Monday, 12 November 2012

Riding with Neil

Neil Young is 67 today. There are few people as cool, in my book, and I struggle to think of many who have brought me as much enjoyment through their music.

Back in ancient times, there was a guy named Larry whose parents lived across the park from my house in East Memphis. He was a couple of years older than me, and I didn't really know him when we were kids, though I did have a crush on his younger sister at the time. Years later, when my buddy, Mark Edwards, and I were trying to start our first band, we "auditioned" (a pompous and misleading term, given that typically it felt like we were trying to woo people to join in our tuneless racket-making) Larry as a drummer. I had seen him at some sort of university party with another band, and he was a decent drummer, plus he was a funny guy and seemed to know how to have a good time.

Anyway, invariably our rehearsals in those days were short on musical content and long on drinking and talking. Larry regaled us with tales of his job as a room service waiter at the Hilton in East Memphis. He seemed to have met all sorts of rock stars in the course of his work, and it must have been a real shock to knock on the door of room 515, or whatever, only to discover Pete Townshend on the other side. But he seemed to be pretty cool about it all. Maybe it was all made up, who knows, and who cares?

The best one I remember was when he knocked on a door and was greeted by a very bored Neil Young, who bribed him to take him out in his car to buy a six pack of beer and drive him around Memphis for a couple of hours, talking and listening to the radio as Neil smoked the occasional "left-handed cigarette."

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