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Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2004 07:15 am

now playing 11-11-04

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Is it better to burn out than to fade away? Neil Young said so in his 1979 ode to the rock & roll myth, "My, My Hey, Hey (Out of the Blue)."

In keeping with the example laid down by the author of the Rust Never Sleeps concept, you burn out by keeping busy, being creative, and following your head and heart. You fade away while hanging out by the pool, not taking chances, and going commercial.

The Next-to-Most-Enigmatic Male Creature in Rock award (we must give Mr. Dylan his earned credit) goes to Neil Young, who turns 58 on Friday, Nov. 12. He's managed to attract, interact, and detract about as much as a reclusive rock star can, yet still commands respect and those ever-so-important sales. People like Neil Young because they believe that he follows his muse to the end of the track, then gets off and walks, crawls, and slithers on his belly like a reptile, pursuing the dream until he can give it a big hug.

Young has released albums of acoustic rock, rockabilly, electro-noise, straight guitar rock, country, horn-drenched R & B, and other styles not nearly so easy to classify. He inspired the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic "Sweet Home Alabama," helped found Farm Aid, and has written songs that have seeped into our collective conscience.

In honor of the Canadian singer/songwriter's birthday, WQNA (88.3 FM) is airing a live 21-hour musical tribute: The Saturday DJs will be spinning all Neil songs, all day long.

What, never heard of WQNA, The Edge? Why, shame on you. It's your noncommercial community-radio station run by high-school vocational students and volunteer DJs. They play such a variety of music that you might be shocked if you're used to the tight, spoon-fed playlists of standard radio.

Want live action on the airwaves, a wide range of music, and real, living, and generally friendly DJs? (Yes, Dave can be friendly.) Then 88.3 is your frequency, Kenneth. Sure, the station may not have as strong a signal as other more "clear" channels, but the message from WQNA is loud and lucid: Diversity is welcomed, accepted, and encouraged.

If only we could get the rest of the world to try it.

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