Long May You Run

The closing ceremonies, hell, the entire coverage of the Olympics seemed to be made for a customer that doesn’t exist, who lived back in the pre-Internet days, when the fact that NBC broadcast in color was enough to satiate those stuck in front of screens without clickers, sentenced to watching endless commercials or forced to get up off the couch to switch to one of two other networks.

We were supposed to have sympathy for NBC, after all, they were losing millions bringing us the games.  Ain’t that America, where the public is beholden to corporations who pay no tax yet demand sympathy, as their lobbyists keep the government’s hands off of them and they wine and dine luxuriously in private while walking around in public with their pockets turned out.

Hell, the final hockey game was great theater.  Because unlike the lame "Marriage Ref" which preempted the remainder of Canada’s party, sports are not scripted.  We revel in the drama.

But it was hard to revel in the musical performances closing the games.  Reminded me of nothing so much as one of those variety shows back in the sixties, Perry Como or some such dreck appealing to an older generation that was one step from the grave mentally, if not physically.

And then it’s over.  The IOC bureaucrat declares the games history, and a gray-haired gentleman wearing a hat takes center ice and sings a thirty five year old song that’s more poignant than any of Bob Costas’ commentary, more insightful than any post competition press conference.  Yes, Neil Young sang "Long May You Run".

We’ve been through
Some things together

That’s the true Olympic spirit.  Not the thrill of victory so much as the mingling amongst peers.  That’s almost gone today, in an era where the home country keeps competitors off the course so they can gain an advantage.  But as years go by, and no one remembers your name, never mind that you won, your memories of the event will remain.  That’s what life is about, experiences.

With trunks of memories
Still to come

Believe me, Bode and Lindsey are going to be competing on the World Cup circuit momentarily.  And the rest of us…we’ve got to wait another four years for the Olympics, which seems too long.  But that’s what life is…  Events that come, then go.  You must keep on keepin’ on.

We found things to do
In stormy weather
Long may you run

Holding the Olympics in Vancouver is like AC/DC playing a closet.  Makes no sense.  Have you ever been to Whistler?  I’ve experienced every one of those conditions there.  Rain, fog, snow…  Never mind the snow-less Cypress.

Conventional wisdom is you can’t risk a fuck-up, you’ve got to sing to tape.  And last night some of the vocalists were so far from the track, they should immediately contact Ashlee Simpson to learn how to fake it.  They’re fooling nobody.  The whole thing is bogus.  The games have devolved into sheer commercialism, with cities looking for a longstanding tourism boost and the IOC as corrupt as the Major League. Sure, they say bribes are history, but do you really think drugs are gone from baseball?  We live in a world where you smile as you rape and pillage, and when you’re caught, your excuse is everybody else is doing it.

Our morals, our national character is all screwed up.  We’ve got Republicans stating that health care reform is taboo, all the while insisting to their constituents that Medicare is untouchable.  As for the Democrats?  They used to be the party of the people, now they’re ineffective corporate toys.  Our system is broken.  We need a way out.

That’s what artists used to provide.  A beacon, uncompromised by money and all that corrupts the average citizen.  Yes, a great artist is willing to starve, he sees no other option than to express himself, to seek truth.  What passes for artistry today is commercialism, playing by the rules in order to get a payoff at the end.  It’s like they moved the music business to Vegas, and everybody wants a chance to push the button on the slot machine.  And if they lose, they bitch.

We’ve got a country addicted to playing the lottery, too dumb to know that it’s a tax on the poor, that winning ruins your life anyway, since everybody wants a handout and no one ever treats you the same again.

And then we’ve got one lone man.  Who’s still making music long after David Geffen accused him of recording tripe.  A man who has always followed his instincts.  Hell, after recording "Long May You Run" Neil Young bolted from his scheduled tour with Stephen Stills…it just didn’t feel right.

That’s what an artist does, go with his feelings.

Last night Neil Young sang live.  He reached my heart like none of the smiling athletes parading by were able to.  A day later, he’s just about the only thing I remember.

Because real artists are unforgettable.  Whether they’ve got one hit or dozens.  They reach down deep and excavate feelings we know but cannot express.  Hell, the Left Banke’s "Walk Away Renee" captures teenage wistfulness better than any record today.  Hell, isn’t that the problem, kids are no longer wistful, they’re too busy writing iPhone apps!

Neil Young did it his way.  And what’s remarkable is when an artist gets it right, their way is our way.

Long may you run.

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