Neil Young and a creative life
Years ago I was honored to be sitting in the second row at the funeral of a good friend's father, who had passed away suddenly. There were hundreds of people there and he was adored by friends, family, and his local community. And there in the second row of this very full, very somber church, I was sobbing loudly. Way too loudly. And I used to wonder why.
It's a funeral and funerals are sad. He was a great father to a great friend. Everybody was sad. But where did this intense rush of emotion come from? What was it about? There were a dozen or more speakers during this funeral but one stood out to me. It was a dear friend of his who was also in his sixties. This group of friends had started to get together with some regularity to have lunch. To catch up on how everyone was doing and to reminisce about the old days. But everybody was busy. They had meetings to attend to, businesses to run, plans to make. This friend pleaded with the audience that day to just make the time. For the friends and family that really matter, take the time. Spend time with them. You never know when your last lunch will come.
It's easy to just say being at a funeral can be a life-altering event in that it forces us to face our own death. But in the years since, I think I've gotten a clearer picture of why that message was so haunting to me.
I don't like the idea of things undone. Trips not taken. Adventures not had. Love not shared.
Neil Young said it's better to burn out than to fade away. Maybe so. But Neil's recent interview with one of my favorite people, Rick Rubin, is beautiful for a different reason. The isolation from the pandemic has given Neil time. Time to comb through his archives, to listen to recordings from years gone by, bands gone by, relationships gone by. And he's releasing them, in some grand gesture, in a 13-disc set and accompanying 8 "docu-musical" movies. Not because they'll get critical acclaim, not because it's his most important work, but because it's part of his legacy. And as he says "I want to be here for that. To experience whatever response there may be for it."
Do things and share them. Do as much as you can. Don't fade away. And share widely. You never know how your art will land.
Don't leave things undone.
The interview is really great, and it's very fuliflling to hear someone as accomplished as Neil Young sound so happy, at ease, and in his element. May we all be so lucky.