A couple weeks after surviving our stroll on the Pacific Coast Highway, we find Neil Young closer to home: in Mountain View, California, soundchecking the compact outdoor Shoreline Amphitheater. He's headlining a show that includes Steve Miller, Jackson Browne, Edie Brickell and New Bohemians and Elvis Costello. The $300,000 they'll raise will benefit the Bridge School, co-founded by Neil, his wife and others to help kids who suffer from problems similar to those of their own sons. When Elvis Costello pops through the backstage gate in rabbinical beard and long coat, heads swivel. Greeting him fondly after a double take, Browne sputters, "It's — it's a whole trip," which seems to sum things up.
During his set, in the middle of "Veronica," Costello bangs a few changes out on his acoustic during one chorus and suddenly is doing a verse from Neil's "The Ways of Love." The composer, standing in the wings with his wife, grins with pleasure and regards Costello much as the dog looks at the old Victrola on the original RCA labels. Costello's "Tramp the Dirt Down" precedes target Margaret Thatcher's unseating by just a few days, and when Elvis runs over his allotted time to big applause, Neil sends him back on, saying, "Go for it — go!" then joins in on "Alison."
Young and Crazy Horse burn through "Love and Only Love," "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," "Days That Used To Be," Helpless," "Down By The River" (Costello returning the favor and singing the choruses alongside Neil), and finally, with the whole troupe plus guests like Chris Isaak onstage, "Rockin' In The Free World." If this is a preview of 1991's projected tour, the Horse is going to come up smelling like a rose.