Album: Neil Young
Released: November, 1968
I was an avid Marvel Comics reader in the mid-70s. One of the comic books I read was a then new series titled ‘The Defenders’. It centered on a ‘non-group’ of superheroes, a creative idea, published at a time when Marvel was at the top of their game. Each of the original non-members of ‘The Defenders’ were already known through their own series, including the Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange, the Submariner and the Hulk (the series got better and better over the first few years as the Defenders morphed to include a handful of more obscure non-members). None of these characters had been cast by Marvel as the congenial type; not a one with any semblance of a personality that would be enamored by the thought of going to battle with others. But the writers of this series found unique and often amazingly bizarre ways to bring them all together, one episode after another, only to have them part ways at the end of a storyline (usually in a huff).
What has always intrigued me in this refrain is the “Step aside, open wide” line. It’s telling to me in that there’s a respect here which needs to be recognized in this individual’s makeup. Why? The concept goes against the grain! You step aside (and open wide) for a leader, not a loner. A leader can galvanize crowds. A leader can make a difference. A leader can get people to do altruistic things. As for a loner, the term is more synonymous with words like eccentric, or introvert, or outcast, or even loser. But Neil Young is praising the loner in this song.
In Helpless there are these lines:
and tied across the door,
Baby, sing with me somehow.
the keeper of
the key to the locks.
At the very least, they allowed me to relate to someone like Neil Young.