This Week in History: Neil Young Live at Massey Hall

Legendary Canadian singer-songwriter performed at Massey Hall for the first time 46 years ago this week.

In a career spanning over 50 years, Neil Young has racked up seven Juno Awards, two Grammys, and two inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Having released upwards of 40 records under his own name, not to mention his work with some of rock and roll’s more celebrated acts over the years, Young continues to leave his mark on the music world. While he’s turned out over a dozen live albums, it’s one performance in particular that stands out this week.

On January 19, 1971, Young recorded two solo performances at Massey Hall in Toronto. The Massey performances were part of Young’s Journey Through the Past Solo Tour, the Canadian singer-songwriter’s first big breakthrough as a solo artist.

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Prior to 1971, Young spent stints with The Mynah Birds and Buffalo Springfield, before joining Crosby, Stills, and Nash. The Journey Through the Past tour saw Young perform his own solo material, as well as songs he recorded with Buffalo Springfield and CSNY.

Much of the music performed at Massey Hall would have been unfamiliar to the audience at the time, as just eight of the 18 songs he played had appeared on records that featured Young. Five of the songs would eventually appear on Young’s iconic record Harvest, which was released in 1972.

Live at Massey Hall would finally see its release nearly 40 years after Young’s solo acoustic/piano performance at the iconic venue. Released in 2007, the record reached No. 1 in Canada in its first week. It also reached No. 6 on the Billboard 200 in the United States.

Young’s influence on modern music cannot be overstated. He’s inspired and performed with the likes of Pearl Jam. His rock and folk stylings can be recognized in music from Grammy Award-winning icons like the Foo Fighters, Beck, and Wilco, while indie rock heroes like Dinosaur Jr, the Constantines, and Built to Spill also wear their Neil Young influences on their sleeves.

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