Neil Young: The choice to bring down the Olympic curtain
The lips of VANOC are sealed here, but this looks and sounds like more than just heavy speculation: Neil Young will feature very heavily in Sunday's closing ceremony.
A source close to the scene says Young has been tabbed for a headline role, and an acoustic “Heart of Gold” from the 64-year-old Toronto-born rock legend figures to be the see-ya song of this Vancouver Games, for completely obvious reasons.
Ceremonies producer David Atkins is not doing interviews this week – a request through VANOC was politely turned down – so there's no official confirmation. But it makes sense. Young's classic 1972 album Harvest, including the Heart of Gold at the centre of it, was named the No. 1 Canadian album in a poll of 600 musicians, critics and Djs for Bob Mersereau's 2007 book, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (Goose Line Press).
Other clues: Young didn't figure in the opening ceremony, and wasn't a part of a sold-out tribute concert last week at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre here, a show that included Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Toronto's Broken Social Scene and Ron Sexsmith. It'd be just like these kind of closing-night shows to bring in some of the more notable absentees from the opening, and Young is the most notable, his career into its sixth decade. His involvement in causes like Farm-Aid and the environment have taken him beyond the music world. In short, Young is a great Canadian.
As for speculation on who might well be joining him on the Sunday night bill, I'll float a few names from the broadest spectrum that come to mind (and keep in mind, these are pure floats): Joni Mitchell, Arcade Fire, Leonard Cohen (sure, k.d. Lang stood in for Cohen with a Hallelujah that was a highlight of the opening, and Cohen's son said that was good enough, but I dunno), Diana Krall.
If you're looking for a wild card, Vancouver supergroup the New Pornographers, led by tunesmith Carl Newman and the powerful pipes of Neko Case, have been making wonderful music for years. They're a wild-card, yes, but wouldn't this make a hell of an anthem to sing along to:
Let's throw it open in the comments – who would you like to see and hear?