Monday, 4 December 2017
Neil Young: Surviving TV Clips 1970-2016
Dear readers, here we are at the 30th and final article delving deep into the surviving video footage of our AAA artists in action. And would you believe it, this is the longest of them all (though that might be more because so many fans have collated this stuff before me already, thanks guys!) Neil was slow to get started with his TV appearances, only really gathering speed during the Geffen years when Young began to appear on more TV-screened concerts and make his own music videos. However Neil did have an interest in film and formed his own production company, the aptly named Shakey Pictures, in the 1980s (with Neil directing many of his own music videos which is, you know, why they're all a bit weird). His 'classic' years of the 1970s are, oddly enough, poorly represented and a sizeable minority of what's come to light come from his own files (and his own rather good official Youtube channel) anyway, with lots of home videos set to the sound of whatever CD he's plugging next. We've tried, as always in these lists, to keep things practical. Pretty much every Neil Young concert of the last fifteen years (certainly the ones with Crazy Horse) were recorded by somebody, many of them looking impressively releasable. However we've stuck to our guns and only included things in this list that were broadcast somewhere around the world - be it an interview, music video or full concert - except in the case of a one-off like the 'Massey Hall' or 'Living With War' clips that have only ever been seen online and thus don't count towards our DVD and video category. We've ignored 'Journey Thru The Past' 'Human Highway' 'Live Rust' 'Berlin 1983' 'Silver and Gold' 'Heart Of Gold' and a zillion other concerts that went straight to video/DVD too, even if they have been screened on TV since because, well, this list was already pretty long (have mercy!) and saved us going over old ground. Similarly any TV clip that featured Neil with his Buffalo Springfield or CSNY colleagues can be found in those respective books - we haven't bothered to go over old ground again here. It also makes complete and total sense that somewhere along the line I've missed dowm late night Australian chat show that never got screened outside ther country or a ten second blink-and-you'll-miss-it awards ceremony somewhere. Please keep your additions to these lists coming in and feel free to correct my running order and dating if you've come across something I haven't. Equally remember this can never be a 'complete' list of what's out there - only the stuff that's survived (I can't review something that was on when I wasn't born and which doesn't exist now can I?!) but that said Neil seems to have survived the years with his legacy more intact than most of our bands.
Even with those omissions that still leaves one heck of a list - and sadly the very vast majority of it is currently unavailable officially anywhere. Even the release of the mammoth 'Archives Volume One' set in 2009 only covered a very small percentage of what's out there (and ended in 1973 anyway) - maybe some of this lot might end up on 'Archives' volume two, three, four and five one day? Anyway until it does you can see mpost of it on Youtube. And to save you tracking every last clip down we've done it for you in our patent pending Alan's Album Archives Playlist (which you can find by typing 'Alan's Album Archives Playlist #30: Neil Young' into Youtube or going straight to https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4FA88A8C86FE2C90 ). Alternatively, if you're reading this at our website, we've got a special gadget so you can watch them all in order at the top of the column. There's a lot here to get through (surprising given that Neil was never the most visual of superstars), with a lot of interviews in particular (surprising given that Neil was never the most talkative of superstars)
So, given that this is our final TV-orientated article, this note's for you all for reading these articles over the years - and for our future selves up in that space station, watching old re-runs of Neil Young on TV ('it was like that Grand Canyon episode!') A while ago I fell in love with the musician - he was singing a part that I could understand...
1. Cafe Feenjon, Greenwich Village ('The Loner' 'Cinnamon Girl' US Home-Movie June 1970)
Arguably the most fascinating release from Neil's home video store is this thrilling early video of him strumming '#The Loner' with an extended instrumental opening, whole the cameraman walks round New York and eventually stumbles across him 'playing'. Neil's in proper long-haired, hunched troubador phase and his playing is extraordinary as he runs through just about every variation on the song's opening bars that he can. 'Cinnamon Girl' - taken mainly from a separate gig in Washington Square Park but stuck on the end - is a little more ragged and didn't translate quite as well to acoustic form, but is still pretty good. Included legally in brief form on the 'Archives' box set (2009) or illegally complete on the DVD 'Neil Young Under Review'.
2. BBC In Concert ('Out On The Weekend' 'Old Man' 'Journey Thru The Past' 'Heart Of Gold' 'Don't Let It Bring You Down' 'A Man Needs A Maid' 'Love In Mind' 'Dance Dance Dance' UK TV February 1971)
Taped about eighteen months after Crosby-Nash's appearance on the show, the BBC uncharacteristicaly got their timings spot on here. Neil is on top form, caught halfway between the success of 'After The Goldrush' and with most of 'Harvest' already in the weeks (much of it premiered here). Neil isn't exactly chatty, unusually commits a few errors ('Ooh' he sings nervously during the verse of 'Out On The Weekend' that runs 'Now I'm running down the road trying to stay up') and barely looks up from his guitar all show and yet this show still deserves to be rated amongst the greats with several future classics given a debut hearing on film with Neil's voice particularly never lovelier. It's not all the hits either, with a couple of real rarities here such as a 'Journey Thu The Past' two years before its release on 'Time Fades Away' and the only known Young performance of a then-new song 'Dance Dance Dance' later given away in embarrassment to Crazy Horse. Neil does throw a few titbits in along the way vocally too, asking the audience if they know about ranchers in his preamble to a jaw-dropping 'Old Man' ('He's kind of the caretaker who looks after all the cows!') and telling the crowd before 'Heart Of Gold' that he's getting confused by all the different harmonicas he carries around in his pockets with holes in them ('This one's in G if anyone wants to blow along with me!') Apparently the version that was broadcast and is often seen repeated on BBC4 in the UK is an edit, with four songs performed that night that are nearly always missing ('Cowgirl In The Sand' 'There's A World' 'Tell Me Why' and 'I Am A Child').
3. The Johnny Cash Show ('The Needle And The Damage Done' US TV February 1971)
Neil never picked up as many air miles as did that month of February 1971 as a few days later he's back in the States to appear on fellow country music legend Johnny Cash's show. 'These young mind will be our leaders i the future, our arts, our science, our crafts, our politics' runs Johnny's introduction while Neil adds 'A lot of great artists get affected by it and a lot of great art goes down the drain'. Nobody knew more about the horrors of drugs than Cash but he doesn't comment, with Neil on pre-recorded film singing his haunting anti-drug song a mere nine months before Danny Whitten's sad demise. Though the mood of the Cash show was generally oddly unbeat, this slow sad song really cuts through the showbiz shtick and remains one of Young's greatest on TV performances. Featured on the 2007 DVD 'The Best Of The Johnny Cash Show Volume One'.
4. Live At Massey Hall 1971 (Home Footage turned into album promos)
In a quirky idea to promote the 'Massey Hall' set, Neil set some of his old cine-film of the night's performances to the soundtrack, filling in the clips his roadies didn't capture for him with photographs, shots of the cine-reels at work and the audience. Sometimes, though, suddenly Neil lurches into life in perfect synch and he's never looked more intense in the near-shadows as he does at this gig. Exhausting but compelling viewing with 'A Man Needs A Maid' into 'Heart Of Gold' coming off particularly well complete with that gig's new tag-line 'A man feels afraid'. 'Old Man' too is almost uncomfortable in its close-up stare of Neil's dark eyes. Not available officially but on Neil's own Youtube channel which is pretty close.
5. Midnight Special ('Like A Hurricane' US TV March 1976)
I'll be honest, I don't know where this Youtube clip comes from but there's also a Midnight Special show which did feature 'Hurricane' caught in concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon and screened on the Midnight Special series in 1976 so that's where I'm putting it - and yes other footage exists (in black and white it seems) but has never been released before (and this was the only track broadcast on TV). You can see why this song got used though - even this early on in the song's evolution it's clearly something pretty special and the Horse haven't quite got it right yet, with Ralph sounding unusually club-footed on the drums in particular. But this slower, weightier version is pretty close to matching the album version simply because it sounds as if it's taking such effort and energy to keep the slightly slower pace going without everything falling apart - which of course fits nicely with the theme of the song. Once again the Horse play in near darkness but there's an incredibly bright spotlight on a lumberjack-shirted Young. If you're wondering where the wind is coming from, no this wasn't an outside gig and even the Horse didn't play loud enough to blow the roof off: Neil had roadies erect a ten foot fan on stage behind him just for this one track!
6. Live In Tokyo 1976 ('Mellow My Mind' 'Too Far Gone' 'No One Seems To Know' 'Country Home' 'Don't Cry No Tears' 'DriveBack' 'Cowgirl In The Sand' 'The Losing End' 'Tell Me Why' 'Stringman' 'Human Highway' 'Down By The River' 'Cortez The Killer'
Or 'yesteryear Of The Horse' as bootleggers nicknamed the footage of a pay per view gig in Japan - Budokan Hall to be precise, where the Bob Dylan live album was recorded a few years earlier. For the opening section Neil plays alone in pale blue lighting and he makes the most of being less well known in Japan at the time than he was in American Europe by throwing in some real rarities. 'Too Far Gone', once intended for 'Chrome Dreams' in 1977, appears a full thirteen years before the version on 'Freedom', while 'No One Seems To Know' - a bootlegger's favourite also known as 'Once I Was In Love' - still hasn't appeared on anything official despite being a rather pretty haunting piano ballad. Later Crazy Horse come out and play a typically ragged set (new guitarist Frank Sampedro has literally only played with the Horse in the studio and down the beach by this point in his career!) with a few surprises of their own including a 'Country Home' fourteen years before it appeared sounding almost exactly the same on 'Ragged Glory' and a shambolic 'Lotta Love' two years before it's appearance on 'Comes A Time'. Elsewhere we also get the only known airing for some of the lesser rockier songs from recently released LP 'Zuma' and a slow, dark and brooding 'Cowgirl In The Sand' that's very different to the Whitten-era performances and sounds more resigned than excited. A second show shot in monochrome this time starts with an entirely different acoustic set containing such surprises as a beautifully sweet 'Stringman', a solo 'Human Highway' and an awful 'Down By The River' played so slowly and off-key that you think Neil himself is the one being murdered! Thankfully the Horse immediately make up for it with a mesmerising performance of 'Cortez' that goes on for hours, slow and stately but full of such omens and insecurities as Neil's voice wobbles like never before, back when the song was brand new. This tour will end in disarray just days later when Neil cancels a bunch of booked American shows to rejoin Stephen Stills for an even more ill-fated tour. Some of this footage (but not very much of it, it has to be said) appears officially in the 'Year Of The Horse' film of 1997, while the rest of it would make a fine DVD one day. Additional footage taken from the same tour (and helpfully added to the end of the Youtube clip) features Neil husking 'The Old Laughing Lady' down a subway!
7. The Last Waltz ('Helpless' Film 1978)
In 1978 The Band were taking a break, Martin Scorcese was an up and coming film director and big indulgent stage shows were all the rage. Dylan's backing band invited all their old friends up to say goodbye and filmed it, with the resulting movie one of the first music films to receive a wide release. Neil appears, stoned out of his mind, to sing his simplest and slowest song with (on original copies) a liberal sized piece of cocaine sticking out of his nose (Neil paid to have the shots removed himself when the film was re-issued, against the wished of the band who declared this shot to be 'what rock and roll is all about!' It's just as well Neil wasn't singing 'Needle' at this gig...) In a sign of even more rockstar excess, though, Stephen Stills was meant to play too but slept in, arriving at the gig to find it was almost over though he does join in the all-superstar jam at the end (where he locks horns with Neil for a fierce guitar duel while Joni Mitchell stands behind them looking bemused!)
8. Wonderin' (Music Video 1983)
Following a five year gap away from seemingly any TV cameras (unless I've missed something?) Neil got into music videos, plugging one of his silliest and shortest songs from 'Everybody's Rockin' with a video that looks as if it's wandered straight out of a 1950s video jukebox. The Shocking Pinks appear in bright pink tuxedos in the back of a car, a slick-haired Neil sings (but not in a pink shirt - the one on the album cover was embarrassing enough) and sings in front of an unlikely bunch of locations including The Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando and Miami beach (don't worry, it's cheaper than it looks!) Neil seems quite creepy standing stock still in the front of the screen while his backing singers yodel away in the background, but trust Neil's first video to spend more screen time studying the car! There's never been a compilation of Young videos to date so none of these promos are officially available - maybe the time of Archives three?!?
9. Cry Cry Cry (Music Video 1983)
Another 'Everybody's Rockin' promo features a worse song but a better video as Neil goes up against his three backing singers in a drag race, while simultaneously dancing in a white suit by the side of the road. Trick photography also make Neil look really big as a truck drives through his legs and he picks up an electricity pylon to itch a scratch with!
10. Austin City Limits ('Are You Ready For The Country?' 'Are There Any More Real Cowboys?' 'Comes A Time' 'Field Of Opportunity' 'Amber Jean' 'Roll Another Number' 'Heart Of Gold' 'Let Your Fingers Do The Walking' 'The Needle and The Damage Done' 'Helpless' 'California Sunset' 'Old Man' 'Powderfinger' 'Get Back To The Country' 'Down By The River' US Concert 1984)
'This is the third Tv show in my life and I'm really petrified, can you feel it?' Neil's new band is The International Harvesters, his new genre is country and the new album he's plugging is 'Old Ways' - but not the official version but the abandoned early one that didn't come out. Actually we hear surprisingly few songs intended for that record with only the unreleased-till-2011 songs 'Amber Jean' and 'Let Your Fingers Do The Walking' due for the album. The rest of the songs feature some nicely countryfied extracts from the back catalogue though, such as a much more purist take on Harvest's 'Are You Ready For The Country?', a sprightly 'Comes A Time' and - sounding very out of place - old electric favourites 'Powderfinger' and 'Down By The River' which makes for an uncomfortably downbeat finale. Neil is on good form though and the show reveals the same sort of passion featured on the archive live CD 'A Treasure' a full twenty-five years later - a passion that was decidedly missing from the 'Old Ways' set that made it into the shops. The Nashville audience all seem to like it too, despite criticisms made at the time. Two songs were pulled by Neil for release on his youtube channel to promote the album but otherwise this US pay-per-view show hasn't been heard of since.
11. Are There Any More Real Cowboys? (Music Video 1985)
Neil is a lot more convincing as an old age cowboy than pal Willie Nelson on this video shot to promote the finished 'Old Ways' album. Elsewhere we get yawn-inducing shots of cowboys and horses. Probably Neil's worst video - and boy is that saying something as you'll see...
12. Unknown (New Zealand 1985)
Neil looks oddly dapper in a white suit as he chats to New Zealand reporter Karyn Hay about being a dad, being a Reagan supporter in an industry that hates him and the fact that this has 'affected the record critics more than it affects me - they're not enjoyers, they're critics as people come to have fun and they come to say where it went wrong or right so for them it's a job and my heart goes out to them!' Erm, thanks Neil! The singer also says that Crazy Horse are 'more emotional and technical and I like that - it gives me a chance to express myself!' Most interestingly Neil talks about his love for EPs because 'you don't have to fill up an album - always everybody likes some of them but not all of them'. He was planning to release an EP for 'Farm Aid' at the time but in fact won't release an EP till 'Eldorado' in 1988. Neil puts on a straight face to discuss 'Rustovision' and say that you can see the aching muscles through the glasses when he's on stage - fittingly, interspersed across this interview is some old footage from 'Live Rust', plus the rarely seen 'Computer Age' from 'Live In Berlin' to illustrate the fact that 'electronic music is like acoustic music if I play it by myself'. A great interview not officially available as yet - but it should be!
13. Live Aid ('Sugar Mountain' 'The Needle and The Damage Done' 'Nothing Is Perfect In God's Perfect Plan' 'Helpless' 'Powderfinger' US Concert July 1985)
Perhaps the biggest Young-related news of 'Live Aid' night was that he also reunited with CSNY for the first time since 1974, with Crosby out on parole and looking very ill. However both shows were non-starters: CSNY were hurried, poorly rehearsed and out of tune while Neil's solo set was longer and more casual but still not one of his best, finding him in preaching mode. Neil was surely the only artist the whole night to play a previously unreleased song from a forthcoming cancelled album ('Old Ways One') with the hokey 'Nothing Is Perfect' very out of step with Live Aid's message of love, peace and unity. Of course, Neil being Neil, that was the song allowed out on the official various artists DVD, though the rest of the set was better with a suitably weary 'Sugar Mountain' played in a stiff breeze (no there isn't a fan playing at this gig!) and an angry 'Powderfinger', the only electric song in the set.
14. Farm Aid #1 ('Hey Hey My My' US Concert 1985)
Willie Nelson's Live Aid set was even weirder. Perhaps missing the point that the people In Africa everyone was raising money for were dying, he proposed live on stage that some of the money should go towards hard-working American farmers in poverty. Neil agreed with the idea though and helped Willie organise a special 'Farm Aid' gig that paid to do just that and which met up most summers (Neil playing most of them but only three of his appearances - apparently - were televised). Here's the first of them with a raggedy acoustic take on the 'Rust Never Sleeps' classic the song chosen for TV.
15. Farm Aid #2 ('Homegrown' 'Comes A Time' 'Are You Ready For The Country?' US Concert 1986)
The following year Neil cheekily snuck in his own song about, erm, farming 'Homegrown' - Neil didn't quite get around to telling the mainly conservative audience singing along it was a track about marijuana! The International Harvesters back Neil as per usual across 1986 but they sound as if they've never met before with some very out-of-tune performances that aren't a patch on the 1984 gig in Texas. Oddly, too, 'Country' is played in an even rockier arrangement than the version on 'Harvest'! Ready for the country indeed...
16. Pressure (Music Video 1986)
Most fans consider the noisy thrash metal 'Landing On water' album a bit of a mistake but Neil seems determined to get a hit from it, releasing four separate videos. This is the best in both footage and song, as Neil reprises his car mechanic character Lionel from his own rarely seen 'Human Highway' film as a put-upon dad in a car full of screaming kids pulling over to the side of the road because he needs the loo. That's how Neil sings the entire song, while apparently having a nervous breakdown, apart from a brief interlude when his kids tie him to a tree! Like the song itself it's so simple it's stupid but good fun all the same. And yes, of course Neil had to get another car into the video! Warning: his head blows up at the end of the video in a parody of video nasties but it's still oddly graphic...
17. Touch The Night (Music Video 1986)
For this video Neil becomes a news reporter, singing into his microphone as he attempts to tell the tale of a big pile-up on the freeway. That's a clever idea for a song that's all about 'bad news' stories but it's all a little bit the same and Neil doesn't really look like Neil so most people watching this on MTV probably thought they'd switched over to CNN or something.
18. People On The Street (Music Video 1986)
Inevitably, 'People On The Street' features lots of shots of, erm, people on the street, although the main plot of the song is much weirder. Neil is a shock-haired dancing tramp in a pink suit left over from the Shocking Pinks days, hitching a lift on the back of a passing car as he dances away down the street and into a passing ambulance. If you've ever wanted to see Neil doing some Fred Astaire type dance moves (mainly thanks to the wonders of special effects and jump-cuts) then here's your chance! Neil will resurrect this character, minus the dancing, for CSNY reunion video 'American Dream'. Once seen never forgotten - and not necessarily in a good way.
19. Weight Of The World (Music Video 1986)
Neil dresses up as a Cuban drugs lord on this video, complete with moustache and afro wig. And that's basically the video, as two American argue in the forefront and Neil gets thrown into the pool in what everyone else thinks is a party but is actually an accident. Neil drowns at the end, making this his second video where he kills himself!
20. 'In A Rusted Out Garage - Live At The Cow Palace ('Mr Soul' 'Cinnamon Girl' 'When You Dance I Can Really Love' 'Down By The River' 'Too Lonely' 'Heart Of Gold' 'After The Goldrush' 'Inca Queen' 'Drive Back' 'Opera Star' 'Cortez The Killer' 'Sample and Hold' 'Computer Age' 'Violent Side' 'Mideast Vacation' 'Long Walk Home' 'The Needle and The Damage Done' 'When Your Lonely Heart Breaks' 'Around The World' 'Powderfinger' 'Like A Hurricane' 'Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)' 'Prisoners Of Rock 'n' Roll' US TV November 1986)
A famous gig sees Neil reuniting with Crazy Horse for the first time since 1981 on a show now out semi-legally, as a CD and DVD set. This two hour show was called 'The Rusted Out Garage Tour' for a reason - like 'Live Rust' it featured the Horse sharing the stage with giant props, this time make them look like a 'garage' band playing in a 'garage' complete with overgrown insects and Neil's 'neighbour' who interrupts the show at half-time to tell the band they're playing too loud and he's going to get the cops! There's also a presenter Joe Benson who explains how this show is broadcast from Neil's garage up to a satellite up in space ('We had a couple of complaints from the neighbours because it's an eyesore!') and back down to your TV, introducing the band as 'the third greatest garage band in the world!' This gig is good enough to make you wonder who the first two could possibly be, even if it isn't a show on a par with 'Rust' or 'Weld' but it has its moments with the then-new songs from 'Life' sounding particularly strong. The 'road-eyes' this time appear as overgrown mice complete with squeaky and suspiciously Young-like voices. Listen out for the cameo bark by Neil's dog Elvis (commemorated on 'Old King' in 1992) where the mice say 'I Hope he's cool' and the other says 'I just hope he likes mice!' As for the music, well, it's variable. The vocoder stuff sounds great (if not quite as great as it did in Berlin - and it's a shock to see the Horse playing 'complex' instruments!), most of the rock and rollers come off well but the acoustic songs sound a little weak and drab by old standards. 'Too Lonely' roars with all the dumb energy of a 'real' garage band, 'Inca Queen' sounds majestic and a surprise 'Opera Star' roars but the old material doesn't sound quite so hot and isn't played with the same passion. Cleverly there is no stage 'curtain', just a garage door that shuts down at the end of both halves! The Horse get a few extra 'members' for 'Sample and Hold' as the road-eyes bring some mannequins out on stage who suddenly start dancing...Man what fumes were in that garage?!
21. Made In Heaven (Film Cameo 1987)
'Made In heaven' is a weirdo film about a weirdo guy ending up in a weirdo heaven and trying to help his weirdo angel girlfriend get some weirdo angel's wings for good deeds back on Earth before it's revealed that he's really doing it for his own good after all. Multiple musicians appear in this film for some reason, which is odd given that it doesn't have much in terms of a soundtrack, with Neil alongside Tom Petty and Ellen Barkin. Neil is a truck driver who stops to pick the main character up while he's hitch-hiking while a speeded-up version of 'Mr Soul' plays in the background. His lines are as follows: 'Hey kid, where you goin? If you don't know where you're goin' then it don't matter what road you take! Sorry the heater's out, you want some coffee?' Yeah not the greatest of cameos really - Neil probably only agreed on the condition that he could graduate from his love of cars and drive a truck! The film was rush-released on video but was never a big seller and be bought on DVD only as part of an expensive box set 'The Warner Archive Collection'.
22. This Note's For You (Music Video 1988)
By far Neil's most famous video appearance in which he spoofs several popular adverts of the time and even won an MTV award for 'best music video' - which is weird because they'd banned it for making fun of all their sponsors! Along the way Neil has his set alight like Michael Jackson in his real advertisement for Pepsi which as his autopsy revealed left him bald, a Bud-drinking dog in sunglasses is more interested in some scantily clad women and Janet Jackson is revealed to be wearing a wig. To anyone old enough to remember these adverts the first time round, this is hilarious and Neil's parodies are spot-on! The opening instrumental played on sax by the band onstage before Neil 'invades' is from the then-unreleased Young song 'Bad News Comes To Town', officially released for the first time in 2015 on the live album 'Bluenote Cafe'.
23. Oakland Coliseum ('Comes A Time' 'Sugar Mountain' 'This Note's For You' 'American Dream' US Concert 1988)
A mini solo gig from one of Neil's favourite haunts which he played many times over the years with Cray Horse, CSNY and as a solo act. It's a pretty gig, with Neil in more relaxed mood than usual and there are some lovely versions of some of Neil's best acoustic songs plus a new solo arrangement of 'This Note's For You' without the horns and CSNY reunion track 'American Dream' which sounds so much better sung in four part a capella and mouthorgan instead of those irritating synth pan-pipes!
24. Rockin' In The Free World (Music Video 1989)
Another much-seen clip that's one of Neil's best. Edited to look like a news summary with Crazy Horse performing in between as 'links', Neil tells the story about what America is really like, full of suffering, homelessness and poverty. Neil's rarely looked this energised as he and Sampedro twirl around on stage, but instead of the usual anger of the 'real' live performances this mimed video seems far more buoyant and optimistic, as if America still has a chance to be 'Rockin' in the free world'. Given that I'm writing these words the day after Donald Chump was elected into the White House (yes I have quite a backlog of these articles now!), I'm not so sure Neil should be so pleased.
25. Cow Palace ('My My Hey Hey' 'Rockin' In The Free World' 'Comes A Time' 'Homegrown' 'Heart Of Gold' 'Crime In The City' US Concert 1989)
A return to The Cow Palace (where 'Live Rust' was filmed) for a show from a legendary acoustic tour when Neil was never braver or felt the muse stronger. Broadcast in TV in part form, the show features several great new songs in acoustic form including a powerful arrangement of 'Crime In The City' that's way stronger than anything heard on record as Neil prowls around the stage like an animal in a cage (the camera really struggles to keep up!) This is a terrific version of 'Free World' too as Neil virtually sits in the audience as he wills everyone in the room to respond and not just to the song! The older tracks don't fare quite so well with yet another unwanted revival of 'Homegrown' but hey ho.
26. Saturday Night Live #1 ('Rockin' In The Free World' 'No More' 'The Needle and The Damage Done' US TV 1989)
It seems odd that Neil had to wait until his late 1980s renaissance to be invited onto a show full of goofy humour and oddball gags - given that Crazy Horse had pretty much been doing this as an act since 1979! Actually Neil's on pretty serious form as he performs blistering electric versions of two of his most intense new songs (with a slowed down 'No More' that will break your heart and makes for a fine pairing with Neil's other anti-drug song 'The Needle and The Damage Done'). It's a shame the director insisted on using so many silly 1980s video effects, but the performance cuts through with a dose of pure realism.
27. Farmer John (Music Video 1990)
A suitably simple and stupid video for a stupid song as Crazy Horse do some head-banging miming to a garage band classic. A headband wearing Neil looks just like Mark Knopfler albeit with much more hair! The video is recorded in kind of bleeded-out colour; not black and white as there are hints of colour breaking through at times but this is clearly meant to look cheap and nasty. It sounds it too! The crowd don't know whether to cry or dance and don't quite manage either...
28. Mansion On The Hill (Music Video 1990)
Neil walks out of an operating room and into the Twilight Zone - or at any rate the same house already featured in 'American Dream'. Walking down a long corridor, Neil finds himself watching himself on stage ('It could have been my face') as a group of nuns straight out of Sister Act sing the backing vocals in pink tunics. Neil plays their vicar (!) Later Neil plays mechanic Lionel again, trying to get Her Majesty The Queen's car started. Let the tyres down and let her get her own petrol, that's what we say!...
29. Over and Over (Music Video 1990)
This is the 3:40 single edit without all the excess feedback, thank goodness. This video is black and white and features Crazy Horse playing mixed in with a story of some chick walking out on her lover who tries to woo her back with flowers. Quite a dull video by Neil's standards although the band mime their parts with surprising gusto.
30. F!&#in' Up (Music Video 1990)
The best song from 'Ragged Glory' gets the best video, in proper colour this time. There are no gimmicks, no storylines getting in the way, just the chance to see the Horse completely lost in their music while the jerky, spacey direction is enough to give you a headache but does suit the desperation and self-loathing of the lyric, with Neil afraid to look us in the eye. He also nearly falls off the stage at one point! The 'story' only comes at the end when weedie roadie Neil is chased out of town by some burly co-workers while the Horse let their feedback flags fly!
31. Harvest Moon (Music Video 1992)
At last, something a bit quieter, as another much-repeated clip features Neil serenading his wife Pegi at a club while the janitor sweeps up with a broom outside. Though not a lot happens in this video, like the song it still manages to keep interesting by simply revelling in the moment. That's Neil's half-sister singing the 'oohs' along with Pegi, while the rest of the band get to dance with their partners, wives and husbands at various times too. Neil waited to film this shoot until there was a real full moon in the night sky, although it's not strictly a 'Harvest' one which has a particular 'blood red' look and happens once a year around September.
32. Unknown Legend (Music Video 1992)
In which, true to the lyrics, a motorbike rider who worked in a diner and never looked finer gets to live out her life in arty black and white. And she's she's played rather convincingly by Pegi, the real inspiration for the song, who works alongside her husband as a hapless waiter getting things wrong the whole time. In between we get shots of Neil performing the song in front of a large group of hub-caps! Sadly the rarely seen 'Unknown Legend' is still largely unknown and has yet to appear on any official release despite being one of Neil's sweetest videos.
33. Saturday Night Live #2 ('From Hank To Hendrix' 'Harvest Moon' US TV 1992)
Neil returns to Saturday Night Live to plug 'Harvest Moon', performing two of the more popular tracks solo while dressed in a red shirt. Unusually Neil performs 'Moon' without the full strumming song, stopping it to play the 'pinging note' section - an arrangement he never repeated in concert. Both performances are sweet but a little dull and again Neil doesn't get involved in the political or comedy skits (maybe they were afraid of asking him after his support for Reagan in the 1980s?!)
34. Centrestage ('One Of These Days' US TV November 1992)
An interview, for which the full unedited footage exists with Neil getting the giggles as the make-up girl puts him 'right' ('I'm not going to look like him am I?' Neil says, pointing to presenter-actor-director Tim Roth). Neil doesn't say an awful lot that we didn't know already and clearly thinks his inexperienced interviewer is a twit. Why does Neil's music keep changing? 'It has to do with life - people think people make music like a means to an end...and I think really a lot are being trained that that's what to be expected of them, to perform in a particular market...music is the heart of the whole thing, it's what makes it happen'. It's nice to see Neil speak about his family with such pride too and Pegi's challenge to Neil to call up all his rock and roll friends for the first Bridge School Benefit show. Neil also jokes about the reviewer who misread his 'Heart Of Gold' lyric 'I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line...' as 'such a fine mind' and asked 'how could Neil Young be so conceited?!'
35. MTV Unplugged ('The Old Laughing Lady' 'Mr Soul' 'The World On A String' 'Pocahontas' 'Stringman' 'Like A Hurricane' 'The Needle and the Damage Done' 'Helpless' 'Harvest Moon' 'Transformer Man' 'Unknown Legend' 'Look Out For My Love' 'Long May You Run' 'From Hank To Hendrix' US TV Special 1993) -
We've already covered the soundtrack to this rather grumpy show in which Neil stares intensely at his guitar throughout and avoids all look at the camera as he takes a surprisingly safe journey through his musical past. The show doesn't work any better as a video, although it does have a number of fine moments such as a bluesy 'Mr Soul', a slow-burning 'World On A String', a beautiful 'Stringman' (an unreleased mid-1970s song possibly written for Stephen Stills) and an exhilarating 'Like A Hurricane' completely re-arranged for a pump organ. Plus it's always nice to see Nils Lofgren back again who appears in the show's second half. A full original completely solo show was binned after Neil complained about the sound and his performance; this second go nearly was too.
36. Tonight Show With Jay Leno ('Harvest Moon' 'Harvest Moon' US TV 1993)
Another performance of 'Harvest Moon' with one of the world's worst TV presenter-comedians sucks up to Neil no end (Young doesn't take to fawning much, as all his true fans would know!) and asks him some mind-bogglingly dumb questions (sample joke: Jay points to Neil's mouthorgan holder and jokes 'Another visit to the orthodontist and you'll be all straight, right?!') The performance is nice though, despite Neil hitting a wrong 'ringing' note early on and just stopping himself from getting the giggles! Plus Neil gives up on the interview early to ask to use the model train set on the stage and asks the stage-hands to move all the plants out so he can 'play'. 'Aww, it de-railed' jokes Neil when there's a delay and the train doesn't come, but he does get a motorbike model at least.
37. Bobfest ('Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues' Concert 1993)
Neil was one of several musicians (Including George Harrison) wishing Bob a happy birthday. If I ever have a birthday, I'd like all my favourite musicians to come out singing all my favourite songs too, but Bob himself doesn't look too happy about the much-rehearsed 'surprise' and it speaks volumes he never had another live on stage! With his favourite Dylan cover 'All Along The Watchtower' already taken by Bruce Springsteen (with Neil as a guest guitarist) he gets 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues' instead which suits him better.
38. Prairie Town (Guest on music video by Randy Bachman 1993)
Neil didn't often make guest appearances on other people's videos (Emmylou Harris' cover of Neil's own 'Wrecking Ball' is another though he barely features so it didn't make this list) but this one is important because Neil takes so big a part in the Bachman-Turner-Overdrive singer's video. 'Prairietown' is a noisy, Crazy Horse-style rocker and the clip is clearly shot by Neil as 'Bernard Shakey' - it has his characteristic 'shaky' zoom-ins everywhere! It's an ok-ish sort of a song about injustice and poverty but it's no 'Rockin' In The Free World'!
39. Sleeps With Angels Video EP aka The Complex Sessions ('Change Your Mind' 'Prime Of Life' 'Piece Of Crap' 'My Heart' 1994)
At last, something officially released! Neil plugged his 'Sleeps With Angels' CD with a low-key four song performance that featured entirely new live recordings that were slower and darker even than the cuts that made the album, shot a few weeks after the studio versions had been recorded in the very same building. The highlight is clearly 'Change Your Mind' which lasts a minute longer than the fourteen minute album version and is played a fraction slower, with some killer solos and far better single-tracked vocals. The album version is like a drug trip - this version is more like a nightmare. 'Prime Of Life' also sounds pretty darn great without the out of tune tin whistles or recorders or whatever the heck they were and with far less 'tidy' backing vocals that help the song erupt into a quiet rage as Neil spits out his sarcastic lines 'Not feeling too bad myself!' As for 'Piece Of Crap!' Neil challenges his film crew that 'you're out of sync' before daring them to keep up on a far better punkish fast version of the album's comedy song which Sampedro especially seems to enjoy yelling into the cameras! Finally there's a wonky version of 'My Heart' with sweet 'n' sour harmonies that goes from ebing beautiful to being awful to being beautiful again within seconds, as only Crazy Horse can. A much under-rated document of one of Neil's greatest unsung albums performed with just enough mystery and magic despite the glare of the film lights.
40. Sleeps With Angels (Music Video 1994)
Not strictly part of the 'Complex' sessions but many fans treat it that way anyway, Neil's tribute to Kurt Cobain features Crazy Horse playing in split-screen, Woodstock style, though the difference is that Crazy Horse aren't miming but playing live. Along the way we see Neil grooving along to a playback and Crazy Horse cutting their harmony overdubs, not that you can hear them too well on the finished track anyway which is really just an extended guitar solo with Young muttering over the top. The song ends with stunned silence in the control room as nobody says a word for a full ten seconds before the track finishes.
41. Shoreline Ampitheatre #1 ('My Heart' 'Prime Of Life' 'Driveby' 'Sleeps With Angels' 'My My Hey Hey' 'Train Of Love' 'Change Your Mind' 'Piece Of Crap' US Concert 1994)
Another pay-per-view American show on behalf of Neil and Pegi's Bridge School shows for disabled children. Sadly these shows have never been seen since even though there's a terrific DVD in there one day with three known filmed gigs (plus a fourth as Brian Wilson's crew filmed his gig in 2002). This earliest show is heavy on the then-new songs from 'Sleeps With Angels' though that's no bad thing. The Horse are on rather rough and ragged form though and frequently trip over themselves without the inspired purr of their 'Complex' set. Neil seems a little off colour all night and keeps sipping water in between songs. However at least the album's spooky drama is maintained with several songs performed on acoustic with highlights including an especially intense 'Driveby' that might just beat the heartbreak of the album cut and a jazzy version of 'Sleeps With Angels' that sounds more like John Coltrane than Crazy Horse.
42. Nickelodeon Interview (YUS TV 1994)
A surprise special guest on children's channel Nickelodeon, Neil talks to the boss of Lionel Trains about the new inventions he's created for children with disabilities so they can play too. Proud dad Neil watches his son Ben move the trains with a twist of his head and daughter Amber Jean adds some comments too. Neil talks with more pride about getting the sound of the trains just right than he ever does about his music! A welcome chance to see the Young family together but it's a shame we don't get a chance to see the full extent of the lay-out. As for mum Pegi's comment: 'Ben really like his audience and showing off to friends - which is kind of like his father, I guess it runs in the family!'
43. The Oscars ('Philadelphia' 1994)
Oscar award nominee Neil Young took up the invitation to appear at the ceremony to perform a rather nervous version of his song for 'Philadelphia' (and no, Bruce Springsteen didn't turn up to sing his song from the film). This seems an incongruous setting for one so unused to showbiz parties and it's not one of Neil's best performances but 'Philadelphia' is a very lovely song that wasn't heard live very often so this is a clip to treasure all the same. Johnny Depp, then working on the 'Dead Man' film with a special Young soundtrack, introduces him back in the days when he wasn't a pirate or Willy Wonka.
44. Downtown (Music Video 1995)
Next Neil's heading Downtown with Pearl Jam on a video that doesn't really feature - just lots of shots of dancing youngsters in a club with lots of mirrorballs twirlin'. Not so much 'psychedelic dream' as 'how many extras can we get cheap in a hurry?' this video is a bit of a disappointment. Plus no one in this crowd looks like hippies to me!
45. Big Time (Music Video 1996)
Moving on to the 'Broken Arrow' album the song are worse but the videos are better. A moody video, once more shot in black and white, follows a suddenly old looking Neil around his ranch and a local beach with lots of shots of the band at work and play and random shots of wildlife and mother nature. The best shot comes at the end when the beach with Neil in 1996 somehow merges thanks to some technological trickery into the album cover of 1974's 'On The Beach'. Neil's still living the dream he had. For him it's not over.
46. This Town (Music Video 1996)
We haven't had a car for a while, but here's Neil with a broken old jalopy that's about as broken down as his old second hand hearse 'Mort' from the 'Springfield' days. A baseball-capped Neil wanders into shot in different locations, bored. I think the town is in South Dakota but who knows? Knowing Neil it's probably not even a real town but one he built himself!
47. Shoreline Ampitheatre #2 ('Without Rings' 'Slowpoke' 'Buffalo Springfield Again' 'Horseshoe Man' 'Good To See You' 'Silver and Gold' 'Mother Earth' 'After The Goldrush' 'This Note's For You' US Concert 1997)
'When I was faster I was always behind'. Neil returns to a favourite venue for a solo concert on behalf of the Bridge School that premieres most of the material from 2000 album 'Silver and Gold' three years early! More intimate than the 'Silver and Gold' DVD doing the rounds to promote the album, Neil's on much better form here and actually plays his latest acoustic batch of material better than he ever did on the album. He also throws in the only known solo performance of 'Slowpoke', a song from CSNY reunion album 'Lookin' Forward', which he sings rather better here even if the lyrics are still weird, plus there's a rare 'Ragged Glory' anthem 'Mother Earth' (which sounds a little thin on acoustic instruments), a pretty 'Goldrush' and a slower, wearier 'This Note's For You' multiple corporate-sponsored music events later.
48. Shoreline Ampitheatre #3 ('Sugar Mountain' 'Lookin' Forward' 'Throw Your Hatred Down' 'Heart Of Gold' 'Distant Camera' 'Horseshoe Man' 'After The Goldrush' 'Ambulance Blues' US Concert 1998)
A year later, another Bridge School charity gig in the same venue and pretty much the same setlist mixing songs from 'Silver and Gold' and 'Lookin' Forward', although the big change is that Neil had grown a straggly beard and never looked more like Father Xmas. A lovely 'Distant Camera' is the highlight of the new stuff but the best selections all come from yesteryear, with a riveting 'Sugar Mountain' seeing Neil at the age of 53 still troubled by reaching the ripe old age of 20 plus a rare acoustic version of 'Throw Your Hatred Down' from the plugged-in 'Mirrorball' album, the best 'Goldrush' yet played on a pedal organ and a very rare brave stab at 'Ambulance Blues' with that year's special guests REM that ends the concert on an oddly downbeat note. This is a great gig though, far stronger than the show in 1997. The between-sing banter is pretty good too, with Neil forgetting where he parked his piano at one stage!
49. Saturday Night Live #3 ('Razor Love' 'Silver and Gold' US TV 2000)
A return to the comedy show finds Neil plugging the 'Silver and Gold' album for real this time. As per the last two appearances he doesn't really do much, just sits and plays the guitar but 'Razor Love' in particular sounds good tonight so we'll let that pass.
50. 9/11 Benefit Concert ('America: A Tribute To Heroes') ('Imagine' 2001)
Four American networks came together to screen this musical tribute to those who lost their lives in 9/11. Recorded just ten days after the tragedy the mood was still very sombre and rather than plug their latest work most acts performed whatever was most suitable in their back catalogue. Neil didn't really have anything that prescient in his so instead he played a song by New York's adopted son John Lennon, who would surely have been part of the benefit shows had he lived. This version of 'Imagine' is one of the weirdest put on record, with the wobble in Neil's voice and the slower, more deliberate performance of those famous chords sounding very 'wrong' somehow. And on the other-hand so right: this isn't a land where confidence about a future with no wars or religion too can ever happen and yet the best solution to tragedy is to keep dreaming and hoping. It may be one of the best performances Neil ever gave. Later, after his part of the show, Neil manned the phone-lines and took in pledges for the families of the victims personally.
51. Let's Roll (Music Video 2002)
On the other-hand, this 9/11 tribute song always won a mixed response from fans - especially from those who took it's 'Let's Roll' as an agreement that America should nuke the hell out of countries that didn't have anything to do with Al Qaeda. Neil and what were left of Booker T and the MGs perform the song in a skyscraper in the dark, while a blue sky with clouds skid past behind them. Though I'll defend the song (Neil was quoting the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 and they sure weren't thinking of an illegal war at the time), I'm not sure I can defend the video which doesn't seem like much of a tribute at all, though at least it wasn't an artificial video full of tears either as some other post 9/11 released were want to do.
52. The Tonight Show ('Are You Passionate?' US TV 2002)
Neil switches gears and performs the bluesier title track on his first public appearance for the 'Passionate' album, though not to any great effect. Neil sings a little more powerfully this time round and you can actually hear the words, but it's not one of his best shows.
53. Prairie Wind (Music Video 2005)
Neil didn't do much promotion for the 'Prairie Wind' album on doctor's orders - he'd collapsed with a brain aneurysm while writing the album and recorded in short bursts so sensibly took the year off, though commercially that's a shame because this is easily the best Young album of the 21set century so far. The only promotion given to the record was a 'making of' video with shots of Young and band behind the scenes as they made the title track. Neil, as 'Bernard Shakey', again utilises the split-screen approach which is interesting with so many musicians on the screen but the camera is at such a weird angle that we can't even see Neil that well who 'hides' behind his harmonica holder perched round his neck.
54. Living With War Videos (2006)
However Neil went to town promoting his next album 'Living With War'. Videos were made for all ten songs on the album which were put to real news footage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and featured mocked-up captions at the bottom. The whole lot were meant to run together as if we were watching the 'LWW' network and could be seen on Neil's website or as part of a special DVD release that gathered them all together. Though clearly it's just another way of owning the album, it's not the best one as - like most news channels - extended viewing just numbs your soul to the horrors and as there's no band to look at (like there was during the 'Gulf War' on 'Weld') the atrocities just become so much background fodder. The title track is the one that works best, with its list of American soldiers who've died since 9/11 month by month passing solemnly along the bottom of the screen (which is why it's the song we've pulled out for our Youtube playlist though all the videos are available on Warner Brothers' own channel if you want to see them). Really, though, Neil's film of the resulting CSNY 'Deja Vu' tour plugging this album is a much better response to the brutal, ugly and unnecessary wars fought in America's name in the past fifteen years.
55. Titel Thesen Tempramente (German TV 2008)
Making a rare return to Europe, Neil appeared on British TV on 'The Culture' Show looking nonplussed as he wondered whether irritating presenter Mark Kermode was for real or not (I know I've got this clip somewhere but I can't find it - I'll add it to the list on the re-writes I promise!) and a German show. This one is more interesting anyway as Neil discusses the 'Deja Vu' film and CSNY's long troubled history. 'It's late, but we have to do it' an angry Neil demands about Bush, 'We need to impeach him now and show that illegal wars are not ok and let the world know that you can't do that!' Neil says that the movie 'is about the songs and the tour but much more than that what the songs are all about' and adds that he's sad there's no young protest movement in America today because youngsters are too afraid of losing the only jobs they can get. There's a nice clip of the then-just released 'Massey Hall' version of 'Ohio' too.
56. Late Show With Letterman #1 (US TV July 2008)
It's a surprise that two American-adopted institutions didn't collide until as late as 2008 but yes this is Neil's first appearance on the show, walking out to the strains of a modified version of the chorus from 'Heart Of Gold'. Neil speaks about his love of the hybrid car (a theme which will dominate his next album 'Fork In The Road') and quotes about his past that 'Singing A Song Won't Change The World, but we can keep trying' - half of this phrase (which gets a large round of applause) will end up as a song on the 'Fork' album. There's also a clip from the 'Deja Vu' film (my favourite in which a reporter asks Neil what his new song 'Let's Impeach The President' is actually about!) and Neil fills in Letterman about the fact that 'Living With War' has become 'my most divisive moment with fans who feel passionately on both sides of the fence'. Interestingly news reporter Mike Serree was asked to come up with twelve separate bulletins which Neil changed around for the film.
57. Fork In The Road (Music Video 2009)
So far pretty much every Young music video has featured a car in there somewhere. Inevitably the 'Fork In The Road' album about Neil's new hybrid car inspires a whole load of shots of his converted 1958 Lincoln Continental and not a lot else to be honest. With the exception of this video that features Neil bopping around in his garden and miming to the record on a home movie camera for a full six minutes! However, stick with the video because there's a great air guitar moment during the solo and - while Neil's back is turned and just before the verse about his flat-screen TV being 'repo'd' - we actually see the repossession man walking out of his back door with it!
58. Behind The Wheel (Music Video 2009)
This video is shot with the dash-cam stuck on Neil's convertible and you can tell - Neil's hardly ever in shot so most of this video is passing shots of clouds and trees. Not one of Neil's better ideas, in terms of both song and video.
59. Cough Up The Bucks (Music Video 2009)
Neil's in the backseat of his beloved car for this one, dressed as a millionaire businessman on the phone to his seller and singing to us in between checking his stocks and shares in the paper. This is another irritatingly empty vide and the repetitive nature of the song doesn't help much either.
60. When Worlds Collide (Music Video 2009)
Neil's back to the dash-cam again for more random shots of trees and passing petrol stations although at least he stays in shot a bit more in this one. Sudden thought: they say you can't text or phone someone while driving, but are you allowed to mime your song lyrics into a camera? If not then I fear Neil's about to get a load of points on his license!
61. Hyde Park ('A Day In The Life' UK Concert June 2009)
A truly momentous moment in music history as two great minds meet on the same song. Neil hadn't introduced many covers into his setlist but The Beatles' 'A Day In The Life' was one of his better ideas, with an ecstatic charge of adrenalin and string-breaking guitar thrashing a substitute even for the best use of an orchestra in the 20th century. Sadly Neil still hasn't put his feedback-drenched version on record yet. For this one show in London's biggest park Neil even had a special guest on tow as Paul McCartney sang his original middle eight for the first time since recording the song back in late 1966! (Yes pedants he did revive the first verse during a Lennon tribute medley in 1990, but not his own part!) The audience can't quite believe that Paul is actually there as he wanders on stage, unannounced during a specially extended instrumental break. Paul and Neil sing their part together while hugging and conducting the audience. It's a thrilling moment, even if the crowd get the 'aaah's wrong like they do every single time! The ending, as always, is complete mayhem and ends in a xylophone solo by both players.
62. Glastonbury ('The Needle and The Damage Done' 'Words (Between The Lines Of Age)' 'Get Behind The Wheel' 'Rockin' In The Free World' 'A Day In The Life' 2009)
The track listing may not look particularly special but this set may well be the best Neil has ever played (certainly it's his best since 'Weld'). Neil's response to the biggest crowd of people he's played to since 'Live Aid' is to start off small and humble with a poetic acoustic set to draw the crowd in and a fierce, passionate electric set. Yes 'Words' drags as much as it ever did and the new song from 'Fork In The Road' is stupid, but the other two songs rock like never before. 'Rockin' In The Free World' is spun out to near enough twenty minutes, full of false starts and a moment when Neil quits playing and gets what looks like the whole audience to sway from side to side with their arms in the air before he finally punches back into the main riff and ends in howl of feedback after howl of feedback. The message is clear: we haven't found freedom yet but that doesn't mean we should stop looking. 'A Day In The Life' though is even more special as Neil plays without special guest McCartney but with even more intensity and a roaring finale that continues for several minutes and sees Neil break all his strings before, out of the ashes, Neil picks out an exhilarating xylophone melody in front of wife Pegi before scratching his head, giving up the ghost, throwing down his sticks and walking off stage leaving the crowd begging for more. CSN played a set too the night before but, loyal fan as I am, they couldn't match Neil's intensity on this day.
63. Winter Olympics ('Long May You Run' 2010)
When Canada hosted the Winter Olympics they invited all their superstars back to take part in the closing ceremony. They probably didn't expect Neil to say 'yes' but he did as long as he could do so on his own terms. Appearing roughly midway through the evening's celebrations he performs as the quiet interlude between lots of dancers and fireworks roaming the arena playing an acoustic version of one of his lesser tracks. Half of the crowd can't quite believe that it's happening and the other half think Neil's wandered in off the street while the camera keeps cutting to images of the Olympic Torch and athletes kissing their medals. There are clips of the audience actually shouting 'get off!' while Neil's nasty verse about The Beach Boys being stuck in the past seems oddly out of touch with the Olympic spirit. Not one of Neil's better ideas.
64. Le Noise Videos (Complete Album 2011)
Neil made a whole film to go with his 'Le Noise' album, capturing every single one of the solo performances he made on tape in arty black and white. Along the way we get shots of Le Nois' house where the album was made but not much happens really across what might just be the most boring forty minutes of your life. Students of Neil's guitar skills are in for a treat though as you get plenty of close-ups of his finger skills like never before.
65. Q TV (US TV 2011)
America's CBC network interviewed Neil and producer Daneil Le Nois together in promotion for this album. Neil says that he didn't have a plan or songs until asking the producer to work with him - which explains why so many of the songs sound so rushed. There's no real enthusiasm here as the two men try to explain why what you see is what you get is the best way of shooting the resulting film, rather than the most boring. Neil does fit in a few quotes though such as 'People who get technically better with age end up spiritually further away from the source' and the pair argue with the poor interviewer Jian Ghomeshi (whose better than average and clearly knows his music) whether the new songs are 'reflective' or not.
66. Clementine (Music Video 2012)
This song from 'Americana' is the obvious next step - a video that doesn't feature the artists at all! Instead of Crazy Horse limping their way through some traditional classics we get random shots of old children from the late 19th century, bubbles and a waterfall - none of which are mentioned in the song! Another of Neil's worst moments and why was this wretched song pulled as the one to promote?
67. Psychedelic Pill (Music Videos 2012)
Once more an entire album was set to video which in 'Psychedelic Pill's case means a full 90 minutes' worth. There are no shots of Crazy Horse or Neil in this lot either, but these videos are decidedly prettier to look at thanks to some sumptuous psychedelic computer imagery that morph different pictures together and yet somehow always seem to end up as the famous 'Surf's Up' silhouette of a man on a horse with an arrow through his stomach and his hands out-stretched (actually it's the sculpture 'End Of The Trail' by James Earl Fraser but I know most fans will know it better as a Beach Boys album cover!) 'Driftin' Back' works best despite lasting a full hypnotic 27 minutes. By contrast 'Born In Ontario' is just random shots of the city and 'For The Love Of Man' is a close up of some statue.
68. Late Show With Letterman #2 (US TV September 2012)
Neil's return to Letterman's show finds him discussing his pono music device (which is Hawaiian for 'natural' apparently) and he's typically enthusiastic, telling the presenter that it isn't just about his music sounding better but everybody's. I bet it still doesn't make 'Greendale' sound any good though - oddly Neil doesn't seem to have done any promotion for that record!
69. Farm Aid #3 ('Changes' US Concert 2013)
Neil's return to Farm Aid sees him in a sad and reflective mood, prowling the stage again like days of old. 'Life is short folks, there's no time but time right now' Neil starts his segment before talking about how Pete Seeger was talking backstage about how he wished he'd done more to save a friend from suicide. Neil knows what he means - he kind of lost a friend to self-inflicted suicide too and he wished he'd done more to help. Neil recounts Kurt Cobain called his office for help and how he didn't return the call and he 'blew his brains out days later'. A wag from the audience shouts out 'let's go' and then Neil turns from mad to sad, 'I'm on my way buddy!' he yells, 'I work for me!' Neil promises that his next song is 'long as hell' and plays a moving version of Phil Ochs' track 'Changes', a song that will wind its way onto Neil's next project 'A Letter Home' but sounds much better here without the fidelity difficulties of the voice-o-graph machine. Ochs too died from suicide caused by mental instability and Neil seems to share the stage with far too many ghosts for comfort this night. One of Neil's most extraordinary performances, this must be how watching the 'Tonight's The Night' shows felt.
70. The Needle Of Death (Music Video 2014)
This 'Letter Home' video features Neil singing that record's best track, Bert Jansch's song of a friend who died of a drug overdose. Only, Neil being Neil and this album being the project it is, we get a lo-fi quality black and white shot of Neil singing in the voice-o-graph booth. Note Neil's handwritten lyrics tacked up on the side of the wall, though Neil clearly knows the song well and doesn't really look at them.
71. If You Could Read My Mind (Music Video 2014)
This Gordon Lightfoot cover was recorded in the exact same way, with the differences that Neil finds a picture of the singer-songwriter ti add over the top as a 'ghost' and that we occasionally get close-ups of his shadow on the wall from a different angle. This is still a better performance to listen to than watch though.
72. Howard Stern Show (US TV 2014)
Neil and friend Jack White turn up with the latter's voice-o-graph machine on the disc jockey turned interviewer's show. The booth was open to the public in Nashville and had thousands of people passing through already. Neil barely gets a word in edgeways but he doesn't mention how when you close the door 'you feel as if you've gone way back'.
73. Who's Gonna Stand Up? (Music Video 2014)
Neil's next album was 'Storytone' - the one with the orchestra - and we see the overdubs taking shape interspersed with shots of Neil singing his lead vocal. Interestingly Neil wears the same 'Earth' T-shirt that will appear as the front cover of his 2016 live LP. That's the single most interesting thing about this video, though, which rather tells you all you need to know.
74. Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show ('Old Man' 2015)
At last Neil makes good on the promise of a Saturday Night Live style sketch by parodying himself to the tune of 'Old Man'. 'Neil' sits in shadow, his hat over his eyes in characteristic hunch-back pose for the full opening of the song until the camera finally comes in close-up and we find it's really presenter Jimmy Fallon. Neil, dressed in exactly the same clothes, walks on stage and shrugs his shoulders at the starts of the second verse and the two Neil's play along together. Given that Fallon is dressed up as the 'Harvest' era Neil it's as if the younger Neil does get a look at his life as n old man and realises he's a lot like he is (or something like that!) The 'real' Neil sings rather better though!
75. A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop (Music Video 2015)
The Promise Of The Real stand around Neil with coffee cups in their hand and whistling before throwing them away (ah yes but hang on - presumably they still bought them from Starbucks by the look of the label?!) Otherwise the 'new' Crazy Horse' behave much like the old one with the band miming in what looks like Neil's converted barn, with the same rug on the floor from the 'Ragged Glory' days as if it's never been moved!
76. The Big Interview with Don Rather ('Southern Man' US TV 2016)
Finally the last video to date is an interesting in-depth one as Neil discusses his ill health and replies to the question 'why do it?' with the simple words 'I love it!' Don Rather says that Neil's done so much already he ought to quit and Neil is incredulous 'So what? Who cares about that?' and turns the tables on his interviewer 'and what are you doing?! It's something you know how to do and you want to do it well and you also know that you can reach out and bring out to people things that otherwise they might have missed - what I do I'm doing for the same reasons'. It's a suitable place on which to end this lengthy list!