Monday, August 31, 2020

Calif. - 50 Years Ago - After the Gold Rush



While reading Calif., the reader is virtually transported to 1970. Through the setting and the visuals, the artists and the narration, we are whisked to a scene 50 years ago to the day. And so it is that on June 15, 1970, "in walked Neil Young." Miles has taken a job at a rock club up the coast – let’s listen in…

As I left the office, in walked Neil Young. He was somewhat imposing, kind of big, like a farmhand; like they grew them up big in Canada where there was lots of elbow room. He had a well-worn white shirt like you’d wear with a tuxedo, flared jeans and chukka boots. He sat on the couch and the fella with him plugged an acoustic guitar into an amplifier. He strummed it a couple times and handed it to Neil. Both of them said “Hey” to me, which was kind of nice.
I found myself a table on the side and by showtime the place was packed. It was an intimate affair with Neil mostly at the piano. He did “Cinnamon Girl,” of course, and “Down by the River.” He sang “Tell Me Why” and a song called “Expecting to Fly,” and it was like we were all just hanging out. He did a new number that he said would be on the next album. It had some spacy, otherworldly lyrics interspersed with a romantic medieval vibe. It was called “After the Gold Rush.” He sang, “There was a band playing in my head, and I felt like getting high.” I looked at the girl across from me. She caught my eye and nodded as she bobbed her head to the beat, like everyone in the room was on the same wavelength. “Look at mother nature on the run in the nineteen-seventies,” he sang. You could have heard a pin drop.
When the show was over, I found Mr. Chadwick. He asked how I liked it. I didn’t tell him that I could have cried, like it was the best homily I’d ever heard. As I said, you have to suck in the truth sometimes.
I emptied ashtrays, filled the cigarette machine, washed glasses behind the bar, picked up empty beer bottles and put all the chairs upside down on the tables. There was lots of banter and Mr. Chadwick always had something sarcastic to say. He was pretty funny. Neil Young walked out the front door, and said “Later, kid,” as he passed. At the end of the night, it was about 2:30, Mr. Chadwick handed me a ten and a couple singles. It was a good day’s work. Dawned on me I’d never worked a day in my life.

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