Neil Young is a complex character, as anyone who read his rambling 2012 autobiography Waging Heavy Peace will know all too well.
In print, the rocker, who turns 70 today, succeeds in shedding light on his incredible recording career, his 1970s heyday and his family life in one chapter, before veering off on tangents about why his PonoPlayer gadget will revolutionise music, his attempt to make his 1959 Lincoln Continental fuel-efficient, or his obsession with model trains (he holds several patents as a co-inventor of toy choo-choos).
All vaguely interesting to a greater or lesser degree, but not what you normally expect from a rock biography.
What emerges, though, despite a high level of positive filtering (you suspect), is a self-portrait of one of the most single-minded characters in music.
The sometimes ornery Young has obviously always been a man of intense focus, and when some of that wasn’t fulfilled by his musical creativity, it landed on an esoteric collection of hobbies and activist ideals.
When you’ve had a career like his, though, you’re allowed to test the patience of your fans once in a while, whether it’s a 20-page chapter about audio quality or a 20-minute guitar solo at one of his (rarely crowd-pleasing) concerts.
To celebrate the 70th birthday of a man who helped define the sound of alternative rock (he’s been called the Godfather of Grunge) and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame not once but twice (both for his solo output and as a member of Buffalo Springfield), here is our selection of some essential Neil Young from the 1970s.
As Young has removed most of his music from streaming services like Spotify, listen to the playlist on YouTube:
1. The Loner
2. I’ve Been Waiting For You
3. Cinnamon Girl
4. Southern Man
5. Tell Me Why
6. Old Man
7. A Man Needs A Maid (live)
8. Heart Of Gold (live)
9. Needle And The Damage Done (live unplugged)
10. On The Beach
11. Tonight’s The Night
12. Cortez The Killer
13. Like a Hurricane
14. Lotta Love
15. My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)
16. Comes a Time