Neil Young

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At a Glance

Birthname: Neil Percival Young
Nationality: Canadian
Born: Nov 12 1945


Biography

Past is prologue, so someone said. But the acoustic prologue to “Driftin’ Back,” the epic (and we mean epic, clocking in as it does at more the 27 gripping minutes) opening song of Neil Young ... Read more

Past is prologue, so someone said. But the acoustic prologue to “Driftin’ Back,” the epic (and we mean epic, clocking in as it does at more the 27 gripping minutes) opening song of Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s inspired album Psychedelic Pill, sets the calendar at right now. This is an artist, ever in the moment, fully grounded, firmly rooted, renewing the collaboration with the band that has partnered on the most sturdy, most forceful, most earthy work of his singular career.

It is from this solid perch that Young embarks on his journey back — drifting, yes, but with purpose. The acoustic curtain rises, Young’s signature electric guitar moving in with a lyrical stroll, joined by the supple accompaniment of Crazy Horse — guitarist Poncho Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, as it has been constituted since 1975 — as the singer wends his way through a sequence of scenarios and impressions.

Jesus, the Maharishi and Picasso make appearances in the song, Young noting how the images and messages associated with them are invariably corrupted or misconstrued. And, he fears, his own message and art have been corrupted and diminished by the very technology that has made it more accessible. “When you hear my song now / You only get 5%,” he sings. “You used to get it all.” But, he insists, he’s “blockin’ out my anger.”

He’s certainly not blocking out his fire, his desire. Nor has he ever.

Coming on the heels of and launching from Americana, his Crazy Horse-aided reinterpretation romp through the realm of North American traditions (delightfully idiosyncratic in places), Psychedelic Pill pokes down pathways that have been hinted at before in this teaming, but never fully explored. New textures emerge in the music, new landscapes in the lyrics.

To the phased, swirling stomp of the title song he honors the rock ‘n’ roll spirit at its most pure, manifest via a party girl in a shiny dress, “lookin’ for good times.” “No dark night exists that they cannot bring light to,” Young writes of the archetype, in a brief introductory liner note to the song.

The elegiac ode “Ramada Inn” paints another slice of life, a couple on a little road trip, as in love now as ever, even after “All those good times, ups and downs / So many joys raisin’ those kids.” Times get tough, but “every mornin’ comes the sun / and they both rise unto the day.” His liner-notes lead-in: “Remembering the long grade, you take the time to count your friends.” But perhaps his extended, languorous guitar solos scribing the contours of the lives portrayed as vividly as the words.

“Born in Ontario,” offers further detail and new perspectives to the explicitly autobiographical thread that winds back to “Helpless,” with rural shuffle bringing forth a pump organ playing a folk hymn tune, with memories of his father, a writer, carried throughout Young’s life right to the present: “I still like to sing a happy song / But once a while when things go wrong / I might pick up a pen and scribble on a page and try to make sense of my inner rage.” (Young, by the by, was made an Officer in the Order of Canada in 2009.)

“Twisted Road” is a joyous thank-you note to some of the others who inspired (and continue to inspire) him, Bob Dylan (“Like Hank Williams chewin’ bubble gum / Askin’ me ‘How does it feel’”) at the fore.

“She’s Always Dancing” is another visit with the manifest muse. “For the Love of Man” channels that into a sense of wonder, and curious wondering, about our very species, about the greatness of life.

Then “Walk Like a Giant” brings the arc back to a spirited prayer, to himself, that he can always honor that wonder, that it may always “hold on to my thinkin’ / and remember how it feels.”

And throughout, you do get it all. The pure sonic force and presence of the music is notable on its own. Produced by Young and John Hanlon with Mark Humphreys at the Audio Casa Blanca facility on Young’s Broken Arrow Ranch (save for that acoustic intro, recorded in Kamuela, Hawaii), the album bears a bright immediacy, a purity that is rare today. The sessions were recorded on a tube console to two-inch analog tape and then mixed, also analog, to two tracks before being transferred to the highest-end digital format. For those who value the quality of sound as much as Young does (no luddite, he’s developed the new high-fidelity audio system Pono), it’s an unparalleled treat.

That’s not just a superficial, audiophilic angle, though. That sound is necessary to what it conveys. Which of course is the point.

Young has had no lack of looking back in recent times. Foremost is the new autobiography “Waging Heavy Peace” but reminiscences were woven through the trio of Jonathan Demme concert films (the third, “Neil Young Journeys,” released this summer, and key songs on “Le Noise,” the 2010 album teaming him with producer Daniel Lanois, explored episodes of his life with raw frankness. Not to mention the acclaimed reunion with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay for the 2011 Buffalo Springfield tour. And, of course, there’s been the deeply rich and rewarding Neil Young Archives Vol 1: 1963 – 1972 of recent years.

In many ways, Psychedelic Pill rounds out an array of probing works with prominent autobiographical threads:

Though that might be short-sighted. Arguably, this rounds out everything he’s done, from “I Am a Child” and “Sugar Mountain” through Tonight’s The Night and Rust Never Sleeps through Sleeps With Angels through Greendale. But even that is probably a wrong perspective. This doesn’t round out anything. It’s not a summary, it’s a continuation.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Past is prologue, so someone said. But the acoustic prologue to “Driftin’ Back,” the epic (and we mean epic, clocking in as it does at more the 27 gripping minutes) opening song of Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s inspired album Psychedelic Pill, sets the calendar at right now. This is an artist, ever in the moment, fully grounded, firmly rooted, renewing the collaboration with the band that has partnered on the most sturdy, most forceful, most earthy work of his singular career.

It is from this solid perch that Young embarks on his journey back — drifting, yes, but with purpose. The acoustic curtain rises, Young’s signature electric guitar moving in with a lyrical stroll, joined by the supple accompaniment of Crazy Horse — guitarist Poncho Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, as it has been constituted since 1975 — as the singer wends his way through a sequence of scenarios and impressions.

Jesus, the Maharishi and Picasso make appearances in the song, Young noting how the images and messages associated with them are invariably corrupted or misconstrued. And, he fears, his own message and art have been corrupted and diminished by the very technology that has made it more accessible. “When you hear my song now / You only get 5%,” he sings. “You used to get it all.” But, he insists, he’s “blockin’ out my anger.”

He’s certainly not blocking out his fire, his desire. Nor has he ever.

Coming on the heels of and launching from Americana, his Crazy Horse-aided reinterpretation romp through the realm of North American traditions (delightfully idiosyncratic in places), Psychedelic Pill pokes down pathways that have been hinted at before in this teaming, but never fully explored. New textures emerge in the music, new landscapes in the lyrics.

To the phased, swirling stomp of the title song he honors the rock ‘n’ roll spirit at its most pure, manifest via a party girl in a shiny dress, “lookin’ for good times.” “No dark night exists that they cannot bring light to,” Young writes of the archetype, in a brief introductory liner note to the song.

The elegiac ode “Ramada Inn” paints another slice of life, a couple on a little road trip, as in love now as ever, even after “All those good times, ups and downs / So many joys raisin’ those kids.” Times get tough, but “every mornin’ comes the sun / and they both rise unto the day.” His liner-notes lead-in: “Remembering the long grade, you take the time to count your friends.” But perhaps his extended, languorous guitar solos scribing the contours of the lives portrayed as vividly as the words.

“Born in Ontario,” offers further detail and new perspectives to the explicitly autobiographical thread that winds back to “Helpless,” with rural shuffle bringing forth a pump organ playing a folk hymn tune, with memories of his father, a writer, carried throughout Young’s life right to the present: “I still like to sing a happy song / But once a while when things go wrong / I might pick up a pen and scribble on a page and try to make sense of my inner rage.” (Young, by the by, was made an Officer in the Order of Canada in 2009.)

“Twisted Road” is a joyous thank-you note to some of the others who inspired (and continue to inspire) him, Bob Dylan (“Like Hank Williams chewin’ bubble gum / Askin’ me ‘How does it feel’”) at the fore.

“She’s Always Dancing” is another visit with the manifest muse. “For the Love of Man” channels that into a sense of wonder, and curious wondering, about our very species, about the greatness of life.

Then “Walk Like a Giant” brings the arc back to a spirited prayer, to himself, that he can always honor that wonder, that it may always “hold on to my thinkin’ / and remember how it feels.”

And throughout, you do get it all. The pure sonic force and presence of the music is notable on its own. Produced by Young and John Hanlon with Mark Humphreys at the Audio Casa Blanca facility on Young’s Broken Arrow Ranch (save for that acoustic intro, recorded in Kamuela, Hawaii), the album bears a bright immediacy, a purity that is rare today. The sessions were recorded on a tube console to two-inch analog tape and then mixed, also analog, to two tracks before being transferred to the highest-end digital format. For those who value the quality of sound as much as Young does (no luddite, he’s developed the new high-fidelity audio system Pono), it’s an unparalleled treat.

That’s not just a superficial, audiophilic angle, though. That sound is necessary to what it conveys. Which of course is the point.

Young has had no lack of looking back in recent times. Foremost is the new autobiography “Waging Heavy Peace” but reminiscences were woven through the trio of Jonathan Demme concert films (the third, “Neil Young Journeys,” released this summer, and key songs on “Le Noise,” the 2010 album teaming him with producer Daniel Lanois, explored episodes of his life with raw frankness. Not to mention the acclaimed reunion with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay for the 2011 Buffalo Springfield tour. And, of course, there’s been the deeply rich and rewarding Neil Young Archives Vol 1: 1963 – 1972 of recent years.

In many ways, Psychedelic Pill rounds out an array of probing works with prominent autobiographical threads:

Though that might be short-sighted. Arguably, this rounds out everything he’s done, from “I Am a Child” and “Sugar Mountain” through Tonight’s The Night and Rust Never Sleeps through Sleeps With Angels through Greendale. But even that is probably a wrong perspective. This doesn’t round out anything. It’s not a summary, it’s a continuation.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Past is prologue, so someone said. But the acoustic prologue to “Driftin’ Back,” the epic (and we mean epic, clocking in as it does at more the 27 gripping minutes) opening song of Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s inspired album Psychedelic Pill, sets the calendar at right now. This is an artist, ever in the moment, fully grounded, firmly rooted, renewing the collaboration with the band that has partnered on the most sturdy, most forceful, most earthy work of his singular career.

It is from this solid perch that Young embarks on his journey back — drifting, yes, but with purpose. The acoustic curtain rises, Young’s signature electric guitar moving in with a lyrical stroll, joined by the supple accompaniment of Crazy Horse — guitarist Poncho Sampedro, bassist Billy Talbot and drummer Ralph Molina, as it has been constituted since 1975 — as the singer wends his way through a sequence of scenarios and impressions.

Jesus, the Maharishi and Picasso make appearances in the song, Young noting how the images and messages associated with them are invariably corrupted or misconstrued. And, he fears, his own message and art have been corrupted and diminished by the very technology that has made it more accessible. “When you hear my song now / You only get 5%,” he sings. “You used to get it all.” But, he insists, he’s “blockin’ out my anger.”

He’s certainly not blocking out his fire, his desire. Nor has he ever.

Coming on the heels of and launching from Americana, his Crazy Horse-aided reinterpretation romp through the realm of North American traditions (delightfully idiosyncratic in places), Psychedelic Pill pokes down pathways that have been hinted at before in this teaming, but never fully explored. New textures emerge in the music, new landscapes in the lyrics.

To the phased, swirling stomp of the title song he honors the rock ‘n’ roll spirit at its most pure, manifest via a party girl in a shiny dress, “lookin’ for good times.” “No dark night exists that they cannot bring light to,” Young writes of the archetype, in a brief introductory liner note to the song.

The elegiac ode “Ramada Inn” paints another slice of life, a couple on a little road trip, as in love now as ever, even after “All those good times, ups and downs / So many joys raisin’ those kids.” Times get tough, but “every mornin’ comes the sun / and they both rise unto the day.” His liner-notes lead-in: “Remembering the long grade, you take the time to count your friends.” But perhaps his extended, languorous guitar solos scribing the contours of the lives portrayed as vividly as the words.

“Born in Ontario,” offers further detail and new perspectives to the explicitly autobiographical thread that winds back to “Helpless,” with rural shuffle bringing forth a pump organ playing a folk hymn tune, with memories of his father, a writer, carried throughout Young’s life right to the present: “I still like to sing a happy song / But once a while when things go wrong / I might pick up a pen and scribble on a page and try to make sense of my inner rage.” (Young, by the by, was made an Officer in the Order of Canada in 2009.)

“Twisted Road” is a joyous thank-you note to some of the others who inspired (and continue to inspire) him, Bob Dylan (“Like Hank Williams chewin’ bubble gum / Askin’ me ‘How does it feel’”) at the fore.

“She’s Always Dancing” is another visit with the manifest muse. “For the Love of Man” channels that into a sense of wonder, and curious wondering, about our very species, about the greatness of life.

Then “Walk Like a Giant” brings the arc back to a spirited prayer, to himself, that he can always honor that wonder, that it may always “hold on to my thinkin’ / and remember how it feels.”

And throughout, you do get it all. The pure sonic force and presence of the music is notable on its own. Produced by Young and John Hanlon with Mark Humphreys at the Audio Casa Blanca facility on Young’s Broken Arrow Ranch (save for that acoustic intro, recorded in Kamuela, Hawaii), the album bears a bright immediacy, a purity that is rare today. The sessions were recorded on a tube console to two-inch analog tape and then mixed, also analog, to two tracks before being transferred to the highest-end digital format. For those who value the quality of sound as much as Young does (no luddite, he’s developed the new high-fidelity audio system Pono), it’s an unparalleled treat.

That’s not just a superficial, audiophilic angle, though. That sound is necessary to what it conveys. Which of course is the point.

Young has had no lack of looking back in recent times. Foremost is the new autobiography “Waging Heavy Peace” but reminiscences were woven through the trio of Jonathan Demme concert films (the third, “Neil Young Journeys,” released this summer, and key songs on “Le Noise,” the 2010 album teaming him with producer Daniel Lanois, explored episodes of his life with raw frankness. Not to mention the acclaimed reunion with Stephen Stills and Richie Furay for the 2011 Buffalo Springfield tour. And, of course, there’s been the deeply rich and rewarding Neil Young Archives Vol 1: 1963 – 1972 of recent years.

In many ways, Psychedelic Pill rounds out an array of probing works with prominent autobiographical threads:

Though that might be short-sighted. Arguably, this rounds out everything he’s done, from “I Am a Child” and “Sugar Mountain” through Tonight’s The Night and Rust Never Sleeps through Sleeps With Angels through Greendale. But even that is probably a wrong perspective. This doesn’t round out anything. It’s not a summary, it’s a continuation.

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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