First train my [dad and mom] got me was when I was livin’ in Omemee… Five years-old or somethin’. My dad built the table and we put the thing together. Just before I went to sleep at night I’d turn the train on. It was all dark in the room and it was right there by my bed. I’d turn it on and just watch it go around in the dark, and pretty soon that old AC motor inside would start smelling that ozone smell. I don’t know if you know that Lionel* smell, but now when I smell that, I remember that feeling. Trains. I find their sounds inspirational. So fuckin’ big – wide – vibrating. Awesome.
– Neil Young interviewed by Dave Zimmer, BAM, 22nd April 1988
Reference: McDonough, J. (2002). Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography. UK: Vintage Press. “Mr. Blue and Mr. Red”, p. 43
* “Lionel” refers to Lionel LLC – a designer and importer of toy trains and model railroads. They were a train company Neil revered since childhood, and from 1995, Neil followed his passions and bought a 20% share in the company [source]. He had helped finance development of the Trainmaster Command Control which enabled toy trains to be controlled by remote controls , as well as provide unique ideas for Railsounds II – a sound system that would faithfully reproduce the sound of a particular locomotive, with unique technologies and a loudspeaker built into each model [source]. However, following the company’s official reorganisation on 28th March 2008 (following company bankruptcy), Neil no longer holds a share in the company, although Lionel LLC Chief Executive Gerald Calabrese claims that Neil will have an ongoing role in the company, because “this is Neil’s passion. We certainly want him involved, but, I want to be clear, it’s up to him.” [source].