My favorite Neil Young songs through all space and time
Am I really going to dare to do this? I’ve been thinking about it for a few days now, what with all the hoopla about Archives maybe actually really dropping next month, at long last. I’ve been hesitant to dive into this list, because I don’t think there is any chance I’ll possibly nail Neil’s best songs by limiting myself to five. But, it’s Friday and I’m feeling dangerous. So, you know the drill. Call me out in the comments and let me know what I missed, or just go make your own list and share it with the group. Here we go, in no particular order:
1. Old Man
This is, unquestionably, my favorite Neil Young song. Lord knows how many times I’ve listened to it at this point, but when he roars into that high part, I always get chills. It’s interesting watching him perform the song now that he’s an old man. Now, that “I’m a lot like you were” line seems to mean something entirely different. (Here’s video of that, for comparison with the above.)
2. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
The grass is always greener and, as somewhat whiny songs go (sometimes they’re necessary), it doesn’t get much better than “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.” Some people write the kind of timeless songs that are good right away. Neil writes the kind of timeless songs that have room to grow with each performance. I like this tune better when it’s rocking out, but you can tell from this recording that there’s room to make it rock or make it mellow, or anything in between, as you wish.
3. Down By the River
I’ve never shot my baby down by the river, nor do I reckon I ever would, but Neil makes me relate to such a thing somehow. Also, check that guitar solo. I’m not a fan of guitar solos, in general. They have to be exactly perfect, or I start rolling my eyes and thinking of all the other things to which I’d rather be listening. These guys make me okay with a good long guitar solo – notable in itself.
4. Hey Hey My My
It’s always an impressive feat when a songwriter can comment on just about everything in one little song. This could possibly be one of my favorite songs, period. At least for today. I like watching him sing about rock and roll never dying, but doing it like a country singer.
5. Heart of Gold
Sometimes you write a song that, don’t get me wrong, has meaning, but it comes out of you more for the melody and the overall sense of things. It’s more of a feeling. This tune always struck me that way, as if the lyrics are completely irrelevant. The song itself is far behind whatever it is he’s saying in the words.
Okay, your turn. What did I leave out? I can think of a few very close runners up, but I’ll leave that up to you folks.