JAIMIE VERNON – Old Man Take A Look At Your Life

Valentine and VerminI’m about to go off on a diatribe involving Neil Young (quelle surprise). If you’re a fan of Shaky you best leave this blog, get out your gatefold vinyl copy of ‘Harvest’ – yeah, the one you used to separate your weed seeds on and is stained with hash oil – click on a black light and tune out. This note’s definitely not for you.

Last week Neil Young – a Canadian that hasn’t lived in Canada since 1967 – decided to come home to play a few shows in an effort to raise Dandysmoney and awareness about (among other things) global warming, carbon footprints, fossil fuel, Corporate Oil gluttony, and the rape & pillage of land that Canada’s national people were handed in antiquated treaties back when White Man’s Guilt was an honourable profession for enterprising transplanted Euro-Dandy’s.


ChurchillAt face value it’s not hard to agree that there’s some egregious criminal behaviour being implemented in the name of Big Business and the Harper Government under the guise of Free Trade and capitalism. It’s not a Canadian phenomenon. Every industrialized nation has had to steam-roll the locals in order to create industries that will, hopefully, support a larger economic plan for the entire nation. In war they call it collateral damage. But that was back in the day when Everyman was a watchdog and no heinous suppression of human rights went unpunished come election time.  Hell, even Winston Churchill lost his seat as Prime Minister immediately after helping to win the Second World War because his very efforts plunged Britain into an economic spiral that some say they have never recovered from (though the Beatles did manage to Vesselsprop it up for about a decade).

But back to Neil. It seems that after his failure to launch a new Crazy Horse tour in 2013 due to the illness of one of its members left Neil scrambling to fill his idle schedule with something, anything, he could use to generate some cash for his ongoing inventions: LincVolt – the dinosaur Lincoln Continental with the heart of a compost heap; Pono – the high rez audio format that everyone apparently raves about but no one wants to invest in because, like, the MP3 has already been invented and who the hell wants ANOTHER new format?; and his toy train set. Yes, Neil co-owns Lionel Trains and has his name on seven patents related to same.

TreatiesNeil’s ‘Honor the Treaties Tour named after the American-based http://www.honorthetreaties.org was his vehicle (pun intended) for giving the First Nations a voice on the issue of the Alberta tarsands and what those tarsands have done to them and their land; The Athabasca Chipewyan claim that, depending on the time of the year, 80% their land is inaccessible due to oilsands development and assert that if growth in the region continues, Canada won’t be able to meet its commitment of a 17% reduction of carbon pollution from 2005 levels by 2020.

It’s a topic that has polarized the Left and the Right in Canada and even President Barack Obama has waffled endlessly on approving the northern link to the ObamaKeystone pipeline that will pump Canadian oil through both Canada and the USA’s heartland.

Neil quickly earned the ire of Prime Minister Harper’s office – a rare occasion as Harper never responds to his critics through the media. http://www.torontosun.com/2014/01/12/feds-respond-to-neil-young-anti-oilsands-tour . Neil got everyone’s hackles up. Well, except the oil industry who’ve heard all of this before from bigger and more influential people than a Hippie living in a canyon in California. They offered, not once, but twice to sit down with Neil and the First Nations reps to discuss the issues. Neil turned them down – giving no discernible or reasonable explanation. And this is where my skeptic Spidey sense went into over drive.
Neil_First Nations
Seriously, Neil? You instigate a national discussion on oil and the rights of First Nations people but when confronted with a chance to get past the rhetoric and actually open a meaningful dialogue, you balk? Is that because you have no actual strategy or that your polemic ad-homonym diatribe looks better as a press release?

Just an angry mountain man who opened the newspaper one day to find out that the country you once lived in has changed…for the worse? Your traveling sideshow raised $500,000 so the people could fight their fight in court. A noble gesture…if that was Celebsyour intent. But you brought along an arsenal of celebrity guests to prop up your public profile. A lot of hobnobbing with stars (Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, actress Daryl Hannah) took place but you know what we didn’t see? Any First Nations artists voicing their concern/support or even performing on those shows.

BuffyWhere was Buffy Sainte- Marie, Tom Jackson, Susan Aglukark, Celyne Gaspe, Mishi Donovan, Shingoose (Curtis Jonnie), Kevin Locke, Kaibah, or even a reformed Kashtin or maybe Neil’s old friend Robbie Robertson of The Band or even fellow canyon girl Rita Coolidge (who is Cherokee)? It seems Neil was only concerned about profiling Neil. The $500,000 was a year’s worth of Neil’s royalty cheques. He could have handed the First Nations band that money over dinner.

So, I call bullshit, Mr. Young. Cause now you’re Bob_Geldofgoing to head back to California while Rolling Stone magazine does another story on you – speculating on when the next CSNY reunion will occur. That will keep you in the public consciousness until your next album comes out. Or your fourth attempt at a workable biofuel car is patented. Or you gouge your fans for grossly over-inflated concert ticket prices because you refuse to have any corporation under-write your expenses. At least when you pissed off people living in Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd wrote a decent response song. Leave saving the world to diplomats and the Geldofs. Even Bono knows how long he must sing the song. So, shut up and sing a damn song, Neil. It’s apparently what you do best.

Send your CDs for review to this NEW address: Jaimie Vernon, 4003 Ellesmere Road, Toronto, ON M1C 1J3 CANADA

=JV=

Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS_ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 35 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 17 of those years. He is also the author of the Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ both of which are available at Amazon.com or http://www.bullseyecanada.com

7 Responses to “JAIMIE VERNON – Old Man Take A Look At Your Life”

  1. This particular topic has been beaten to death already .I guess you didn’t attend or ask anyone about the shows but there were Aboriginal performers before and during. Also peaceful protests outside the hall and many youth in attendance as well.
    I’m not sure where call Daryl Hanna , Elvis Costello and Diana Krall qualify as an arsenal of celebrities. In many interviews Neil mentioned that he wanted to get Canadians to make up their own minds and boy did he shake up a nation. It has got everybody talking and that is a good thing.
    He even states that he is not an expert on any of this but if anything he has opened up a polarizing dialogue that no one has done before. I for one see nothing wrong with it. Just because you don’t like an artist doesn’t mean you have to vilify them. Before you go off about how he is just trying to bring attention to himself don’t forget all those Bridge Benefits he has been doing for years now not to mention the numerous Farm Aids. I like Neil but I don’t worship the ground he walks on (Or any musician for that matter) but it has been a brilliant discussion from both sides.

  2. Pretty negative review filled with inaccuracies.
    – Failure to launch a new Crazy Horse Tour in 2013 – WRONG – there were 41 shows across North America, Australia and Europe in 2013. The last 4 of the European leg were cancelled due to an injury of a band member. Europe has since been rebooked for this summer.
    – And what if he did need cash to fund some of his projects like building a high definition audio player or a car that runs on electricity and bio-fuel – What innovation are you working on Jamie?
    – Neil was a minor share holder of Lionel Trains at one time helping it get out of bankruptcy. His patents have to do with recording authentic train sounds. His involvement was fueled by his boyhood love of model trains and later for his disabled son to enjoy.
    – He may not live here but its obvious he has a deep love for his country, never giving up his Canadian citizenship.
    – Yes there were First Nations people performing at the shows. Sutter St. at Massey Hall in Toronto was shutdown for a performance. First Nations Chief Allan Adam travelled across the country in Neil’s bus.
    – Lynyrd Skynyrd was inspired to write Sweet Home Alabama in response to Neil Young’s Southern Man. The song’s implied put down of Neil Young was NOT meant as criticism but as support of Young’s anti-racism.
    – He does not live in a canyon unless you are having a flashback to 1969
    – At least Neil has the guts to standup for what he believes in. You don’t have to agree with his stance on the tar sands so why lower yourself to misinformation and name calling. Hit the reset button Jamie.

  3. terry helmer Says:

    What a fool you are… Should really get your facts checked before you go on with such bullshi% with no purpose other than to try and Tear a great man down..Try to make Neil sound that he needs to use something to get noticed…That is what you did USED Neils name to get attention to your stupidity!

  4. The amount of “yellow journalism” being thrown at Neil Young is impressive. Harper’s corporate goons know that they can’t refute his arguments, or even allow them to become talking points, so they bury them in ad hominem, jingoism, and fear. Go Neil Go!

  5. This was my first time seeing Neil Young speak his mind on a subject he’s very sincere about & from looking at him he looked like he was about to have a fit. From looking at his eyes he looked pretty pissed and the camera’s were up close staring at a 68 year old rock pioneer who’s music has embraced us for almost 50 years. I believed in every word Neil Young had to say cause he himself knows the harper government cares about wealth imstead of the well beings of Aboriginals who has lived and breath their land & having toxic sands poison them. As always Neil Young is there to answer the bell on causes he really believes in them & doesn’t do this for profit he’s doing this to bring awareness of the problem.

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