Neil Young News
From: Jason Auguste Schwartz <email@example.com
Subject: NY 1971 - Part 2/2
I did spent the afternoon
in the library researching Neil's one and
only appearance at the University of Oregon back on January 10, 1971. Here
are two articles which appeared in our student newspaper, the Daily Emerald
two days later. The first has an early reference to the Young v. God
debate and the second talks about beefed up security due to a threat made
on Neil's life.
When it comes to rock and roll performers, they don't come much stonier than Neil Young. That point was emphasized Sunday night as a sold-out Mac Court audience was held spellbound by the wispy Canadian armed with a few guitars, a piano, and a voice of rarest beauty.
Why did so many people go to see and hear Neil Young? For two reasons it seems; in the first place, Young writes songs on a level which most people can understand. He writes about feelings we all have felt, hassles we have all been through, and hopes we all have had.
Secondly, Neil Young has an imagination so creative that his songs and voice often present possiblities on a higher level than was previously thought possible. This ability to raise levels of conciousness accounts for Young's stoniness.
Opening the all-acoustic concert was legendary blues singer John Hammond. His phrasing, as well as his mastery of guitar and harp proved that blues is not an idiom reserved solely for black performers. The blues that John Hammond sang and played came from the blood circulating through his soul.
Looking a bit like the orphaned son a a Winnipeg lumberjack, Neil Young mounted the stage and the reasons so many people had come to see him immediately became obvious.
Not only does Young write some of the strangest musical thoughts around, and sing with a voice equally mystifying, he also bears a stage presence that commands attention yet opens the performer up so that the audience might glimpse at the person behind all that creativity.
Playing songs which ranged from his Buffalo Springfield days, ("On the Way Home") to his more recent Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young efforts ("Ohio") as well as tunes from his three solo albums, Young also introduced a number of songs written in the past month.
Of the new songs, Young's manager, Elliot Roberts explained, "Most of them don't have names, the important thing is that people understand what Neil said."
Among the new songs was a powerful message which Young introduced by saying, "This song is about heroin. A lot of people don't like to say or hear that word. Because most of us don't like to admit that a friend of ours is a junkie." The importance of the song was crystallised in the final verse: "I've seen the needle and the damage done, A little part of it in everyone, And every junkie's like a setting sun."
Also among the new numbers were two songs on a par with typical Neil Young quality, which is quite high. One concerned an old man who lives on Young's ranch in Northern California. The song is about life and how similar it is, no matter what era he lives in.
The second song was performed on piano and might be titled "A Maid." This song seems to be very important to Young, as his introduction to it in Portland last Thursday indicated that he was concerned about the fact that few people seemed to understand it. Written just a week before his concert at Mac Court, the tune fuses Young's voice and piano with a resultant intensity characteristic of songs like "Southern Man" and "Ohio."
At one point in his performance, young went into a rap about the fact that so many rock freaks make gods out of the rock musicians. While he did indicate that there was little difference between himself and the people in the audience, it seems important to say that there is something very special about musicians of Young's ability.
In this writer's opinion, musicians as creative as Neil Young are destined to achieve stardom no matter how they start or how many human problems they encounter. At heart, Young is just as human as every one of the people who went to see him, but there is something about him which makes him different, which makes him a god in the eyes of many of his fans.
Much of the god status many rock musicians attain is the result of well planned promotion by big business record companies as well as distortion by the media, which has a tendency to take advantage of the fact that it is a greater and more far-reaching means of expression than the thoughts inside our own heads.
That Neil Young felt it important to deny the role he has been placed in is encouraging, but the fact that his ability is on a level much higher than most people come in contact with everyday indicates that there is something special about him.
It was revealed after the show that Neil had performed with a threat upon his life. Add to this the fact that he had slipped a disc in his back just a month ago and was wearing a brace during the show, and I think some of that special quality about him will begin to be evident.
By the way, Neil Young seems to be getting stonier with each new song.
Here is the second article...
Neil Young performed in concert Sunday night knowing that someone had threatenerd to shoot him if he sang in McArthur Court.
The threat, which was received during the middle of last week, was telephoned to one of the student offices on the third floor of the EMU.
According to the student who answered the phone, the caller said, "Listen mother f------, you've got that Neil Young concert on and if that son of a bitch appears that son of a bitch is gonna get plugged from in the audience and if you think this is a joke go ahead with it."
The student who answered the threatening phone call went directly to University authorities reporting what he had been told to EMU Director Dick Reynolds.
Reynolds conveyed the threat to Young's manager. Young was on concert tour in Canada when he learned of the threat in Eugene. Reynolds also conveyed the threat to the Eugene Police Dept. and security for the concert was altered.
Among the precautions taken at the concert, according to Reynolds, were adding to the usual force of police officers at University concerts and leaving lights on in the balconies of Mac Court throughout the concert.
Reynolds told the Emerald Monday that the Young concert security force included four plain clothesmen and 10 uniformed officers. This, said the EMU director, compares to the usual force of four policemen for each concert.
At one point during the concert, the audience started yelling for the balcony lights, which cast illumination throughout the gymnasium, to be turned out.
Young responded to their yells saying, "Please don't worry about the lights. They're on and they're alright. This gives me the chance to see the audience for once and it's cool."
After this pause in his act, Young went back to singing. He didn't mention the threat. The audience seemed satisfied wiht what he said. There were no more chants for the lights to be turned out.
According to Reynolds, the threat on Young's life was not the only problem for the concert.
[He then talks about how gate crashers broke down a door to get in to the sold out show attended by over 9,000. The facility responded by letting people in for $1 each to sit in seats not originally set aside for the show. 485 people gained admission this way and a potential riot was avoided.]
He added that the customary warning that smoking was prohibited in Mac Court was not given because "you get to kind of feeling hypocritical after a while."
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