As I mentioned several weeks ago I just finished reading Neil Young’s new book, Waging Heavy Peace. He tells some great stories in the book so I figured you might enjoy one more of them.
A few weeks before the people who would found Crazy Horse (as yet unnamed), Danny, Billy, Ralphie, and me got together in my Topanga living room, I had been sick with the flu, holed up in bed in the house. Susan was bringing me soup and good stuff, but I still felt like shit. I was delirious half the time and had an odd metallic taste in my mouth. It was peculiar. At the height of this sickness, I felt pretty high in a strange way.
I had a guitar in a case near the bed – probably too near the bed in the opinion of most of the women I had relationships with. I took it out and started playing; I had left it in a tuning I was fond of, D modal, with the E strings both tuned down to D. It provided a drone sound, sort of like a sitar, but not really. I played for a while and wrote “Cinnamon Girl.” The lyrics were different from how the song eventually ended up, but all those changes happened right there, immediately, until the song was complete.
Then I took the guitar out of D modal and kept playing. At the time, there was a song in E minor on the radio that I liked, “Sunny” or something like that. I remembered hearing it in the drugstore at Fairfax and Sunset while I was shopping for something to ease flu. The song kept looping in my head, endlessly, like some things do when I’m sick and maybe a little delirious. So I started playing it on the guitar, and then I changed the chords a bit – and it turned into “Down By The River.” I was still feeling sick, but happy and high. It was a unique feeling . I had two brand-new songs! Totally different from the last album!
Then I started playing in A minor, one of my favorite keys, I had nothing to lose. I was on a roll. The music just flowed naturally that afternoon and soon I had written “Cowgirl in the Sand.” This was pretty unique, to write three songs in one sitting, and I am pretty sure that my semi-delirious state had a lot to do with that.
So……with a story like that I know that you will forgive me for turning today’s Two’fer into a a Three’fer! Let’s listen to the three masterpieces that Neil wrote on the same day while delirious from the flu. Absolutely amazing…..
Down By The River
Cowgirl In The Sand
This post goes out to my friend Gerard who has been sick with the flu during January. Hope you are feeling better!