On November 12, 1945 rock legend Neil Young was born in Toronto, Ontario. What could I possibly say that hasn’t already been said about Neil Young’s 50+ years making music? So rather than tell you that I’m the expert on Neil Young (which would be a lie), and copy+pasting his Wikipedia bio, I’d instead like to talk about his 2010 album Le Noise and the profound effect it had on me.
I discovered this album while attending music production school in Minneapolis, and experiencing my first year living in the city. The first thing that stood out to me was the production by Daniel Lanois. I couldn’t believe that Neil Young’s voice and one guitar could sound so full and intriguing. I spent many long bus rides through the city with my headphones on, losing myself in the lush wall of sound. It was as if Neil Young was singing directly to me, but miles (or even decades) away.
However, the reason why I hold this album so near and dear to me is because of Neil Young’s storytelling. Lanois did many things to add a modern twist to Young’s sound, but it does nothing to diminish the power of his words and delivery. In a time when every song on the radio is about partying, money, clothes and all else, songs like “Love and War” and “Hitchhiker” are signs that there are still musicians putting their heart and their pain into their songs.
While this may be the thirty-third studio album by Neil Young, do not make the mistake of overlooking it.
Happy Birthday Neil,