Saturday, July 5, 2008

Saluting a Rocker with Guts

Neil Young (left) is at it again. The Canadian-born rocker has never been afraid of controversy. Ever since the Vietnam War, he has used his music to protest injustices in American society. Now he will be the star of a new documentary. The film will chronicle his "Freedom of Speech Tour," in which he sang mainly antiwar songs on stages across America. The cameras followed 62-year-old young, along with fellow performers Crosby, Stills and Nash, from city to city, capturing his performances on film. Many of his songs lacked subtlety. For instance, there is no mistaking what his tune "Let's Impeach the President" is about. No hidden meanings, no veiled messages, no concealed subtexts. This is tough, fighting, edgy political music, as only Young can deliver. Along the way, the energetic performer encountered a number of angry folks who were in the audience. A female fan -- now maybe an ex-fan -- declared, "Neil Young can stick it up his ass" after one of his performances. "Sonofabitch — I’d like to knock his teeth out," said another.

But Young is fearless. He is also insisting that all sides of the often contentious debate over the Iraq War be included in the documentary. As Young put it, "It’s important to have the other side. Plus, those people were part of the story, so why leave them out? We decided to have an embedded correspondent documenting the tour like he was documenting a war."

Young has no illusions that the film will set box office records. This is no Iron Man. He told a reporter, "I mean, let’s be realistic: it’s a film about war and a bunch of old hippies, so that’s the way the public will view it. We spent a lot of time on it, and it means a lot to us, but in the overall scope of things . . . it has a moment, and this moment is coming up, and after that it’ll be a DVD, then it’ll be gone. It’ll be a piece of history."

So here's an Andrew's Tiki Lounge Salute to Neil Young. After all these years, he's still going at it, hammering away at the powers that be, full of piss and vinegar and not afraid to speak his mind.


Michael Balter said...

Slightly off topic, Andrew, but if you want to hear some of Young's lyrical, early guitar playing, get hold of the album "Buffalo Springfield Again" and listen to Richie Furay's song "Sad Memory." That's Young plucking those guitar strings in achingly lilting fashion.

"Sad Memory" (Furay) – 3:00

* Recorded September 5, 1967, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocal: Richie Furay. Electric lead guitar: Neil Young. Acoustic guitar: Richie Furay. (Stills, Palmer, and drummer Dewey Martin absent.)

Andrew Hunt said...

Hi Michael,
Many thanks for the recommendation! I'll get my hands on those songs. I haven't been a Neil Young fan for very long, but I am now. And I really admire his work....
Thanks again!