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You know I love you, Neil, but what's up with those damned ticket prices?

The Rockologist: An Open Letter To Neil Young

Dear Neil Young,

How's it going buddy? It's your old pal the Rockologist here. Oh, I know that you and I have never actually met, but I've always kind of viewed you as a dear old friend.

We actually go back a very long way. As early as I can remember — listening to your songs first with the Buffalo Springfield, then CSN&Y, and of course your solo work — your songs have always resonated with me on an emotional level like few artists I can think of.

In fact, I'd say that only Dylan and Springsteen really come close. I kind of like to think of the three of you guys as my own little "holy trinity" of artists whose music really "speaks" to me on a gut level.

For one thing, I've always admired your determination to follow your artistic muse wherever it may lead you. Not many artists would have followed a #1 smash album like Harvest with such artistically challenging releases as Tonights the Night and On The Beach. But in the seventies you did exactly that, Neil. With records like that, you became the very definition of the term "artistic maverick."

Speaking of On The Beach, that record got me through some pretty rough times Neil. To this day, I put that sucker on whenever I'm feeling depressed. It's very therapeutic listening.

So like all good friends should, I've also always stuck by you — which hasn't always been easy. Remember the eighties? Damn, some of that was awful stuff, Neil. I mean Trans has kinda grown on me over the years, but the Shocking Pinks? I understood though, and I waited. It was that whole maverick artist thing, right? Anyway, I knew you'd eventually find your artistic center again. Which you finally did in the early nineties with albums like Freedom and Ragged Glory. Great stuff there, Neil.

I also stood by you when you courageously released 2006's Living With War, an album which would've gotten you deported back to your native Canada if the pro-Bush righties had anything to say about it. Hell, I even defended your honor right here on Blogcritics for months, when one such right-wing nut responded to my original review of that album by flaming the article with something like 500 angry messages about how releasing a record like that was somehow "anti-American."

Hey, what are friends for?

So, as you can imagine, I was really excited to hear about your new record Chrome Dreams II coming out on October 16. I know a lot of this is old stuff that you've had lying around for awhile, and was originally supposed to be part of one of those mysterious "lost albums" that never got released of yours called Chrome Dreams, but how can you not get excited about an album that promises titles like the eighteen minute long "Ordinary People," or the eleven minute "No Hidden Path?" You know how I love the long ones, Neil.

I was also thrilled to hear that you'd be touring behind the record, and making a stop in my hometown of Seattle at the relatively intimate Wamu Theatre. Which actually brings me to the real purpose of this letter. It's about those damned ticket prices, Neil. They've got me a little concerned.

Don't get me wrong, Neil — I'll still be there. I won't be making the trip to Oakland where I had planned to see Springsteen (whose tickets top out at $85, a fact you might wanna take note of), but I will be there — sitting dead center in the fourteenth row.

But holy freaking crap, Neil — $172 a pop after Ticketmaster gets their cut? That's not for a pair, that's for a single freaking ticket!

Look, I know that some of the other big tours like The Stones, The Police, and McCartney have gotten away with charging upwards of $300 a ticket, but those are bigtime stadium rock and roll extravaganzas, Neil. Somebody's gotta pay for all those explosions and lasers. Somehow, I suspect we won't be seeing any of those at your show. At least I would hope not.

I also know that we are at least of couple of decades removed from the days when rock artists like Tom Petty would challenge the record companies over things like raising the list price of a vinyl LP to $8.98 — but that was all a lot of idealistic, hippie bullshit, right?

I mean, weren't you the guy who once went to war with MTV over the video for "This Notes For You?" Weren't you the guy who decried things like corporate sponsorship of rock tours? Whatever happened to that guy, Neil?

Seriously, what happened?

I'm also a little concerned about some of the rumors I've heard about how Chrome Dreams is going to be marketed. What's all this I hear about each copy featuring a different bonus track or something? How many copies of the CD do we need to buy to "collect them all," Neil?

I mean look, it's not like you need the money, right? If I recall correctly, there was an interview you gave around the time Living With War came out, where you said you had made enough money where you didn't really care if the records sold or not, as long as you were able to play the music that you were feeling at the time.

So doesn't that rule also apply here?

Anyway, Neil, like I said before I've always stood by you, and I guess I'll stand by you now too. I'm really looking forward to hearing the new album, and I can't wait for the concert — although at $172 a ticket, there better be one hell of a setlist. How about the entire second side of On The Beach for starters? Sound good to you?

In closing, let me just say that I'd be less than a true friend if I didn't say I'm a bit concerned, and a bit disapointed.

Hoping this letter finds you well.

Your friend,

The Rockologist

About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.

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