neil and the queen

Neil Young’s new album ‘Americana’ (Warner Music) arrives this week with perfect timing hot on the heels of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Young and his long-time collaborators Crazy Horse have revisited the folk songs of America.

And also managed to include a version of the British national anthem, ‘God Save The Queen,’ which as a Canadian he sang every day at school.

Listening to Young on a ‘Front Row’ special on BBC Radio 4 last night, I was struck by how rarely I had heard his speaking voice.

He’s not a regular on the chat circuit, so it was refreshing to hear him speak at length about his music and his life as an artist dating back five decades.

When I was about 15, one of my friends introduced me to Neil Young through the solo albums ‘Harvest’ and ‘After The Goldrush’ and the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young record ‘Deja Vu,’ all of which we would listen to endlessly at his house.

So whenever I hear those songs start up, and NY’s distinctive tones hit my ears, I’m whisked back in time.

Young strikes me, and the interview on ‘Front Row’ confirmed this, as someone who has always been led by the music rather than by any commercial considerations.

If it happens to be popular, then great. If not, that’s just the way it is.

Perhaps most interestingly, he talked about the imminent digital technology he’s helped develop, which will allow us listeners to hear records as their creators intend.

Wading through the compressed world of mp3 and cd,  this is a moment that can’t come too soon.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse – God Save The Queen

Neil Young – Heart Of Gold

Neil Young – official website

Front Row special on Neil Young – BBC iPlayer

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