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The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

Toronto Songs: Neil Young's Ambulance Blues

Four-to-Go Neil Young (left) with Four to Go's Ken Koblum and Geordie McDonald
Neil Young returned to the city of his birth in 1965, determined to break into Toronto’s flourishing music scene. He’d arrived with his Winnipeg group, the Squires, but their new folk-rock sound fell on deaf ears. Even changing their name to Four to Go failed to make a difference. So Young parted ways with his bandmates and launched himself as a solo folksinger. Before leaving Winnipeg, Young had become enamored of Bob Dylan’s music and taught himself to play “Four Strong Winds,” Ian Tyson’s Canada-referencing response to “Blowin’ in the Wind.” He’d also encountered Joni Mitchell, who was performing at the Fourth Dimension coffeehouse with her husband. After the show, Young went up to Joni, ...
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Music Review: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - Paradox

Neil
Neil wears many hats–including that of filmmaker. His latest project, a western, sees the 72-year-old Canadian rocker join forces with his romantic partner Daryl Hannah ( Splash ,  Kill Bill ), who wrote and directed the movie. Available on Netflix and centred around a group of outlaws hiding out in the mountains,  Paradox  stars Neil, fellow music legend Willie Nelson, and Willie’s sons, Lukas and Micah, who are members of Neil’s backing band Promise of the Real. The movie’s soundtrack features Neil’s solo score together with solo and band performances. There are campfire-style renditions of blues songs like Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me to Do” and Lead Belly’s “Ho...
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Music Review: Neil Young - Hitchhiker

Music Review: Neil Young - Hitchhiker
His Harvest album was the biggest-seller of 1972, but Neil wasn’t happy. “‘Heart of Gold’ put me in the middle of the road,” he later wrote. “Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch.” The ditch meant a trio of darker, abrasive albums that left some fans craving for more acoustic songs. This 10-song collection, recorded in 1976 but left in Neil’s vaults until now, sounds a lot like a companion to Harvest . It features stripped-down versions of “Pocahontas” and “Powderfinger” that he later recorded with Crazy Horse. “Campaigner” and “Human Highway” sound relevant all over again with their messages about political deception and mean spiritedness. The former cites Richard Ni...
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Music Review: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Monsanto Years

Music Review: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Monsanto Years
It’s not just the agrochemical multinational corporation that Young targets on his new protest album, but big-box chains like Wal-Mart and Starbucks that are “too big to fail, too rich for jail.” Working with Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah, the raging rock legend tackles topics from worker exploitation to genetically modified foods.
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Neil Young - A Letter Home

Neil often defies expectations. Here, he releases a collection of tunes by his favorite songwriters recorded in a retro recording booth—with instant, if decidedly lo-fi results. Neil’s fans won’t mind: hearing the legendary rocker sing intimate covers of songs by Bob Dylan and others is priceless. Among the standouts are his takes on Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” and Bruce Springsteen’s “My Hometown.” Best of all are Neil’s versions of Gordon Lightfoot’s classics “Early Morning Rain” and “If You Could Read My Mind.” A tribute from Canadian icon to another.
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