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Neil Young

Neil Young is an amazing musician, a master of several styles of guitar playing. In addition to being the godfather of grunge rock, he’s also outstanding playing folk and country, and has challenged himself by playing with a wide variety of people through the course of his career. He’s also as good at songwriting as he is at playing. In another post, I recommended his film Rust Never Sleeps. In the film, he does the same song two different ways — folk and grunge — demonstrating his mastery of both styles. Here are videos (not from the film) of both versions:

Hey Hey My My (Out of the Blue) is the folk version, performed on acoustic guitar with harmonica. This version is from from Farm Aid 1985:

Hey Hey My My (Into the Black) is the grunge version, performed with Crazy Horse. This version is from the Phoenix Festival in 1996:

He first became known in the US as a member of the short-lived but highly influential band Buffalo Springfield. Here is a video of them doing Neil’s song Mr. Soul at the Hollywood Palace in 1967:

Neil collaborated with Crazy Horse many times over the years. He’s playing with them in the grunge version of Hey Hey My My (above), and he played with them in the film Rust Never Sleeps. His first collaboration with Crazy Horse was the album that established his prominence, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, which was released in 1969. This trailer describes the effort in 1997 to restore and release five tracks from the band’s March 1970 performance at Fillmore East. Here’s one of those tracks, Cowgirl in the Sand:

Neil and Steven Stills were both members of Buffalo Springfield, which led to Neil playing with Crosby, Stills and Nash on occasion through the years. Here are Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young performing Ohio on 3/30/2000 in Toronto:

Neil played with many musicians over the years. For example, he recorded his twenty-third studio album, Mirror Ball, in 1995 with Pearl Jam as his band. Here they are playing Rockin in the Free World:

I’ll freely admit that I like his rock music the best, but I also like his acoustic music. For the last twenty-five years, he has held an all-acoustic benefit concert for the Bridge School in Marin County, California. The list of performers over the years has been a “who’s who in rock and roll” (look at the list of performers in the history section of the website). He’s made an effort over the years to include younger artists. Here’s a performance from the most recent concert in October 2011, with Neil and fellow Canadians Arcade Fire doing Helpless:

Here’s another performance from the same show, with Neil doing Pocahontas with Beck:

As with some of the other artists I’ve written about, it’s hard to decide where to stop. I hope I’ve given you motivation to go find more about this great artist, and some clues as to where to find it.