Sunday Music – Mr. Soul

Posted on Sun 06/11/2017 by


Today’s music video is Mr. Soul and the song is performed here by the American band Buffalo Springfield.

Link to Video at You Tube

This video was posted to You Tube by CabinFeverReliever

It seems a little odd to me how sometimes a singer or a band can be around for a long time without you even noticing, and then they bring out a song that makes you sit up and take notice of this new singer or band, when all the while they have been bringing out music that you have probably even heard, but just has not really registered with you.

There was an urban legend doing the rounds here in Australia in the mid and late 1970s about how there was a young girl in a record shop with some friends just looking at records. She picked up a Beatles album and turned to her friends and said, ‘Hey look. Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings!’ It sounds amusing, but it has probably happened a number of times in reality.

Something similar to that urban legend happened to me with Neil Young. A song of his was released in mid 1972 called Old Man, and I just loved that song, probably still one of my favourite songs after almost 45 years. There’s no rhyme or reason why you like a certain song. It’s just the way it is, because oddly, not many of my family or friends like Neil Young as a singer, or can even recall any of his songs at all, and they cannot understand why I like his songs, or his voice, which most of them think is a little whiny in nature.

I went out immediately and got hold of the album this song was taken from, Harvest, only to find that it was his fourth album, and he had been a member of at least two well known bands before that even, and they were Buffalo Springfield, a band I had never even heard of, as they were not much heard of here in Australia. After that band folded in 1968, he started his solo career, and then was invited to join the Supergroup, Crosby Stills and Nash, a band that I had heard of and heard a couple of their songs.

After getting hold of that album Harvest, I found I liked virtually every song on it. Perhaps my least favourite song on the album was in fact the only song of his I had ever heard prior to Old Man, and that was Heart Of Gold, which ironically, was a Number One Smash Hit in the U.S. while here in Australia, it only barely made it into the Top Ten on the National Singles Chart. The song was a major hit for Neil around the World, especially in the U.S. where it was huge. I thought that the song was okay at the time, but not enough to my liking that I would go out and buy the album. Old Man was only a minor hit here at some local radio stations, but it didn’t even register in the National Top Forty. The album Harvest was in the albums charts for a number of weeks, and made it to Number 2, so the album was popular, probably on the back of Heart Of Gold. Luckily, one of the local areas where Old Man was played regularly was the local radio station I listened to, otherwise I may not have ever heard the song at all.

On the back of my love for this wonderful album, I then went and saw my record guy, and then got hold of his three earlier solo albums, two albums he did with CSNY, Déjà Vu, and a double Live album, 4 Way Street. I also wanted to see if I could locate a record by his earlier band Bufffalo Springfield, and that was indeed hard to come by, but my record guy found me a double album compilation of their biggest songs, a self titled album. (and that’s the one in the image, from my own collection)

From that point onwards, every time a new Neil Young album was released, I went straight out and got hold of it. I have 16 of his albums on vinyl, five of them on CD, and other albums he has done with his former band, Crosby Stills Nash and Young.

The song I have featured for today is Mr. Soul, and is from his time with that first major band Buffalo Springfield, and was released on their second studio album, Buffalo Springfield Again. Oddly, the name of the band comes from a (now defunct) heavy machinery Company which manufactured steamrollers of all things.

The band formed in 1966 and had a minor hit that same year with a song called For What It’s Worth, written by Steven Stills.

This song, Mr. Soul,  has a bit of history behind it. It was written in mid 1967, when Neil was in hospital. During a live concert, Neil Young actually collapsed on stage. He has Epilepsy, and at this time, he suffered a seizure on stage, and collapsed. There were some people in the audience who even thought his collapse might have been staged as part of the act. He was taken, unconscious, to hospital. When he came to and realised where he was, he was a little shocked. He was asked to have more tests, and not long after that, he wrote this song. He recalled at a later date that many songs, including songs he himself wrote take hours and hours to write, sometimes even days to get it right, but this one Neil says, he wrote in just on five minutes. It just came straight out, he said. The song is sometimes moody, even dark in nature, but he says it was almost as if if it happened in a dream when he was ‘out of it’ during his seizure, and he thought he may actually be dying. It also deals with his dislike of actual stardom, preferring just to do what he wants to do with his music, rather than appeal to the middle of the road music aimed at the buying public.

That stardom situation happened to him a lot later when that song of his, Heart Of Gold became such a huge Number One Hit. He said that sort of crept up on him unexpectedly, as he wasn’t even expecting it, and when he analysed it all, he preferred not to produce  so called generic hit Singles for radio, but just to do the music he wanted to, which is one of the reasons behind his whole musical career, where he has changed directions so many times and produced songs and albums from many of the music genres, and no one can say he doesn’t work at his craft, because he now has more than 40 albums that he has brought out across the more than 50 years he has been making his music.

A small sidelight on all of this is that my Son, when he was in his teens and early twenties just couldn’t understand why I liked a singer with such a whiny voice and made songs that were average at best. I would purchase my vinyl albums, and protect them dearly. To that end, I would play them perhaps twice or three times at most, so that they stayed in absolute pristine condition. That second or third playing was to tape the album onto Cassette, so that whenever I wanted to listen to the music, I didn’t have to play the album, just play the Cassette. Because of that, in all, I must have had close on 70 or more Cassette tapes of the music I had recorded, and of those, around 12 tapes were just of Neil Young’s recordings that I had, from all his bands and his solo career. At some time in the late 1980s, all of those Cassette tapes just vanished from where I kept them. I knew where they went all right. It was my Son, who was, umm, ‘just borrowing this tape Dad’. I never saw them again, and he actually became a fan of not only Neil Young, but other artists and bands whose music I liked. In fact, he’s actually one up on me as his Dad. He has been to a Neil Young live concert, when Neil toured Australia.

Neil Young is one of those artists who may not have many major hit songs in a long career, but the music he has come out with is pleasing to listen to, well, in my case anyway.

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