What is there left for Neil Young to say?
He emerged as a counter-culture Magic 8-Ball almost predicting a BP oil disaster vision in "Vampire Blues" on 1974's On the Beach, which opens, "I'm a vampire, baby, suckin' blood from the earth." He had cocaine edited out of his nose in post-production by Martin Scorsese, who confessed to snorting the stuff himself while directing what arguably stands as the finest rock concert/band documentary ever: 1977's grand finale by The Band visualized into 1978's The Last Waltz. He has emoted complementing lyrics and melodies like those in "Don't Be Denied" so heartbreakingly good it makes you want to hug your dog and cry.
What does he say in regard to the populist anthems — "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Ohio"? He forgoes amber waves of grain for fist-pumping rockers that both enrage and inspire. And at 66-years-old, Young still has a lot to say.
Young issued Waging Heavy Peace (Blue Rider Press) in September and the rambling 512-page memoir includes diatribes and insights from the poet, prophet and punk's decades in the cultural spotlight.
A reflective Young says he now regrets the scathing and stereotyped "Southern Man" and confirms the beef with the Florida natives in Lynyrd Skynyrd, who returned the volley with the "I hope Neil Young will remember, a Southern man don't need him around anyhow" in their anthem, "Sweet Home Alabama" — was purely pop-culture chatter. Young writes of his "Southern Man" lyrics: "I don't like my words when I listen to it today. They are accusatory and condescending, not fully thought out, and too easy to misconstrue."
We learn of a devoted environmentalist whose enthusiasm for cars includes several bio-diesel vehicles and an electric-car dream that literally went down in flames.
Young's staggering genius came with plenty of struggles and demons. There are many failed relationships, overdoses and artistic misses, such as this summer's concert/film Journeys, another collaboration with filmmaker Jonathan Demme, but one that falls well short of Demme's portrait of Crazy Horse in 1995, The Complex Sessions.
But judging from reviews of the current tour with Crazy Horse and listening to the superb recently released album Psychedelic Pill (accented by a surreal video for the single "Walk Like a Giant"), Young arrives at Voodoo at the top of his game and can let the music speak for itself. — Frank Etheridge