The Godfather of Grunge!
Neil Young is a Canadian-born musician who, apart from his very successful solo career, was also a member of Crosby Stills & Nash, adding his surname to the band name.
His first band with success was Buffalo Springfield which he formed upon arriving in Los Angeles. Stephen Stills was also a member of Buffalo Springfield and wrote their most successful tune, For What It’s Worth.
After three albums, they parted ways. Stephen formed Crosby, Stills & Nash. Neil went solo.
His self-titled debut didn’t have the same success as he’d gotten used to with Buffalo Springfield, we didn’t get any big tunes. However, retrospectively, I’ve Been Waiting For You has been praised by both critics and artists. David Bowie even covered it with the help of Dave Grohl in 2002.
Neil has frequently mentioned how his debut album wasn’t played, it was overdubbed. Perhaps this experience was the seed for his more hands-on approach and protective nature of his art from now on.
His follow-up album, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969), did much better with the title track, Cinnamon Girl, and Cowgirl In The Sand which all became Neil Young classics.
Next up we get After The Goldrush (1970) with the title track, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, and Southern Man standing out the most.
1970 also saw the release of his first collaborative effort with old pal Stephen and his bandmates David and Graham. Together they called themselves Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and released Deja Vu.
Teach Your Children and Helpless were the two biggest tunes from this album which since has been included on many best-of lists as well as registered for preservation by the Library Of Congress in 2023.
Harvest was so great that his next albums paled in comparison. It would take until American Stars ‘n Bars before we got another massive Neil Young hit in Like A Hurricane.
This was followed by a Greatest Hits triple album named Decade and Comes A Time (1978) which didn’t have any hits.
1979 and Neil is back with the classics on the part studio, part live album Rust Never Sleeps. The opening tune My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue), and closing Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) are sensational.
Two more tunes are worth mentioning, Pocahontas and Powderfinger. The same year he also released Live Rust which is a live album recorded during the same tour. On this release, we find most of his classics from previous years.
Neil Young post-’70s
The ’80s wasn’t Neil’s best decade. The first seven albums didn’t have any tunes of the same gold standard we’d gotten used to.
It would take until 1989 before he recorded another part studio/part live album (Freedom). Two tunes stand out here, Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World, which has become one of his signature songs.
The second tune from this album is my all-time Neil Young favourite in terms of lyrics, it’s called Crime in the City (Sixty to Zero, part 1). Here are verse 2’s lyrics:
“The artist looked at the producer, the producer sat back.
He said: What we have got here, is a perfect track.
But we don’t have a vocal, and we don’t have a song.
If we could get these things accomplished, nothing else could go wrong.
So he balanced the ashtray, as he picked up the phone.
And he said, send me a songwriter, who’s drifted far from home.
And make sure that he’s hungry, make sure he’s alone.
And send me a cheeseburger and a new Rolling Stone. Yeah.”
I genuinely feel these are my favourite lyrics, by anyone, ever.
After a few more albums and live albums, it’s now 1992, Neil releases Harvest Moon, the title track is my favourite Neil Young tune.
The album did well but 1992 was a huge year in music history so perhaps it didn’t get the attention it deserved. Still, it got to #4 in Canada, #9 in the U.K., and #16 in the U.S., selling 2 million copies in the U.S.
Since Harvest Moon, Neil has kept releasing albums, my favourite being Silver & Gold (2000), but no new hits have appeared since Harvest Moon.
Worth mentioning is his collaboration with Pearl Jam in 1995 on Mirrorball, maybe it was now everyone realized Grunge was so influenced by Neil’s music he was dubbed the Godfather of Grunge.
Personally, I’m more of a fan of his acoustic work. Perhaps that’s why I’ve mainly focused on this side of Neil throughout this article…
Neil Young tunes | Related pages
You can learn how to play Harvest Moon by Neil Young using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| Em7 | Em7 |
Come a little bit closer…
Heart Of Gold
You can learn how to play Heart Of Gold by Neil Young using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, and the original recording.
| Em C | D5 G |
I want to live, I want to give…
Like A Hurricane
You can learn how to play Like A Hurricane by Neil Young using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| Am | Am | G | G |
Once I thought I saw you in a crowded hazy bar…
The Needle And The Damage Done
You can learn how to play The Needle And The Damage Done by Neil Young using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| Dsus2 | Dsus2/C |
I caught you knockin’ at my cellar door…
You can learn how to play Old Man by Neil Young using chords, lyrics, chord analysis, TAB, and the original recording.
| 6/4 Dm9add4 |4/4 D (Dsus4 Dsus2) |
Old man look at my life I’m a lot like you were…