Wednesday, August 12, 2015

X-Y-Z is for Neil Young

     Neil Young has been producing great music for more than the entire 51 years of my life.

     His career began way back in the early 1960s with a band Called Buffalo Springfield.  This band had a big hit with the Vietnam protest song called, For What It's Worth.  Buffalo Springfield was a supergroup of sorts, with other members such as Stephen Stills (Crosby, Stills and Nash), Richie Furay and Jim Messina (Poco, for both and Loggins and Messina, for Jim Messina) all finding personal and collaborative success in the wake of Buffalo Springfield's demise after a few short years.  But, the door was not entirely closed on Buffalo Springfield because, in 1997, it was elected to the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.
     Eventually, as the 1960s drew to a close, Stills called upon Neil Young to join his new group that he had formed with David Crosby and Graham Nash so, they formed Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. CSNY enjoyed hits such as Teach Your ChildrenOhio and Helpless. This group was at the forefront of the 1960s "Flower power" movement and helped cement Young's reputation as a political singer who was unafraid to state his opinions, through his songs, on a wide range of issues.

     After CSNY broke up, Neil Young went on to forge one of the most consistently successful careers in all of music. Regardless of whether he was playing in styles such as folk, country or rock, Young created iconic hit songs such as Old Man, After the Gold Rush, Needle and the Damage Done, Cinnamon Girl, Harvest Moon, Southern Man, Rockin' in the Free World, Hey, Hey, My, My, HurricaneLong May You Run and Only Love Can Break Your Heart, all of which are acknowledged as being classics of the Rock n' Roll era.

    Politically and personally, Neil Young has devoted a lot of his energy and his fame toward various causes which struck close to his heart such as the Farm Aid concerts. He helped to found The Bridge School, for children with severe physical and/or developmental difficulties and helped to organize the highly successful benefit concerts that are held yearly to aid the school. He has, also, spoken out against corporate sponsorship of rock music and those who cause damage to our environment.  Consequently, Neil Young has always appeared a little "rough around the edges" from a music industry perspective.  He is a non-conformist with regard to the powers-that-be but a populist performer with his fans and admirers.

     Neil Young has earned many awards over the course of his legendary career including, being elected to the Rock n' Roll hall of Fame TWICE!! (Once, as a member of Buffalo Springfield and once for his work as a solo performer.)  He has been elected to The Canadian Music Hall of Fame and has a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto. Young has been nominated for 28(!) Juno Awards, winning seven. He is a member of The Order of Manitoba and an Officer of The Order of Canada.
He has been deemed, along with Bob Dylan, as being the greatest living songwriter of all time.  And, all I really can say about all of this is that Neil Young was writing hit songs when I was a toddler, learning my letters and numbers......and, he is still as relevant today, as he was back then, an entire lifetime ago.  What an amazing performer!  What an amazing career!

     A big tip of the hat to our final group of performers...those whose names begin with an "X", a "Y" or a "Z":

     Singer, Alfie Zappacosta, Olympic songbird, Nikki Yanovsky, Guitarist, Zal Yanovsky (of The Lovin' Spoonful), Country star, Lori Yates, Mr. Joel Zimmerman aka, Deadmau5, Alt-rock band, Yukon Blonde, Juno Award-winning folk singers, Zubot and Dawson, Indie rock band, The Zolas,  Montreal alternative band, Young Galaxy, Indie band, Young Empires, Alt-rock band, Zeus and, finally, one of the founding fathers of Canadian punk rock, Young Canadians aka, the K-tels!

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