Sunday, April 12, 2009

a Young old man takes a look at his life

neil young hit the stage at the metro centre friday night. from my cosy spot in the skybox for metro, above the clouds of pot rising from the teeming masses below, i went from a casual fan to a convert.

it made me think of the u2 line: all i've got is a red guitar, three chords and the truth. young has waaay more than a red guitar and three chords, but it's the truth built into his voice that made me take notice. unlike the stones, here a couple of years ago, or kiss, coming later this summer, you don't get the sense young is doing it for the money. his music still comes from his exploration of life. i was struck by the link between kurt cobain and neil young.

i knew about cobain's suicide note, of course, and that he said 'it's better to burn out then to fade away' - it stuck in my mind because when courtney love read it over loud speakers at his memorial, she interrupted at that point to say 'that's a fucking lie.'

the line comes from hey hey, my my. reading interviews young's done over the years, it's clear that deeply disturbed the 'grandfather of grunge.' i don't think he and cobain met, but they discussed each other via the media and both admired the raw musical honesty they shared. in fact young called cobain several times during the week he shot himself, sensing (from the press reports, i suppose) that something was wrong. he didn't get through to him.

friday night, young played an astonishing version of change your mind. it comes from his 1994 album sleeps with angels, which came out of his reaction to cobain's suicide.

it's a superb song, and i love the change in tone of the lyrics. it starts romantic and lovely:


When you get weak, and you need to test your will
When life's complete, but there's something missing still
Distracting you from this must be the one you love
Must be the one whose magic touch can change your mind
Don't let another day go by without the magic touch



but also dives through darker regions:


You hear the sound, you wait around and get the word
You see the picture changing everything you've heard
Destroying you with this must be the one you love
Must be the one whose magic touch can change your mind
Don't let another day go by without the magic touch

Destroying you (change your mind)
Embracing you (change your mind)
Protecting you (change your mind)
Confining you (change your mind)

Embracing you (change your mind)
Convincing you (change your mind)

it's ok if life isn't perfect - that's not what we're striving for. it's a heart-breaking song, if you hear young singing to the grave of his creative son, cobain.

young's encore was like a hurricane, one of the best songs out there and showing that there's a third option: after all these years, young's still burning.

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