As one of rock's premier songwriters, guitarists and even vocalists - that reedy tenor grows on you, big-time - Neil Young's body of work is second only to Bob Dylan's in terms of quality-to-amount ratio. But Young, who turns 63 today, is and has been many other things: cerebral-palsy activist, Farm Aid co-founder, Rick James' bandmate in the Mynah Birds, temporary W apologist after 9/11 ("Let's Roll," repudiated in a major way on 2006'sLiving With War
), Ronnie Van Zandt frenemy, Bridge School founder, Kurt Cobain suicide-note source material ("Hey Hey My My"), bizarre concept-album auteur (
, 2003), movie star (Jonathan Demme's sterling 2006 concert docNeil Young: Heart of Gold
) and brain-aneurysm survivor.
Young is also one of the few rock stars sued by his own label for turning in music executives deemed "unrepresentative" of his work - 1982's Trans, which grew out of Young investigating synthesizers, vocoders and other electronic instruments in the hopes of finding a way to communicate with his son (rendered mute due to severe CP). Happy birthday, Neil!
After the jump, a few of Shakey's best. - Chris Gray
Buffalo Springfield, "For What It's Worth/Mr. Soul"
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, "Ohio"
"Roll Another Number (for the Road)"
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"Hey Hey, My My"
"Rockin' in the Free World" (with Pearl Jam)
"He Was the King"