An Essay: by Patrick McKenna
He walks along the mud-splattered sidewalk while cars drive through puddles and a crackling guitar is his only soundtrack. Decade. One of those walks where he needed to tune everything out and focus on two goals: get from point A to point B and let the riffs of Neil Young guide your path.
It starts with a flimsy, scratchy guitar run in “Cowgirl in the sand.” The music has some bizarre power of ultimate transportation, as if a few notes together have some interlocking command of the senses. The repetitious solo gets tiresome around minute seven, and he makes a decision. Skip.
All of a sudden, gentle piano and gentler singing graces his ears. “I was thinking of what a friend had said, I was hoping it was a lie.” Those words transitioning into that horn park speaks to him like nothing else could. Thoughts of self-doubt and shame float about, but the beautiful tune squashes those out. “All in a dream, in a dream…” He thinks about his own love for Mother Nature, his own new home in this world.
Just like that, a brewing, boisterous opening to “Tonight’s the Night” enters. The bass thumps and pumps with the rest of Crazy Horse. A wagging finger and bitter call for a friend is all Neil Young has. He probably knew this night would happen eventually. He knew the tale of Bruce Berry’s life isn’t sustainable. But a good jam might help the pain.
The walk is almost over. He knows how he wants to end it.
He puts on “Heart of Gold,” and it’s like a weight on his back falls to the floor. He knows what its like to get old, to search fall and in between for a heart of gold.
He wants to experience life. He wants to always, always keep searching.
He’ll find his heart of gold. And when he does, he’ll remember Neil Young. He’ll remember what music has the power to do to his brain.
And he’ll remember this walk.