Wednesday, May 1, 2013

WTF, Neil

Posted by on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 11:03 AM

From the archives of bizarrely questionable songs.


Comments (21) RSS

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TomJohnsonJr 1
A Man Needs a Maid is taken from Young's fourth studio album, 1972's Harvest, which was recorded when he had terrible back pain (to the point of being bedridden). So on a literal level, the song is about not being able to take care of yourself anymore. The connotations of the word "maid" did lead to allegations of sexism at the time, which I think was narrow minded: A Man Needs a Maid feels like the opposite of sexist to me. Young is saying he actually respects women too much to even have a relationship, because he realises that he's just not capable of giving someone what they need. The character simply can't reconcile loving someone with his creative ministry. And so A Man Needs a Maid is really a portrait of a lonely man on a mission, unable to give anything – in fact he's desperate for help ("like a beggar going from door to door").

I'd always been familiar with A Man Needs a Maid, but the first time I properly connected with it was when I'd agreed to talk about Neil Young as part of an interview. Feeling quite daunted by the prospect, I spent a week or so revising Neil's work intensely. It was during these midnight revision sessions, at a time when I was away from home, that A Man Needs a Maid suddenly clicked with me. Neil's way is bold, but it's lonely.…
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on May 1, 2013 at 11:13 AM · Report this
merry 2
Well shit... I need a maid, too.. and I'm female.

Still waitin'.........
Posted by merry on May 1, 2013 at 11:16 AM · Report this
I always thought of this as a song to sing about giving dating a second chance after a break up. You rely on this other person so much, but then they hurt you or you just get hurt. So sometimes, you wish you could still live with someone and have them help and support you, but without the emotional connection that could lead to pain. But there's still this longing to meet someone and actually connect with them. It's the duality of a breakup. You never want to feel again, but you want to be in love again.
Posted by AndyInChicago on May 1, 2013 at 11:23 AM · Report this
Neil Young is a bit wiggy, as his recent autobiographical book reveals- but that said, his songs are not to be taken literally- He may or may not need a maid-but he's probably not sexist about it- just as he didnt REALLY meet Cortez when he was ruler of the Aztecs, he didnt REALLY kill people in their cars in Laurel Canyon, and he didnt REALLY chop down a palm tree.

He probably did really roll another number for the road, though.
Posted by CATSPAW666 on May 1, 2013 at 11:24 AM · Report this
Neil Young lyrics are questionable?…
Posted by Jeff on May 1, 2013 at 11:37 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
@4 next thing you'll be telling me is that every word in every song is not literally true.

Oh, Bowie, you cruel trickster!

(it's a melange based on an old Celtic song, actually, redone for the times)
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 1, 2013 at 11:37 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 7
Emily Haines (of Metric) does a good cover of this. And I would also like a maid please...
Posted by ArtBasketSara on May 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 8
my least favorite Neil song. it's the strings and tempo as much as the lyrics.

Posted by Max Solomon on May 1, 2013 at 12:02 PM · Report this
--MC 9
Ever hear National Lampoon's deadly "Old Maid" song, a merciless parody of this and other Neil songs?…
Posted by --MC on May 1, 2013 at 12:21 PM · Report this
Yeah. A song written in 1972 by a hippie rocker is really something to worry about today. I have nothing better to do.
Posted by tacomagirl on May 1, 2013 at 12:29 PM · Report this
nicholaus 11
@7 Oooh, that sounds like it would be great! I am a big fan of both artists. Is it a studio version or live only?
Posted by nicholaus on May 1, 2013 at 1:08 PM · Report this
Space Sausage 12
OMG men are such sexist pigs!
Posted by Space Sausage on May 1, 2013 at 1:22 PM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 13
@11 Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, "Knives Don't Have Your Back". (2006)

I quite enjoyed it...mellow and sweet...takes me back to sitting at a sewing machine on rainy days, working on some project for my self.
Posted by ArtBasketSara on May 1, 2013 at 1:30 PM · Report this
nicholaus 14
@13 Thanks for the info, I'll have to pick that up.

In return, you should check out fellow Canadian (and all around amazing badass) Kathleen Edwards doing Neil Young's Only Love Can Break Your Heart.…
Posted by nicholaus on May 1, 2013 at 1:41 PM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 15
@14 Thanks! She is pretty great...
Posted by ArtBasketSara on May 1, 2013 at 2:21 PM · Report this
gttrgst 16
Somehow in my new wave days I never came across the first St. Etienne with their cover of Only Love Can Break Your Heart. I garage saled it six months ago with half a dozen Thrill Kill Cult cds and have listened to it 20 times or so since (way heavy rotation for me). Neil needs a maid like a fish needs a bicycle.
Posted by gttrgst on May 1, 2013 at 2:21 PM · Report this
Keekee 17
St. Etienne is New Wave???
Posted by Keekee on May 1, 2013 at 2:55 PM · Report this
runswithnailclippers 18
He has yet to release the tapes of "A Man needs a Woman in a French Maid Costume"
Posted by runswithnailclippers on May 1, 2013 at 4:01 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 19
Eh. Canucks be crazy. Polite, but crazy.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on May 1, 2013 at 4:04 PM · Report this
tainte 20
it is a very very sad song, recorded by a very lonely and confused young man. listen to the "live at massey hall" version and prepared to be blown away. he sings, "afraid/a man feels afraid" before segueing into "heart of gold". on the piano.…
Posted by tainte on May 1, 2013 at 6:14 PM · Report this
nicholaus 21
@20 That Massey Hall album is quite possibly my favorite live album by any band.
Posted by nicholaus on May 1, 2013 at 6:18 PM · Report this

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