Long may you run, Mr. Young

Tim Magaw

When I got home from my father’s funeral at the end of my senior year of high school, I sat down at the computer and started to surf the net looking for anything to lift my spirits.

But when I logged onto my favorite Neil Young fan blog, I read a piece of news that sent a spear through my stomach, making me feel as if I was about to lose another part of my family.

Neil had suffered a near-fatal aneurysm.

Worry spread through my body, and panic set in my bones. I read into every sentence of the short articles that were littered with speculation and absent of any thorough fact of what happened to the star I felt I was on a first-name-basis with.

I sat there pondering what to do, immediately putting on his latest effort, Greendale, a so-called “rock novel” that explored the story of a small family rattled by tragedy and political subversion. When the song “Bandit” came on, the lyrics “Someday, you’ll find everything you’re looking for” struck me.

In fact, I had found what I was looking for: solace.

Neil eventually recovered from the aneurysm — even recording an album in the wake of its aftermath (How’s that for badass?) — and the problems of my own life were set at ease.

This weekend I’m going to see Neil in Detroit. Although I paid almost $200 for a ticket and will be driving almost 200 miles to the second most dangerous city in America to bask in his glory, I can’t say it won’t be worth it.

When Neil is just feet away and pushes on the tremolo of Old Black, his vintage Gibson Les Paul, and the stirring sound of his guitar’s feedback fills the PA system, my heart twitches a little.

It’s the same feeling you get when your girlfriend says she loves you before she hangs up the phone.

It’s the same feeling you get when your 1-year-old niece laughs at something you did.

It’s the same feeling you get when you’re walking home and can’t stop smiling after a four-hour drunken discussion about concert memories with one of your best friends.

It’s one of those brief moments that remind you life is worth living.

I’ve seen Neil perform three times, and every time it’s like visiting with someone who’s changed your life. Ignoring the drunks next to me or turning a cheek to the old bastard behind me who is telling me to sit down, it’s one of the moments where nothing else seems to matter besides what’s on that stage.

You forget about the approaching finals.

You forget about the workload in the office.

You forget about the credit card bill that will bear the cost of the trip.

You might not understand what I love about this 61-year-old rocker that has gone from denouncing Nixon to supporting Reagan to bashing both Bushes, and I don’t expect you to.

After all, Neil, this note’s for you.

Tim Magaw is a junior newspaper journalism major and news editor for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].