January 31st, 2010
05:37 PM ET

Neil Young, still 'Rockin' ' the world

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When word hit the street that Neil Young was being honored as MusiCares' 2010 "Person of the Year," A-list artists scrambled to be part of the tribute.

In the end, the list of performers at Friday night's event in Los Angeles was staggering - Elton John, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Crosby Stills and Nash, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, Elvis Costello, Wilco, Norah Jones and more. They all sang selections from Young's vast catalog - from Buffalo Springfield, to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to his highly prolific four-decade solo career.

The night's biggest standout? A searing John Fogerty-Keith Urban Young re-make of Young's 1989 anthem, "Rockin' in the Free World" that left the industry audience on its feet and cheering.

Ben Harper also earned kudos for his gospel-inflected rendition of "Ohio," Young's haunting take on the Kent State shootings of 1970, when four college students were shot dead by National Guardsmen during an anti-war rally.

Elton John dueted with his hero, Leon Russell, on "Helpless," while James Taylor performed "Heart of Gold" and the Chili Peppers put their spin on "A Man Needs a Maid," a track from Young's 1972 album, "Harvest." Country sensations Lady Antebellum won the crowd over with a stripped-down, harmony-laced arrangement of "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," but classical superstar Josh Groban appeared bizarrely out of his element crooning Young's 1992 classic, "Harvest Moon." The latter seemed like a skit straight out of "Saturday Night Live."

Comedian Jack Black emceed the event, auctioning off pieces of his wardrobe between songs. By the end of the night, he was shoeless, having handed his Ben Sherman lace-ups to someone who anted up 600 bucks for MusiCares' financial assistance and addiction recovery programs (Black's arch supports weren't part of the deal).

"Chicks dig Neil Young," Black explained to the sold-out audience. "They dig his songs, and they love his sensitive, bad-boy vibe."

Young, 64, finished out the evening with a few remarks of his own. "It's been a great night," he said. "It wore me out ... when I look at some of those songs, and listen to them, I go, 'Oh my God, what am I going to do now? Who WAS that guy?' "

Set List:

1) John Mellencamp "Down By the River"2) Ozomatli – "Mr. Soul"
3) Jackson Browne – "Don't Let It Bring You Down"
4) Sheryl Crow & Stephen Stills – "Long May You Run"|
5) Lady Antebellum – "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"
6) Norah Jones & Sasha Dobson – "Tell Me Why"
7) Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams & Patty Griffin – "Comes a Time"
8 ) Wilco – "Broken Arrow"
9) Josh Groban – "Harvest Moon"
10) Everest – "Revolution Blues"
11) Dierks Bentley with Booker T. Jones – "Cinnamon Girl"
12) Ben Harper – "Ohio"
13) Keith Urban & John Fogerty – "Rockin' in the Free World"
14) Elvis Costello – "The Losing End"
15) Jason Mraz & Shawn Colvin – "Lotta Love"
16) Dave Matthews – "The Needle and the Damage Done"
17) Red Hot Chili Peppers – "A Man Needs a Maid"
18) James Taylor – "Heart of Gold"
19) Elton John & Leon Russell with Sheryl Crow, Neko Case & T-Bone Burnett – "Helpless"
20) Crosby Stills and Nash – "Human Highway"

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Biggest Fan

    Please tell me this will be shown somewhere!!!

    February 2, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mel

    Long may you run Neil! We were blessed to see him live on TV in one night for the Haiti fundraiser and then on Conan. The highlight of my year. I would love to have seen this tribute.

    Love you Neil! You are a class act and such a talented artist. Congrats on your honor!

    February 1, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sanctimonious Canadian

    @ Debra R

    I am so happy you are an American Woman. I'm sure that Burton Cummings and Randy Bachman of the Guess Who are thrilled by that news. Neil Young had nothing to do with that song.

    Neil Young wrote and recorded Southern Man a song about the racial segregation and violence rampant in the South at the time. Lynyrd Skynyrd rebutted some of the sentiments Neil had stated in their song Sweet Home Alabama.

    Young is an iconic persona both in Canada and the States, and anywhere there are music fans. We are all privileged to hear his music.

    February 1, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. LongTimeNeilFan

    Neil Young is a wonderful man, artist, musician and has weathered many storms over the years and heavy challenges with his health too.
    I am so ecstatic to see that he was honored this way by so many, and that there are such, for the most part, respectful and loving comments on here too! I love him so much too!

    I hope so very much that we will all be able to see this soon, and that Neil will continue with his music for more time to come! I think he is the very best and shares his soul like no one else!!
    Thank you, Neil and Rock On Forever!
    "From the moment you touched my lips-
    That perfect feeling when time just slips...
    Away between us on our foggy trips......

    February 1, 2010 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. Bernice and Bill Clay

    I love Neil Young....He's the best ever...Seen him in concert and would love to see him again....Anymore concerts for Neil please let me know...I don't care where it is....I'll be there...Thank You

    February 1, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Ballz

    The Grandfather of grunge – go Neil

    February 1, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  7. Sami

    Stole my heart with Heart of Gold and remain in awe of his vision, talent and versatility. Congratulations Neil and thank you for bringing us decades of incredible music.

    February 1, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. Barry Soetoro

    Pearl Jam and Eddier Vedder have been playing those songs for years and years. None of those versions come close! Except for Young Neil, himself!!!

    February 1, 2010 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. John Henze

    I so hope this comes out on some sort of media for the rest of us to see.
    It must have been amazing. Too bad it wasn't on May 4th. The 40th anniversary of the Kent State murders by the National Guard cowards.

    February 1, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  10. Eelco

    My first album was Harvest. Then collected most of his work thoughout the years, including other "collaborated" stuff he did. I realy want to see the tribute and hope it will be available or rebroadcast. ***I think its safe to say the southern man has finally gotten the cadillac's wheel out of the ditch***.

    February 1, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. mark alan parker

    A well-deserved honor for North America's most prolific and enduring singer/songwriter/country/folk/rock artist. Neil is simply the best.

    February 1, 2010 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  12. The Ghost of Ronnie Van Zant

    Actually, Ronnie and the rest of Lynyrd Skynyrd were big Neil Young fans, and Neil was a pallbearer at Ronnie's funeral. I'm sure he would have been included in the tribute had he still been alive.

    February 1, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  13. Darrel

    A fitting tribute to Neil. I have been a huge fan since 1969.......he is the complete musician...

    February 1, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. Green Man

    They should have had Type O Negative do Cinnamon Girl. That would've been weird.

    February 1, 2010 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. Geoff


    You do Canada proud!!!

    February 1, 2010 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  16. Debra R

    Neil, this is one chick who does not dig you.... I am an American Woman and proud of it! Notice no one did that song...will stick with Lynard Skynard's response to you.....

    February 1, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  17. Diggin'It

    Neil has always been FAB – seeing those who performed reinforces the fact his music spans many generations and knows no boundaries. His songs are brilliant. The man behind them brilliant too. "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" had a deep soul wrenching meaning to us old hippy types way back that still can send the vibes of that very day up thru ones spine today....

    Been listening to him since late 60's and hope to enjoy many more decades. Play on Mr. Young, PLAY ON !!!!!!!!

    February 1, 2010 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  18. lance corporal

    not just a great musician but a real example of how to keep growin and changin and living your life well, major influence on me as a musician and as a person, I hope this event is broadcast!

    February 1, 2010 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  19. Smarg

    Neil was/is a leftist America hater. A dreg with a squeeky, whiny singing voice. Yuck.

    February 1, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  20. Mike H.

    Someone claimed Josh Groban is "overrated." Interesting. Evidently not a music scholar....

    Anyhow, getting to Neil Young.... It's unfortunate that musical artists of today are so reluctant to say anything in their music. There are a few exceptions to be sure, but by and large songs of today are generic bubble gum type tunes that are easily confused with other songs of the same type. Neil Young would not be welcome if he tried to break into the business today. Agree with him or not, he showed courage to risk career and money to put controversial words to music. To him, art has been for the sake of art - a mechanism to move people.

    Today's pop singers are not so brave and their songs will be forgotten long before any of them may be considered for a tribute.

    February 1, 2010 at 6:24 am | Report abuse |
  21. naveax

    Where the hell were Pearl Jam?

    February 1, 2010 at 5:02 am | Report abuse |
  22. nocknock57

    We see Neil at the Sharks games from time to time. Big hockey fan. Gotta get him to sing the National Anthem. That would be awesome... Greg Kihn sings it occasionally (he DJ's morning show at Sharks flagship station), maybe get them to do it as a duet. Rock on Neil, Long may you run!

    February 1, 2010 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  23. GIvenToFly

    This sounds amazing, but where was Eddie Vedder?

    February 1, 2010 at 2:44 am | Report abuse |
  24. Sheryl

    I do hope they make a dvd of this event.

    February 1, 2010 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  25. Paul

    Neil is a rock God. It's that simple.

    February 1, 2010 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  26. Yobee

    Neil Young – still the voice of multi-generations, still the conscious of a nation, still the backbone of folk-rock amalgamation...

    Thank the fates that Neil Young is still rockin' in the free world.

    Rust will never sleep, Neil will never fade way and his soul will permeate music for generations to come.

    Thanks, Neil for a lifetime of sharing your soul!

    February 1, 2010 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
  27. zumaguma

    Neil Young rocks and always will...Josh Groban is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over rated and shouldn't even have been invited. Groban belongs on a cruise ship or b'way. ROCK ON NEIL!!!

    February 1, 2010 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  28. gwenz

    Neil rocks!!

    January 31, 2010 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Joann

    How nice it is to see comments honoring the man and not putting him down......he truly is a great artist, one of my favorites.

    January 31, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Dan

    Neil Young is one of the greatest of all time. No one has the same abilities as he does when moving from the electric, blazing rock genre to the softer, sweeter, acoustic side. He moves from one to the other as only he can. His emotional range is the widest rock has ever seen, but it remains honest and true.

    January 31, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  31. martywalpole

    I hope they make an album of this event. The producers to could send the money to Haiti.

    January 31, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  32. greg

    Neil Young,and what a fitting group to do a tribute, rock on Neil, from a proud Canadian and a big fan.

    January 31, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  33. cliff

    Still rockin,still the best.Neil Young.I hope there is a re-broadcast of this in the future.Would be nice to see this show.

    January 31, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Newcastle Dave

    Here's a toast to our brothers in Canada and its incredible musicians, who are too many to list. Keep on rockin'.

    January 31, 2010 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Len

    Um, what about a band that he helped out and helped him – Pearl Jam? Remember Mirror and Merkin Ball?

    January 31, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  36. MWS

    How fitting to have an A-lineup celebrate Neil's contribution to the industry by performing a compilation of his work. He's created so many great tunes that the set list and artists involved in this tribute could have easliy been doubled. I've had the fortune to have seen Neil on stage twice over the past 25 years....once in Winnipeg and very recently Edmonton, Canada as a birthday present from my son who accompanied me and is the next generation getting to know his music. Neil's work has been influential on me as I attempt to emulate some of his classics with my old Fender and harmonica.

    Congratulations Shakey!

    From a proud Canadian and a devoted Fan

    January 31, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Report abuse |
  37. GozieBoy

    Leon Russell is still alive?! I want to see that man – one of my old fave's!

    January 31, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  38. bev

    I love Neil Young and I would love a copy of this if it comes out

    January 31, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Steve

    old rust never dies!!!~~@#$
    it lives, it breathes, it cries!

    January 31, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Pat

    Wow, I sure hope they put this on DVD, so we all can enjoy. I love the fact they honored my favorite musician!

    January 31, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Dona McConnell

    My man!

    January 31, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  42. More info please

    What was the venue in LA? Was it broadcast? Will it be broadcast later or available on DVD?

    January 31, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Fellow Canadian

    Love Neil Young – he rocks!

    January 31, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |

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