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I am a Child - Buffalo Springfield

Following on from our Lynyrd Skynyrd thread two posts ago, Neil Young started out in Buffalo Springfield who put together three classic albums at the rate of one a year from 1966 - 68. The line-up also included Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and Jim Messina who joined them for their third album. Although Young always sang with a fairly high register (as he does here) it wasn't until his first solo album that he adopted the whiney style vocal that we nowadays know him by.

Ten years or so later I met a guy who was to be come one of my best friends when he stole my bath in some very Dickensian style bedsit lodgings in Belgravia. Scott was always entertaining company, and had a fierce pride his education, claiming he was largely self-taught. When the stuck-up people we often met in the pubs around Chelsea would ask where he went to university he would snap back at them: "Bejams, the university of life!".

His mother, Betty, was the editor of a top national women's magazine and his father was an unsuccessful novelist and more successful ghost writer of autobiographies. She was Canadian and he was a New Zealander and they been Londoners for all of Scott's life. Occasionally, they used to throw the most terrific parties, plying all and sundry with Dry Martinis until we couldn't stand up. Betty always reminded me of actress Elaine Stritch, and spoke with a high pitched but rough American accented voice. One of the interesting things about her is that her parents used to live in the same block of flats as Neil Young's parents in Toronto, and, as a teenager, she would babysit baby Neil when his parents went out to the pictures. Scott always maintained she used to sing child Neil to sleep, and that's where he got his famous voice from, Betty's tunes and timbre lurking in his subconcious until the time was ripe. In this track from the last Springfield album, "Last Time Around", he's going back to his childhood, preparatory to being reborn as a solo star.

Even now, if I listen to "the Needle and the Damage Done" it does sound like Betty, and I imagine her gently rocking him to sleep.

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