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Boomer Ballads: Helpless
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Boomer Ballads: Helpless

UPDATE: Commenter Klaus says this version from The Last Waltz is the superior performance. He’s right.

There is a town in north Ontario,
With dream comfort memory to spare,
And in my mind I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.

Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
Yellow moon on the rise,
Big birds flying across the sky,
Throwing shadows on our eyes.
Leave us

Helpless, helpless, helpless

Baby can you hear me now?
The chains are locked and tied across the door,
Baby, sing with me somehow.

Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
Yellow moon on the rise,
Big birds flying across the sky,
Throwing shadows on our eyes.
Leave us

Helpless, helpless, helpless.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Casey Klahn May 4, 2019, 4:50 PM

    NY has an enduring, longing-filled voice and he’s a songwriter of note. But, he crossed me badly one time, and is on my ShitList for life.

    All those teenage hours I spent, pouring over the album cover of Harvest Gold, and listening to his songs on the turntable. It was an investment of youth, and I think I was something of a fan.

    One night, in the Nineties, I was getting off of work up on Capitol Hill, and it was the heyday of Grunge. NY had made inroads, as an old fart, into the youthful movement, and how he did I am unsure. A line was forming at a bar side door, and I asked someone what it was. They said that Neal Fucking Young was performing to an invitation-only crowd, right there across the street.

    That bastard. Where was my invite? All those hours of admiration, wasted and down the drain.

  • Walter Sobchak May 4, 2019, 5:59 PM

    Well I heard Mister Young sing about her
    Well I heard ole Neil put her down
    Well, I hope Neil Young will remember
    A southern man don’t need him around anyhow

    Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MhOZt5-Jl8

  • Klaus May 4, 2019, 6:23 PM

    The best version has got to be from “The Last Waltz” with Joni Mitchell silhouetted back stage doing vocal support.

  • Auntie Analogue May 4, 2019, 11:52 PM

    When stationed in California in 1973, a couple of shipmates and I motored over a hundred miles to see Young in concert at Oakland Coliseum. The man played two or three songs then, apparently annoyed with or by something, announced, “This is like being [or, perhaps “playing”] in fucking jail,” and he walked off the stage. End of concert. We were flabbergasted, and the long drive back to our base began with our grousing but soon deflated into glum silence.

    In my salad days I was entranced by Neil Young’s music, but today his nasal voice just grates on my last nerve; can’t abide listening now to his oldies, let alone to his newer material that just reeks of what comes across to me as his Perpetual Adolescence, as if he’s still the teenager whining about grownups and “rules, man.”

  • bob sykes May 5, 2019, 4:09 AM

    I have always liked his music, and “Helpless” is especially good. But not everyone liked him. One day in the 70s I was in a record store in Columbus, and I was looking at LPs from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Someone in the store had attacked a note to the LPs, circling “Young” and writing “Why?”.

  • David Spence May 5, 2019, 7:06 AM

    In a 2013 radio interview, Graham Nash recalled visiting Neil Young in 1972:

    The man is totally committed to the muse of music. And he’ll do anything for good music. And sometimes it’s very strange. I was at Neil’s ranch one day just south of San Francisco, and he has a beautiful lake with red-wing blackbirds. And he asked me if I wanted to hear his new album, Harvest. And I said sure, let’s go into the studio and listen.

    Oh, no. That’s not what Neil had in mind. He said get into the rowboat.

    I said get into the rowboat? He said, yeah, we’re going to go out into the middle of the lake. Now, I think he’s got a little cassette player with him or a little, you know, early digital format player. So I’m thinking I’m going to wear headphones and listen in the relative peace in the middle of Neil’s lake.

    Oh, no. He has his entire house as the left speaker and his entire barn as the right speaker. And I heard Harvest coming out of these two incredibly large loud speakers louder than hell. It was unbelievable. Elliot Mazer, who produced Neil, produced Harvest, came down to the shore of the lake and he shouted out to Neil: How was that, Neil?

    And I swear to God, Neil Young shouted back: More barn!

    Asked in 2016 whether this story was true, Young said, “Yeah, I think it was a little house-heavy.”

  • Roy Lofquist May 5, 2019, 9:56 AM

    I do likes me some harmonica. Saint Bob has sustained the popularity to the present, and Young turns in a more than credible performance here. But how “serious” a musical instrument is the harmonica? Enjoy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8u-6LzNtkpQ

  • David Zincavage May 5, 2019, 1:50 PM

    I detest that left-wing Canuck pussy.

  • wmprof May 5, 2019, 2:46 PM

    I’m with Walter and Skynyrd. Though I grudgingly respect his musical talent.

  • Skorpion May 5, 2019, 3:06 PM

    Haunting song. Maybe the best rock song ever about the loss of the sense of place one felt growing up.

  • H May 5, 2019, 5:59 PM

    I pretty much detest the sumbitch so you will find me over in the camp of the dood who wrote the “why” note.

  • Rob De Witt May 5, 2019, 9:53 PM

    Auntie Analog –

    Perpetual Adolescence, as if he’s still the teenager whining about grownups and “rules, man.”

    Yep.
    Here’s the quintessential Neil Young performance:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cadc3i9o8cU

  • AesopFan May 6, 2019, 2:16 PM

    Roy Lofquist May 5, 2019, 9:56 AM
    I do likes me some harmonica.
    * * *
    Everytime I think it’s time to quit reading the internet so much, somebody posts something like this.
    I love Rhapsody in Blue anyway, but I did not know anyone could even get a harmonica to do that!
    And at 9 years old ????
    The piano player is no slouch, either.

  • AesopFan May 6, 2019, 2:27 PM

    Leung Pak on the harmonica again, also Rhapsody, but you can tell he has matured.
    Great video slide show of Big Apple pix.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVbvzDY7rB4