An Open Letter To The Idiot Yelling for “Southern Man”*

Esteemed Sir:

I had the distinct pleasure of recently attending the performance by Neil Young and Crazy Horse within the magnificent confines of the Radio City Music Hall. Perhaps it is because my memories of this venue begin in early childhood at the Christmas Spectaculars, when I was dressed uncomfortably in my going-to-New-York-City clothes, taffeta skirts and patent leather shoes, accompanied by my parents, that I would never think of misbehaving in the slightest at Radio City. You, however, did not seem restrained by your environment. Instead, you felt the need to bellow for “Southern Man,” repeatedly, every time there was the slightest lull in the performance.

I must ask you, anonymous sir in the balcony, did you imagine that you had the faintest chance of having your request honored? When you awoke that morning, did you think to yourself: “I love ‘Southern Man’ more than any other Neil Young song in his entire catalog, and despite hearing it on Classic Rock radio every day of my life, nothing would bring me more joy and pleasure than to hear Neil Young play it at Radio City tonight. Therefore, my quest will be to yell for that song as loudly as possible (since I am sitting in the third balcony, I need to make sure he can hear me) and as often as possible, especially when Neil is speaking and it is otherwise quiet. Surely Mr. Young will not be able to ignore such a highly original and clearly heartfelt petition. I know with absolute and perfect certainty that there is no way Neil Young would consider playing this song – I am sure that he has forgotten about the very existence of this song in his repertoire! – without my ardent, resonant and voluminous requests.”

You may feel that I am being unkind, when the truth is that I feel a gentle pity for you. This is because I can only imagine that you do not get out to many live concerts. Because if you did, you would know that your chosen methodology has been employed so often that we – and by “we” I do not mean the royal “we,” but rather every single person who attends a live concert event, as well as every artist who performs at a live concert event – are weary of your attentions. You should be relegated to a special soundproof booth in the back of the venue, where you would reside with your brethren, The Guys In Backwards Baseball Hats Who Scream For “Magic Bus” Before The Who Have Even Taken The Stage, and a related group, The Seat-Warming Girlfriends: they don’t want to be there, but their boyfriends have convinced themselves that they have “converted” their significant others into die-hard fans. In reality, they are the girls who spend the entire night getting up and down, acquiring snacks and drinks, as well as calling their friends on their cell phones (yelling “I can’t hear you, I’m at the concert! What? I said, I can’t hear you, I’m at the concert!”) and then walk out very upset that the band in question didn’t play their “favorite” song (which is of course that band’s most well-known song) – when the fact is that they did. They were just at the concessions, purchasing a soft pretzel, when this event occurred.

But I digress.

In short, “Southern Man”-requesting individual: Sit down and shut up. Please.


Caryn Rose

*As rejected, very nicely, by