Neil Percival Young OM is a Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, pianist, and film director.
Young's work is characterized by deeply personal lyrics, distinctive guitar work, and signature nasal tenor (and frequently alto) singing voice. Although he accompanies himself on several different instruments—including piano and harmonica—his style of hammer-on acoustic guitar and often idiosyncratic soloing on electric guitar are the linchpins of a sometimes ragged, sometimes polished sound. Although Young has experimented widely with differing music styles, including swing, jazz, rockabilly, blues, and electronic music throughout a varied career, his best known work usually falls into either of two distinct styles: folk-esque acoustic rock (as heard in songs such as "Heart of Gold," "Harvest Moon" and "Old Man") and electric-charged hard rock (in songs like "Cinnamon Girl", "Rockin' in the Free World" and "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"). In more recent years, Young has started to adopt elements from newer styles of music, such as industrial, alternative country and grunge, the latter of which was profoundly influenced by his own style of playing, often bringing him the title of "the godfather of grunge".
Young has directed (or co-directed) a number of films using the pseudonym Bernard Shakey, including Journey Through the Past (1973), Rust Never Sleeps (1979), Human Highway (1982), and Greendale (2003).
He is also an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and small farmers, having co-founded the benefit concert Farm Aid, and in 1986 helped found The Bridge School, and its annual supporting Bridge School Benefit concerts, together with his wife Pegi.
Although Young sings frequently about U.S. legends and myths (Pocahontas, space stations, and the settlement of the American West), he remains a Canadian citizen and has never wanted to relinquish his Canadian citizenship. He has lived in the U.S. for "so long" and has stated, about U.S. elections, that he has "got just as much right to vote in them as anybody else."