Why Neil Young got ‘angry’ with modern music

Neil Young has long been one of the most eminent musicians. Affectionately hailed as “the godfather of grunge”, he ranks among the most consistent rockers, the existence of failures in his extensive body of work being very rare. Adding to this musical brilliance, he always lent his support to just causes and used his status for herd purposes.

Young’s exploits speak for themselves. After cutting his teeth in Canada, he then traveled to Los Angeles where he joined Buffalo Springfield, and quickly they became one of the biggest bands of the countercultural era. After the band broke up, he embarked on his solo career before briefly joining former Buffalo Springfield bandmate Stephen Stills in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Together the quartet wrote a series of classics, with their 1969 record, Déjà vu, one of the greatest of the time. Then, when the quartet imploded, he returned to his solo career, and went from strength to strength, releasing many masterpieces which include To harvest and Zuma.

With such a brilliant catalog, it gave Young the status of one of music’s ultimate sages. For decades, his commentary on the state of the industry has been revered, as he knows it inside out and consistently delivers incisive takes. In 2012, he provided one of his most compelling, when he criticized the sound quality of music in the 21st century and revealed that it even made him “angry”.

He said MTV News at the time: “I find that I have a little trouble with the sound quality of today’s music. I do not like it. It just makes me angry. Not the music quality, but we’re in the 21st century, and we have the worst sound we’ve ever had. It’s worse than a 78 [rpm record]. Where are our geniuses? What happened?”

The Canadian musician went on to explain that he thinks people have changed their listening habits to deal with the declining quality of music.

He said, “I like to point it out to the artists. That’s why people listen to music differently today. It’s all about the background and the beat, and that’s because in the resolution of the music, there’s nothing else you can really hear. The warmth and depth in the highs are gone.

He then made his point by being typically Neil Young and surprising us. He said there are current bands he likes, namely Mumford and Sons and My Morning Jacket, concluding, “Mumford And Sons and My Morning Jacket are great bands. I love them both and I know them well. I feel good saying that.

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