Monday June 1, 2015

I am a child. I’ll last a while

You can’t conceive of the pleasure in my smile …

—Neil Young

When I was preparing to record The Very Next Day, I had 9 original songs and wanted to include 1 ‘cover’ song. I had settled on the song, “To Everyone in All the World.” It was a song made famous by Raffi on his “Baby Beluga” record. I really liked the spirit and message of the song:

I may not know your lingo. But I can say ‘By Jingo’

No matter where you live we can shake hands.

I discovered the song had been written by Pete Seeger which made it an even better choice for my record. Pete had recently passed and it would have been fitting to honour his work.

A couple of weeks before we went into the studio, I had changed my mind. Somehow the song no longer felt like the ‘right song’ to include. Raffi’s version was so beloved and so etched into the landscape of children’s music that I felt I could not spin it in a way that would make it ‘my own’ in order to offer something new.

I called Dave Clark of The Woodshed Orchestra who was producing the record and told him how I was feeling and asked if he had suggestions for another cover song. He said, “How about ‘I Am a Child’ by Neil Young.”   Hmmmm, I thought, what an unlikely candidate which, of course, made it the perfect candidate.

I Am a Child is the last track on the record and we recorded it last. With almost no gas left in the tank, we decided to record the song with just piano and voice. I asked Tania Gill (of the Woodshed Orchestra) if she could interpret the piano in a “Joni Mitchell” kind-of-way. We recorded 2 takes and got what we were after. Tania’s playing is plaintive and beautiful. Neil offered himself up for channeling and we had our final track for The Very Next Day.

Some months later, I asked filmmaker friend James Greatrex to create a video for the song using footage I had captured at Blue Skies Music Festival a few years back. I had been working with The Funky Mamas and a group of children who were preparing a song for the main stage.   The results are now here for you to have a look at for yourself.

You hold my hand. Rough up my hair.

It’s lots of fun to have you there …

—Neil Young


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