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The 12 Most Canadian Things About Neil Young

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6. He's a huge hockey fan

He grew up in a hockey household: his father, Scott Young, was a sportswriter and a host of the extremely popular national broadcast Hockey Night in Canada. Neil Young was a longtime season-ticket holder with the San Jose Sharks, but he's declared his allegiance to a team north of the border:


7. He's ambivalent

Young describes one of his most Canadian qualities, compulsive balance: "There's something in Canada that teaches you that you always gotta look at both sides. See how other people could figure out why what you're saying is wrong before you're so sure you're right . . . Even the things that I believe in the most, I doubt." 

 Neil Young Los Angeles, California.
Neil Young in Los Angeles, California.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

 

8. "Ambulance Blues"

This 1974 heartbreaker includes a morose tribute to Toronto: "Well, I'm up in T.O. keepin' jive alive / And out on the corner it's half past five / But the subways are empty and so are the cafés." In this melancholy conclusion to On the Beach, Neil Young makes it clear that he can't go home again.

9. He cares about the Canadian environment

Arguments against the Keystone XL pipeline in the U.S.A. have generally focused on the potential for catastrophe along the way to the Gulf of Mexico, but earlier this month, Young argued against it in Canadian terms, discussing the effects in Fort McMurray, where the oil is drawn from: "Fort McMurray looks like Hiroshima. Fort McMurray is a wasteland. The Indians up there and the native peoples are dying." 

Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
Jerry Cleveland / The Denver Post

10. Le Noise

The title of Young's 2010 album is a tribute to its producer, Daniel Lanois. "It was a French Canadian joke," Young explained.

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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