Here are my definitions of the categories I have created for Neil Young’s quotes. Please keep in mind that as objective as I aim to be, many quotes are grouped into categories depending on my personal analysis of that quote, and the subsequent category. But anyway. I don’t want to make things too complicated…
If you have any further suggestions, or any comments about the categories I have created, please feel free to leave a comment using the form at the bottom of the page. I very much welcome any suggestions about merging categories, re-defining them, or creating any new ones.
Thoughts about human creativity, imagination and various creative outlets.
Ah, where it all began. Neil’s thoughts on music, certain genres, instruments, and the music of other civilisations and societies.
Mostly consists of direct references to death and destruction.
Neil’s concepts on the nature of, and reasons for, happiness and thus self-fulfillment.
- Human tendencies
Natural human tendencies that most people cannot avoid. Most frequently, Neil discusses biases in decision-making (particularly politics), and the tendencies to put yourself before others, including the wellbeing of the natural world.
Neil’s discussions on humour, or generally funny statements (expect this one to be quite full).
As part of the process of growing up and adulthood, here are Neil’s thoughts about personal and communal independence.
Speaks for itself. Maybe this is ironic, but I might merge this category with Reality.
Pervading human loneliness, even in a world where increasing communications suggests closer relations.
- Natural World
A very powerful underlying theme in Neil’s work: Neil is passionate about conservation of energy and the efficient and moral use of the world’s resources. Includes animals, the enviroment, and the human interrelationship with nature, and Mother Nature.
Maybe this is a broad category, but this includes Neil’s personal philosophies in life, and several generalised world philosophies.
Natural corruption in politics, including inequal hierarchical structures, and manipulations.
Everything that political structures are incapable of providing to the country and ordinary people, following inefficiencies in social structures, leadership, or general management.
I thought this fit in nicely with politics. Money isn’t a strong theme in Neil’s work, but it does come up, particularly in his later work .
Something Neil is not afraid to discuss, and rightly so. Perhaps in a bit of overlap with human tendencies, Neil discusses the importance of voting and maintaining your own political beliefs.
Conflict, soldiers, ordinary people, danger, injustices – everything associated with war, that Neil discusses very frequently.
Perhaps a bit broad as a category, but this includes the actual reality of certain ideals that Neil holds, as well as realities in life we cannot avoid. See also: Surrealism.
In regards to Neil’s own family life, the often troubled nature of relationships between parents, but the better understanding between parents and children, frequent throughout Neil’s work.
The nature and ideals of Neil’s own, and generalised, platonic friendships.
The more sexual and involved side of adult relationships, which Neil can either confront frankly, or in a very personalised, private way.
The problems, and often realities, that arise from natural conflicts in sexual relationships.
Often includes Neil’s personal ideals about how a sexual relationship should function, or how they do function in any of his more rosy-eyed views. Includes natural desires, and needs.
I realise this is a broad topic, but I myself found it hard to define what love is (cheesy, I know.) But generally, I made this to involve the happiest and most fulfilling side of a sexual relationship, seeing as I have also included conflict as a subcategory (see above).
Speaks for itself! Includes allusions to religious texts, metaphors involving religion, Neil’s own views about religion, and even times where God is simply mentioned. Religion, but more so spirituality, features very frequently throughout Neil’s work.
One of Neil’s most poignant themes and creative techniques.
Everything from how a society functions by politics and general social structures, to everyday life with the subway breeze through your ears.
- City/Country life
Includes descriptions of each type of lifestyle, and Neil’s understanding of collisions between the two. Maybe it’s worth noting that the country seems to be Neil’s favourite place to be: simple, natural, honest, and steam trains. Therefore, there are often quotes here about the simplicity and sincere attraction to country life.
The use of chemical substances, and their effects on human behaviour, is discussed rather frequently in Neil’s work. This is most prominent in the 1973-5 Time Fades Away/On The Beach/Tonight’s The Night Ditch Trilogy, particularly following Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry’s drug-related deaths, and Neil’s own attraction to alcohol (not to mention the 1960’s/1970’s in general). Also, drugs and alcohol feature frequently in American society in general.
- Ordinary people
A favourite Neil theme. The nature and functioning everyman – be s/he positive or negative – from the friendly local post man to gossiping single mums to the street drug dealer to the local con man, is discussed here. Inspired by an obvious song.
- City/Country life
Surrealism features strongly in Neil’s work – be it through literal metaphors, perceptions of his own dreams, or just one of those scrambled messages that he tries to pick from the sky in the ocean. A very beautiful, and often ironically simple, way to convey a message. This category mainly features any lyrical or thematical connotations to surrealism that I find in Neil’s work. See also: Reality.
Where potentialities and realities of future events are discussed. Interestingly, where Neil focuses a lot on the past and his childhood in his earliest work, he focuses more on the future in his later work.
- Growing old
Includes adult responsibilities that younger people slowly realise, and Neil’s personal fears and strengths in growing older. A very prominent theme in Neil’s work, which is beautifully ironic seeing as he never seems to age.
- Growing up
Includes stories and ideas about growing up, and in Neil’s case, these stories most often involve Canada, trains, simple country life and the realisation of gradual independence. See also Relationships >> Family.
- Past (Nostalgia/memories)
Directly inbetween both of the aforementioned subcategories, and something that fits in snugly with Relationships >> Family. Neil is equally nostalgic and forward-thinking, but to me he is at his most eloquent when he discusses his childhood memories.
From what I know of Neil, I know he is obsessed with (old) cars and trains. These subcategories include quotes based on cars/trains in general, and using cars/trains in metaphors for other notable subjects.