Neil Young Overview
Neil Percival Young, OC Order of Canada OM Order of Manitoba (born November 12, 1945) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, film director and activist. Young began performing as a solo artist in Canada in 1960. He then migrated to California in 1966, as part of Buffalo Springfield and established himself as the tentative fourth member of Crosby, Stills & Nash Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young . Due to Young's relationship with all band members diminishing to being too acrimonious for them to cooperate, he left both and forged a solo career, to success and critical acclaim. He has since become "one of the most respected and influential musicians of his generation". This distinctly derives in part from the longevity of his career, which has spanned for more than 40 years, with a continually challenging exploration of new musical ideas. Young has recorded 33 studio albums, the most recent of which was Fork in the Road (2009).
Young's work is characterized by his deeply personal lyrics, distinctive guitar work, and signature tenor singing voice. Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments, including piano and harmonica, his clawhammer acoustic guitar Steel-string guitar style and often idiosyncratic electric guitar soloing are the defining characteristics of a sometimes ragged, sometimes melodic sound. Although Young has experimented widely with differing music styles, including swing swing music , jazz, rockabilly, blues, and electronic music throughout a varied career, his best known work usually falls into either of two distinct styles: acoustic Acoustic music folk folk rock and country rock ("Heart of Gold Heart of Gold (song) ", "Harvest Moon" and "Old Man Old Man (song) ") and electric electric guitar -charged hard rock (like "Cinnamon Girl Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young song) ", "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"), in collaboration with the band Crazy Horse Crazy Horse (band) . In recent years, Young has adopted elements from newer styles such as alternative rock and grunge. His profound influence on the latter caused some to dub him "the Godfather of Grunge List of honorific titles in po***r music ". Young has been an undeniably important artist; The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website begins their article on Young stating him to be "one of rock and roll’s greatest songwriters and performers". Young has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards Grammy Award and has won once.
Young has directed (or co-directed) a number of films using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), Greendale Greendale (album) (2003), and CSNY/Déjà Vu (2008). He is currently working on a documentary about electric car technology, tentatively titled Linc/Volt. The project involves a 1959 Lincoln Continental converted to hybrid technology, which Young plans to drive to Washington, D.C. as an environmentalist example to lawmakers there.
Young is an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and the welfare of small farmers, having co-founded in 1985 the benefit concert Farm Aid. In 1986, Young helped found The Bridge School, an educational organization for children with severe verbal and physical disabilities, and its annual supporting Bridge School Benefit concerts, together with his wife Pegi Young (née Morton). Young has three children: Zeke (born during his relationship with actress Carrie Snodgress), Ben and Amber Jean (born to his wife Pegi). Zeke and Ben were diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and Amber Jean, like Young himself, with epilepsy.
Young lives on his ranch in La Honda, California. Although Young has lived in northern California since the 1970s and sings as frequently about U.S. themes and subjects as he does about his native country, he retains Canadian citizenship, which he has never wanted to relinquish. On July 14, 2006, Young was awarded the Order of Manitoba. On December 30, 2009, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Neil Percival Young was born on November 12, 1945, in Toronto, Ontario, to sportswriter and novelist Scott Young and Edna "Rassy" Young (née Ragland), who had moved to Toronto from their family home in Manitoba to pursue a sports journalism career. Neil spent his early childhood in the Toronto suburb of Pickering Pickering, Ontario and the village of Omemee Omemee, Ontario , northeast of Toronto. The village later established the Youngtown Museum in tribute to Young.
Young's next collaborative partner was filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, who asked Young to compose a soundtrack Dead Man (soundtrack) to his 1995 black and white western film Dead Man. Young's instrumental soundtrack was improvised while he watched the film alone in a studio. The death of longtime mentor, friend, and producer David Briggs David Briggs (producer) in late 1995 prompted Young to reconnect with Crazy Horse the following year for the album and tour Broken Arrow Broken Arrow (album) . A Jarmusch-directed concert film and live album of the tour, Year of the Horse, emerged in 1997. From 1996–97 Young and Crazy Horse toured extensively throughout Europe and North America, including a stint as part of the H.O.R.D.E. Festival's sixth annual tour.
In 1998, Young renewed his collaboration with rock band Phish, sharing the stage at the annual Farm Aid concert and then at Young's Bridge School Benefit, where he joined headliners Phish for renditions of "Helpless" and "I Shall Be Released." to critical acclaim.
Young's most recent album appearance was on the album Potato Hole, released on April 21, 2009 by Memphis organ player Booker T. Jones, of Booker T. & the MG's fame. Young plays guitar on nine of the album's ten instrumental tracks, alongside Drive-By Truckers, who already had three guitar players, giving some songs on the album a total of five guitar tracks. Jones contributed guitars on a couple of tracks.
Young continues to tour extensively. Most recently, he headlined the 2009 Glastonbury Festival in Pilton, England Pilton, Somerset , at Hard Rock Calling in London (where he was joined onstage by Paul McCartney for a rendition of "A Day in the Life") and, after years of unsuccessful booking attempts, the Isle of Wight Festival in addition to performances at the Big Day Out festival in New Zealand and Australia and the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona. On January 22, 2010, Young performed "Long May You Run" on the final episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. On the same night, he and Dave Matthews performed the Hank Williams song "Alone and Forsaken", for the Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief charity telethon, in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Young performed "Long May You Run" at the closing ceremony of the 2010 Olympic winter games 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Young currently lives in La Honda, California on the 1500-acre (6 km²) Broken Arrow Ranch, purchased in 1970 for $350,000 and named after one of his early Buffalo Springfield songs.
Young has directed five films under his pseudonym Bernard Shakey, and released them through his own Shakey Pictures imprint:
*Journey Through the Past Journey Through the Past (film) , (1973)
*Rust Never Sleeps Rust Never Sleeps (film) , (1979)
*Human Highway, starring the new wave band Devo (1982)
*Greendale Greendale (album) , (2003)
*CSNY Deja Vu, documentary (2008)
The bonus DVDs included in both versions of Greendale and in Prairie Wind are also directed by Young under the Bernard Shakey alias, and all of Young's home video and DVD releases have been co-released under the Shakey Pictures imprint.
Recognition and awards
*Canadian Music Hall of Fame, 1982
*Rock and Roll Hall of Fame He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. First in 1995 for his solo work, with an induction speech given by Eddie Vedder, and again in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield.
As one of the original founders of Farm Aid, he remains an active member of the board of directors. For one weekend each October, in Mountain View, California, he and his wife host the Bridge School Concerts Bridge School Benefit , which have been drawing international talent and sell-out crowds for nearly two decades with some of the biggest names in rock having performed at the event including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, The Who, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Sir Paul McCartney. The concerts are a benefit for the Bridge School, which develops and uses advanced technologies to aid in the instruction of children with disabilities. Young's involvement stems at least partially from the fact that both of his sons have cerebral palsy and his daughter, like Young himself, has epilepsy.
Young was nominated for an Oscar Academy Awards in 1994 for his song "Philadelphia" from the film Philadelphia Philadelphia (film) . Bruce Springsteen won the award for his song "Streets of Philadelphia" from the same film. In his acceptance speech, Springsteen said that "the award really deserved to be shared by the other nominee's song." That same night, Tom Hanks accepted the Oscar for Best Actor and gave credit for his inspiration to the song "Philadelphia".
He was part owner of Lionel, LLC, a company that makes toy trains and model railroad accessories. In 2008 Lionel emerged from bankruptcy and his shares of the company were wiped out. At this time his status with Lionel is unknown, according to Lionel CEO Jerry Calabrese he is still a consultant for Lionel. He was instrumental in the design of the Lionel Legacy control system for model trains
Young has twice received honorary doctorates. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1992, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from San Francisco State University in 2006. The latter honour was shared with his wife Pegi for their creation of the Bridge School. In 2006, Young was given Manitoba's highest civilian honour, when he was appointed to the Order of Manitoba. In 2009, he was then given Canada's highest civilian honour, when he was appointed to the Order of Canada.
In 2003, Rolling Stone listed Young at eighty-third in its ranking of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time", describing him as a "restless experimenter...who transform[s] the most obvious music into something revelatory."In 2006, Paste Paste (magazine) magazine compiled a "Greatest Living Songwriters" list; Young was ranked second behind Bob Dylan. (While Young and Dylan have occasionally played together in concert, they have never collaborated on a song together, or played on each others' records). He ranked thirty-ninth on VH1's 100 Greatest Artist of Hard Rock that same year.
Young's willingness to be politically outspoken and socially conscious allowed him to influence such important artists as Blind Melon, Phish, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. Young is referred to as "the Godfather of Grunge" because of the influence he had on Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder and the entire grunge movement. Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam inducted Young into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, citing him as a huge influence. Young is cited as being a significant influence on experimental rock artists Sonic Youth and Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Dave Matthews lists Neil Young as one of his favorite and most inspirational songwriters and covers his songs on occasion. The British Indie act The Bluetones named their number one debut album Expecting to Fly (album) after the song "Expecting to Fly" (written by Young when still with Buffalo Springfield) and covered the song on their recent UK tour. Young also inspired Oasis singer-songwriter Noel Gallagher, with Gallagher covering "My My, Hey Hey (Into the Black)" on the live album Familiar to Millions.
The Australian rock group Powderfinger named themselves after Young's song "Powderfinger Powderfinger (song) " from Young's Rust Never Sleeps. The members of the Constantines have occasionally played Neil Young tribute shows under the name Horsey Craze. While in Winnipeg on November 2, 2008 during the Canadian leg of his tour, Bob Dylan visited Young's former home in River Heights, where Young spent some of his teenage years. Dylan was interested in seeing the room where some of Young's first songs were composed.
Jason Bond, an East Carolina University biologist, discovered a new species of trapdoor spider in 2007 and named it Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi after Young, his favorite singer (a previous similar case was the dinousaur Masiakasaurus knopfleri named after the musician Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits).
In 2001, Young was awarded the Spirit of Liberty award from the civil liberties group People for the American Way. Young was honored as the MusiCares Person of the Year on January 29, 2010, two nights prior to the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards. In addition was also nominated for two Grammy Awards; Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance ("Fork In The Road") and Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package ["Neil Young Archives Vol. I (1963–1972)"]. Young won the latter Grammy Award., Italy
Neil Young is a collector of second-hand guitars, but in recording and performing, he frequently uses just a few instruments, as is explained by his longtime guitar technician Larry Cragg in the film Neil Young: Heart of Gold. They include:
* 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop Gibson Les Paul . Nicknamed "Old Black," this is Young's primary electric guitar and is featured on Rust Never Sleeps and other albums. Old Black got its name from an amateur paintjob applied to the originally-gold body of the instrument, sometime before Neil acquired the guitar in the late 1960s. In 1972, a mini humbucker pickup from a Gibson Firebird was installed in the lead/treble position. This pickup, severely microphonic, is considered a crucial component of Neil's sound. A Bigsby vibrato tailpiece was installed as early as 1969, and can be heard during the opening of "Cowgirl in the Sand" from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.
*Martin D-45 C.F. Martin & Company . His primary steel-string acoustic guitar Steel-string guitar , used to write "Old Man" and many other songs. It was one of four instruments bought by Stephen Sills for himself and his band-mates in CSNY in order to celebrate their first full concert at the Greek Theater in 1969.
*Martin D-28. Nicknamed "Hank" after its previous owner, Hank Williams. Hank Williams, Jr., had traded it for some shotguns; it went through a succession of other owners until it was located by Young's longtime friend Grant Boatwright. The guitar was purchased by Young from Tut Taylor. Young has toured with it for over 30 years. A story about the guitar and the song it inspired, "This Old Guitar," can be seen about 50 minutes into the film Neil Young: Heart of Gold. It is Young's primary guitar for Prairie Wind Prairie Wind (album) .
Other notable (or odd) instruments played by Young include:
*Vagabond Travel Guitar, used for "Let's Impeach the President" on The Colbert Report.
*Taylor 855 Taylor Guitars 12-string, used in the first half of Rust Never Sleeps.
*1927 Gibson Gibson Guitar Corporation Mastertone, a six-string banjo tuned like a guitar, used on many recordings and played by James Taylor on "Old Man."
*Gretsch 6120 (Chet Atkins model). Before Young bought Old Black, this was his primary electric guitar during his Buffalo Springfield days.
*Gretsch White Falcon. Young purchased a late 1950s model near the end of the Buffalo Springfield era; in 1969 he bought a stereo version of the same vintage guitar from Stephen Stills, and this instrument is featured prominently during Young's early '70s period, and can be heard on tracks like "Ohio," "Southern Man," "Alabama," and "L.A.". It was Young's primary electric guitar during the Harvest era, since Young's deteriorating back condition (eventually fixed with surgery) made playing the much heavier Les Paul difficult. This particular White Falcon is the stereo 6137, in which the signal from the three bass strings is separated from the signal from the three treble strings. Young typically plays this guitar in this stereo mode, sending the separate signals to two different amps, a Fender Deluxe and either a Fender Tremolux or a low-powered Tweed Fender Twin. The separation of the signals is most prominently heard on the Harvest song "Words."
*Gibson Flying V, on the Time Fades Away tour.
*Fender Broadcaster, on the Tonight's the Night Tonight's the Night (Neil Young album) album and tour.
Young uses various vintage Fender Tweed Deluxe amplifiers. His preferred amplifier for electric guitar is the Fender Deluxe, specifically a Tweed-era model from 1959. He purchased his first vintage Deluxe in 1967 for $50 from the drummer of Crazy Horse, Ralph Molina, and has since acquired nearly 450 different examples, all from the same era, but he maintains that it's the original model that sounds superior and is crucial to his trademark sound. The Tweed Deluxe is almost always used in conjunction with a late-1950's Magnatone 280 (similar to the amp used by Lonnie Mack and Buddy Holly). The Magnatone and the Deluxe are paired together in a most unusual manner: the external speaker jack from the Deluxe sends the amped signal through a volume potentiometer and directly into the input of the Magnatone. The Magnatone is notable for its true pitch-bending vibrato capabilities, which can be heard as an electric piano amplifier on "See the Sky About to Rain". A notable and unique accessory to Young's Deluxe is the Whizzer, a device created specifically for Young, which physically changes the amplifier's settings to pre-set combinations. This device is connected to footswitches operable by Young onstage in the manner of an effects pedal:See also the discographies for Buffalo Springfield Buffalo Springfield#Discography and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young discography
As far back as 1988, Young spoke in interviews of his efforts to compile his unreleased material and to remaster his existing catalog. The first installment, entitled The Archives Vol. 1 1963-1972, was originally slated for a 2007 release but was delayed repeatedly, ultimately being released on June 2, 2009.
Three performances from the Performance Series of the Archives were released individually before The Archives Vol. 1. Live at the Fillmore East Live at the Fillmore East (Neil Young album) , a selection of songs drawn from a 1970 gig with Crazy Horse Crazy Horse (band) , was released in 2006. Live at Massey Hall 1971, a solo acoustic set from Toronto's Massey Hall, saw release in 2007. Sugar Mountain - Live At Canterbury House 1968, an early solo performance and, chronologically, the first disc in the performance series, emerged late in 2008.
In an interview in 2008, Neil Young discussed Toast Neil Young Archives#Toast , an album originally recorded with Crazy Horse in San Francisco in 2000 but never released. The album will be part of the Special Edition Series of the Archives. No release date currently exists for Toast.
On 14 July 2009, Young's first four solo albums were reissued as remastered HDCD discs and digital downloads as discs 1–4 of the Original Release Series of the Archives. Vinyl editions are to follow later in the year.
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