Music Lyrics #8 – Helpless (Neil Young)


Songwriters that speak of world change are many times called troubadours. The dictionary would define this as “any of a class of lyric poets who flourished principally in Provence and N Italy from the 11th to the 13th centuries, writing chiefly on courtly love in complex metric form.”

In modern times, this term became for singers, particularly those in the 1960s and 1970s, to mean for those that wrote lyrics that spoke of change, either local or in the world. One of these troubadours is Neil Young. What always fascinates me about Neil’s music is that his voice, much like Bob Dylan, isn’t the best. He would probably be kicked off of American Idol during auditions in today’s society, but his words touch so deeply. He wrote this song, “Helpless”, In the song, Neil speaks of a town in North Ontario, Canada, where he grew up. In an interview he said:

“”Well, it’s not literally a specific town so much as a feeling. Actually, it’s a couple of towns. Omemee, Ontario, is one of them. It’s where I first went to school and spent my ‘formative’ years.”

I find this interesting as to whether he is speaking of how he felt directly and if there is some ties to how he felt in his situation there. Well, not to speculate further, it is a song I listen to. It doesn’t necessarily bring me down, but shows me the power of the feeling he speaks of.

 

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.

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