Neil Young delivers emotional speech about philanthropy
Acceptance Speech by Neil Young at Canada’s JUNO Awards which took place on March, 27 2011:
Thanks to Neil Young fan Glenn Gillespie for making this video.
Neil Young brought an Air Canada Centre crowd to its feet and then to tears as he accepted the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award at the Junos on Sunday with a touching speech about his family.
Young, who also won two Junos including artist of the year, received the award for his long history of philanthropic work.
Young co-founded the Farm Aid benefit concerts and the Bridge School, which educates children with severe speech and physical impairments. His two sons have cerebral palsy, while his daughter, Amber — who helped Young navigate the red carpet on a frigid spring Sunday — suffers from epilepsy, like Young himself.
“I gotta send a shout out to my son, Ben,” said Young, clad all in black but for a bright red scarf. “It never could have happened without you, buddy. You’re responsible for the whole thing. That’s for you, Ben.“
“And to my lovely wife, Pegi, she’s the one who put it all together, makes me look good. She’s the one with the ideas. And I’m the one with the reputation.”
Young then became more philosophic about the good deeds he’s done.
“To try to do this humanitarian-y kind of thing, you need to look inside yourself,” said Young from under the brim of a black fedora.
“And the musicians, they should not worry about helping others, they should focus on their music first, because the music is the language of love and the language that we all feel together.”
“So music makes it happen, and then if you’re lucky and you have an opportunity, it’s a good thing to do, to go ahead and try to do something yourself.”
“You just gotta look inside yourself and the eyes of your friends, and you’ll find the secret of how to be a humanitarian. So, love to you.”
Backstage, Young — still reluctant to accept too much credit — delved into more detail on his work with the Bridge School.
“These kids are quite often brilliant, but they’re just bottled up in these bodies that don’t work like ours, and these heads that don’t work like ours, but they still have so much to say and so much to think, so we just try to make it happen for them.”
But Young took a more irreverent tone when answering a flurry of questions.
This weekend marked Young’s first appearance at the Juno Awards in 29 years, since he was inducted into the hall of fame in 1982.
He certainly seemed to enjoy himself. He also showed a side of himself that casual fans of his music might not have seen. During his several acceptance speeches, he tossed off wry references to his age, to the cryptically named category in which he won (“best adult alternative album”) and to his fellow nominee, that ubiquitous teen Justin Bieber.
“Well, Justin, of course, I’m in the same category as him — I’m not in the same time zone,” Young said backstage. “It’s some kind of a warp. And you know, I was 16 one time. I was in a band called the Squires. But he did real well.”
“Anyway, he’s fantastic. He’s got some moves, doesn’t he? I mean, what can you say? He’s great.”
But Young also acknowledged that he does tend to avoid the spotlight, and that — as a result — some in the audience might not have known what to expect from him.
“It’s very unusual for me to be this exposed. Maybe if I’d been this exposed a long time ago, people would know what I was like.”
“I’m just trying to be myself. I’m trying to avoid the TelePrompTer as much as possible.”