The Coolest Thing: Neil Young Performs for Passers-by on a Sidewalk in Scotland

by Peter Wendel
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Neil Young in ’76

Ringing in the New Year with extremely cool vintage footage of Neil Young performing “The Old Laughing Lady” on a sidewalk in Glasgow, Scotland.

It’s 1976, and Neil is at the tail end of his tour of Japan and Europe. The Glasgow Apollo is the last stop, April 2nd.

Neil’s archives are available here.

Director Murray Grigor and cinematographer David Peat capture Young roaming the Glasgow streets, and eventually parking himself on the pavement to play his banjo and harmonica at the entrance of Glasgow’s Central Station.

Looking like a strung-out street performer – disheveled in his scarf and deerstalker hat – Neil delivers an unvarnished take on “The Old Laughing Lady,” a sparse and haunting song about death. The Grim Reaper in disguise?

They say the old laughing lady
Dropped by to call
And when she leaves
She leaves nothing at all

The power of the lyrics comes through in the eyes of the passers-by, particularly from a few Scottish laughing ladies. After he finishes the song, Neil signs an autograph for a young lass.

Read more about the filming here at Open Culture.

Young and Crazy Horse would perform at the Glasgow Apollo later that evening. They opened with “The Old Laughing Lady.”

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