Mr. Soul


Neil Young was and remains a man of his time. His unkempt sense of style hasn’t changed much and neither has his faith in the do-gooding power of music. If he comes off as slightly weird and brain-addled, that’s because he is. Brain-addled in the literal sense of having something wrong with his brain, namely epilepsy. Young experienced his first major seizure in 1966; the Buffalo Springfield song Burned is his creative reaction. This song was also written after a seizure episode and period of treatment (which he describes in quite horrific detail in his memoir.) Young has had more than his fair share of close calls with death, beginning with childhood polio, and no doubt it’s informed his music. There’s an existential streak in even his mellowest and most tuneful hits; there a quite a few songs about death. This one isn’t, on the surface, about death, but it’s baleful and moody, as would befit the mental state of someone who recently spent some hellish time in hospital getting his brain prodded.

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