15 September 2011

"I Wanna Love You but I'm Getting Blown Away": Neil Young's "Like a Hurricane" (1977)

It's hurricane season down here in Florida. As politically incorrect as this is, I can't help but let my mind wander back to the early 60s and all the fun we had teasing women about storms that they shared a first name with. You see, back then feminism hadn't gotten more than a little start progress that that kicked in during the early 70s. Hurricanes not only had women's names but also were referred to, even by TV meteorologists, as "she".

I remember one wicked storm back around '62 named Hurricane Carla -- a storm that shared her name with my dad's best friend's wife. Carla and her ole man got no end to the teasing they had to endure from close friends as that storm battered the Florida west coast. I even fictionalized all this once, shifting both the characters and also the time frame around. Here's an excerpt from my unpublished short story Wrist Shake (in press):
.... Preparing for the [fly rod fishing for tarpon] trip, four of us sat in the living room working on tackle: me, my dad, his comedian/fishing partner Jerry, and my brother Henry.

Jerry was on a roll, teasing as always. My girl Carla and I were fighting, so Jerry had plenty of fresh material. ...

Jerry started in on me. “So what’s the matter, lover boy, Hurricane Carla blow you ashore this evening?”

“Cut me some slack, Jer,” I half pleaded and half barked.

“Lay off him,” Henry said, “he can’t make tackle and weather Carla’s swirling gusts all at the same time.”

Now Jerry starts to croon, “When you’re down, and troubled, and you need a helping hand …

“Please,” now I was pleading, “leave Carole King’s insights out of this.” I struggled to recover, “Don’t you have some shopping to do? That fine new white sport coat in your closet just cries out for a pink plastic carnation for the lapel.”

Dad decided it was time to move things along. We all reacted to the authority in his eyes and his voice: “If you gentlemen can wrap this up, we can still catch the 10:30 [pm] high tide.” We were immediately back on task. ....
Flash forward to the late 70s. Sexism had begun it's slow death and the iconoclastic Neil Young had come up with a worthy follow-up to his power ballad Cortez the Killer (1975), Like a Hurricane (1977) -- a song whose lyrics compared lovin' a woman to enduring a hurricane. Moreover, Neil's trademark power chords and lead riffs between verses do a fine job, metaphorically turning electric guitar solos and chord crashes into what it's like to be in a hurricane. And almost every live album Neil did after '77 contains a version of this song. (The acoustic live versions were even done on a giant antique pump-style pipe organ.)

'Nuff said. Here's Neil Young and Crazy Horse performing the original album cut of Like a Hurricane from Neil's 1977 American Stars 'n Bars album.


Starla Darling said...

(Editor's note: Edited from an email response -- Frank James are my first two given names. Paco Malo is Spanish for "Bad Frank".)

... You, my fine Florida fishing friend, are very likely to have a Frank or some variation of James as a storm name. I'm surprised it hasn't happened already.

Paco Malo said...

Maybe even Hurricane Jaime'.