Neil Young


Neil Young Songs That Take My Breath Away

The Number FiveFive Neil Young songs that still take this dude's breath away

  1. Down By The River
  2. Cowgirl In The Sand
  3. Heart Of Gold
  4. Old Man
  5. Cinnamon Girl

On preview, this is a stupid Friday Five. How do I pare this list down to five? Where's "Helpless" or "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" or "Southern Man" or "Harvest Moon"?

Note to self: Delete this entry.

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Only Love Can Break Your Heart and Skates

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» Neil Young - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
» Hayden - Skates
During the long drive home from camping last week, I had my iPod on shuffle. At one point, Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" came on, immediately followed by Hayden's "Skates". The combination struck me as ideal.

Both songs are from great Canadian folk-rockers who aren't afraid of the harmonica and both songs are about heartbreak. "Skates", in particular, never fails to get me with that "I will skate as far as it takes, to bring her back home" line. If you've never heard "Skates" before, you're in for a treat.

It's 2-for-1 Thursday. Get 'em while they're hot.

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The Battle To Be Our Other Anthem

CanadaAjax Mike wrote me a note today calling me out for referring to the Hockey Night in Canada theme as our second national anthem. The song, recently bought by CTV, was referred to as "our second national anthem" by yours truly in this recent entry.

Ajax Mike has a good memory, and he remembers this entry I wrote almost three years ago. In that entry I argued that Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World" is our other national anthem, or our second national anthem, if you will.

On July 2nd of this year, Canada's Live 8 concert took place in Barrie, Ontario. Neil Young closed the show with three fantastic songs, ending with "Rockin' In The Free World". Joining him for this song were the other performers from the Barenaked Ladies to Blue Rodeo and The Tragically Hip. Here's a photo of Neil Young and Gord Downie singing this tune.

On September 19th of this year, Pearl Jam sang Neil Young's "Rockin' In The Free World" during their second and final encore of that night in Toronto, Ontario. Joining him on stage was none other than Bono of U2, creating a moment for the ages. Here's a photo of Eddie Vedder and Bono singing this tune.

Something has to give. Which one of these tunes is our second national anthem? Is it "The Hockey Theme" or "Rockin' In The Free World"?

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The Longest Neil Young Songs

The Number FiveLongest Neil Young songs in my collection

  1. Change Your Mind - 14:40
  2. Natural Beauty - 10:23
  3. Cowgirl in the Sand - 10:09
  4. The Last Trip to Tulsa - 9:27
  5. Down By The River - 9:20

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Piece of Crap

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Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Piece of Crap
I remember Q107 playing this Sleeps with Angels cut and I instantly liked the punky simplicity of it. For the past several years, this song has been a bit of an inside joke with my friend Scott and I. If something wasn't working as it should, usually a piece of Microsoft software, we'd rant about it in "Piece of Crap"-like fashion and conclude that it was "a piece of crap... PIECE OF CRAP!"

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My Favourite Greatest Hits Collections

cdGreatest Hits albums are a great way to introduce yourself to a musician, especially when you're too young to appreciate the meat of an artist's career. I was just reading a list of the best "best of" albums, and it got me thinking about my favourite "Greatest Hits" collections.

Neil  Young - DecadeNeil Young - Decade

Why It Mattered
In the 1980s, I was a member of Columbia House. You got a bunch of CDs for a penny if you bought a certain amount at regular price over the next few years or something like that. From Columbia House, I ordered Neil Young's double album Decade and I was smitten. If you don't know Neil, start with this compilation and fall in love.

Alice in Chains - Greatest HitsAlice In Chains - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
Only ten songs deep, this is Dirt and more. If I just want a power punch of 90s nostalgia, this is my go-to album. Everyone talks about Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. Alice In Chains belongs in that group.

The Beatles - 1962-1966The Beatles - Red and Blue double albums

Why It Mattered
The red one covered 1962–1966 and the blue one covered 1967-1970 and if you missed the 60s this was an awesome way to familiarize oneself with the Beatles catalogue. Four CDs in total, all the hits are here from arguably the best band in the history of rock n' roll.

Blue Rodeo - Greatest HitsBlue Rodeo - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
I started out as a Blue Rodeo fan. I loved "Try" and "Diamond Mine", but then I lost track of these guys. Maybe I felt they were a little too country for me, I dunno, but this fantastic greatest hits compilation reminded me how awesome Blue Rodeo are.

Alice Cooper - Greatest HitsAlice Cooper - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
In the late 80s and very early 90s I would hang at Joe's where his brother Frank would show off their stereo that actually went to 11. They cranked a lot of Ozzy and Van Halen and Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits. The Ozzy was alright and the Van Halen was okay, but the Alice Cooper struck a chord. I still love this album.

Rolling Stones - Hot RocksThe Rolling Stones - Hot Rocks

Why It Mattered
For people born in the 70s or later, Hot Rocks should be a prescribed rite of passage. My father had this double album in vinyl and that's when I first discovered it. It's hit laden, as you can imagine, and even though I don't consider myself a Rolling Stones fan today, I most definitely was for a few years in the 80s thanks to Hot Rocks.

James Taylor - Greatest HitsJames Taylor - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
This is actually the only James Taylor album I own and I don't feel compelled to buy another. "Sweet Baby James", song #4 on this compact disc, had such an impact on me, I named my first born son after it.

Simon and Garfunkel - Greatest HitsSimon & Garfunkel - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
Such sweet melodies, such a wonderful blend of voices, such American classics. I had to to play a little catch-up here so I delved into their Greatest Hits while in high school. Their recordings are just so damn pretty I'd pause Appetite for Destruction just to chill to "The Sounds of Silence".

Kenny Rogers - Greatest HitsKenny Rogers - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Why does Kenny Roger's Greatest Hits matter? It's all right here in black and white. When it comes to the music you like, where you come from will always play a role.

Bob Marley - LegendBob Marley - Legend

Why It Mattered
Speaking of rites of passage, Legend from Bob Marley is essential listening for every teenager. I've since accumulated several other Bob Marley albums, but I still find myself going back to Legend when I'm in the mood for a little reggae.

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Skynyrds InnyrdsLynyrd Skynyrd - Skynyrd's Innyrds

Why It Mattered
I must confess, for a period in the early 90s, I really got into "Free Bird". There's a ten minute outtake version that appears on Skynyrd's Innyrds that I would play over and over and over again. I'm not ashamed to admit I still love that version.

Janis Joplin - Greatest HitsJanis Joplin - Greatest Hits

Why It Mattered
I'm still searching for a female voice in rock that can do what Janis did. Some say Pearl is all you need from Janis, but Pearl doesn't have "Piece of My Heart" or "Summertime".

Billy Idol - Vital IdolBilly Idol - Vital Idol

Why It Mattered
Between Duran Duran and Guns N' Roses, there was Billy Idol. Billy Idol remixed the hits form his first two albums and released Vital Idol in 1987. Actually, I'm told it came out in 1985, but I didn't buy the cassette until 1987. I've since picked up the CD (which is now ripped to MP3) because it is, after all, vital Idol.

The Best of the Guess WhoThe Guess Who - The Best of the Guess Who

Why It Mattered
As a kid, I really only knew "American Woman" and "These Eyes" until I heard "Share the Land" on Q107. I needed to hear what else these Winnipeggers were up to as they paved the way for the many Canadian bands I already had in my Walkman. This album introduced me to "Laughing", "No Time", "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature" and other fantastic Cummings / Bachman classics.

CCR - ChronicleCreedence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle

Why It Mattered
CCR was an absolutely brilliant rock band with that swampy Southern feel. If you're about my age, or younger, this is really all you need. It's 20 of their best singles essential listening for anyone with a pulse.

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City and Colour's Cowgirl in the Sand

musicNeil Young rules. It's as simple as that. The man is a living legend.

Borrowed Tunes II: A Tribute To Neil Young was released last month, but I haven't heard it yet. I have heard City and Colour's cover of "Cowgirl In The Sand" and I dig it. That's one of my favourite Neil Young songs, but I like what Dallas Green has done with it. It's completely stripped down, and if you just listen to the guitar, it sounds like a Hayden song.

I'm sure Neil Young purists will blow a gasket when they hear this tune. Neil Young is so unique, he's difficult to cover. With Bob Dylan you get a great song writer that other singers cover to create great songs. With Neil Young, you get a great song writer where the cover is rarely as good as the original. In fact, other than a couple from Pearl Jam, I can't think of a Neil Young cover that really does him justice.

You can hear City and Colour's version of "Cowgirl In The Sand" here or you can watch the live performance below.

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My Ten Favourite Canadian Albums

cdEarlier today, I wrote about my inherent disadvantage when compiling a list of this nature. Below are my ten favourite Canadian albums of all-time, but you won't find Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Rush or The Guess Who. You also won't find The Band, Leonard Cohen or Gordon Lightfoot. I kept this list to actual albums I enjoyed and banned all greatest hits collections.

I'm listing these here in no particular order. You may commence judging my ten favourite Canadian albums..... now. If you're interested, I also recently listed the top 100 Canadian songs of all-time, and that list has lots of Neil, Joni, Leonard and Gordon.

Fully CompletelyThe Tragically Hip - Fully Completely

Favourite Tracks:
"At the Hundredth Meridian"
"Wheat Kings"
"Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)"


SmearedSloan - Smeared

Favourite Tracks:
"Underwhelmed"
"Take It In"
"500 Up"


gordonBarenaked Ladies - Gordon

Favourite Tracks:
"Brian Wilson"
"If I Had $1000000"
"Be My Yoko Ono"


Love JunkThe Pursuit of Happiness - Love Junk

Favourite Tracks:
"I'm an Adult Now"
"She's So Young"
"Hard to Laugh"


Everything I Long ForHayden - Everything I Long For

Favourite Tracks:
"Bad As They Seem"
"In September"
"Tragedy"


Shakespeare My ButtThe Lowest of the Low - Shakespeare My Butt

Favourite Tracks:
"Henry Needs a New Pair of Shoes"
"Eternal Fatalist"
"Bleed a Little While Tonight"


Symphony in EffectMaestro Fresh-Wes - Symphony in Effect

Favourite Tracks:
"Let Your Backbone Slide"
"Drop the Needle"
"Tear it Up"


FlukeRusty - Fluke

Favourite Tracks:
"Groovy Dead"
"Wake Me"
"Misogyny"


Up To HereThe Tragically Hip - Up to Here

Favourite Tracks:
"Blow at High Dough"
"New Orleans Is Sinking"
"38 Years Old"


FuneralArcade Fire - Funeral

Favourite Tracks:
"Wake Up"
"Rebellion (Lies)"
"Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"

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Neil Young - Mr. Soul (Unplugged)

MP3I share an MP3 from my collection every Wednesday. You have seven days to grab this week's MP3. Please right-click your mouse and select "Save Link As..." or "Save target as..." so you can download it to your PC before playing.

Neil Young - Mr. Soul (Unplugged)
I forgot to share an MP3 yesterday. The past few weeks are a blur... Luckily for you, a reader reminded me I hadn't thrown down a weekly MP3 and a request was made for some Neil Young. This is from his Unplugged album and goes back to his Buffalo Springfield days.

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O Canada at Live 8

canadaOne of my YouTube favourites is the closing footage from Live 8 in Barrie back in the summer of 2005. Neil Young closed and Gord, Gordon, Bruce, Steven, Ed, Greg, Jim and other Canadian musicians joined him for Rockin' In The Free World.

As amazing as that was, it got better. Steven Page started to sing O Canada and everyone joined in. It's totally chilling and patriotic and I love it. If this doesn't warm you up for tomorrow, nothing will.


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