January 29, 2012
Yesterday, I ventured over to the West Village in search of a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi.
The Burg is starting to grate on me, which I never thought I’d say here, but it’s only a decade before post-grads doing bad performance art at the Bedford L stop starts being less of a novelty and more of an eyesore.
I stumbled on Soy Luck Cafe at the corner of Jane St. and Greenwich, which did not disappoint. It had a huge menu, featuring pressed panini sandwiches, lots of soy smoothies, hot tea and an organic oatmeal cookie that my waistline didn’t need, but looked irresistble.
And they were playing 60s folk by the heavyweights: Dylan, Van Morrison, Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Joni Mitchell. I’ve never gotten too into Joni, and maybe I should at some point (mid-life crisis, perhaps?), but every song blew me away. I had to stop what I was doing more than once just to take in the lyrics.
I am lonely, but you can free me
All in the way that you smile
I haven’t written much about Neil Young and why he matters to me, but if I only had a few minutes to explain it, I’d start by saying the singer-songwriter knew how to explain the human heart better than any lyricist out there. (Keep in mind, when I refer to Neil Young, I mean 1970s Neil Young. I’m not too familiar with Mirror Ball, or much of his work after ‘87.)
Young fascinates me for many reasons, one being that he was born in Canada but sounds (and looks) very Californian, and two being that he wasn’t afraid to explore what it meant to feel lonely, young and adrift in the world.
Young sings a lot about relationships starting and stalling, and his old soul of a voice lends a sort of weariness to his stories. When he sings about believing in someone despite the tension growing between them, he sounds like he means it.
I could go on about his melodies, and how they inspired grunge pioneers like Pearl Jam and Nirvana, but beyond the lyrics, Young’s music just embodies a carefree style that I hope to enjoy one day. When he strums that guitar, I see myself out in the country, picking food by the side of the road, and soaking the heat of the sun.