January 18, 2014 – 10:15 am

Rust never sleeps… indeed. Even after all these years and fame, Neil Young stil has that majesty and mystery when he enters the spotlight on stage. Article and pictures by Karen Barry Schwarz.

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Click on the links to download Neil Young’s Carnegie Hall 2014 shows:
January 06, 2014 - click here
January 07, 2014 - click here
January 09, 2014 - click here
January 10, 2014 - click here

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Neil Young’s concerts at Carnegie Hall (Jan 6, 7, 9, 10, 2014) were, simply, sublime. I can’t think of a better way to describe them. Now. I am one of Neil Young’s biggest fans, so you have to understand that I am not entirely objective. Full disclosure: the Carnegie Hall shows were my 88th, 89th, and 90th Neil Young shows, so you see what I mean. Still. My feelings are real. We are only what we feel.

I am the kind of fan whose heart jumps into her throat when the lights go down and Neil Young makes his way to center stage. In the case of Carnegie Hall, he made his way into what I like to call The Sacred Circle, a circle of guitars with a chair in the center. Gulp. I had to remind myself to breathe. A beautiful scene. And it is a scene. And a performance. But…

Neil Young has a way of making you think he just wandered into Carnegie Hall (or wherever) from his old car with his guitar on his back. He still has that “aw shucks” quality about him, after all these years (and all this fame.) On the other hand, there is, well, a majesty about him. It’s a mystery how he manages to possess both.

Of course he is, after all, Neil Young. A veteran. A legend. Someone to be revered. But he’s also just Neil. “We love you Neil!” was heard over and over again at the Carnegie Hall shows, and always. He inspires both familiarity and awe. Which probably explains why so many of us, eager to shake his hand over the years, find ourselves tongue-tied when we do. Neil! Neil! Neil! - here he is! - Uh…

When Neil wasn’t in The Sacred Circle, he wandered around between two pianos and an organ, under the watchful eye of his old friend Woody (a wooden Indian that is always on stage with him). The wandering, and his thoughtful demeanor, give the lovely impression that you are, for a couple of hours, invited into Neil’s living room, a fly on the wall while he wanders around thinking about and playing some of his old songs on a rainy afternoon.

When Neil played “Birds,” I was in the balcony, my back against the wall, the farthest seat in the room. The woman next to me burst into tears about half way through the song. I looked at her. “It’s… It’s… so beautiful,” she sniffed. I nodded my head. “Yes, yes. It is. I know.” I nodded. I understood.

There were other, less moving moments, that night in the balcony, like the fact that the only drunken woo-hoo-er in the audience was seated directly in front of me. I was tempted to push him over the rail, but I didn’t. Mellow My Mind came up, and it did just that.

You know, I had better seats during my three-night run at Carnegie Hall (and no, I wasn’t at the now ridiculously famous first show where Neil asked the audience to stop clapping while he was trying to play. I side with Neil on this one - shocker, I know - but I mean really. This is a performance. Not a sing-along. Would you clap at the symphony?).

Anyway. I had better seats during my three night run at Carnegie Hall, but there was something about that balcony seat. The sound was fantastic, it is Carnegie Hall after all, but there was something else. From that angle, I could see the two spotlights shining on Neil and they formed, in their elongated shape, a perfect heart, Neil’s feet placed firmly in its center. You know, I felt like it was my own.

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  1. 6 Responses to “THE MAJESTY OF IT ALL”

  2. Thanks to your witness,i wasn’t there but i wish i was…very nice written

    By easy on Jan 19, 2014

  3. Thanks for sharing. Nice to hear what it was like from inside and the thoughts that went through your mind.

    By Woodstock69Vet on Jan 19, 2014

  4. Nice jog Karen. I had to remind myself to breathe too. When I look back on it, I still get goosebumps!

    By Jill Seagraves on Jan 19, 2014

  5. Great review; thanks for sharing!

    By rustINhead on Jan 19, 2014

  6. Nice review!

    Cool pic — a perfect heart, Neil’s feet placed firmly in its center.

    Good to see you in NYC!

    By thrasher on Jan 20, 2014

  7. Great review. Thanks. One thing: the famous First Night incident where Neil asked the audience to stop clapping was totally distorted by the media. He started “Ohio” and the audience began clapping way out of time. So, in a very nice way, he explained that loud, off-beat clapping was a big distraction. He was actually very nice about it. And Funny. You can hear it on the Jan. 6, 2014 recording linked above. Just listen to the start of “Ohio”.

    By Mike in Providence on May 8, 2014

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