Our Greatest Export: Neil Young
Two references to Neil Young from two very disparate sources; I think of Neil as so much a national icon that a reference to him is essentially a reference to Canada as a whole.
Carlos Reygadas, Post Tenebras Lux (2013)
Unfortunately I can’t find an actual film clip, only these “intellectuals” from The Guardian rattling on, but if you look/listen closely at the very beginning of the segment you’ll hear one character ask for a Neil Young song; the woman at the piano then launches into “It’s A Dream” from Young’s 2005 album Prairie Wind.
I haven’t seen the entire film (though I did watch the trailer), so I have no idea whether the song runs through it or plays a larger thematic role, or whether it’s just a bit of music in a single scene. I have seen Battle in Heaven, also by Reygadas; no Neil Young that I recall,but I did spend a lot of time staring at the blank, affectless faces of non-actors (Reygadas is somewhat of the Bresson school) feeling that I was supposed to conjure for myself the emotions the characters were feeling rather than watch the (non)actors express them. This grew tedious after a while.
Moving on to another part of the universe…
Peter King, “Monday Morning Quarterback” (May 6, 2013)
From the “Tweets of the Week” section of Peter King’s NFL column at si.com:
Tweet of the Week IV
“Randy called me and said.’..Got mashed potatoes…can’t get no T-Bone!!!..’.so I said we’ll float that rent fer a little bit n keep rockin’ ”
— @jimirsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts.
I’ve been told Irsay gave $75,000 to keep a Colts-themed bar in Indianapolis, the Blue Crew Sports Grill, alive. Kudos to him for that.
Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, is a well-known fan of classic rock, and according to Wikipedia he “has a habit of quoting rock music”. (You can get a glimpse of his conversational style in this profile and see some of his guitar collection here.) So apparently people who know Irsay know that quoting rock lyrics is the perfect way to communicate with him; and if you use Neil Young lyrics, even slightly obscure ones, he’ll still understand what you mean. (Though it’s impossible to tell whether the Neil Young quote was used by “Randy” when speaking to Irsay or whether it’s just Irsay’s way of summing up the situation; I’m inclined to think the latter.)
So we have a Mexican art-film director and a billionaire NFL franchise-owner, connected by their love for the music of a Canadian: Neil Young. That indicates the remarkable reach of Young’s art and its ability to connect very different people, and shows how deeply it has seeped into the North American cultural consciousness. It makes you wonder whether a lot of his fans even know he’s Canadian; and that, somehow, seems like a very Canadian definition of success.
And now, a little music. Here’s the album version of “It’s A Dream”:
Here’s Patti Smith covering the song in, of all places, Ottawa (I’m still a bit ticked off that she wasn’t the opening act when I saw him last fall in Toronto; she clearly opened for him in Ottawa, as well as at most of his other shows around that time):
And here’s “T-Bone” – be warned that it’s not his most lyrically inventive song – from the oddly titled re•ac•tor album:
And finally, with thanks to Craig Proctor, here’s the encore he did when I saw him; a rare performance of “Helpless” by Crazy Horse. The critics sneered, but we cheered: