That would be Neil Young, of course.
I used to listen to Neil Young a lot in my youth. I was captivated by the first time I heard his distinctive quavery voice on ‘Helpless’ and I owned a couple of his albums – ‘After The Goldrush’ and ‘Harves’t – as well as the live CSN&Y album ‘Four Way Street’. All of them were on regular rotation when I was at university.
I rather lost touch when I entered the real world and had not much more than a third-hand knowledge of his various metamorphoses: a better word than reincarnations, because he’s never really been away: just off my radar for a long time.
He was definitely pencilled in from the very beginning for the ‘Y’ instalment of this music lexicon, with ‘Helpless’ (still one of my favourite songs ever) in support of my case. However, as this year-long trawl through my mental musical archives shambles towards its conclusion I was reminded of this song, with its first verse that really sums it all up for me:
My my, hey hey
Rock and roll is here to stay
It’s better to burn out
Than to fade away
You could say that the Eton and Oxbridge route for British rock guitarists of the late sixties was John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and The Yardbirds. Most of the greats were in at least one of them in their formative years: Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor in the Bluesbreakers, Jeff Beck, Clapton (again) and Jimmy Page in The Yardbirds.
According to Wikipedia, this song – released in 1966 with Jeff Beck doing the honours – could be described as the first psychedelic rock song – and if that doesn’t merit being a key early step in the growth of my musical tastes then I don’t know what does.
My Music Lexicon