Neil Young - After The Gold Rush
Cover: Gatefold, VG++
1. Tell Me Why
2. After The Gold Rush
3. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
4. Southern Man
5. Till The Morning Comes
6. Oh, Lonesome Me
7. Don't Let It Bring You Down
9. When You Dance You Can Really Love
10. I Believe In You
11. Crippled Creek Ferry
This was the album the prolific Neil Young released right after his first flirtation with CSN&Y, and once again he shows just how wide and deep his musical talents are. All we aging sixties kids all have a copy of both this album and his "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" album; it is standard issue for older babyboomers. Indeed, out of the welter of so many artists with so much in the way of incredible and unforgettable music, Neil Young stands alone as a sixties icon, someone who has consistently done the music his way, and with great sincerity, consistent authenticity, and a singular verve. No one has produced the range and quantity of memorable songs and melodies, as has Mr. Young, who has always produced what he wanted on his terms, and has never sold out to commercialism or tried to appeal to the mainstream audience.
Here we have so many terrific songs like "Tell Me Why", "After The Goldrush", and his smash hit, "Southern Man", that it is hard to remember that this is just one of several such albums he released in short order over a three or four year period. IN a number of other songs, such as "Only Love Can Break Your Heart", which Linda Ronstadt later did a great cover of, Neil's genius and guitar virtuosity shines, as it does in songs like "Don't Let It Bring You Down", "Birds", "I Believe In You", and a personal favorite of mine, "When You Dance". Young may well be an iconoclast, someone who is unpredictable, unreliable from a business sense, and something of a prima donna, but he always plays straight from the heart (and groin), and one knows that the guy playing that axe so masterfully is absolutely in control of the incredible sounds emanating from it.
This is about Neil Young's folk-rock paragon "After the Gold Rush". This one stands out and is notable for the obvious growth in songwriting and lyrics. In this offering, Neil Young discovers the piano, and how that instrument can augment his compositions in many wonderous ways. He utilizes this for quiet, reflective mood. But also, as an integral part for his externalized topics. We have varying degrees of emotion in love. We have dismay and elevation. We cover the gamut of human concerns here. This is what makes it so extraordinary.
There are many interpretations of the title. Ask yourself what comes after the "gold rush"? Certainly that could apply to the depletion of mother earth, but also to what comes after that initial fascination and "rush" of emotions with new love. A clever title. And Neil is more than competent to deal with these issues.
He begins with "Tell Me Why", a straight on folk tune. But I am taken with the lyrics here. The imagery and superb lyric of "sailing hardships, through broken harbors" is a wordplay of the highest form. But then, a familar Neil Young dilemma enters, "Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself? When you're old enough to repay but young enough to sell"? Again, Neil's constant challenge: that old netherworld between childhood and adulthood. This theme plays out in many of his songs.
Next is "After the Gold Rush", a mournful piano excursion dream that encompasses medieval times, the apocalypse, and leaving a dying planet. "Look at mother nature on the run". Indeed. Next up is "Only Love Can Break Your Heart". A beautiful soft folk-rock ballad that, for all it's simplicity, conveys the wisdom of mature truth. How true. Only love can, and does, break one's heart.
"Southern Man" then gives Neil a chance to not only express his outrage towards historic treatment of the black man in the south, but also gives him a chance to qualify that transgression with blistering lead. Notice here how his admonitions change voice. He takes on the voice of a southern bossman. But, taking liberties such as this makes the whole song work on a visionary level.
Next, Neil asks us to wait "Till the Morning Comes". A very, short bouncy tune, it begs further investigation. Obviously, not telling you who, what, where and why, leaves it up to your mind to interpret what it means. Artistry at work folks! We then proceed onwards to that Don Gibson classic "Oh Lonesome Me", which conveys lost love and loneliness perfectly with slow moving piano and harmonica. All the gold miners have long gone home after this composition.
Next song is a gem. Depressing signs and ominous situations beg an inner reflection of truth. "Com'on down to the river of sight", Neil urges. The truth, finally revealed -
"Don't let it bring you down,
it's only castles burning,
find someone who's turning,
and you will come around".
"Birds" is a beautiful piano and chorus composition. It's about love that has died and the need to fly away. It is in a song like this that Neil has the ability to show courage, compassion and the strength to move on. This is why he is such a superb songwriter. He then rocks, just a bit, with "When You Dance You Can Really Love", a romantic joy romp which leads into the plea of a dissolving relationship with the waltz-like "I Believe in You". A last stand perhaps?
Neil then returns to the south with "Cripple Creek Ferry". A short snippet that conveys so much about relationships. In his own way, Neil knows that he is a gambler in love, just as we all are. The gold rush is over. It is the second half of the cruise. He hates to lose but, after all, he is on a "cripple" boat at best. With Neil, all these connections and visions come into play. I think this is one of the reasons he is the artist he is today.
In many ways, this was an overwhelming and gigantic step in Neil Young's career. I have loved it from the moment I heard it, and it has lost nothing over the years. If you like folk rock, even tempered and balanced with reflection in full supply, then this is definitely one of the very best. Beautiful and one of a kind,
Neil Young - Southern Man
Neil Young - After the Gold Rush
Its about the impending doom of the planet, and the permanent doom of his current self, but still there is an air of hope, or at least resignition that such is life --- life is suffering, still is beautiful
Neil Young - Only Love Can Break Your Heart
brilliant video to match a classic song and yes Neil, one can die of a broken heart so only love can truly break one's heart
Neil Young - After the Gold Rush
Neil Young - After The Gold Rush
Neil Young - Tell Me Why (Live)
Neil Young - Tell Me Why