Neil Young Brings Crowd To Its Feet With Unbelievable “Old Man” Performance
YouTube via Fabio Correa
Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, 2005
The second single off of Neil Young’s critically acclaimed fourth album Harvest, “Old Man” is a song that even in this 2005 performance packs the same punch it did when we first saw Neil perform it on the BBC in 1971. 26 when he first wrote it and impossibly wise beyond his years, Neil was 60 at the time of this performance, giving “Old Man” the perspective we’ve been dying to hear for decades; he understands now what it was to be a frustrated young man, desperately trying to explain his need to find love and success to someone who’s long since forgotten what that’s like. Thankfully, unlike the man in the song Neil hasn’t once forgotten what it’s like to be that young man; if anything, Neil’s riveting 2005 performance of “Old Man” reads more like the advice he wished he’d gotten than of someone merely telling a story!
Fun Fact: On the studio version of “Old Man,” James Taylor played six-string banjo (tuned like a guitar) and sang on the song, and Linda Ronstadt also contributed vocals.
Making the song even more poignant is watching it with the knowledge that only months before this performance, Young underwent life-threatening surgery following a near-fatal brain aneurysm; suddenly, all that matters is the journey that took Neil from humble beginnings in Canada to a critically acclaimed performance on the BBC, and to this moment onstage at Ryman Auditorium where he gets revel in living to be an “Old Man” himself and look back on a life extremely well lived.