Let's take a look at what this dude managed to pull of in 2012. He released two excellent records with Crazy Horse, who he hadn't worked with in over a decade. He also released Waging Heavy Peace, a highly entertaining memoir that doesn't have too many juicy, tabloid-worthy details, but gives us a great glimpse at who Young is as a person, and was deeply satisfying for his die-hard fans. Most 67-year-old with the money that Young has would likely be content to just lie on the patio, and maybe play a little golf. Instead, Young is making some of the most ambitious work of his career.
Just look at his most impressive accomplishment of 2012, the engrossing double album Psychedelic Pill, a gloriously weird album that reminds us that Young is still experimenting with new things, and steadfastly refuses to make generic Neil Young-type albums. Instead, he's pushing every boundary that he can find. the album features a 27-minute opener in "Driftin Back," and a 16-minute long blast of heavy guitar in "Ramada Inn." What's amazing is that neither of these songs feel like they bite off more than they can chew, and the long running time breezes right by. Young manages to stretch music to its very limit, without it feeling redundant.
There are plenty of musicians who make great albums well into their 60s, but how many make stuff as groundbreaking as this. I loved Wrecking Ball, and if we're going purely on enjoy-ability it might even be a stronger record than Psychedelic Pill, but at heart, it's a Bruce Springsteen. It features the same music styles, and lyrical tendencies that have been featured in Springsteen's work for years. While I applaud Springsteen for still making entertaining relevant work, the album is completely in his wheelhouse, and doesn't really break any new ground. Young should be applauded for taking his music to new places when he doesn't really have to anymore. Most of his fans would be happy with a clone of Harvest every few years, but he wants to do more than that. Indeed, he might be the most ambitious person in music today, with the possible exception of Kanye West.
At one point in Waging Heavy Peace, Young states that he is very afraid of death, and can barely imagine the thought of it. He doesn't see his time on earth as being anywhere close to over, and he still wants to do great things, both musically, and with his environmental. He's what we need in music more than ever: a guy who never sleeps, and who always to do something we've never seen before. For his continually great music, and his unrelenting ambition, I salute him.