NEIL YOUNG AND THE DAMAGE DONE | The Godfather of Grunge’s Early Years

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A historical record of artistry, anarchy, alchemy & authenticity.

December 1969, San Diego, California, USA --- Neil Young plays his vintage Gretsch White Falcon during a sound check at Balboa Stadium just before a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert. --- Image by © Henry Diltz
December 1969, San Diego-- Neil Young plays his Gretsch White Falcon during a sound check at Balboa Stadium before a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert. -- Image by © Henry Diltz
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Over his long and storied career, Neil Young has explored and influenced a wide range of musical styles– but it’s his early days that I love the most.  There’s an ache and an angst in Young’s voice that resonates, and his guitar playing feels bare, matter of fact, and honest.  Neil Young is often referred to as “The Godfather of Grunge” for the impact and influence he had on the grunge scene– Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain in particular.  Cobain even went as far to quote Neil Young in his suicide note– using the line “It’s better to burn out, than to fade away” from Young’s song “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)”.
Not everyone is a Neil Young fan, I guess you either get it, or you don’t.  I’m sure it has something do with our very different upbringings, but sadly– my wife is not a Neil Young fan.  It pains me to say it.  She’s definitely a more refined and accomplished artist than I, musically speaking– and his nasally tone (her words, not mine) is not exactly her speed.   We also part ways when it comes to Lucinda Williams– who my wife not-so-lovingly refers to as “that warbly bar hag”.  Ouch.
As a child of the 70s, and raised in a very, eh-hem, “progressive” family that always had the stereo playing– music (and the artist’s story behind it) became extremely personal and important to me.  I would comb through the stacks of records and ingest the lyrics, images and liner notes.
I remember becoming strangely intrigued by the “Southern Man” record responses, feud, or whatever you want to call it– that went on between Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  I remember feeling like I had to pick a side– plant my flag with either Neil, or the Skynyrd boys.  Life had to be black and white then as a kid.  I hadn’t yet fully learned of the ambiguous grey matter that (consciously and subconsciously) fills the cracks in our adult judgements, personas and so-called principles.
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December 1969, San Diego-- David Crosby, Neil Young, and Stephen Stills.  Crosby, Stills, and Nash were formed in the late sixties from members of The Hollies, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield.  CSN collaborated with Neil Young occasionally, and racked up many hits in the 60s & 70s. Young went on to create more critically acclaimed music with Crazy Horse and his many solo albums. --- Image by © Henry Diltz
December 1969, San Diego-- David Crosby, Neil Young, and Stephen Stills. Crosby, Stills, and Nash were formed in the late sixties from members of The Hollies, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield. CSN collaborated with Neil Young occasionally, and racked up many hits in the 60s & 70s. Young went on to create more critically acclaimed music with Crazy Horse and his many solo albums. --- Image by © Henry Diltz
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July, 12th 1970--  David Crosby smokes "something" in the backstage bathroom while Neil Young looks on.  -- Image by © Henry Diltz
July, 12th 1970 --- David Crosby smokes a cigarette, of sorts, in a backstage bathroom as Neil Young looks on. --- Image by © Henry Diltz
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July 12th, 1970-- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young rehearse backstage before a concert. -- Image by © Henry Diltz
July 12th, 1970-- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young rehearse backstage before a concert. -- Image by © Henry Diltz
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12 Jul 1970-- Stephen Stills and Neil Young hanging out backstage. -- Image by © Henry Diltz
July 12th, 1970-- Stephen Stills and Neil Young hanging out backstage. -- Image by © Henry Diltz
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June 1971, California --- Neil Young at his northern California ranch with his dog. --- Image by © Henry Diltz
June 1971, California --- Neil Young at his northern California ranch with his dog. --- Image by © Henry Diltz
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May 27th, 1971 --- Neil Young jokingly offers his dog a toke. --- Image by © Henry Diltz
May 27th, 1971 --- Neil Young jokingly offers his dog a toke. --- Image by © Henry Diltz
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Neil Young driving an old Jeep on his Broken Arrow Ranch --- Image by Henry Diltz
Neil Young driving an old Jeep on his Broken Arrow Ranch --- Image by © Henry Diltz
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Neil Young
1973 --- Neil Young home on the ranch, playing his Strat. --- Image by © Henry Diltz
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Neil YoungNeil Young
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July 15th, 1974, San Francisco-- Neil Young and Stephen Stills --Image by © Neal Preston
July 15th, 1974, San Francisco-- Neil Young and Stephen Stills --Image by © Neal Preston
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San Francisco, July 15th, 1974 --- Neil Young holds his son Zeke at a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert. --- Image by © Neal Preston
San Francisco, July 15th, 1974 --- Neil Young holds his son Zeke at a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young concert. --- Image by © Neal Preston
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Neil Young may be a control freak, a recluse, a guy who will fire a band on a whim, and an obsessive perfectionist (how long have we been waiting for his Archives box set?), but one thing about Young emerges: Neil Young loves his family. Nowhere is this more evident during Young’s account of his son Ben’s first few years. A nonoral quadriplegic, Ben Young was diagnosed with having cerebral palsy as an infant. After supporting Rust Never Sleeps, Young and his wife Pegi entered a program designed to teach Ben basic motor skills, which involved trying to teach Ben to crawl, for 14 hours a day. Neil and Pegi did this, every day, for an astounding eighteen months. His son’s disability (his first son Zeke, from his marriage to Snodgrass, also suffers from mild cerebral palsy) has inspired Young’s highly successful annual charity concert for the Bridge School in San Francisco, as well as his development of a disabled-friendly remote control for model trains (he eventually bought the Lionel model train company).
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Malibu, 1975 ---  Neil Young enjoying a stroll on the Beach --- Image by © Henry Diltz
Malibu, 1975 --- Neil Young enjoying a stroll on the Beach --- Image by © Henry Diltz

Comments

We went to see Neil Young last night, in a solo concert. It was wonderful! He looks great, sounds great, and played all alone. Tickets were something positive. He played the organ, pump organ, piano, harmonica, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar.
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