married father approaching fifty." Young also performed on MTV's popular acoustic show, Unplugged, in support of the record. The year was also marked by Young's performances in separate concert tours with such disparate veterans and sixties legends as Bob Dylan and Booker T. and the MG's.

Words Came Back to Haunt

In the spring of 1994 Young's seminal title track from Rust Never Sleeps release became tragically infamous when a line from it—"it's better to burn out than to fade away"—was quoted in the suicide note left by Kurt Cobain, frontman of Seattle, Washington's breakthrough alternative act Nirvana. Young had heard about Cobain's drug-related problems and, shortly before Cobain's death, had unsuccessfully tried to contact him through Nirvana's manager. The title track of Young's 1994 Sleeps with Angels is a response to the death of the young musician.

Sleeps with Angels' other songs seemed to condemn the increasingly violent and consumerist nature of American culture, and the 14-minute "Change Your Mind" was characterized by Newsweek's Jay Cocks as "equal parts rhapsody and guitar dementia that describes the full course of a difficult love affair." Stereo Review writer Steve Simels lauded the LP's plethora of instrumentation and unusual production techniques, a "kind of studied primitivism [that] disguises a canny sophistication" comparable to Young's earlier works with Crazy Horse. Simels found Sleeps with Angels rife with "extremely interesting songs and a consistently vivid atmosphere."

In a Rolling Stone review, Fricke termed Sleeps with Angels "as charged with fighting spirit and romantic optimism as it is fraught with warzone shell shock and deathbed fear." The critic also reflected that the work "is not the first album Young has made about the widening cracks in the American dream or what's left of it for the teen-age refugees after the broken promises of the '60s and the worthless covenants of the [Ronald Reagan-George Bush] era [of conservative politics]. But it is among his best, a dramatic wrestling of song and conscience that suggests—no, insists—that walking through fire doesn't necessarily mean you have to go up in flames."

As Young's prolific career chugged well into its third decade, his legions of dedicated fans were awaiting a definitive multi-CD release. "That's a giant," he told Rolling Stone's Kurt Loder in 1990. "I'm still working on it. It's ridiculous." Young supposedly possessed hundreds of hours of unreleased material, and a retrospective record would incorporate many of those as-yet-unheard songs. Young's own creativity continued to hinder the release—he had began working on it in the late 1980s, and was continually interrupted by the need to write more songs while digging up the older ones from his archives. The artist had also considered headlining the annual alternative music-industry festival, Lollapalooza, in what would have been the ultimate act of 1990s career reincarnation.

In 1995 Young released the well-received album Mirror Ball, a collaboration with the highly acclaimed and popular alternative act, Pearl Jam. Although Pearl Jam's name does not appear on the LP's cover—reportedly for legal reasons—the group serves as Young's backup band on every song. Commenting on the generational gap between himself and the young grunge band, Young told Time's Christopher John Farley, "Actually, in many ways, I feel like Pearl Jam is older than me…. There's an ageless thing to the way they play." The result of the two acts' winter 1995 recording session in Seattle is, according to Farley, "one of the most consistently rewarding works of [Young's] long, winding career."

In 1996, Young scored the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man, followed by the release of the Young and Crazy Horse recording Broken Arrow. Director Jarmusch filmed Broken Arrow's tour the following year resulting in the concert film and the live soundtrack album The Year of the Horse. For the first time in almost a decade, Young also reunited with Crosby, Stills & Nash for the album and the subsequent tour of their 1999 album Looking Forward. Young was quickly back in the studio for a new solo album for the mostly acoustic Silver & Gold. Young recorded a two-night concert from the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado that summer and released it in the fall of 2000 as the live disc Road Rock, Vol. 1: Friends & Relatives.

Teaming up with legendary Stax soul band Booker T, and the MG's, in 2002, Young and the group released the romantic, southern soul album Are You Passionate? The following year, Young embarked on one of the most ambitious projects of his career. The 2003 album Greendale was a concept album about a fictional small town. The elaborate album resulted in a wide-scale tour with actors and a movie. Rolling Stone's Milo Miles wrote that the Greendale album "has a tattered, buzzing, demolike sound, rude as any Young has put out." The film version of Greendale was shot in California on Super 8 film with Young as director and family, friends and crew as actors who spoke Young's lyrics as dialogue.

Troubled Times

A day after inducting Chrissie Hynde into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the spring of 2005, Young noticed something strange in his eye that wouldn't go away. After it began to get larger, Young went to see a doctor where he was told he had a brain aneurysm. The doctor explained that the aneurysm had been there for a very long time and that he was in no immediate danger, but that he should have surgery to remove it as soon as possible. In the week between his diagnosis and his surgery, Young wrote and recorded the album Prairie Wind. "The whole album's chronological-I wrote and recorded in the order it appears on the record," Young told Time's Josh Tyrangiel. "Then I went back up to New York on Monday for a presurgery thing, flew back to Nashville, wrote and recorded … And then I got admitted, and they put me under." Andy Langer, a journalist for Esquire, called Prairie Wind a, "quiet, laid-back charmer designed to sit alongside Harvest and Harvest Moon in a troubadour-period trilogy."

No stranger to singing about American politics and his disdain for President Bush, Young's 2006 release Living with War was an obvious political statement put to melody. Written and recorded in two weeks, Young was backed by a 100-person choir on a collection of songs, which Rolling Stone's David Fricke called, "an impressive measure of Young's refusal to burn out or fade away that he states his case with clarity as well as dirty garage-trio momentum." Lead by the single "Let's Impeach the President," the entire Living with War album was streamed free online a month before its May release. Young was a part of another successful live concert film with Jonathan Demme's Heart of Gold, which captured two of Young's concerts at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Never one to stay put very long, Young spent the summer of 2006 touring with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young for their tour dubbed "Freedom of Speech '06."

Selected discography

Solo and with Crazy Horse (unless otherwise noted)

Neil Young, Reprise, 1969.
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Reprise, 1969.
After the Gold Rush, Reprise, 1970.
Harvest, Warner Bros., 1972.
Journey through the Past, Reprise, 1973.
Time Fades Away, Reprise, 1973.
On the Beach, Reprise, 1974.
Tonight's the Night, Reprise, 1975.
Zuma, Reprise, 1975.
(With the Stills-Young Band) Long May You Run, Reprise, 1976.
American Stars 'n Bars, Reprise, 1977.
Decade, Reprise, 1977.
Comes a Time, Reprise, 1978.
Rust Never Sleeps, Reprise, 1979.
Live Rust, Reprise, 1979.
Hawks and Doves, Reprise, 1980.
Reactor, Reprise, 1981.
Trans, Geffen, 1982.
(With the Shocking Pinks) Everybody's Rockin', Geffen, 1983.
Old Ways, Geffen, 1985.
Landing on Water, Geffen, 1986.
Life, Geffen, 1987.
(With the Bluenotes) This Note's for You, Reprise, 1988.
Freedom, Reprise, 1989.
Ragged Glory, Reprise, 1990.
Weld, Reprise, 1991.
Arc, Reprise, 1991.
Harvest Moon, Reprise, 1992.
Sleeps with Angels, Reprise, 1994.
(With Pearl Jam) Mirror Ball, Reprise, 1995.
Dead Man, Vapor, 1996.
Broken Arrow, Reprise, 1996.
Year of the Horse, Rerprise, 1997.
Silver & Gold, Reprise, 2000.
Road Rock, Vol. 1: Friends & Relatives, Reprise, 2000.
(With Booker T. & the MG's) Are You Passionate?, Reprise, 2002.
Greendale, Reprise, 2003.
Prairie Wind, Reprise, 2005.
Living with War, Reprise, 2006.

With Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield, Atco, 1967.
Buffalo Springfield Again, Atco, 1967.
Last Time Around, Atco, 1968.
Retrospective, Atco, 1969.

With Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Deja Vu, Atlantic, 1970.
4-Way Street, Atlantic, 1971.
So Far, Atlantic, 1974.
American Dream, Atlantic, 1988.
Looking Forward, Reprise, 1999.

Sources

Books

Trouser Press Record Guide, fourth edition, Collier Books, 1991.

Periodicals

Billboard, August 19, 1995.

Entertainment Weekly, October 14, 1994; June 30-July 7, 1995.

Esquire, November, 2005.

Newsweek, November 13, 1978.

Rolling Stone, June 4, 1987; November 2, 1989; September 20, 1990; October 4, 1990; November 14, 1991; November 28, 1991; October 15, 1992; January 21, 1993; August 25, 1994; July 13-27, 1995; September 4, 2003; May 1, 2006.

Spin, May 1995.

Stereo Review, October 1994.

Time, October 17, 1994; July 3, 1995; October 3, 2005.

Variety, October 6, 2003.

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"Young, Neil." Contemporary Musicians. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Young, Neil." Contemporary Musicians. 2007. Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3484400076.html

"Young, Neil." Contemporary Musicians. 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3484400076.html

Young, Neil

NEIL YOUNG

Born: Toronto, Ontario, 12 November 1945

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Harvest Moon (1992)


One of contemporary music's most enduring artists and songwriters, Neil Young remains as much a part of today's scene as he was of the burgeoning electric folk/rock era of the late 1960s, from which he emerged. His diverse musical vocabulary and inclination for drastic genre change is anchored by an identifiably edgy and emotional voice that is strikingly high-pitched. Through five decades Young has woven music that continues to surprise and in some cases confound listeners and critics. His impressive body of work includes country, blues, rock-a-billy, grunge rock, rhythm and blues, movie soundtracks, and the signature lyrical folk style from which many of his most acclaimed songs have emerged.

Young was raised in Toronto, Ontario, before moving to Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, with his mother when he was fourteen following her divorce from his father, Scott Young, a Toronto journalist. His interest in music was already in full swing, and he assembled several bands made up mostly of schoolmates. The last of these, the Squires, began playing professional dates throughout central Canada over the next two years until the band dissolved in June 1965.

Young journeyed to New York, where he located Stephen Stills and was introduced to Richie Furay. After an opportunity fell through to play guitar for a rhythm-and-blues band called the Mynah Birds, which featured Rick James on vocals, Young left for Los Angeles. Stills and Furay persuaded him to join a new band called Buffalo Springfield, made up of various refugees from the 1960s pop music scene. Young immediately became a central creative force within the band, and Buffalo Springfield released five albums over the next three years. Despite the band's success, Young yearned for a different musical path and sought out his fellow Canadian artist and friend Joni Mitchell, who put him in touch with her manager. He soon negotiated a deal with Reprise Records for a solo album, and the result, titled Neil Young (1968), began to confer superstar status on a reluctant artist.

Young's career peaked with the platinum-selling Harvest (1972). This sweet, poignant recording contains what many consider to be his signature songs. Hits off the album include "Heart of Gold" and "Old Man." Young followed Harvest with a series of musical departures that challenged his audience with continual reinvention. One example was an eerie soundtrack for a rarely seen film titled Journey Through the Past (1972) and another was the dark world of death and drugs Young explored on the haunting Tonight's the Night (1975). During the 1980s Young's output, often viewed as erratic, confused and alienated many of his fans. Each album called forth a radically different aesthetic: he was a country balladeer with a band called the International Harvesters and a techno-buzz rocker on Trans (1983); he turned to rock-a-billy with the Shocking Pinks on Everybody's Rockin (1983) and to a pure country sound with turns from Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson on Old Ways (1985); the slick bluesman on This Note's for You (1988) yielded to the hard-rock wielding axe-man on Ragged Glory (1990) and then to the pied piper of a much younger grunge-rock sound in Weld (1991) and Arc (1991).

Wedged between his first solo efforts and Harvest was another considerable musical kinship, begun when Young was asked to join the talented trio of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash in 1969. Originally recruited to be a support member of the band, he held out for a more substantial partnership, and the trio agreed to form a quartet named Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Although their time together was stormy and short, about two years, CSN&Y compiled a list of popular songs and enjoyed tremendous popularity as the group's essence mirrored the country's political turmoil. Many songs, such as "Ohio," "Woodstock," "Find the Cost of Freedom," and "Almost Cut My Hair" stand as 1960s anthems to this day. CSN&Y reunited briefly for a 1988 release of the album American Dream and the subsequent tour, but Young's participation was small, and he left the tour midway. In 1999 CSN&Y assembled yet again and have since enjoyed a renewed success on two tours.

Although Young's years after 1990 still carry his trademark unpredictability, his popularity is more robust than ever. He returned to the tuneful folk of earlier fame by finally releasing Harvest Moon (1992), a sequel to Harvest. In his usual contrary fashion, Young began performing the songs for Harvest Moon in concert well before the album was released. More than twenty years removed from some of his classic material, Young would often tire of audience members' impatience with the new material, lamenting that the old songs were distracting listeners from letting him do what he's always doneintroduce new songs. He prevailed, and Harvest Moon was a giant success, his best-selling album in thirteen years. The songs reflect a shift toward writing more about areas of life that are closer to his home and heart.

Like the sharp changes in his music, Young's political views, usually identified with grassroots efforts, have sometimes flabbergasted his fans. For instance, in 1984 he once expressed his support for Ronald Reagan, the Republican presidential candidate. On the other hand Young revived a sixties impulse in the late 1980s as he fervently took sides against corporations for using classic contemporary music to advertise products. His R&B offering, "This Note's for You," a takeoff on Budweiser advertising phraseology, was made into a music video to emphasize his antisponsorship point. Ironicallyand propheticallyit was banned by MTV out of fear that it would offend their corporate sponsors.

Young also returned to movie-soundtrack work by contributing the title song to the film Philadelphia. He accompanied himself on piano and sang the song's lamenting melody live at the 1995 Academy Awards broadcast. In 1996 he arranged the movie soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch's film Dead Man.

But it was Sleeps with Angels (1994) that helped Young turn another important corner. This eclectic batch of songs offers a career retrospective of sorts with bits and pieces of Young's musical stylings through the years on one album. Its huge success was an indication that listeners were beginning to release Young from preconceptions based on his earlier work and appreciate him for his wider artistic scope.

Young collaborated with the grunge band Pearl Jam in the making of Mirror Ball (1995) and shared the stage with them and other alternative rock acts on various tours. Attired for decades in a costume of boots, jeans, and flannel shirts, he has been appropriately dubbed "the father of grunge." He performed his cynical "Rockin in the Free World" with Pearl Jam on the night he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

Spot Light: Farm Aid


In 1985 Neil Young, along with his fellow musicians Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, responded to the adversity of the family farm and the rural way of life by organizing a series of concerts to raise money. Called Farm Aid, these concerts have brought together hundreds of artists who have donated their musical talents to the effort. Farm Aid has raised more than $15 million and distributed the money to more than 100 farming organizations and agencies that serve rural communities. The organization's primary impetus was to keep farmers on their land. However, it also channels funds for long-term solutions to other challenges faced in rural America by promoting outreach and education to increase the farm community's ability to react to a changing world. The message has been the same for seventeen years: By supporting family farmers, Americans eat healthier food, challenge the domination of agribusiness, and stave off urban sprawl.

He delighted critics again with Broken Arrow (1996), and released a fierce live rock recording, Year of the Horse (1997). The personal Silver and Gold (2000) was a pliable musical offering that harked back to his Buffalo Springfield days. Are You Passionate? (2002) garnered praise for its soft, moving tones and slight Motown feel. Featured on Are You Passionate? is "Let's Roll," Young's tribute to the passengers on United Flight 93, one of the commercial airliners that was hijacked during the events of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The song's title is a reference to the phrase "Let's roll" that was uttered into a cell phone by one of the male passengers prior to his and other passengers' overtaking the hijackers, preventing them from crashing the plane into the Washington, D.C., area; the doomed flight went down in the rural Pennsylvania countryside. Young used the song's proceeds to assist families of the plane's passengers, none of whom survived.

Young has always been keenly attuned to social issues. He is a founding member of Farm Aid, an organization dedicated to rural causes to which he has lent abundant time. Another important association for Young is the Bridge School founded by his wife, Pegi Young. The Bridge School, located in the San Francisco Bay area, specializes in caring for and educating children with severe speech and physical impairments. Young has been raising money for the school since 1986 by mounting charity concerts and enlisting fellow musicians to do the same. One of his children, Ben, attends the school.

Throughout Young's career his personal life has lacked the notoriety of most of his rock-and-roll comrades. What he has achieved in fame has been the direct result of his music and not trashed hotel rooms and other binges of excess. His songs are a combination of personal memoir, emotionally driven images, and social commentary. Young's musical mosaic reflects the passion of an artist in a relentless endeavor to puzzle out the magnitude of life.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Neil Young (Reprise, 1968); Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Reprise, 1969); After the Goldrush (Reprise 1970); Harvest (Reprise, 1972); Time Fades Away (Reprise, 1973); On the Beach (Reprise, 1974); Tonight's the Night (Reprise, 1975); Zuma (Reprise, 1976); Long May You Run (Reprise, 1976); American Stars 'N Bars (Reprise, 1977); Comes a Time (Reprise, 1978); Rust Never Sleeps (Reprise, 1979); Live Rust (Reprise, 1979); Hawks and Doves (Reprise, 1980); Re-ac-tor (Reprise 1981); Trans (Geffen 1983); Everybody's Rockin' (Geffen, 1983); Old Ways (Geffen, 1985); Landing on Water (Geffen, 1986); This Note's for You (Geffen, 1988); Freedom (Reprise, 1989); Ragged Glory (Reprise, 1990); Weld (Reprise, 1991); Arc (Reprise, 1991); Harvest Moon (Reprise, 1992); Unplugged (Reprise, 1993); Sleeps with Angels (Reprise, 1994); Mirror Ball (Reprise, 1995); Broken Arrow (Reprise, 1996); Silver and Gold (Reprise, 2000); Are You Passionate? (Reprise, 2002).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

S. Young and P. Buck (ed.), Neil and Me (Ontario, 1997); J. McDonough, Shakey: Neil Young's Biography (London, 2002); S. Simmons, Neil Young: Reflections in Broken Glass (Edinburgh, 2002).

donald lowe

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Lowe, Donald. "Young, Neil." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. 2004. Retrieved July 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3428400594.html

Young, Neil

Neil Young

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Neil Youngs career has spanned over twenty years, from his early days with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, and Nash to a solo history that includes over twenty albums of extremely varied styles. Every one of my records, to me, is like an ongoing autobiography. I cant write the same book every time, he told Cameron Crowe in Whats That Sound? My trip is to express whats on my mind. I dont expect people to listen to my music all the time. Sometimes its too intense.

Born in Canada, he formed his first band, Neil Young and the Squires, in Winnepeg and began bashing out instrumentals by groups like the Ventures and the Shadows. After hearing Bob Dylan and the Beatles, Young began to concentrate on writing his own lyrics. In Dylan he found not only an incredible poet, but also a mysterious persona that was just as interesting as the words. In The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, Dave Marsh calls Young Dylans greatest disciple, having mastered the art of self-mythology.

After the Squires he played with Rick (then known as Rickey) James and the Mynah Birds, working the rock and blues clubs of Toronto. In 1966 James ran into trouble with the law and the band was forced to break up. Young, just 21 years old, sold all the bands equipment, bought a Pontiac hearse, and, along with bassist Bruce Palmer, drove cross-continent to California. While driving through Los Angeles, the car was recognized by Stephen Stills and Richie Furray, who had jammed with Young back in Canada. After talking awhile the four musicians decided they should form a band together and within a few weeks they had a six-week gig at the Whiskey A Go Go, calling themselves Buffalo Springfield (named after a lawn tractor).

The group became one of the seminal folk-rock bands of the 1960s and pioneers of the California Sound that would influence later groups, including the Eagles. Young, in the United States illegally, worked without the proper papers or a union card while recording the classic tunes For What Its Worth, Mr. Soul, and Broken Arrow. Tensions and egos in the band were a problem, causing Young to quit and rejoin the band more than once, citing his own lack of maturity and tremendous pressure as the reasons. In May 1968 Stills called it quits and left to record a solo album, during which he teamed with David Crosby and Graham Nash. Young split also, heading to the hills of Topanga Canyon to start working on his own album, Neil Young, released in the beginning of 1969 and featuring The Loner.

After hearing a stomping bar band called the Rockets playing on the West Coast, Young asked them to back him up on his follow-up LP, Everybody Knows This Is

For the Record

Born November 12, 1945, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; son of Scott (a sports reporter) and Edna (a television celebrity) Young; first wifes name, Susan (divorced, 1970); second wifes name, Pegi; children: Zeke.

Songwriter and performer in rock groups, including the Squires, 1962-64, Rickey James and the Mynah Birds, c. 1965, Buffalo Springfield, 1966-68, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1969-71, and the Stills-Young Band, 1976; solo artist (and with accompaniment from band Crazy Horse), 1969; composer of soundtracks for films, including The Landlord, 1970, The Strawberry Statement, 1970, Celebratin atBigSur, 1971, and Where the Buffalo Roam, 1980; director of films (under pseudonym Bernard Shakey), including Journey Through the Past, 1972, and Rust Never Sleeps, 1979.

Awards: Winner of Rolling Stone Music Award for album of the year, 1975, for Tonights the Night; awards from Rolling Stone Critics Poll for best rock artist, best male vocalist, and for best album, 1979, for Rust Never Sleeps.

Addresses: Office c/o Lookout Management, 9120 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Nowhere. Switching their name to Crazy Horse, the trio (Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot, and Danny Whitten) provided solid support for Young as some of his finest songs, Cinnamon Girl, Down by the River, and Cowgirl in the Sand, began to dominate the FM airwaves. At the same time, Stills had asked Young to join his trio and in 1970 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young released Deja Vu, containing another Young pop classic, Helpless. The group enjoyed an AM radio popularity that Youngs solo work hadnt established.

Guitarist Nils Lofgren joined Crazy Horse in September of 1970 to help record Youngs After the Gold Rush LP. Young broke up with his first wife just before its release and spent the next two years in and out of hospitals with back injuries, playing only a small-halls tour by himself before recording a second album with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 4-Way Street. Hot on the heels of Gold Rushs success came Harvest, the top-selling LP of 1972. Young utilized a pickup band called the Stray Gators (Jack Nitzsche, Ben Keith, Tim Drummond, and Johnny Barbata) and Crosby and Nashs vocals to come up with his only top ten hit, the number 1 Heart of Gold, a blueprint for future Californian light-rockers.

Young made a movie and released its soundtrack in 1973. The somber Journey Through the Past baffled viewers who tried to figure out the message Young was trying to convey. I dont think I was trying to say that life is pointless, he told Crowe. It does lay a lot of shit on people though. It wasnt made for entertainment. Ill admit, Young began to work on a studio LP, Time Fades Away, and an ensuing tour. During rehearsals he sent guitarist Danny Whitten home to Los Angeles because his drug habit began affecting performances. Back in L.A. Whitten overdosed. The news shocked Young, who felt responsible and became depressed for nearly two years. His next LP, On The Beach, was released in 1974 and Young performed a tour with C,S,N & Y right afterwards. Tragedy struck again as Bruce Berry, a C, S, N & Y roadie, also died from a drug overdose. Youngs LP, Tonights the Night, was dedicated to Whitten and Berry and contains some of the most haunting, albeit alcohol-induced, recordings ever made. Young had another album, Homegrown, prepared for release, but after listening to both he decided to go with the starker one (nine of the tunes were actually recorded before Beach) which won the Rolling Stone Music Award for Album of the Year.

Young emerged from his dark period with Zuma, an LP of piercing guitar licks and pounding rhythms. Crazy Horse once again was a springboard for Youngs primitive, yet gut-wrenching, fretboard onslaughts. I really get free with Crazy Horse. They let me zoom off, he told Rolling Stone. Theyre the American Rolling Stones, no doubt about it. Young also began a three-month tour with Stills to support their duo effort, Long May You Run, but had to back out after two weeks due to throat problems. His guitar playing was fine, though, as his next solo LP, American Stars n Bars, contained the rockers Bite the Bullet and Like a Hurricane.

His 1978 tour a year later featured giant stage props (amplifiers, a harmonica, and microphone) assembled for the audience by scurrying, hooded creatures with glowing red eyes called Road-eyes. Young played a child dreaming about rock and roll as he awoke atop the huge amp system. The first half of the show was acoustic while the second part was sonic warfare. During the middle of the tour, Youngs mellow Comes a Time was released, catching fans, whose ears were still ringing, off guard. The half-acoustic, half-electric Rust Never Sleeps LP followed to rave reviews. The album tells me more about my life, my country and rock and roll than any music Ive heard in years, wrote Paul Nelson in Rolling Stone. Neil Young can outwrite, outsing, outplay, outthink, outfeel and outlast anybody in rock and roll today. Standout tracks included Welfare Mothers, Thrasher, Powderfinger, My My, Hey Hey, and its counterpart, Hey Hey, My My.

Young followed with Live Rust, a double-LP that Tom Carson in Rolling Stone called rock and roll emotional superspectacle. That in turn was followed by Hawks and Doves, a 30-minute collection of acoustic and electric tunes, including Union Man and Homestead. For the next nine years, however, Young would release an assortment of LPs that seemed to follow current trends instead of setting them. Reactor was heavy metal, pure and simple; Trans rode the techno bandwagon with elaborate electronics like the vocoder; Everybodys Rockin gave a half an hours worth of pseudo rockabilly; back to the country format on Old Ways and a tour with the International Harvesters band; and then an album of blues with This Notes For You in 1988. His 1986 tour to support Landing on Water was billed as the Third Best Garage Band in the World.

Obviously Young likes to keep his audience guessing about his next move while avoiding any chance of prejudgment. Id rather keep changing and lose a lot of people along the way, he explained in Whats That Sound? Im convinced that what sells and what I do are two completely different things. If they meet, its coincidence. Reportedly, Young has anywhere from ten to twenty albums worth of unreleased materials in the vaults. While his recordings in the 1980s seem to some to lack focus, the triple-LP Decade is an excellent documentation of Youngs best work prior to 1978.

Selected discography

Solo LPs

Neil Young, Reprise, 1969.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Reprise, 1969.

After the Gold Rush, Reprise, 1970.

Harvest, Warner Brothers, 1972.

Journey Through the Past, Reprise, 1973.

Time Fades Away, Reprise, 1973.

On the Beach, Reprise, 1974.

Tonights the Night, Reprise, 1975.

Zuma, Reprise, 1975.

American Stars n Bars, Reprise, 1977.

Comes a Time, Reprise, 1978.

Decade, Reprise, 1978.

Rust Never Sleeps, Reprise, 1979.

Live Rust, Reprise, 1979.

Hawks & Doves, Reprise, 1980.

Reactor, Reprise, 1981.

Tans, Geffen, 1982.

Old Ways, Geffen, 1985.

Landing on Water, Geffen, 1986.

Life, Geffen, 1987.

This Notes For You, Reprise, 1988.

With Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Deja Vu, Atlantic, 1970.

4-Way Street, Atlantic, 1971.

So Far, Atlantic, 1975.

With Stephen Stills

Long May You Run, Reprise, 1976.

With Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield Again, Ateo, 1967.

Last Time Around, Ateo, 1968.

Retrospective, Ateo, 1969.

Sources

Books

Christgau, Robert, Christgaus Record Guide, Ticknor & Fields, 1981.

Dalton, David, and Lenny Kaye, Rock 100, Grosset & Dunlap, 1977.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, compiled by Nick Logan and Bob Woffinden, Harmony, 1977.

The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, edited by Jim Miller, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1976.

The Rolling Stone Record Guide, edited by Dave Marsh with John Swenson, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979.

Whats That Sound?, edited by Ben Fong-Torres, Doubleday, 1976.

Periodicals

Rolling Stone, February 12, 1976; August 26, 1976; September 9, 1976; June 2, 1977; August 11, 1977; July 27, 1978; November 16, 1978; November 30, 1978; February 8, 1979; October 18, 1979; January 24, 1980; February 7, 1980; December 25, 1980; September 25, 1986.

Calen D. Stone

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Stone, Calen. "Young, Neil." Contemporary Musicians. 1990. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Stone, Calen. "Young, Neil." Contemporary Musicians. 1990. Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3492000096.html

Stone, Calen. "Young, Neil." Contemporary Musicians. 1990. Retrieved July 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3492000096.html

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