Saturday, March 5, 2011

Neil Young, Dementia, and a Journey Thru the Past
Part II

"Trying to remember what my daddy said/Before too much time took his head/He said we're going back and I'll show you what I'm talking about/Going back to Cyprus River/Going back to the old farm house." Neil Young "Prairie Wind", Prairie Wind 2005

We had a caregiver's meeting a few weeks ago. For the last couple of years, we have provided Dad with almost 24/7 care in his home, where he's lived for over 60 years. For awhile, this meant seven regular people, including my sister and me, and some “back-ups”, taking multiple shifts of anywhere from 2-9 hours, a weekly scheduling nightmare primarily handled by my niece. But over the last six months or so, the number of people has been reduced. We now have one woman who stays three full days and nights in a row, and four others, including my sister, who juggle the other days. The meeting went well, except that there were several issues gurgling under the surface, not concerning my dad, but in the lives of the caregivers. One involved a teenage daughter who tried to commit suicide. Another concerned the steady deterioration of a husband in severe chronic pain, and the concurrent deterioration of the caregiver's marriage along with it. And a third problem was a sign of the times: a house was about to be lost, with the family unsure of where they would go and how they might “make it”. And yet everyone was enthusiastic about their time with Dad, and re-dedicated themselves to his well-being. And so we continue on, strong but wounded, supportive of not only my father but hopefully each other.

Back in 1969, Crosby Stills and Nash's eponymous album did nothing for me. In fact, I actively scoffed at it – a buncha hippie crap with music and harmonies that were way too sterile. You could practically hear the perfectionists in the studio working out every note for maximum effect – bleh! I wanted some blues, some gutsy rock, some slurred stuttered heart and soul that sounded lived in. And of course, one of the people I looked to for this kind of stuff was Neil Young, who continued to provide it with his third album, released a year after CSN, the incredible After the Gold Rush. Rockers, enigmatic piano mysteries, even the incredibly sweet “Birds” - now THIS was something I could get behind. At the time, I didn't follow the various connections between CSN and Neil Young, so I heard with horror the news that Neil was joining them for their second album. Nothing good could come of this, thought I.


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