Neil Young is 70

I was unaware of the first, eponymous Neil album.

neil youngEarlier this year, some friend of mine was kvetching about something Neil Young had said or done. Given that his current album, which I haven’t heard yet, is an indictment of the Monsanto Corporation, I rather expect that this would be a highly likely prospect.

Whether he’s kvetching about the sound of MP3s or working to enshrine the right to a healthy environment in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Neil is seldom without a cause.

How did Elvis Costello become “a prototypical angry young man”? “About seeing a ferocious Neil Young performance, he writes [in his new autobiography]: “This was the lesson I took away from that day: If there is an apple cart, you must do your best to upset it.”

The second and third of Neil’s solo albums, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and After The Gold Rush, were regular visitors on my college turntables. Neil has put out about three dozen albums, and I have about half of them. This does not include his work with Buffalo Springfield or Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. And his album Decade includes some of his group efforts, to complicate this list; I opted to leave off Ohio and Helpless – but link to them here – lest I then need to consider other CSNY songs on this already long list.

To say his body of work is eclectic understates the phenomenon.

35. Piece of Crap– Sleeps with Angels (SWA), 1994. It’s about shoddy merchandising.
34. Ordinary People – Chrome Dreams II, 2007. 18 minutes. In 2012 Rolling Stone had a list of Neil Young’s Top 20 Obscure Songs, and these two songs are on the list.
33. Mystery Train – Everybody’s Rockin’, 1983. Rockabilly. I’m a sucker for his many train songs, and, to be honest, most train tunes.
32. The Losing End (When You’re On) – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (EKTIN), 1969. “Wilson, pick it!”
31. Wrecking Ball – Freedom, 1989. I actually prefer the Emmylou Harris version, but I like this too.

30. Harvest – Harvest (H), 1972. The title of his commercial zenith.
29. Transformer Man – Trans (T), 1983. I have an irrational affection for this experiment, maybe because it was an experiment to try to communicate with his son, who has cerebral palsy.
28. Words – After the Gold Rush (ATGR), 1970. Subtitled between the lines of age.
27. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – EKTIN. I relate.
26. One of These Days – Harvest Moon (HM), 1992. What great message. “One of these days, I’m gonna sit down and write a long letter To all the good friends I’ve known…”

25. Change Your Mind – SWA. A song for Kurt Cobain.
24. Tonight’s the Night – Tonight’s the Night. A song about a roadie for CSNY who died of a heroin overdose
23. Winterlong – Decade (D). I’m particularly fond of the harmony vocal.
22. Walk On – On the Beach. “I hear some people been talkin’ me down, Bring up my name, pass it ’round…” A message that’d be perfect for the Internet age. Got to #69 on the charts.
21. From Hank to Hendrix – HM. Among other things, great harmonica.

20. Pocahontas – Rust Never Sleeps (RNS). “Aurora borealis, The icy sky at night.” Johnny Cash did a great version of this too.
19. Don’t Let It Bring You Down – ATGR. I thought I did a decent Neil imitation, and this was one of the songs easiest to replicate. Love the intro from a CSNY live album when Neil says the song starts off slow and fizzles out altogether.
18. Cowgirl in the Sand – EKTIN. Anthemic.
17. Only Love Can Break Your Heart – ATGR. A waltz. And very true. #33 on the charts.
16. Oh Lonesome Me – ATGR. This is one of the greatest covers, ever. Compare this to the jaunty Don Gibson hit from the 1950s.

15. Birds– ATGR. I find this terribly sad.
14. The Loner – Neil Young, 1968. I was unaware of the first, eponymous Neil album. But I heard a version of this song on the first Three Dog Night album. I figured it was an obscure Buffalo Springfield cut; nope.
13. Mr. Soul – T. Neil must really care about this song. He recorded it with Buffalo Springfield, and it was the beginning of their Broken Arrow.
12. Old Man – H. James Taylor played six-string banjo, and he and Linda Ronstadt contributed vocals. Got up to #31 on the charts.
11. The Needle and the Damage Done – H. About the heroin addiction of two friends, before they died. Recorded live at UCLA.

10. My My, Hey Hey (out of the Blue)/ Hey. Hey. My My (Into the Black) – RNS. The latter is proto-grunge which got to #73 on the chart.
9. Campaigner – D. Namechecks Richard Nixon.
8. After the Gold Rush – ATGR. Not only a great song, but it generated many great covers.
7. Sugar Mountain – D. Some B-side my college radio station played all the time.
6. Heart of Gold – H. This was a #1 hit, and that seemed to make Neil rather uncomfortable.

5. Long May You Run – Long May You Run (Stills-Young Band), 1976. There are several versions of this song, but this version, which I first heard on Decade, which I believe features the harmonies of the full Crosby Stills & Nash, is my favorite. It has to do with the verse citing Caroline, No.
4. Like a Hurricane – D. An electric masterpiece.
3. When You Dance, I Can Really Love – ATGR. I don’t remember if SHE thought so, but when I was in college, I always thought this was my girlfriend (the Okie) and my song. Love the fact that it starts off fairly slowly, but picks up greatly. This song soared all the way to #93 on the charts.
2. Cinnamon Girl – EKTIN. About the perfect pop song, complete with hand clapping.
1. Harvest Moon– HM. This song is personal, about love lost.

60 minutes of music that sum up the venerable, ornery Neil Young.
Coverville 1100: Look at my life, I’m a lot like you: A tribute to Neil Young

Neil Percival Young is 65

Don’t Let It Bring You Down “guaranteed to bring you down…it starts off slowly, then fizzles out altogether.”

Before our work unit moved to Cubicleland, we used to have offices, with doors. And we used to play music – out loud, not using headsets – in said offices. For a time, I shared an office with my boss Mary, who had very catholic tastes. I played (and play) a very eclectic set of music. And there were only two musicians she ever objected to, both because she just couldn’t stand their voices: Willie Nelson and Neil Young. Neil, in particular, was a particular irritant because she’d hear his music more often on the radio. Moreover, she and Neil are both November Scorpios.

Suffice to say, I love Neil Young. Here’s a none-to-clear video about his love of trains and his son Ben who has cerebral palsy.

I decided to look at Neil’s discography. But if I commented on every record I owned, it’d take forever.

*I own

1963 The Squires “The Sultan” b/w “Aurora”
1966 Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield
1967 Buffalo Springfield – Buffalo Springfield Again
1968 Buffalo Springfield – Last Time Around
Neil Young – Neil Young. Not only do I have this album, I even reviewed it here.
1969 *Buffalo Springfield-Retrospective
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. This is the album with the wonderful handclap driven Cinnamon Girl, which undoubtedly is one of my 50 favorite uptempo songs, plus two classic, lengthy – around 10 minutes each – tunes, Down By The River and Cowgirl in the Sand.
1970 Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Déjà vu. Features Neil’s Helpless.
Neil Young – After the Goldrush. This was my Neil college album. Only Love Can Break Your Heart was a minor hit (#33), but probably my favorite song was When You Dance I Can Really Love, an even more minor hit (#93), but which I most associate with my college sweetheart; also, I love it starts off really slowly but picks up tempo – get to the end, then go back to the beginning.
1971 Crosby Stills Nash & Young – 4 Way Street. A live album with the first version of Neil’s “Ohio” (“tin soldiers dead and Nixon coming”) that I owned. Also contains a funny monologue intro about Don’t Let It Bring You Down “guaranteed to bring you down…it starts off slowly, then fizzles out altogether.”
1972 *Neil Young – Harvest. Contains his only top 30 single, the #1 Heart of Gold. From the liner notes of his Decade album, I got the sense that the commercial success made him uncomfortable.
Neil Young & Graham Nash – “War Song” b/w “Needle and the Damage Done” – have War Song on a Warner Brothers Loss Leader album. It eventually shows up in the 2009 box set.
Neil Young – Journey Through the Past
We now come to the me, poor college student section.
1973 Neil Young – Time Fades Away
1974 Neil Young – On the Beach
1975 Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night
Neil Young – Zuma
1976 The Stills-Young Band – Long May You Run. The title song, one of my favorites, appears on Decade.
1977 *Neil Young – American Stars & Bars. Featuring Like a Hurricane.
Neil Young Decade – a greatest hits (as it were) album. With “Sugar Mountain”, a B-side not previously on an album, though played often on my college radio station.
1978 Neil Young – Comes a Time
1979 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps. I prefer Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) over My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue), because it’s LOUDER.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Live Rust. The songs from Rust Never Sleeps ARE ALREADY live.
1980 *Neil Young – Hawks & Doves
1981 *Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Re-ac-tor
1982 *Neil Young – Trans. Lots of vocoder stuff including yet another version of Mr. Soul which I may prefer to the original.
1983 *Neil Young & the Shocking Pinks – Everybody’s Rockin’
1985 Neil Young – Old Ways
1986 Neil Young – Landing On Water
1987 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Life
1988 *Neil Young & the Bluenotes – This Note’s For You – the title song’s about rockers selling out to commercial interests.
Crosby Stills Nash & Young – American Dream. Neil’s stuff was the best on the album.
1989 Neil Young & The Restless – Eldorado
Neil Young – Freedom. Features Rockin’ In The Free World, twice, plus his version of Wrecking Ball, which Emmylou Harris covered.
1990 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Ragged Glory
1991 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Arc Weld
1992 *Neil Young – Harvest Moon. Besides the title song, painfully tied to an old relationship, I especially like From Hank To Hendrix.
1993 Neil Young – Lucky 13
Neil Young – Unplugged. Quite fond.
1994 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Sleeps With Angels. Favorite song: “Piece Of Crap”
1995 *Neil Young – Mirror Ball. Grungy album with members of Pearl Jam.
1996 Neil Young – Dead Man
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Broken Arrow. Loud first side, more mellow second.
1997 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Year of the Horse
1999 Crosby Stills Nash & Young – Looking Forward
2000 *Neil Young – Silver & Gold. Middle four songs feature vocals by Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.
Neil Young – Road Rock v1
2001 Buffalo Springfield – Box Set
2002 Neil Young Are You – Passionate?
2003 Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Greendale
Neil Young – Greatest Hits
2005 Neil Young – Prairie Wind. On my Amazon list.
2006 *Neil Young – Living With War. Perhaps too pedantic, but I liked it anyway.
Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Live At The Fillmore East 1970
Neil Young – Living With War: In The Beginning
2007 Neil Young – Live At Massey Hall 1971
*Neil Young – Chrome Dreams 2. Features the 18-minute Ordinary People, which, surprisingly, works for me.
2008 Crosby Stills Nash & Young – CSNY/Déjà Vu Live
Neil Young Sugar Mountain – Live at Canterbury House 1968
2009 Neil Young – Fork In The Road
Neil Young – Archives Volume 1 Box Set
Neil Young – Dreamin’ Man Live ’92
2010 Neil Young Le Noise

A great article about Neil I came across.

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