Neil Young - There's Something Happening

Neil Young

by Sandy Graham

“When I was young and on my own” (lyrics from "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" - "After the Goldrush")

Neil (Percival) Young was born in Toronto on November 12, 1945.Young first became interested in music in 1958 when his father, renowned sports columnist Scott Young, bought him a ukulele for Christmas. Later, when his parents separated, Neil moved to Winnipeg with his mother where he became interested in learning to play the banjo and eventually the guitar. At Kelvin High in the early 1960s he played in a group called The Squires. In the fall of 1962, Young dropped out of school to write songs and play music as a full-time career.

In 1964, Young moved back to Toronto, where he joined Ricky James and the Mynah Birds, who broke up after making a record in Detroit. Young then went on to join Danny and the Memories, who had a small hit with "Can’t Help Lovin’ That Girl Of Mine” on Valiant Records (1964). Young then made the move to Los Angeles with bassist (the late) Bruce Palmer, where he met Stephen Stills and Richie Furay – this was the formation of Buffalo Springfield.

“There’s something happening here” (For What It’s Worth –Buffalo Springfield)

For the next two years Young was a member of Buffalo Springfield, but when the band fell apart, he decided it was time to start his own solo efforts and formed a back-up group, The Rockets, which became Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse consisted of Danny Whitten on lead guitar, Billy Talbot on bass guitar and Ralph Molina on drums. Later on, Nils Lofgren and Frank Sampredo joined on organ and rhythm guitar, respectively. They were joined often on stage by their legendary producer, Jack Nitzsche (piano).

“By the time we got to Woodstock” (Woodstock – Crosby Stills Nash & Young)

In August of 1969, Young joined the already successful Crosby Stills & Nash and played the Concert that would change the music world, WOODSTOCK. It was not long after that the Kent State Shootings (sometimes referred to as the Kent State Massacre) occurred on May 4 1970. One of the most outspoken songwriters of this era and calling was Neil Young. Young expressed his opinion at every opportunity . In his song “Ohio”, he expresses both his opinions about the war, and about a specific event that took place on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio. Young says “"It's still hard to believe I had to write this song. It's ironic that I capitalized on the death of these American students. Probably the most important lesson ever learned at an American place of learning. David Crosby cried after this take."

“I’ve been to Hollywood, I’ve been to Redwood” (Heart of Gold-Neil Young)

The association with Crosby Stills Nash & Young lasted a mere two years before Young decided to return to Crazy Horse.(CSNY reunited briefly in the summer of 1974. From 1970 onwards, Neil Young established himself as one of North America’s top singer-songwriter performers. In addition he wrote soundtracks for such movies as The Landlord (1970) and The Strawberry Statement (1970). In 1972 he achieved his first # 1 hit with “Heart of Gold” recorded in Nashville, Tennessee with The Stray Gators. This recording also yielded two other hit songs, “Old Man” and “The Needle and the Damage Done”.

“Come a little bit closer hear what I have to say” (Harvest Moon-Neil Young)

Young is also an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and small farmers having co-founded in 1985 the benefit concert FARM AID and in 1986 he helped found The Bridge School and it’s annual supporting Bridge School Benefit Concerts, together with his wife, Pegi. Neil Young’s involvement stems at least partially from the fact that both his songs have cerebral palsy and his daughter, like himself, has epilepsy.

Although Neil Young sings as frequently about American themes and subjects as he does about his native country, Canada, he, to this day, remains a Canadian citizen and has never wanted to give up his Canadian citizenship.

The appointments also include honours for hockey great Mario Lemieux, who is elevated to officer, while former Montreal Canadiens captain Emile (Butch) Bouchard, who led the NHL team to four Stanley Cup titles, becomes a member.