Bella Vista Restaurant, Woodside California

T-Bone by Neil Young

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Got mashed potatoes
Ain't got no T-Bone Read full Lyrics
The Bella Vista 1973. Pegi also worked here and Neil would come have dinner nights she was working. Art Morris was the chef. He'd say "Ain't got No T-Bone!" "Got Mash potato"<br>-Mike WarnerThe Bella Vista 1973. Pegi also worked here and Neil would come have dinner nights she was working. Art Morris was the chef. He'd say "Ain't got No T-Bone!" "Got Mash potato"
-Mike Warner
"What do you think, Marge? All I need is a title. I was thinking of something along the lines of All Mashed Potatoes and No T-Bone Make Homer... something, something."

"Go crazy?"

"Don't mind if I DO!"

As far as we can put the facts together, Neil Young just might have been going a little crazy right around the time of "T-Bone" and its album Re*ac*tor. Remember that he'd just done Rust Never Sleeps in 1979, the beginning of the time when Neil Young was struggling like mad to reinvent himself. That album is almost punkish, and Re*ac*tor is a continuation of that. Remember that the song "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" from Rust Never Sleeps had the line "it's better to burn out than to fade away," quoted word-for-word in the suicide note of one Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.

A good Neil Young quote for that: "Rock and roll is like a drug. I don't take very much, but when I do rock and roll, I f**kin' do it. But I don't want to do it all the time 'cause it would kill me."

But his professional angst was only the tip of the iceberg. As given in the Winter 1989 issue of Voice Rock and Roll Quarterly, Neil Young had just discovered, after a battery of tests at Stanford, that his new baby son, Ben - his second son - had cerebral palsy, just like his first son Zeke. Young recounts the reaction to the news: "Somehow we made it out to the car. I remember looking at the sky, looking for a sign, wondering, 'What the f**k is going on? Why are the kids in this situation? What the hell caused this? What did I do? There must be something wrong with me."

So a marriage and a birth happened between Rust Never Sleeps and Re*ac*tor. That marriage was in 1978 to his wife, Pegi, who had previously been working as a waitress... in... the Bella Vista Restaurant in Woodside, California, a charming little eatery on the south San Fransisco peninsula. And guess what entree they were always running out of?

Mike Warner, who worked there as a dishwasher at the time and was kind enough to provide the attached photos, believes that either Neil Young heard the refrain when he'd come in to visit during Pegi's shift, or Pegi relayed the story to Neil. The chef at the time was Art Morris, who, when they'd start running out of meats at the end of the week (meat was delivered weekly), would respond to the order with a gruff mutter that makes up 50% of the lyrics to this song. But we have plenty of mashed potatoes!

The Dishwasher - Mike WarnerThe Dishwasher - Mike Warner
And then - go ahead, imagine it - Neil probably winked slyly at Pegi and said, "Why don't we get out of here? I can find you a better job." And with that, swept her away to sing back-up on his 1972 #1 hit single "Heart Of Gold," and then married her four years later. But the fates that the Youngs would face led her and Neil to found The Bridge School in 1986, an educational organization for children with severe verbal and physical disabilities. This was prompted in part by the hard time they had finding quality services for their son - the only available option at the time was a grueling program which took 12-hour-days, 7-days-a-week, and involved the whole family. During which time, Young recorded "T-Bone."

And that's what this song means. Sometimes you have a healthy kid, and sometimes you have a disabled one. Sometimes you get T-bone, and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you can keep your mind on your work, and sometimes your life drags you away from it.

A good Neil Young lyric goes here, from "Ambulance Blues." "You're all just pissin' in the wind. You don't know it, but you are."

Pete Trbovich
September 14, 2009
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Comments: 2

  • Mike from El Sobrante Ca When Art, the chef, ran out of jacketed potato, baked in wrapped foil, (and this would be at the very end of a long service on Friday or Sat), he would resort to restaurant-style instant mash potato. Pegi would become livid with attitude if she brought back an table order at 9:45pm just to be told by Art there was no more T_Bone and he didnt bake enough potato. Art tried his best but sometimes it got busier than he expected. It was much more peaceful in the kitchen when Art had his days off and the hip and handsome second chef Took the reins. And at the end of those nights, Tuesday and Wednesday, there was always a gathering on the back step to share a joint and laugh and decompress. The Bella Vista restaurant was sold and its now closed.
    The other restaurant, The Mountain House, aka Alex's, is still around. It's a beautiful place on the ridge with towering redwoods.
  • Chris Young from PaLife can be very tough for some people and it don't matter who you are.I'm so glad there situation didn't ruin Neil and Peggy like most people could not have taken.
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