You, me, the music, and me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

NEIL YOUNG After the Gold Rush

Reprise RS 6383 (1970)

I'm doing this one because my girlfriend suggested it; she took one look at the cover and said, "Ew, that's a creepy cover. You should do that one next." It is kind of creepy; it's an overexposed shot of Young walking past an old lady, but the dark blacks in the photo mess with the perspective so that it looks like Young is either carrying the woman on his back or has an old lady growing out of him. Weird.

After the Gold Rush was the third album to be released solely under Young's name, coming after his work with Buffalo Springfield and during his tenure with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; though it hews closely to the folk-rock/country model of those groups, Young's signature hard-rock sound is beginning to take shape in such songs as "Southern Man" and "When You Dance I Can Really Love". "Southern Man" bravely tackles racism in the south (inspiring the famous "answer" song "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd), but for the most part Young's lyrics focus on love, age, and the passing of time, subjects with which he's stuck closely throughout his career. The overall mood of the album is downcast, yet hopeful; for every plodding piano chord or lonesome harmonica lick, there's a drum kick or wailing guitar lick to prod it out of its misery. The wary optimism in the lyrics of "Don't Let It Bring You Down" is mirrored in the music's harmonies, as the song struggles to wrestle itself free from its own minor chords.

Dismissed by some critics as "dull" at the time of its release, Gold Rush has stood the test of time and is one of Young's definitive albums; like Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced or the Beatles' Let It Be, it's one of those records that seems like a greatest hits collection even though (amazingly) it's not.


At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember saying it was creepy. I don't remember saying you should review it. How many other girlfriends are lurking in the corners of your apartment?

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Peter MacDonald said...

Maybe you asked me if I was going to review it... yeah, that's the ticket!


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