Letter E- Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere-Neil Young

This year for the 2023 A-Z Blog Challenge, I’m going to begin by listing a song or musical subject, and then see how fast and how far I can completely blow up my own “stream of consciousness,” and head “off the reservation,” by linking every real, and “Zulu Delta-imagined” fact, piece of music trivia, or not so apparent connection to what is racing around my head to that song in an “unstructured, graffiti-like” format. Complete and utter nonsense! Turn it up and turn it on, but as Van “The Man” Morrison said…….”It’s already turned on!”

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter E

Neil Young released the song “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” in 1969 on an album of the same name. The song was written about the musical “scene” in Los Angeles at the time.      

I never heard the song until almost 50 years later driving to work one morning. I was overcome how Neil’s own sentiment seemed to be written about my then employment situation and how it was time to start thinking about leaving my job and career in general.     

Neil has a long and impressive music history as a solo artist, as well as being a member of Buffalo Springfield, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. 

While in Toronto in early 1966, Young met Bruce Palmer, a Canadian who was playing bass for the Mynah Birds. In need of a lead guitarist, Palmer invited Young to join the group, and Young accepted. The Mynah Birds were set to record an album for Motown Records when their singer Ricky James Matthews—James Ambrose Johnson, Jr., later known as Rick James (Funk Icon)—was tracked down and arrested by the U.S. Navy for being AWOL-Absent With Out Leave. Thanks Wiki and Zulu!

I had a shipmate in the Navy who LOVED Rick James. I wish Zulu Delta and Wiki were publishing back then so a few of us could have taunted him!

Now, without a band or record deal, Neil and Bruce hawked the band’s common equipment, bought a hearse, and headed to Los Angeles to look for Stephen Stills.

NO…..really…..a hearse! I wonder if that’s where the idea came from for the 1971 Bobby Sherman TV show; “Getting Together?

Neil’s song “Long May You Run” was about love; but not for a woman. For an old truck he had.

At one point, Buffalo Springfield, who got their name from a tractor/road machinery they had seen, was the house band for a stretch at the Whiskey-A-Go Go on the Sunset Strip, in Lost Angeles. It was this area that the band’s famous song “For What It’s Worth” was written; reflection on the curfew riots in 1966. The song would later become associated with the counter-culture of the 1960’s.

Also, during the band’s stint as “house band” at the Whiskey, on occasion, The Doors were the opening act for them.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and The Doors have some cool album cover history.

Joni Mitchell, painted the artwork for CSNY’s album “So Far”

Photographer Henry Diltz has a lot of Music Albums to his credit including one of The Doors, and one of Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

CSN was driving around Los Angeles for hours looking for a “cool” place for their album cover picture. Almost quitting for the day, they came across some random house with an old couch on it. The guys jumped out, and sat down while Diltz started snapping pictures.

The Morrison Hotel was an actual “boarding house / hotel” in Los /Angeles near the Whiskey-A-Go-Go. The Doors wanted to use the front window for their cover shoot, but the manager wouldn’t let them in. The band hung around until the manager walked away from the front desk for a few minutes and ran inside and then had Diltz start taking pictures. 

During my “Navy Days,” the first ship I was on was a Destroyer, and the Signal Bridge was up high. A little bit above that was the AN/SPS-40 or the SP40 as we called it. It was a large long-range search radar. In those days, our primary music access was from cassette tapes we took on our 6-month cruises, or every once in a while, were able to buy them from the small ship’s store. The problem was, the radar would emit electronic waves not only to the horizons, but into our magnetic cassette tapes. Over time, the SP40 would override the music with a large cyclic buzzing sound; “ZINNGGGG…..zinggggg….ZINNGGGG….zingggg.” Unable to obtain new music in the Persian Gulf, we “lived” with the annoying sounds out of desperation.    

One cassette I bought on the ship was Neil Young’s Reactor. Two cool things about this tape was the lead off song; “Opera Star,” and Neil’s guitar. 

Opera Star Lyrics

So your girlfriend
slammed the door shut
In your face tonight,
but that’s all right
Then she took off
to the opera
With some highbrow
from the city lights
Well, you grew up on a corner
You never missed a moonlit night.”

The second thing was, Neil played so hard on the electric guitar, that of all the tapes we had, the electric riffs on Reactor, almost blended in with the electric pulses of the SP40 Radar.

It was still not an ideal situation, but as Neil said;

“You were born to rock…..you’ll never be an Opera Star!”

8 thoughts on “Letter E- Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere-Neil Young

  1. OK, OK… Neil is a legend, and with the possible exception of “Tonight’s the Night” this is the best of his 40+ albums; I used to do a mean air-guitar to “Down by the River”. But you’ve neglected an essential bit of Neil Young trivia: a certain awesome, champion sailing yacht at RIYC back in the 90’s was named after a line in “Like a Hurricane” – ‘you’re getting BLOWN AWAY”…. !!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • John,
      Zulu Delta 45 is a platform not only for observation, but humor and learning. We all have something to learn; including Zulu Delta. Today I learned where the name for that Champion Sailing Yacht came from. I wasn’t aware of that before. Lucky for me you didn’t follow Neil exactly and buy a Hearse instead of a sailboat, or we may never have become friends. On a related note, it wouldn’t be a great idea to name a hearse “Blown Away,” and while we’re being morbid, the same goes for buying a crematorium and naming it Blown Away! Zulu Delta.


  2. Neil Young was played often and loudly in the Bulldogg Bar (not a spelling error) in El Paso, Texas in the early 70’s. Michael was part owner at the age of 21, after flunking out of UTEP. Twice. The stories about the goings on in that establishment would turn your hair white, but the music was great!

    Liked by 1 person

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