Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Shakey!

Neil Young is 63 today! Decided to celebrate!

I love this song so much, words can't express it. When I stopped drinking (1982), this tune stopped being merely descriptive and passed into my personal mythology. It became a hymn.

There is ambivalence and regret embedded in every line of this song, and the singer initially sounds bereft. But by the end, he makes a decision, and he is strong. It is somehow all the more moving from such a shaky voice. He is unsure, confused and searching for his way. And in the telling, he finds it.

I didn't fully understand the song until I started telling my story, and then I found my way, too.

Just a masterpiece. I save it for days I need it, like now. :)

Happy birthday, Neil, we love you.


Neil Young - Thrasher

[via FoxyTunes / Neil Young]

For you gung-ho metal-head kidz who sneer at acoustic music, here is some electric Neil, with Crazy Horse.

Like certain other favorites of mine (notably FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN and SUNSET BOULEVARD), Powderfinger is narrated by a dead man. HOW do they do this, you wonder? I once asked this question in Film Studies class: How could William Holden, floating face down in a pool, narrate Sunset Boulevard? I was answered: poetic license. (And I was a huge fan of poetic license forever after!)

At the end of the song, we realize the narrator is gone, and speaks for so many other young men who die before their time:

Shelter me from the powder and the finger
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
Think of me as one you'd never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love,
I know I'll miss her.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Powderfinger

[via FoxyTunes / Neil Young]


ZenDenizen said...

I absolutely love the music he composed for the Dead Man soundtrack.

Shinade said...

Oh dear 63 how time does fly huh? I have read down through this entire page.

Thank you for leaving this link. I am so honored to get to know this side of you.

We have traveled down many of the same roads.

And your icon makes me think of someone else that I also care about dearly who has health problems.

Do I perhaps already know you? Well whether or not I did before...I do now.

And I am a better person for the experience.

What else can I say? Thank you just doesn't seem enough!!


JoJo said...

Brian saw him acoustic at one of the Bridge School benefits at Shoreline about 10 years ago and said it was great. We were also lucky enough to see him (as CSNY) at the free concert in Golden Gate Park after Bill Graham died.

AlekNovi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daisy said...

Alek, I moved your comment to yesterday's Odds and Sods thread, which references FemCritics. Please keep all FC discussions there.

This thread is just for Neil and/or nostalgia, thanks.

hysperia said...

Oh THANKS I fall all over myself when anything "Neil" is around. "Blue blue windows behind the sky". Ahhhhhh.

mikeb302000 said...

Thanks again Daisy for keeping me informed. I had missed Neil's birthday completely, but I'll make up for it by thinking of him the rest of today, and perhaps listening to some of my favorite tunes. In fact, over the last couple weeks I've been thinking of posting a couple of his old songs, Cinnamon Girl and Cowgirl in the Sand have been on my mind for some reason.

polerin said...

I love me some Neil Young.
I grew up on his music, along with Tracy Chapman, and it helped gave me a decidedly political bent even in my teens. I think it's a slow music day today.

thene said...

Daisy, we can tell you're a Catholic because you have a feast day for virtually every day of the year =D

Anonymous said...

OMG- "Fire on the Mountain" is teh awesome! How did I go my whole life without that song? Thanks.

YogaforCynics said...

I've always thought "Thrasher" was one of Neil's best songs--"it was then that I knew I'd had enough, burned my credit card for fuel, headed out to where the pavement turns to sand, with a one way ticket to the land of truth and my suitcase in my hand, how I lost my friends, I still don't understand...." Never thought of it as having to do with addiction, though...I'll have to listen to it again.

Another classic of the dead-guy-talking genre would have to be "Long Black Veil," done so well by the Band, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and others. Actually, ya confused me at first with the Fire on the Mountain reference, until I hit the link. I've never listened much to the Marshall Tucker band, and thought you were referring to that other Fire on the Mountain song...can't think of who did that one...some obscure 60's band, I think....

Gene said...

Shelter me from the powder and the finger
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger

Two of my favorite lines from a Neil lyric. I sometimes use it for an email sig. Be aware of consequences.