I hadn’t much listened to Neil Young until recently. For Christmas I bought my girlfriend a newly issued live Young recording, and soon realized exactly what I had been missing. When people had referred to Young – bands that I like, and friends that are fans – I had just nodded, and hadn’t bothered to correct this massive hole in my musical knowledge.
Often, the music that we listen to from the last century is the music of our childhood. Those bands and songs form a closed repertoire of jealously guarded gems, that cannot be changed or added to in later years. This music is the soundtrack of those years, and alone is capable of hitting the rawest nerves; affecting its listener in so many ways that other music cannot. It is a subjective zeitgeist. I had known that my girlfriend had always loved Neil Young, she had listened to him throughout her childhood, but I still hadn’t taken the time to listen to him. So I did.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. In his music I heard the predecessor of so many bands and artists that I’ve always loved: I felt I’d discovered the missing link. I’ve always loved getting to know bands from the past that I’ve always heard of but never actually listened to. It’s a spine-tingling experience that inevitably ends up with me realizing, along with countless others before me, just why they were so good. It reminded me that I don’t need any new music – there’s already so much out there that I haven’t heard, that I feel I need to listen to first.
All of my favourite bands are long dead and gone and they haven’t been bettered since; this is why I’m reviewing a Neil Young recording from a 1992 concert (by the way – great album, 8 out of 10) and not something new.
By Thomas Callaby