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Old 07-27-2008, 12:53 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 15,408
Default Neil Young Museum

Rust never sleeps at Ontario museum
Ontario museum pays tribute to singer Neil Young
Stewart Bell , National Post
OMEMEE, Ont. -Trevor Hosier's most coveted bit of Neil Young memorabilia is his life-size cut-out of the rock legend, a cardboard likeness that stood beside record bins in 1972 to promote the al-bum Harvest.

Now it hangs behind glass at the Youngtown Rock & Roll Museum, which Mr. Hosier opened in May in an old downtown house as a tribute to Omemee's most famous son and his musical contemporaries.

The collection includes rare Neil Young album covers, concert posters and signed guitars, as well as mementos from Mr. Young's various bands -- Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Crazy Horse.

I've just been collecting stuff since I was a kid and it sort of evolved from there," Mr. Hosier said. When he decided to put it all on display, he thought, "What could possibly be better than Omemee?"

The Omemee Business and Community Improvement Association's motto may be "In the Heart of Pigeon River Country," but the locals all know this is Youngtown. Neil Young lived here as a boy; the middle school is named after his father, the late writer Scott Young.

Omemee is also that "town in north Ontario" that Mr. Young sings mournfully about in one of his most beloved songs, Helpless, although he once said it was about "not literally a specific town so much as a feeling. Actually it's a couple of towns. Omemee, Ont., is one of them."

With its slow, strung-out strumming, swelling electric guitar and high, uncertain vocal singing longingly about home, Helpless still hits Canadians right in the gut.

"For me, when I hear that song, it makes me think about being a young boy, early '60s, old cars and old men in front of the five-and-dime," Mr. Hosier said. "Everything that was good and decent and idyllic?. That song really captures everything about my youth, about growing up in Canada, in Ontario, in a simpler time when everything was good."

Mr. Hosier grew up in Toronto, listening to CHUM radio and collecting autographed pictures of his music idols. At concerts, he talked his way backstage to see what kind of souvenirs he could pick up. Then he started going to auction houses to bid on rare memorabilia.

His collection eventually outgrew his family counselling office and his rec room in Lindsay, Ont., so he decided to convert a house he owned in Omemee into a museum.

Built along the Pigeon River on land purchased from the Mississauga tribe, Omemee was a shipping point for grain and timber, with several mills and taverns. Today it is a few hundred homes surrounding King Street --a Canada Post office, Foodland, Legion Hall and now, a rock 'n' roll museum.

For an $8 admission fee, visitors can see Johnny Cash's black leather vest, Jerry Lee Lewis' shoes and a red shirt worn by Elvis in 1961, as well as The King's personal copy of Viva Las Vegas.

A big Beatles fan, Mr. Hosier has devoted a room to the band. Then there's Bob Dylan's Marine Band harmonica, a guitar strap that once belonged to Jimi Hendrix and a microphone used by the Grateful Dead.

There is also a signed guitar inscribed with the lyrics to Helpless: "There is a town in north Ontario/With dream comfort memory to spare/ And in my mind/I still need a place to go/All my changes were there."

Whether Omemee could accurately be placed in Ontario's north is another matter. It is in the Kawartha Lakes west of Peterborough, which, as Jim Moodie wrote in the The Sudbury Star, makes it "practically a bedroom community of Toronto."

The Youngs moved to Omemee in 1949. Scott Young had left his job as a sports writer at the Winnipeg Free Press and, after a stop in Toronto, where Neil was born, they bought a house on five acres in Omemee.

Neil spent his days fishing, catching turtles, raising chickens and watching The Lone Ranger on TV. It was in Omemee that he caught polio, which left him scrawny and frail. After his parents separated, Neil moved with his mother to Winnipeg, where his music career began with a band called The Squires. Then it was on to Los Angeles.

His first attempt to record Helpless didn't work out. A long version with Crazy Horse was lost when the studio engineer forgot to press the record button. Instead, he recorded a sparse, slower take with Crosby, Stills, Nash&Young.

The song made it onto the Deja Vu album, which topped the Billboard charts in 1970 and produced three top 40 singles -- Teach Your Children, Our House and Woodstock.

"Primordial, aching, trancelike, Helpless is something you already know," Jimmy McDonough wrote in Shakey: Neil Young's Biography, "and it makes you believe Young is only the messenger of his work."

Helpless soon became a Canadian classic. Mr. Young sang it with The Band in Martin Scorsese's The Last Waltz, and k. d. lang performed it at the Juno awards in 2005. When Scott Young Public School opened in Omemee in 1993, students marked the occasion with a choral version.

The Youngtown museum has only been open a few weeks but it has already attracted a few Rusties-- as Mr. Young's devotees call themselves -- from as far away as British Columbia and Amsterdam, not to mention locals who drop in to share their Neil Young stories.

The one visitor who has not yet made it is Shakey himself. When Mr. Young played Massey Hall last year, Mr. Hosier got backstage and told him about the museum. "He seemed pleased. He didn't have a lot to say other than, 'Cool.' "

But Mr. Hosier is sure that Mr. Young, who apparently still owns a ranch nearby and has been spotted in town, will stop in one day, probably unannounced and incognito in shades and a ball cap.

"I think he'll like it. It's very simple, lots of stuff but it's certainly not commercial," Mr. Hosier said. "I'll be glad when Neil Young finally arrives here. I'm very confident he will. I'm looking forward to that day."
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Old 08-02-2008, 02:44 AM   #2
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Default Re: Neil Young Museum

I don't agree with the man's politics, but I do enjoy his music. He was recently on David Letterman's show, and also interviewed on Charlie Rose for an hour, it was very interesting. I wonder if he and Gordon ever met?
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Old 08-02-2008, 11:10 AM   #3
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Default Re: Neil Young Museum

Originally Posted by BendRick View Post
I wonder if he and Gordon ever met?
you can count on that, I would assume going way back...then during the group recording of Tears are not Enough (where they are standing about 20 people apart, you can find on youtube)...but most recently they crossed paths at Live 8 on Barrie

you can see them at about the 3:20 mark, right before the coked up guy sings, lol ...Gord doesn't sing but is keeping everyone in time

true, Omemee is hardly north Ontario but it's poetic license and has become a signature lyric ...if you look at a map of Ontario, it looks like it's on the US border relative to places like Hearst (the farthest point north "On Yonge Street") or Timmins (Shania's home), or Moosonee or James Bay

kdlang pays tribute (barefoot, lol) here at the 2005 Junos...grand voice

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