Neil Young: Far From Home

12 Nov

Neil Young's album Prairie Wind

Neil Young's 2005 album Prairie Wind

Birthday greetings to singer/song writer Neil Young, who celebrates No. 66 today.

Young comes by his song writing abilities naturally — his father Scott was a prolific writer, and authored books at the pace Neil has produced albums. Among the elder Young’s 45 books were A Writer’s Life (1994) and Neil and Me (1984), the latter, obviously, about his relationship with his rock star son.

Scott Young’s newspaper career began at age 18, according to Wikipedia, when he was hired in Winnipeg as a copy boy in 1936; he died at age 87 in 2005.

“Reporters today, with degrees in everything from journalism to law, wouldn’t recognize the way into journalism that shaped my life and the lives of others,” the elder Young wrote in A Writer’s Life, according to Neil Davidson’s 1997 story on sportsmediacanada.ca. “I worked six nights a week from six till two in the morning. If anyone wanted a paste pot cleaned, or a page of a story rushed to the city desk or a sandwich from across the street . . . he (it was always a ‘he’ in those days) simply called ‘Boy’ and I ran.”

He left the Winnipeg Free Press in 1941, according to his obit at the star.com, when an editor told him, “You will never be worth more than $25 a week to the Winnipeg Free Press.” Before the year was over, Young broke the story of a 1941 escape by German prisoners from a POW camp; he was 23.

“I’m amused today remembering how I self-promoted myself because of that story,” Young said in a 1994 interview available at cbc.ca. “I wasn’t about to do some fantastic newspaper job and let the world just not know about it.

“One of the favorite events in my life was when Charley Bruce . . . he was running (Canadian Press) at that time . . . he sent me this message . . . Did I want some help? Should he send another reporter? Something like that. And I replied something like, ‘The Star has just added two or three men and the Winnipeg Free Press is here and I added two or three more opposition people who had come in and I wound it up by saying, ‘But I do not feel outnumbered.’ And Charley sent the message back, ‘Struggle manfully on.’ ”

Scott Young did more than that for years; besides his books, he was renowned for his coverage of hockey, in print and on Hockey Night In Canada broadcasts. “Several generations of Canadians have grown up reading Scott Young. Reading his books, reading his columns, and reading more of his books,” Davidson wrote.

Later generations grew up listening to Scott Young’s son, who had a similar impact. And now Neil Young plans to write his own autobiography, to be released next year. “I felt like writing books fit me like a glove,” he said according to the nationalpost.com.

Naturally. According to Davidson, the younger Young was once asked to name his favorite writer. The answer should have been obvious.

sources: wikipedia.org, neilyoungnews.thrasherswheat.org, cbc.ca, sportsmediacanada.ca, thestar.com, nationalpost.com

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