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The Cody Blog: NMF, Flashback Edition: Neil Young

Friday, January 20, 2006

NMF, Flashback Edition: Neil Young

My mom is an amazing concert classical pianist. My older brother is an incredible guitarist. But for some reason, I totally rejected music throughout my youth. Refused to take piano. Refused to be in the school band. Just didn't feel right to me.

I told the story awhile ago about how I became a musician. Logistically-speaking that is. But the reason I fell in love with music is simple: Neil Young.

I worked as a real estate appraiser as my summer, christmas, and spring break jobs during college. My boss, my mentor, my friend, Rod Adamson is, like my mom and brother, a fantastic musician. He'd played in rock bands in college and knew the music of the 70s like nobody else. He sent me home with a Neil Young tape at some point during that first summer. And it changed my life. Made me passionate about music and guitar.

That tape was Neil Young's Year of the Horse, a collection of 12 live songs. There's just so much dissonance, rock, grunge, even ugliness to some of the songs, that they jump out of the speakers, grab your head and shake it. Then they mush your face like a chump who just got dunked on. The guitar man. The guitar.

Then I took home Ragged Glory. F****n' Up is such a classic rock song, as Crazy Horse gently asks "Why do I-i-i?" and finally Neil comes in and prods you, dares you to answer his rhetorical question: "Why do I keep fucking up?!"

And Love and Only Love -- a ten minute lifeboat ride as the ship sinks next to you and you're wondering if you're going to make it to that deserted island. (The song does however, in some ways, sound remarkably like the other 10 minute song on the tape, Love to Burn.)

Neil's a true rock star. He's kept it real always. I highly recommend the Jim Jaramusch documentary about Neil and Crazy Horse's tour from Year of the Horse. You see Neil's passion, perfectionism, and especially his business savvy throughout.

After I bought Decade when I returned to school at the end of the summer, I always told people that you can't listen to Neil Young and be in a bad mood. Even his most depressing songs, say Needle and the Damage Done, make me happy when I hear them.

It's not that Neil hasn't had some losers in his life. Everybody's Rockin comes to mind.

But going through rough spots, exploring new ideas, even when they fail --- and persevering through it, working hard, changing and growing all the time...that's what rock stars are supposed to do.

Update: So I've really been on this Neil Young kick ... it went into overdrive the last couple of weeks.

Check out my band, The Cody Show's new whisper-rap cover of his "Don't Let it Bring you Down". In my cover, I sample both his version and the ethereal cover of the same by Annie Lennox, though I play all my own instruments and blues-ify it.

I call my version "Castles Burning". It's sorta Neil Young meets hip hop...or something like that.

Click here to download it for free.


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