Barely Related Ponderables

What wine pairs best with a white nightshirt?

A red blend of course. Somewhere between the table and my mouth my wine took a detour, landing in a splatter pattern on my chest.

I know I should have immediately applied Shout or some other brand name stain treatment, but I elected to wear it as is, pretending it’s a work of high end non-representational art.

For some reason this spillage caused me to ponder the music of Neil Young. I’ve been listening to Neil on my Alexa device quite a bit lately, and I have to wonder: Where are the Neil Youngs of today? Where are the singers who are raw and real, who wouldn’t have gotten past the audition stage of The Voice or American Idol, but who speak to the soul of the resistance?

Nowadays someone would try to clean Neil’s vocals up. They’d treat the stains and strains and commercialize the lyrics. Screw that. My nightshirt and Neil are gonna resist that shit.

Peace, people.

Here’s Neil’s Old Man. Enjoy.

The Dark Places

Everyone knows the dark places, those that linger on the edge of consciousness like a Neil Young song. 

Down by the River, why’d you shoot your baby? Did you go into that dark place and become so 

Disoriented that there was no return? I watched myself in a mirror once. Got lost in my own eyes,

And almost drowned in a river of madness before clawing my way back to the other side. 

But no one even knew I’d ventured over. I washed my hands and splashed water on my face

Before going to prepare a simple beef casserole for dinner. The onions made my eyes water.

“Woman Looking at Herself in Mirror,” artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)

Howard Stern, Neil Young, and Inspiration

I have an hour between testing sessions at schools, so I’m sitting outside in my car listening to Howard Stern’s interview with the great Neil Young.

The two spent a great deal of time discussing Neil’s songwriting legacy and what inspires him. Neil spoke about the ideas that come to him as a gift. When he gets an idea, no matter where he is or what he is doing he stops and takes care of the idea right then. His ideas, he said, come to him out of the ether.

Howard chose that time to play one of Neil’s greatest hits, “Ohio,” the lyric story of the murders at Kent State so many years ago. The inspiration came from the Time magazine cover that captured the horror of that day, an image that drove Neil into the woods where he sat on a rock until he had captured the song. It didn’t take him long–many of his songs came to him quickly.

He made me think a lot about inspiration. Some days the ideas flow like a wide open faucet and I’ll end up with five or six posts without breaking a sweat. That doesn’t mean they’re all great, but that’s not the point. Someone else, says Mr. Young can decide if what one writes is good or not. The world has plenty of critics.

Other days no ideas come. It’s like I’m knocking on a door, but nobody answers. On those days I just start typing. Sometimes what happens is surprisingly good, but usually it gets the delete treatment. I try to capture my ideas as soon as they hit me, but many float in and out of my head before I even recognize them as ideas. What I’d really like is for Neil Young’s creative genius to be magically implanted in my brain.

Fun fact: Did you know that Neil Young and Rick James once roomed together and played in a band called the Mynah Birds? They weren’t yet out if their teens.