Neil Young’s annual Bridge School Benefit was always a bonanza filled with the cream of the crop of musical royalty. It was only right that when the 2013 event took place only a day after Lou Reed’s tragic passing that Elvis Costello, Neil Young, Jenny Lewis and My Morning Jacket came together to pay tribute to the enigmatic singer with this stunning cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Oh Sweet Nuthin”.
The benefit concert was to raise money for Bridge School in California which is specifically to help children with severe speech and physical impairments. Young first began hosting the annual concert in 1986 with it running until 2016.
The concerts lasted the entire weekend and were organised by musicians Pegi and Neil Young, with the concerts being the primary source of funding for the school, with it raising considerably over a million dollars every year to help with the overheads.
Reed himself appeared on the bill at the 1997 event so it was only right that his old friend Neil Young oversaw a tribute which would have made the former Velvet Underground man proud to have seen. The two artists had a strong history with Reed covering ‘Helpless’ when he played in Young’s native Canada in 2010 and he also spoke at length about how much he respected him as a guitarist.
The New Yorker considered the guitar playing on ‘Danger Bird’ to be the best he had ever heard, stating: “It makes me cry, it is the best I have heard in my life. The guy is a spectacular guitarist, those melodies are so marvellous, so calculated, constructed note to note… he must have killed to get those notes. It puts my hairs on end!”.
Young’s guitar playing sits in his own league and, on this rendition, you can feel the passion that he has thrown into the performance, one which must have been incredibly difficult for him to get through considering he was coping with the loss of a friend.
Lou Reed meant so much to so many with the world of music has been a much darker place since his premature departure and this tribute which saw icons like Elvis Costello coming together with Neil Young, Jenny Lewis and My Morning Jacket speaks volumes about the type of unifying character he was.
Take some time out to watch the tribute below, it’s the best thing you’ll watch all day.