This has been a year for generational milestones. First, back in May, it was Pete Townshend of The Who turning 65. Today, it’s Neil Young who officially reaches retirement age.
Young was a favorite of mine growing up, both as a soloist and as a member of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. His angry anthem “Ohio” seemingly encapsulated the mindset of the youthful protesters against the Vietnam War and “Southern Man” the plight of African-Americans demanding justice, while at the same time folk-oriented songs such as “Helpless” and “Sugar Mountain” captured the wonder and loss of childhood in unforgettable ways (Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game” was a kind of musical response to “Sugar Mountain”). And just to show he’s not simply a 60s-70s leftover, his “Let’s Roll” was one of the most powerful responses to 9/11, a terrific tribute to Todd Beamer and the passengers of United 93: