Many of you will know by now that I shared a high school classroom with Neil Young in Winnipeg half a century ago, but I won’t begin to pretend that we were pals. I think the last time we spoke was 49 years ago this month, and I don’t believe the future of the planet or Canada’s aboriginal people ever came up.
In the decades that followed I interviewed Neil’s Dad Scott Young about his famous son when he wrote a book about him, but neither the man himself or his people have ever returned a phone call when I went in search of an interview. So, what do I think of his Honour the Treaties Concert Tour ?
The biggest plus is his declaration once again that he’s a proud Canadian, and he’s worried about how the landscape that his grandchildren will face will be scarred forever by what’s happening in northern Alberta. That’s perfectly fine and commendable.
What’s not very helpful is Neil’s declaration back in September, after touring the area around Fort McMurray, that it looks like Hiroshima after they dropped the atomic bomb in 1945. That was the year Neil was born, and I don’t know if his travels have ever taken him to that part of Japan. If they have, he’ll know that Hiroshima recovered and is now a very prosperous city.
Who knows what the future holds for northern Alberta, but I wonder if Neil Young has really managed to add anything meaningful to the debate. If he still has lots of young fans around the world who admire him, and I’m sure he does, then hopefully they will get involved in the conversation and ask lots of questions.
One thing I do remember about Neil, he always managed to rub people like teachers and principals the wrong way. Nowadays it’s folks like Brad Wall and Stephen Harper. It can’t be a bad thing to shake them and the rest of us out of our comfort zone.
I’m Roger Currie