Sometimes I wish I had a rhyme or reason for some of the things I do. I love me some Neil Young, but have no idea what moved me to do this tonight. Yes, these songs in particular are like a soundtrack to my time in high school and college, as they were in the 70s, and myself, Candy, Jay, Verne and Ed were listening to this music while at Smyrna High School, and I brought it with me to college.
But Neil Young was born in Canada in 1945, and by the time he was 15, he was performing solo material. In 1966, he made the move to California to be a part of Buffalo Springfield, and by 1970 had joined Crosby, Stills and Nash to make a quartet, adding Young to the title. As part of the agreement, he also was able to make solo music during that period. In 1970, Young released his third solo album, After The Gold Rush, and scored his first hit on the charts with Only Love Can Break Your Heart. He made it to #33 on the Billboard chart with the achingly heartfelt song.
As a song on the 1970 Déja Vu album for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Helpless wasn't released, although Young enjoyed performing iit. He played it with The Band for their last concert, The Last Waltz, which was also a fantastic movie released in 1978, the year I graduated from Smyrna High. I went with my friends to see it when it came out, before we all went out separate ways. If you pay attention to the video, you see the outrageously talented Joni Mitchell singing backup.
His 1972 solo release Harvest was a seminal album for Young. Although not released as a single, one of my favorite songs was The Needle And The Damage Done. In it, Young discusses the toll drug abuse, and heroin in particular, has on the culture of the time.
The first single off Harvest was Heart of Gold, and it also marked Young's first and only solo trip to @1 on the Billboard US Chart. On the original track, the background vocals were sung by James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. In 2005, CBC Radio named it the #3 greatest Canadian song of all time.
The 1979 album Rust Never Sleeps was another strong one for Young. The song Hey Hey My My had two versions, with the first, the rock one, subtitled (Into the Black) and the final cut on the album was the acoustic version subtitled (Into the Blue). The song spoke to Young's own career seemingly becoming somewhat irrelevant but the song, especially the rock version, introduced him to a new generation of fans, and revitalized him. Here he performed it at the 1985 Farm Aid concert, which he helped to organize.
While Young has not officially retired, he is certainly seen performing in public less frequently than he once had, although he did perform at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. For more about Young, you can check out his official website here.