This Historic Day In Music: Neil Young

Boom boom strum strum strum strum strum strum | strum….. strum strum….., by-um bum dum.

Can you name that tune?

I’ll give you a clue.

It’s the guitar intro to a Neil Young song.

Every student who starts learning how to play guitar with me learns that intro and the rest of that song. For years now, I’ve also used two other Neil Young songs: “After The Gold Rush” and “Sugar Mountain,” in my teaching.

One of my favorite Neil Young songs to play and perform is “Birds.” It’s on the album “After The Gold Rush” and he plays it there on piano, but I’ve got a bootleg Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album where he is recorded playing it live on guitar. “Lover, there will be another one, to hover over you beneath the sun…” A chills-inducing, fabulous song.

(Still trying to figure out that song? Try reading the line out loud…)

I’ve only seen Neil Young live once.

Back in the early 1970’s, my friend Norm and I were at an acoustic Crosby-Nash concert at the then-named Music Hall in Boston. As the show neared the end, Steven Stills wandered out on stage, guitar in hand, to thunderous applause and the trio launched into a couple of CSN songs. Then a voice from the audience called out: “Where’s Neil?” and out from the wings he came. The crowd went crazy. I mean totally off-the-charts CRAZY. I don’t remember what they played/sang together but I can still hear that voice from the audience and feel the rush of the thrill of seeing the four of them together on that stage.

Writing in The All Music Guide To Rock, Stephen Thomas Erlewine says: “After Neil Young left the California Folk-Rock band Buffalo Springfield in 1968, he slowly established himself as one of the most influential and idiosyncratic singer-songwriters of his generation.”

Singer/guitarist/songwriter Ben Harper once said: “Another mystical thing is that one guitarist can play a G chord and stand the hairs up on your neck, while another will hit a G and you go, ‘Well, it’s a G.’ Why is that? How can Bob Marley, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan or Neil Young get so much soul out of a G chord?”

Neil Young was born on this day, November 12, in the year 1945, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Happy Birthday, Neil. Thanks for everything. Take care and all the best.

So, reader, what’s the song?

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2 Responses to This Historic Day In Music: Neil Young

  1. TPS says:

    Sigh…. So now Neil Young is eligible for Medicare. Somehow, I don’t ever see him putting his guitar down and sitting quietly. I believe he will be where he’s been for most of his career, on the cutting edge of rock.
    I’ve seen him only once as well, at a CSNY show at the Garden in the spring of ’70, I believe.

  2. Mike Mitchell says:

    Heart of Gold, of course!

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