Sunday, January 31, 2010
Wizard of Young
Last week on the Last Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, Coco's final musical guest was the legendary Neil Young. Neil sang one of my favorite post-CSNY songs called Long May You Run. But, more about the music later.
I was thinking that time had not been too good to poor old Neil. He was looking a little past his prime, and the performance was not his personal best. He is "getting up there" after all. Neil turned 64 last November and has led a bit of a "hard life." I'll leave it at that.
But as I watched the performance on Conan that night, Neil - in his current form - had begun to look like some other well known person. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then this morning, there was a piece in the local paper about Neil Young being honored at a pre-Grammy affair last night "for his decades of philanthropic service," according to the news release.
There it hit me....in the photo accompanying the article, Neil was looking almost exactly like ... The Wizard of Oz. I mean, THE Wizard of Oz. The 1939-Judy-Garland-as-Dorothy-and-Toto-her-little-dog Wizard of Oz.
The actor Frank Morgan, who played the part of the Wizard and several other characters in the film you will remember, had those robust pink cheeks and the thinning hair combed straight back. Check out the photo and tell me Morgan and Young are not related.
Getting back to the music, the song Long May You Run was released on an album of the same name in 1976. A final collaboration with former bandmate, Stephen Stills, this was one of the best cuts on the album.
In the summer of 1982, I was driving back east on a cross-country jaunt and decided to head up into Canada for the last leg of our journey back to New Hampshire. Leaving Ashland, WI in the morning, we passed through Sault Ste. Marie around dusk and turned onto the TransCanada. It was well after dark when we passed through Blind River, Ontario and Long May You Run began to resonate in my head. Good memories still to come.
To Conan and Neil: long may you both run.