Long May You Run

Album: Decade (1976)
Charted: 71
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  • Lyrics
  • Neil's beloved Pontiac hearse, "Mort" (a.k.a. "Mortimer Hearseburg"), was the inspiration for this song. Neil drove "Mort" from Toronto to Los Angeles, where he met Stephen Stills and formed Buffalo Springfield.

    Neil was in Canada driving to Sudbury when 'Mort' broke down in Blind River, June 1965. (Which is contradictory to the lyrics; "well it was back in Blind River, in 1962, when I last saw you alive").
  • In 1976, Stephen Stills and Neil Young formed The Stills-Young Band and released an album called Long May You Run, which turned out to be somewhat ironic when the collaboration quickly stalled.

    Stills and Young wrote separately for the album, which Stephen contributing four songs, and Young adding five, including the title track.

    Stills is a longtime collaborator of Neil's, having worked with him first in Buffalo Springfield and then in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. However, they had a falling out only nine days into the Long May You Run tour. Young decided to abandon the project, leaving Stills with a mere telegram to explain his departure. It read: "Dear Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach. Neil."
  • In addition to Young's compilation album Decade this also appears on his 1993 album Unplugged. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Paulus - Tasmania, Australia, for all above
  • The last ever Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien on Friday January 22, 2010 finished in style when O'Brien's final musical guest, Neil Young, performed this song in what appeared to be a poke at NBC. O'Brien had been asked to move his slot to 12:05 a.m., and the TV host refused to move his show to such a late hour, and instead negotiated a $45 million exit deal.
  • Neil Young performed this song at the Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games to a rousing ovation of Canadian audience members. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chris - Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
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Comments: 46

  • Dt from Perdido BeachI saw CSN&Y in concert, mid 70's at Royals Stadium in KC. Neil Young introduced this by simply saying "this is a song about my car" Excellent concert, the Beach Boys opened for them. I like the imagery of writing a song about a good reliable car-they do become a part of your life, like a home-especially when you are young. I had a Maroon 78 Camaro that took me many places and somehow always got me home, no matter how f--ked up I got. Made love to my future wife numerous times in the front seat. Spent thousands of hours in it during some of the best times of my life. Long May You Run Big Red!
  • Joe from Newtown Square, PaNeil Young has a history with the Beach Boys. Buffalo Springfield opened for the Beach Boys in 1966. He was big time friends with Dennis Wilson, hanging out together through the late 60s, plus he and Carl Wilson developed a friendship musically. Brian Wilson was a huge influence, as he was with any musician who was artistically awake in '66-'67 (Due to his unorthodox approach to composition, arrangement, and recording, Brian is widely acknowledged as one of the most innovative and influential creative forces in music). 1972's "Journey Through the Past" featured Brian Wilson's, "Let's Go Away for Awhile" also from the album, Pet Sounds, where "Caroline, No" is from.
  • Les from AustraliaI stumbled on this site because a friend posted the MTV version on fb. I thought this was the site for the lyrics (I wanted to check out the Beach Boys line). Anyway, all very interesting. However if everyone in Blind River was as rude and bad tempered as Andre (I'm sure they're not), it's not a place I would like to visit. His is the classic symptom of people who have this tiny piece of esoteric knowledge and everyone else who doesn't have it is to be castigated for their ignorance. Andre- it's a big world outside of Blind River so lots of stuff you might not know about places and songs out there. I'm fine with that. Cheers. Les
  • Edward from Birmingham, AlOne of my all-time favorite songs. Travel to Blind River is on my bucket list because I love Canada, Michigan's U.P., Lake Superior--and this song. I hope to run into Andre, Natasha, and Germaine, when I arrive. If you see this post, email me a esavela@savela.org.
  • Dean from Barrie, OnJust an FYI... "Hearst" is a town in Ontario. "Hearse" is a car. Neil references the car on "Hitchhiker" . It was a '48 Buick. Squires pose with Mort http://neilyoung.webs.com/photos/Neil-Before-Fame/9279306976_VS7Xc.png
  • Chirayu from Gujrat, Indiahi guys, i read every one and thanks!

    so

    1st para is certainly about a girl, that he reckons, and and his & her future.......

    changes---constant--one should keep going.........she is chrome hearted girl

    2nd para is a place near some river, in 1962.....y will he lie in his song about the year.....its about car/bike.....that was last seen then atleast as mentioned in the song! chrome hart shining is certainly a car

    3rd para: beach boys---no idea--i didnt like "caroline no" .....girls backs to ----> the beach boys

    last lines......Rollin' down
    That empty ocean road
    Gettin' to the surf on time.

    that lifes all about
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationThe song was first played by Neil Young at the May 74 Bottom End show. This is before the 74 CSNY reunion and well before the Long May You Run album with Stills. As for as the Beach Boy reference, it is the type of car (Long hearse) that is similar to the "woody" station wagons a lot of surfers and "Beach Boys" had. Just a thought on how he hopes his car has gone on to better things since he junked it.
    When Stills & Young were in the studio recording their album, Neil thought they should call in Crosby & Nash for additional harmonies. Unfortunately, after a few days in the studio, they started fighting and Stills & Young wiped C& N's harmonies off the master. But Neil kept the alternative copies and put it on Decade.
  • Andre from Blind River, OnI don't understand what everyone is even debating. to those who are not from Blind River, have never been to Blind River, or don't even know where Blind River is on the map why would you even comment, you can speculate all you want. But when people from the town tell you the actual story why would you argue with them?
    My grandfather, Albert (Maurice) Valiquette worked for Bill's garage in the 60's, Neil's Hearst broke down and was towed to this garage, where my grandfather helped work on it. Neil and his band or friends we're sleeping in the Hearst while it was being repaired. and during this time my grandfather had a few drinks and played the guitar with each other. like my grandfather and many other family still gather and do to this date. Neil Young is not related to the Young's in Blind River, he was not driving his bike thru Blind River, he was not singing about a love he lost to the beach boys and the date was 1962. so stop speculating and take the facts.
  • Dan from Fargo, Nd"Long May You Run" is also very effectively used over the closing credits-the 'where are they now' portion of "Do You Believe In Miracles?", the Bernard Goldberg written HBO documentary of the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team. You'll have a lump in your throat by this point in the program. Loved the movie but this documentary touches your heart.
  • Germaine from Blind River , OnHi everyone,
    My husband Albert played guitar with Neil Young at Bill's garage while his hearst was in the shop waiting for parts to repair it,the year was 1962,they left Blind River with the repaired hearst.Bill's wife Mary gave them food and blankets because it was spring time and the nights were cold.My husband was working for Bill at the time.Neil was with two other fellows.
  • Bryon from Sandy, UtThe promblem with the hearse was a broken down transmission...hence "we missed that shift on the long decline". In the 1960s old hearses were highly prized by surfers & considered very cool...hence "maybe the Beach Boys have got you now". Underlying cryptic meanings? Perhaps, but sometimes as Freud said, a cigar is just a cigar.
  • Robert from Plymouth, MiHi Bob,........
    I 'm going to venture a guess that the "Natasha" you are wondering about is Natasha V. Her grandfather, Albert V., could have worked for my dad in the 60's and could have easily been involved in the Mort scenario.
    Albert V. married Germaine M. The M. family lived next door to us...their house actually was situated due east across the laneway beside my dad's garage. The garage was Known as Bill's Garage in the 60's. Albert V. eventually
    bought the garage from my dad when he retired.
    Natasha's mom and dad now live in the M. homestead. Her dad Paul is a good friend of my son Max and has a garage of his own.
    Interesting stuff....
    Theresa.......


  • Robert from Plymouth, MiHi Bob,
    Interesting that you would forward this piece just now. I was watching the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics last night and thought about the song. Neil Young sang it again.
    When the car (a big black hearse) broke down, my dad towed it to his garage...worked on it for about 2 or 3 days. Neil and a couple of his band members had little money. They looked like traditional hippies....one wore a traditional German helmet.
    They were not very clean looking. The restaurants would not allow them in so my mom made them sandwiches each day. They just hung around the garage until the car was repaired. But my dad would not release the keys until he was paid. Neil's dad was a
    sports writer for the Toronto Star. My dad called him....he sent the money and the future band was on its way!
    Thanks for the look back into time.
    Theresa

    Thats a E-mail from my cousin, whose parents hosted the boys during their 60' stay. As a kid I loved going up to Blind River from Detroit. He not only had the only repair shop within 1 million miles, he also had a junk yard. At ten years old I was in heaven. She, Young and his then friends, are the only ones who know the true story. He even left a blanket there (now long gone) with the initials NY on it.
  • Karlitos from Ottawa, OnBob in Venice, CA.
    You're absolutely right!!

    And to all others:
    Who cars if it was originally about a car.
    It still pulls at the heart srings because we identify strongly with a sense of loss, parting with a loved one/thing, saying goodbye, being left stranded by a sudden departure. Even more so as we grow older and mature. Which is why these songs stand the test of time.

    30 years from now we'll still be singing it along with others like Time of your life (Green Day), I will remember you (Sarah Mclaughlin). These song sget seared into our hearts for some reason.

    ...And so it doesn't matter whether it's a car, dog, parent, house, child.

  • Char from Gustavus, AkCarved into the cedar walls of a remote Alaskan Hot Springs BathHouse is "S/V Ragland LONG MAY YOU RUN". The natural rock hot tub sits on the edge of the rugged Pacific coastline. Through slide back shoji doors, you settle into the hot water while the gale storm pounding surf spumes and roars a few feet away.

    A hearse may have been the Neil's original subject of the song but he also has had this other lovely lady, the Ragland, to sing this song to.

    Three times a year I make the wayward and often rough journey to do maintenance at this remote site. After I have drained and scrubed the tub, it is always my luxurious pleasure to sit in those sparklling, hot waters. Without fail, I spend time contemplating those carved words...and yes, the Ragland came this way, twice in fact...and I sing and hum Neil's songs and pray "Long May He Run".
  • Pat from Vancouver, BcI was lucky enough to be at the 2010 Closing Ceremonies last night... and this song was definitely the highlight of the musical part (tho Michael Buble was pretty good, too). Been through Blind River many times... a great little rural Canadian town on a nice stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway. Anyway, the story I've always heard with this car is that it was purchased in Thunder Bay (where both Neil Young and Steven Stills lived for a bit, and wrote songs). (Neil was born in Toronto, Ontario) The car was bought because of the unique feature of hearses... that the bed of the back of the car would mechanically extend to allow for easy removal of the casket (better for the back!). More than a few bands in those days drove hearses for that reason. And, of course, it died in Blind River...
  • Bob from Venice, Ca Whether or not its about a hearse, a car, a woman,or all of the above, this sad sweet song was the high point of the end of the Olympics.
    It packs every human emotion, of parting, of reunion, into places in the soul I can't quite articulate.
  • Allie from Blind River, OnApparently he is related to a family in Iron Bridge, his son lived there.
  • Fred from Laurel, MdIs this suddenly turning into the universal closing song, or what? Neil just sang this to finish the closing ceremonies at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. It had me thinking, "Hey, do any of these people know that this is a song about a car?" Anyway, I don't care for much of Neil's music, but I really like this one! Including his reference to the Beach Boys and their song, "Caroline, No," which I really dig! *** OBTW, tonight in Vancouver, he sang '1963' instead of '1962.' Go figure.
  • Don from Buffalo, NyDon't care what the song means & I am not even a Niel Young fan - but his performance of "Long May You Run" on Conan O'Brien's final show was one of the best live performances that I have ever seen!
    After watching & listening several times times, Young's vocal & guitar/harmonica playing brought back memories of days gone by.
    I am glad that I was able to DVR the program - so that I can enjoy the clip any time I want.
    I wish I could download it somehow to my PC - but can't because of copyright protections. can anyone help ?


  • Wayne from Midvale, UtWhy is this an issue? Neil Young wrote the song. Neil Young lived the story. Neil Young says it is about his broken down old hearse. I'm would say it's about Neil Young's broken down old hearse!
  • Josep from Dubrovnik, CroatiaHe played this song on Conan o"brien's last tonight show. The perfect way bud farewell to his reign!
  • Tim from Washington, DcHey Steve... Even Neil said it was about his car.
  • Steve from Seattle, WaThis song has nothing to do with a car. This song is a song about love and betrayal. Neil Young Wrote this song about the love of his life and how he met her. She was a "runner" for bands back in the 60's and he met her and fell in love with her and she eventually left him for one of the Beach Boys. That is why there is is a reference to them in the song and "long may you run" is his words to her because she was a runner.
  • Edward from Birmingham, AlIt is unbelievable that I found this site with so many fans of this somewhat obscure song. It's always been among my top songs of all times. The beat and deeper and latent message appeal to me. I am from Michigan and spent lots of time in Northern Michigan and Ontario. I never new Blind River was up there. I thought it was somewhere in California. Now I feel even closer to this masterpiece. I prefer the live version but both are great.
    Ed, Alabama
  • Dave from Tipp City, OhWell, being of an investigative spirit, I couldn't keep from doing a more in depth study of this subject. According to notes from James Dusewicz' R&R website- see link here- (http://www.angelfire.com/rock2/traces/pages/bs.html)
    Jonathan is most likely on the right path, The only thing stated wrongly here is that the car you should be looking for is a 1948 Buick Roadmaster Hearse. Neil had two hearses; a 1948 Buick and a 1953 Pontiac. The '48 Buick was likely a 'Flxible' hearse that would have been manufactured in Loudenville, OH. It would (probably) be a straight 8 cylinder engine with a 3-spd manual transmission. The chrome heart may have been the windshield wiper motor that was heart shaped and used on GM vehicles of the day. Another thought, it may have been a replacement hood ornament, or a cool way of noting the chrome angel hood ornaments of the day....
    The Buick was being driven from Winnipeg to Sudbury ~6/15-18/1965, where it lost a trans-gear on the downhill run between Iron Bridge and Blind River. It was towed into Blind River and left there. Neil thought it an omen, left the car there and continued on to Toronto to play bass with the Mynah Birds (founder-Rick James of Funk fame). Rick James (Mathews) who was AWOL from the US Military was arrested and sent back to USA. In Feb. '66 Bruce Palmer (Buf. Sprgfld Bassist?) and Neil sold the PA equipment and amps, bought Mort II (the '53 Pontiac) Hearse and headed to LA, California to find Steven Stills. The '53 Pontiac was most likely a Meteor conversion built just 10 miles from me in Piqua, OH.
    The car to look for is indeed, a 1948 Buick Roadmaster Hearse converted by Flxible Mfg. A photo of Mort's sister can be found here--
    http://www.coachbuilt.com/bui/f/flxible/flxible_pics.htm
    Second picture from the bottom.
    That is my best assessment. Neil probably isn't interested, as this was seen as a timely omen, and the past is best to stay in the past.....Long May You Run!
    Burky
  • Dave from Tipp City, OhWow, Where to begin?
    As a 9 year old kid my family traveled through Blind River (May 1969). Dad was on a business trip from Montreal to Ohio via the Soo. We stopped in Blind River for lunch and fished for Perch on the old dock near the mouth of the Mississauga, just down from the spillway. I caught a Northern Pike on a small rod and reel, and nearly pissed myself. That August we returned and stayed at the Motel on the east side of the river. It was a 12 hour trip one way, but one that led to a great many more.
    That summer we drove out Rt.555 to Birch Lodge on Lake Magog (Granery), run by The Browns. They were a sweet couple who rented cabins to tourists for fishing in the summer. Spent at least a week there every summer through 1978. I understand their grandson Brian may still live in the area and drive trucks.
    I recall a garage operated on the east end of town (along Hwy 17). They worked on cars, sold outboard motors, motorcycles, and even had a small grocery next door that served hand-dipped ice cream. This may be the same place noted above. I will check through pics of the area from back in the day, to see if an old hearse may have been visible... mom always took too many pics...lol
    Anyway, every-time I hear this song, I still cop a smile. Blind River was a wonderful memory from my youth. There was a bakery, a small meat market near the north end of Lawton St ? (run by an Italian Family), and a Chinese diner that had great food. Also, I recall my folks having a missionary friend named Sister Miss Thompson, who was a sweet old saint that also cared for her father (over 100) when they met.
    Best part of the memory is; I took my own family there in 1996, and had the opportunity to watch my 9 year old son catch his first fish, a perch, from the same river spillway that I had fished as a 9 year old nearly 30 years earlier.
    Back in the Day, Hwy 17 was 2-lanes, and still of gravel composition east of Blind River (near Sudbury). If Neil was on a motorcycle, whether '62, '65, or 1969, he was traveling some mighty desolate roads. Riding a motorcycle in the 60's on that road would have been some Iron-butt riding. This indeed, would be a great topic to share a cup of coffee over.
    Lastly, I saw Neil with CSN in Columbus, OH a couple years back. Neil still has the energy of an 18 year old, and closed the show with "Rockin' in the Free World"!
    Neil, long may YOU run!!!!!

  • Jonathan from Canterbury, OnHi Natasha. I visited the garage on Craig Street on July 11th 2008. I was taken there by the guy who towed the hearse (Mort)into Blind River to his father's garage when in broke down. They diagnosed the problem (transmission) but didn't have time to repair it so it was moved to the garage you mention. I am doing some research on the hearse and would welcome an opportunity to speak with your grandfather who claims to have repaired the hearse (I'm certain I know the family name). There are, however, some discrepancies with the dates. In one particular biography on Neil Young the author says Neil left what is now Thunder Bay for Toronto in the hearse in 1965, not 1962. The guy who towed the hearse says it was 1962, same year mentioned in the song. However, in the song Neil says "It was back in Blind River in 1962/When I last saw you alive." This suggests the hearse wasn't repaired. The guy who towed it says it was (presumably by your grandfather), but others say Neil abandonded the hearse. What do you know? Please email me at jonacum@hotmail.com.
    The hearse Neil drove to LA from Toronto is a different one to the one that broke down in Blind River. The Young's in Blind River are not related to Neil.
  • Derby from Nipomo, CaI have always loved this song. Quit trying to figure out what it means. Just listen to it and enjoy it. Over and over and over.......
  • David from Huntington Beach, CaI adore this song. Musically it makes me think of Neil Young + the Beach Boys. It's like him doing a Beach Boys tune, but his way.
  • Natasha from Blind River, CanadaIm not really sure what the meaning "Long May You Run" is but I know this. He was touring in his hearse and it broke down in blind river. my grand father who was a mechanic at the time repaired it for him. For any of you who know where blind river is it was off of colonization road on a street that is now named craig street where the big yellow garage still stands , my parents and grand parents still live there on that street. my grand father who was also very much into music played with neil in that garage.
  • Dean from Plettenberg Bay, South AfricaAll of you pay att : Neil wrote this song because of his love for Harley Davidson bikes - and that is it !!
  • John from Campbell, CaOne of the songs played right before the start of this year's Boston Marathon. Given how lousy the weather was, the lyrics "We found things to do in stormy weather; Long may you run," could not have been anymore apropos.
  • Mike from Mellonville, CanadaNiel was born in Toronto, then moved at a very young age to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

    As for the hearse, it's not in Blind River. Neil drove it to LA., with his friend bassist Bruce Palmer, where they picked up David Crosby hitchhiking. The song is actually about the motorcycle he drove out of Winnipeg to Toronto. Hearse's don't have "chrome hearts", but bikes do. It blew a gear, (or maybe the brakes?), "on that long decline" - a very long, twisting downhill run into Blind River on Hwy 17. I've driven it many times. I believe he got the hearse later, maybe in Sudbury, probably in Toronto. Nobody would drive from Toronto to LA via Blind River!! Look at a map. It's the longest possible way to go! It may not even have been possible in the early 60's. Across the border at Niagra Falls or Detroit would be far more likely.

    Never mind the hearse, I'd like to find out what happened to that bike, or for that matter what make was it? Anyone know any info?
  • Nasruddin from Cochrane, CanadaYoung writes in the liner notes of Decade that this song was written about "a girl and a car"
  • Nasruddin from Cochrane, CanadaI know a girl who once said that the song was written about her aunt, who knew Young in the 60's and lived in Blind river until her death, Suposedly Young frequented her funeral...
  • Steve from Fenton, MoThis is one of my favorite Neil Young songs. I think it is a happy feelgood song about Neil's first car. It also throws a bone to the Beach Boys who at the time, unjustly in my opinion, were thought to be unhip because of some things Jimi Hendrix said in the late 60's.
  • Tom from Memphis, TnI have read that originally the song was made with David Crosby and Graham Nash, but that their labels would not release them for the album. Hence, their tracks were dropped off and the "Stills-Young Band" remained.
    Tom, Memphis
  • Fredrik from Steinkjer, NorwayHe was born in Toronto, but he grew up in Winnipeg.
  • Billy from Statesboro, Gawell . . . i was kind'a close in my view of what the lyrics referred to. i felt it was nothing to do with a girl or friend, but was personifying a thing. i knew Neil Young never quit playing & living Rock&Roll, from folk to rock to country rock/americana to punk to back to his roots again, decade after decade. watch Neil on stage now; same appearance, moves and style and youthful energy. he still lives R&R like he was still 24 or so. so i felt he was referring to music, more precisely Rock&Roll. i bet he prays for R&R, i know i do. R&R keeps me glued together.
  • Dave from Broadmoor, CaHey Gang:

    Did anybody listen to the lyrics? This is, at least in part, a tribute to Brian Wilson.

    D.C.
  • Dave from Collingwood, CanadaI think he grew up in Omeeme which is a small village just west of Peterborough on Hwy 7
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScI'm not sure where Neil young lived as a child rebecca, but I don't think he lived in blind River. I think he lived in ontario for a while. Toronto maybe. I'm not positive, so don't bet me on it.
  • Rebecca from Blind River, Ontario, Canada"Long May You Run" My Name is Rebecca Young Im from Blind River, But now I live in Toronto, Onartio. Can someone till me if he from Blind River. Because he might be related to us Young's in Blind River, Onartio. Can someone tell me this E-mail me Young101_89@hotmail.com To: Neil Young
  • Christine from Antigonish, CanadaI am from Blind River ( pop.3500). We all feel famous. Rumour has it he played a song or 2 at the local bar.
  • Dan from Winthrop, MaMembers of the Beach Boys share back-up vocals.
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