Neil Young

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This article is about the Canadian musician of the same name. For perverse sexual preferences, see the relevant subheading under Pedophilia

Neil Percival Kenneth Billy Sam Joe Bobby Joe Robert Ragland Diamond Young, better known as Neil Young (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter and trailblazer in the emerging science of career husbandry, most notably in the subdisciplines of artificial conception and life after death.

Hey hey, my my... My career can never die.

Early Years[edit]

Young was born in Flin Flon, Manitoba, the sole heir of Scott Young, the obituary writer of the town newspaper, and his on-again-off-again acquaintance, Razzy Ragtime, a burlesque artist and masseuse well known to the local population.

As a young man, Neil dreamed of stardom. Bobby Clarke had found fame in the NHL, despite his own humble beginnings as a Flinonian. Neil lacked the necessary components for a hockey player—strength, dexterity, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, charisma, and talent—but saw no reason why he couldn't be a musician. After all, having an irritating voice, mediocre guitar skills, and the harmonica stylings of a Lysol-swilling hobo had landed a wall of gold albums for Bob Dylan.

After blowing his student loan money on a trip to Jamaica, Neil made a fast but lasting friendship with a rather odourous and weedy looking character: Marijuana. When the money ran out, Neil turned to his dealer for a way to raise money to return to North America. The dealer suggested putting Neil's fledgling skills to work by starting a band, which he would be only too happy to join—if only to get backpaid for Neil's significant ganja arrears. The dealer's name was Bob Marley. And the band they started? Buffalo Soldiers.

We Be Jammin'[edit]

So, Neil "Family Man" Young began holding down the basslines for one of the most influential reggae bands of the era. Early audiences were turned off by his pasty white skin and polka-like composition. In earnest, Neil adopted a strict improvement regimen that included re-doubling his ganja intake, wearing dark glasses and a bandana, and complete abstention from showering and hair combing. In no time, party people were grinding to the island groove and asking "Who's the new guy?"

In 1966, after Motown Records balked at the prospect of signing a racially-mixed band, Young departed from Buffalo Soldiers and fell into a deep, extended depression. He spiralled into a vortex of alcohol, pickup trucks and country music. Then, one night, under the table of yet another nameless honky tonk bar, he met the frontman of Crosby, Wright, and Nash. By odd coincidence, Steven Wright was also in the midst of a deep depression, fearing that his morose compositions and deadpan vocals were about to get him kicked out of the band. Wright invited Young to audition as a potential replacement, as he himself was giving serious thought to leaving the music profession forever, and becoming a psychiatrist instead. Young thanked him, but declined, electing instead to take up the mantle of country and folk as the Lord Dylan did before him.

Solo Career[edit]

Neil Young (right), pictured with his live-in companion of many years, David Crosby (left).

Young's signature vocals, distinguished by a helium-fueled, nasally drone, are often described by music journalists as ideally suited to communicating honesty, vulnerability, and approachability. In truth, he really just isn't a very good singer, but this is deliberate, at least in part. Early on, despite his perpetual pot-induced haze, the covered ears and grimaced expressions of his audiences made Neil aware that his vocals were not being received as well as he'd hoped. When months of vocal coaching made it clear that improvement was unachievable, he decided to work at sounding worse (known in professional circles as "distinctive" or "artistic"). As he himself later said: "I couldn't get to the middle of the road. Trying soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch." To that end, he formulated a carefully crafted vocal blend of two of his idols: the alzheimeristic mumble of Dylan and the desperate and strained mule bray of Ozzy Osbourne. Critics wet themselves. Audiences ate it with a spoon, then asked for seconds. Idiots.

The calculated image-crafting didn't end there. To ensure that he could never be accused of slipping, he fired his band after every tour, and drastically changed styles after every album. Over the years, country, reggae, folk rock, funk, hard rock, a Capella, soul, swing, classical, jazz, rockability, electronica, new wave, industrial, and hip-hop have all received the Neil Young touch, in turn, repeatedly, whether they wanted it or not. Bad touch! No! Go! Tell!

After a few years of this, though, even the most starving musicians were hesitant to work with him.

Crazy Whores[edit]

When premium players quit showing up to auditions, candidates dwindled to all but a few. Those that remained were desperate, addicted, marginally talented, easy scapegoats, willing to work for any price on short notice and be thrown to the street on the whim of a megalomaniac. In other words—the perfect band—and the perfect compliment to Young's artistic/distinctive vocal. Together, they headed for the ditch, and were soon dog-paddling in the bog of cash that swelled around them.

Legacy[edit]

Despite his lack of predictability, widely varying album sales, Paleozoic social skills, and questionable musicianship, Young is somehow still regarded as an influential and acclaimed performer. Even more than Dylan, Young's vocal stylings are largely credited for creating the role of "Lead Vocalist" as the successor to the long-revered "Lead Singer". This, in turn, opened the floodgate on generations of no-talent hacks starting bands without pause for thought about talent, songwriting, or even the ability to play an instrument. In addition to launching punk rock and founding grunge, Young is regarded as the influence for a number of vocalists across many musical genres, including: Mark Knopfler, Tom Waits, Geddy Lee, Billy Corgan, Ric Ocasek, and Axel Rose.

Discography[edit]

  • 1969—Neil Young
  • 1969—Nobody Knows Nothing About Nihilism (the "Philosophical" phase)
  • 1970—After the Good Stuff (B-sides and outtakes, the "Too-Egotistical-To-Work" phase)
  • 1972—Harvey (with The Rabbit Rousers, the "LSD-Induced-Seeing-Stuff-That-Isn't-Really-There" phase)
  • 1975—Zuma (with Crazy Whores, the "Let's-Try-African-I-Haven't-Done-That-Yet" phase)
  • 1976—Long May You Rant (with Steven Wright, the "Primal Scream" phase)
  • 1977—American Cars'n'Bars (the "Country" phase)
  • 1977—Decayed (Greatest Hits) (the "I've-Run-Out-Of-Material-Again" phase)
  • 1978—Comes A Time (To Get Back To Work Before They Fire Me (Again)) (the "Threw-Some-Stuff-Together-Cuz-I-Had-To" phase)
  • 1979—Rust Never Sleeps (with Crazy Whores, the "Write-Something-That-Sounds-Deep" phase)
  • 1979—Live Rust (live with Crazy Whores, the "Recycle-The-Same-Material-To-Stave-Off-The-Mortgage-Company" phase)
  • 1980—Buffalo Soldier (the "Yeah-I-Was-A-Dreadhead" phase)
  • 1981—Reactor (with Crazy Whores, the "I'm-Anti-Nuclear-And-Socially-Conscious" phase)
  • 1982—Transgendered (the "I'm-Open-To-That-Bi-Les-Gay-Stuff-Too" phase)
  • 1983—Everybody's Fuckin' (with Crazy Whores, the "I-Love-The-60's" phase, before VH1 made it cool)
  • 1985—Old Ways (the "Back-to-Country-Again" phrase)
  • 1986—Landing on Water (the "I-Got-My-Pilot's-License-Just-Like-John-Denver-And-JFK-jr." phase)
  • 1987—Life (the "I'm-Old-And-Feeling-Compelled-To-Complain-To-Someone-But-I've-Alienated-My-Family" phase)
  • 1988—This Note's For You (the "I'm-For-Sale" phase)
  • 1989—Eldorado (the "I'll-Sell-Cars-Too" phase)
  • 1989—Freedom (the "I'll-Sell-American-Patriotism-Too-Even-Though-I'm-Canadian" phase)
  • 1990—Ragged Glory (the "God-I-Made-A-Buttload-Of-Money-Peddling-US-Patriotism-Let's-Do-That-Again" phase)
  • 1991—Ark (the "God-For-Sale!-God-For-Sale!" phase)
  • 1991—Weld (the "Mending-Fences-Metaphorically-Not-Literally" phase)
  • 1992—Harvest Moon (the "Back-to-Country-Yet-Again" phase)
  • 1993—Unplugged (the "Bandwagons=Excuse-2-Recycle+Profit" phase)
  • 1994—Sleeps With Anyone (the "Groupies-Are-Thinning-Out" phase)
  • 1995—Mirrorball (with The Bee Gees, the "Disco-Retro" phase)
  • 1996—Dead Man (the "Borrowed-Money-From-The-Wrong-People-Again" phase)
  • 1997—Year of the Whores (live repackaging of old material disguised as a nostalgia album, with Crazy Whores)
  • 2000—Silver & Gold (the "If-I-Name-It-They-Will-Buy?" phase)
  • 2002—Are You Passionate? (the "Got-Viagra-But-Still-No-Groupies" phase)
  • 2003—Rivendell (the "Maybe-Peter-Jackson's-Onto-Something-Here" phase)
  • 2004—Greatest Hits (the "9th-Time-Lucky?" phase)
  • 2005—Prairie Winter (the "Harvest-Moon-Wannabe-But-In-Winter" phase)
  • 2006—Living With War (the "Featuring George W. Bush" phase)
  • 2006—Live at the Eatmore East (the "Remembering-When-I-Was-A-Hippy" phase)