Tag Archives: Neil Young

Presidents Day Top 40

Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson – they’re here. This Presidents Day playlist kicks off with one of the Bushes. Kate.

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The Song Retains The Name

Winston + Bobby Brown
Today is Bobby Brown’s 46th birthday. A former member of New Edition, Brown had his first solo hit in 1988 with “Don’t Be Cruel,” which reached #8 on the Hot 100. Though it shares its title with an Elvis Presley #1 hit from 1956, Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel” is not a remake.

That brings us to today’s playlist, which I call The Song Retains the Name. It consists of different songs with the same title. I initially planned to include twenty such songs, but more kept springing to mind. Before I knew it, I passed 100 entries. There are plenty more, so I decided to open this up to my reader(s). If you have songs that share titles you’d like to add, feel free to do so.

(NOTES: I included The Jacksons’ “This Place Hotel” because when it was released in 1980 its title was “Heartbreak Hotel.” Thought he didn’t have to, Michael Jackson, the song’s writer, later changed its name to “This Place Hotel” to avoid confusion with the Elvis Presley song “Heartbreak Hotel.” Whitney Houston didn’t feel the need to make the same Hotel accommodation.

Also, though it is listed on Spotify as “The Best of My Love,” the Eagles track does not have a “The” on the 45 or the band’s On the Border album.)

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Neil Young’s Homophobia and AIDS-phobia

“You go to a supermarket and you see a faggot behind the fuckin’ cash register, you don’t want him to handle your potatoes.” – Neil Young in Melody Maker, September 1985

It sucks when anybody makes an ignorant and offensive statement, particularly when it’s somebody the public eye. For this post I‘ll focus on homophobia (and related AIDS-phobia).

It sucks when Pat Boone says children are being “indoctrinated with an appreciation for homosexuality,” but that didn’t hurt me too much as Pat Boone is a talentless has-been who built his career on taking songs recorded by Little Richard and Fats Domino and making them safe for uptight white folks. I wasn’t his target audience (notwithstanding that I wasn’t born yet when he rose to fame).

It sucks when Donny Osmond says he condemns homophobia and opposes gay marriage, but at least he’s (inadvertently) condemning himself, thereby saving me the trouble. Also, he’s marginally more talented and slightly less of a has-been than Pat Boone, and while I love “Morning Side of the Mountain,” if someone told me I had to delete all Osmonds recordings from my iTunes library, I wouldn’t put up much of a fight.

It sucks that Eminem’s new song has the lyric “Happy as Anderson Cooper having a tuba crammed in his pooper.” It’s not so much that it’s homophobic per se. It’s that a 42-year-old feels he has to resort to such juvenilia to feel relevant and not see his career go the way of Pat Boone and Donny Osmond. He doesn’t need to stoop to this. He still sells truckloads of records, despite having made only one or two good singles in the past decade. He could probably keep coasting for a while. And seriously, a tuba? That doesn’t even rhyme.

It sucks that The Beastie Boys wanted to title their first album Don’t Be a Faggot, with a couple of song lyrics that were interpreted as homophobic. However, in 1999 the trio’s Ad-Rock sent a letter to Time Out New York that read “I would like to … formally apologize to the entire gay and lesbian community for the shitty and ignorant things we said on our first record, 1986′s Licensed to Ill. There are no excuses. But time has healed our stupidity. … We hope that you’ll accept this long overdue apology.”

It’s odd that director Jonathan Demme reached out to Neil Young to compose and record a theme song for his 1993 film Philadelphia. Demme told The Toledo Blade that the film was “intended to reach an audience in desperate need of sensitization on the issue of homophobia. We thought how the right movie could help young males – the most rigid of all – open up to the humanity and courage of gay people. So I had this idea that I would start it off with a giant Neil Young guitar anthem and it would relax all the young uptight homophobic guys.” So he asked a guy who thought AIDS was spread via potatoes touched by faggots. Young recorded a song for the film, and while it wasn’t the anthem Demme was expecting (Bruce Springsteen ended up providing that), it fit the film well and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, which it lost to Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia.”

I don’t recall Neil Young ever apologizing for his boneheaded homophobic and AIDS-phobic remarks; however, I don’t recall him making similar statements since the mid-eighties, and that may be better than an apology.

In his 2002 biography of Neil Young, Shakey, Jimmy McDonough writes “I had found out that Young was planning on donating the proceeds from the ‘Philadelphia’ track to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis center. He acknowledged it was true but didn’t seem anxious to publicize the fact. I got the feeling there were other chartable acts I didn’t know about. ‘I’m not trying to score any social points,’ he said.”

Today Neil Young turns 69 years old. Here are twenty career highlights. (NOTE – “Philadelphia” is not on Spotify.)

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Songs Of Great Social And Political Import (1980 – 2011)

Ringo + Maniacs
Today is the birthday of Natalie Merchant, former lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs, whose 1987 album In My Tribe is one of my favorites. The album opens with “What’s the Matter Here,” a song that addresses child abuse. That inspired the theme of today’s playlist – songs about social or political issues.

While such recordings seemed more commonplace on the radio in the sixties and early seventies, there remain plenty of songs that speak to topical issues. I decided to make 1980 my starting point, with that year’s “Biko” by Peter Gabriel being the oldest song on the list. As the studio version is not on Spotify I used a live recording. The most recent recording included is Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” from 2011. Lots of great songs of different genres about a variety of topics populate the program. If you’re so inclined, let me know what favorites of yours I missed.

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The Coolest Thing About Willie Nelson

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is his non-conformity. A country music legend who, unlike many of his peers, isn’t always seen in a cowboy hat and who supports progressive positions on marriage equality (pro), the war in Iraq (anti), the legalization of marijuana (pro) and solar power (pro).

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is his compassion. He is the president of Farm Aid and in 1985, with Neil Young and John Mellencamp, set up the series of Farm Aid concerts that raised over $9 million for American farmers in its first year. He is on the Board of Directors of the Animal Welfare Institute and has campaigned for the better treatment of horses as well as for calves raised to produce milk for dairy products.

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is this photo:


The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is his hit “On the Road Again.”

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is that he charted with a cover of “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond Of Each Other” as Brokeback Mountain was doing well at the box office.

The coolest thing about Willie Nelson is that he wrote “Crazy” and “Funny How Time Slips Away” and “Hello Walls.”

Willie Nelson is cool. Today he turns 81. Here is a small sampling of his work.

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Winston + NIrvana 002

“I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.”
– Kurt Cobain

“That kid has heart.”
– Bob Dylan

“He had a touch most guitarists would kill for.”
– Chuck Berry

“His music is powerful, very intense. That sort of power is rare. You hate to lose somebody like that, someone who keeps the music alive and moving ahead. Not many guys like him come along.”
– Bruce Springsteen

“Nobody dies a virgin. Life fucks us all.”
– Kurt Cobain

“I went to see Nirvana at a small club called the Pyramid on Avenue A in New York City. It was hard to hear the guitar, but the guy playing and singing had a vibe; he hopped around like a muppet or an elf or something, hunched over his guitar, hop hop hop, hippety hippety hop. I loved that. When he sang, he put his voice in this really grating place, and it was kind of devilish sounding. At the end of the set he attacked the drum kit and threw the cymbals, other bits and finally himself into the audience. Later I saw the same guy passing the bar. He was little, with stringy blond hair and a Stooges T-shirt. I felt proud.”
– Iggy Pop

“Nirvana was the first band in years that I really loved… They were the band I felt a lot of hope for, for the whole music scene.”
– Patti Smith

“If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of a different color, or women, please do this one favor for us… Don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.”
– Kurt Cobain

“He really, really inspired me. He was so great. Wonderful. One of the best, but more than that. Kurt was one of the absolute best of all time for me.”
– Neil Young

“Such a beautiful flame never burns very long. The really brilliant flames seem to consume themselves, and then they’re gone. Maybe Kurt was meant to be here long enough to put us on the right path.”
– Tom Petty

“If you’re really a mean person you’re going to come back as a fly and eat poop.”
– Kurt Cobain

“Nirvana made everything else look silly.”
– Bono

“Cobain was very shy, very polite, and obviously enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t awestruck at meeting him. There was something about him, fragile and engagingly lost.”
– William S. Burroughs

“Birds scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don’t speak bird.”
– Kurt Cobain

“He was an incredible writer and an incredible singer. And when I met him I found him to be a very special person. He was one of those special people. There was a light inside him that you could see. He had a charisma that went beyond his physical presence.”
– PJ Harvey

“I am not gay, though I wish I were, just to piss off homophobes.”
– Kurt Cobain

“The only person I have any respect for as a songwriter over the last 10 years is Kurt Cobain. He was the perfect cross between Lennon and McCartney. He belted it out like Lennon, but his melodies were so Paul McCartney.”
– Noel Gallagher

“Remember Kurt for what he was: caring, generous and sweet.”
– Krist Novoselic

“I still dream about Kurt. Every time I see him in a dream, I’ll be amazed and I get this feeling that everyone else thinks he’s dead. It always feels totally real, probably because I’m a very vivid dreamer. But, in my dreams, Kurt’s usually been hiding – we’ll get together and I’ll end up asking him, “God, where have you been”
– Dave Grohl

“If you die you’re completely happy and your soul somewhere lives on. I’m not afraid of dying. Total peace after death, becoming someone else is the best hope I’ve got.”
– Kurt Cobain

kurtFebruary 20, 1967 – April 5, 1994

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