NEIL YOUNG and DIANA KRALL at Massey Hall (178 Victoria), Sunday (January 12), 7:30 pm. $95-$250. RTH, TM. Sold out.
Neil Young will show his political side when he plays Massey Hall on Sunday. The Honour The Treaties benefit concert raises money for the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation's legal battle against oil corporations and the Canadian government, whose tar sands projects and mine expansions threaten traditional lands and ecosystems.
The neoclassical venue and serious context probably won't inspire boisterous air-guitaring from the crowd, though plenty of fans will be humming every note and working out the chords in their minds. Young's accessible, beloved discography, after all, is one of the most covered in popular music.
We rounded up a few local musicians to find out which of Young's songs they most enjoy playing.
"I was actually playing Out On The Weekend in my kitchen this morning," says Octoberman's Marc Morrissette, "so that would be my answer today, but it might change tomorrow since there are so, so many. I love that line ‘The woman I'm thinking of, she loved me all up, but I'm so down today.' The only Neil Young cover I've ever performed publicly was Albuquerque, quite a few years ago. It has a good line about getting some breakfast. Only Neil could pull that off."
"I think I have to go with Revolution Blues, from Neil's 1974 album, On The Beach, which is my favourite album," says Larry Cariou, lead singer for tribute act the Neil Young'uns. "The driving beat is the first thing that appeals to me. And I love the lyrics. Some might say they're bleak, and considering they're fashioned around Neil's chance meeting with Charles Manson in the mid-60s, they'd be right. But the final verse gives me chills when I sing it. It's just an overall emotional experience."
"I've never played any Neil songs during my shows, but I've certainly played a lot in my kitchen," says Afie Jurvanen, aka Bahamas. "I think Harvest Moon is probably my favourite. Every line is so simple and beautiful, and the whole song is delivered with such patience. It's like he's in no rush to tell someone his heart's desire. Pretty heavy stuff."
"Usually when I cover Neil Young it's for a wedding, in which case it's Unknown Legend or Harvest Moon to get the silver foxes dancing," says Simone Schmidt of the Highest Order, Fiver and One Hundred Dollars. "But I sang Winterlong with [Neil Young and Crazy Horse tribute band] Horsey Craze in the spring, and that was a lot of fun."
Schmidt's song Black Gold, from One Hundred Dollars' Songs Of Man album, was actually written in hopes that Young might cover it someday. The timing couldn't be better - the song tells the story of a conflicted Alberta oil sands worker lured by big money but losing the things that really matter to him.
Hey, Neil, are you listening?