I have watched Neil Young a LOT. 109 shows and counting, as well as innumerable videos- solo, with bands he works with and one offs, such as joining someone on stage at the Bridge School Benefits.
People often remark that when he enters a group, the energy level increases, the musicianship skyrockets and he takes it all up a few hundred levels or so. LOL. This year at BSB, I watched carefully. Smiling, he approaches the other musicians on stage and almost HANDS them some energy, with his playing and his dancing and his smile. The people playing with him start to respond. There is a palpable increase in everyones ability to put the music out there, in a way that touches the players and the audience. Lesson one.
When Neil plays a show, there is always a reason behind what he is doing, what songs and stories he uses, even the shirts he wears. The entire show is a piece of art. Lesson two.
I think that art is the expression of the human truth that we live, the common and utter truth of being a person. Everytime Neil is on stage, he tells the truth about life as he sees it, what is on his mind about the world and the way things are. Telling the truth is Lesson three.
Neil sings the songs he believes in at the time, and for that reason we can believe them too. Lesson four.
I once heard a story from a man who played the warm up band for neil. He said that Neil told them to play for the people in the parking lot, make the sound big through how you use your energy that way. Lesson five.
Dont listen to the critics, don't listen to your friends, don't listen to other people about your art. Listen only to the muse, she is your artististic spirit guide. As Ryan Adams once said, Just Make Art. Lesson six. And I am sure there are more....