Local musician and At the Spine leader Mike Toschi is whip-smart, sweet as pie, and blessedly free of cliché when it comes to describing his love for Neil Young and the motivations behind tonight's Young tribute night at the Crocodile. Along with Toschi's Crazy Horse-era outfit My My Hey Heys, the diverse line-up includes Feral Children, Spanish For 100 and Truckasaurus. The show starts at 9 p.m., tickets are $12.
Do you have any distinct memories of when you were first exposed to his work and why it moved you?
My first first exposure to Neil Young was via my father listening to Crosby Stills, Nash, and Young on vinyl. My father loved the vocal harmonies of CSNY, and The My My Hey Heys will be bringing in a bit of that tonight on "Ohio", "Southern Man", etc. My dad also had After the Gold Rush on vinyl, which is a great album. I think Neil's music moves me because he is not afraid to say and do what he wants, the same way Fugazi, or any other great artist isn't afraid to be who they are and to take tough stands on things, like the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He has made some brilliant music, and some awful music, but he seems to have been true to himself, and I think that can be rare at his level of success. I remember reading in, The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce, that Neil Young got sued by David Geffen. Geffen begged Young to sign with his label, promising him the artistic freedom he could not get at other labels, and when Young turned in albums that Geffen didn't like, he sued him for making "un-Neil Young like" albums. I find this to be a very telling moment both about Neil Young as an artist and the crass commercialization of rock and roll.Why do you think his material is well-suited to a cover night? Not all great artists make great cover night topics.
Neil has such a wide and wild range of stuff. On one side you have the noise scape of Arc Weld, on another side the 1982 electronic Trans, and then the tenderness of songs like "The Needle and the Damage Done", and rockers like "Hey Hey, My My", which is inspired by Mark Mothersbaugh /Devo, references Johnny Rotten and the Vietnam War, and gets quoted by Cobain in his suicide note. If that song doesn't summarize life, I'm not sure what does.