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Neil Young: The Uncompromising Spirit of a Native Son

Lloyd N. Peterson Jr. By

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Now in his fourth decade of composing and performing, Young remains a paradox, a visionary with a disdain for conventions, boundaries and even success. His passions burn deep yet there is a turmoil that will not let him rest, will not leave him at peace, with doubt now seeping through the cracks of an aging soul. Age can be a cruel companion, but the spirit has an eternal candle whose brightness is determined by the tenor and resolve of the woman or man. He is a rare artist whose every note, every word, every musical nuance is brutally honest, a relentless and intense creative spirit, unwilling to bend in the search for higher truths; a genius with extraordinary depth and clarity.

In March of 2005, Young had to undergo surgery for a brain aneurysm; a brush with death and a face to face with his own mortality. The song below was composed right after his surgery and perhaps no words exist that could better reflect the man that is Neil Young.

"When God Made Me"

Was he thinkin' about my country

Or the color of my skin?

Was he thinkin' 'bout my religion

And the way I worshipped him?

Did he create just me in his image

Or every living thing?

When God made me

When God made me

Was he planning only for believers

Or for those who just have faith?

Did he envision all the wars

That were fought in his name?

Did he say there was only one way

To be close to him?

When God made me

When God made me

Did he give me the gift of love

To say who I could choose?

When God made me

When God made me

Did he give me the gift of voice

So some could silence me?

Did he give me the gift of vision

Not knowing what I might see?

Did he give me the gift of compassion

To help my fellow man?

When God made me

When God made me

This article will be included in the future book publication by Lloyd Peterson, Wisdom Through Music. He is also the author of the book, Music and the Creative Spirit.

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