Neil Young

(Copyright © 1999-2017 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Neil Young (Reprise, 1968), 6.5/10
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969), 8/10
After The Gold Rush (1970), 7/10
Harvest (1972), 7/10
Time Fades Away (1973), 6.5/10
On The Beach (1974), 7/10
Tonight's The Night (1975), 8/10
Zuma (1975), 7/10
Long May You Run (1976), 5/10
American Stars & Bars (1977), 6.5/10
Comes A Time (1978), 5/10
Rust Never Sleeps (1979), 7.5/10
Hawks And Doves (1980), 4/10
Re-ac-tor (1981), 6/10
Trans (Geffen, 1982), 5/10
Everybody's Rockin' (1983), 4/10
Old Ways (1985), 4/10
Landing On Water (1986), 4/10
Life (1987), 6/10
This Note's For You (1988), 4/10
Freedom (1989), 6.5/10
Ragged Glory (1990), 6.5/10
Arc-Weld (1991), 7/10
Harvest Moon (1992), 6/10
Sleeps With Angels (1994), 7/10
Mirror Ball (1995), 5.5/10
Broken Arrow (1996), 6.5/10
Dead Man (Vapor, 1996), 6.5/10
Year of the Horse (1997), 6/10
Silver & Gold (2000), 6/10
Are You Passionate (2002), 5/10
Greendale (2003), 6/10
Prairie Wind (2005), 5/10
Living With War (2006), 6/10
Chrome Dreams II (2007), 5/10
Fork In The Road (2009), 4/10
Le Noise (2010), 5/10
A Treasure (2011), 4/10
Americana (2012), 4/10
Psychedelic Pill (2012), 7/10
A Letter Home (2014), 3/10
Peace Trail (2016), 4/10
The Monsanto Years (2015), 4/10
The Visitor (2017), 4.5/10
Paradox (2018), 3/10
Colorado (2019), 4/10
Barn (2021), 4/10

(Clicka qui per la version in Italiano)

Perhaps no other artist in the history of rock music has produced so many distinguished works in so many different styles and over so many years as Neil Young. The spectral landscape of Last Trip To Tulsa, off his debut album, Neil Young (1968), introduced a minstrel lost in an unexplored moral universe. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969) elaborated on that theme and achieved a formidable synthesis of "voices" in stately, extended, psychedelic, hard-folk ballads such as Cowgirl In The Sand and Down By The River. The mellow and melodic folk-rock and country-rock of After The Gold Rush (1970) and Harvest (1972) lent musical credibility to the apocalyptic angst of Tonight's The Night (1975), recorded in 1973, and On The Beach (1974). The former, perhaps his masterpiece, was the ultimate testament of the post-hippy depression, an elegiac concept that sounded like a mass for the dead. The electrifying lyricism of Zuma (1975) and Like A Hurricane (1977), the anthemic hysteria of Rust Never Sleeps (1979), the social fresco of collapsing values Freedom (1989) and the obscure meditation of Sleeps With Angels (1994) continued his life-long moral crusade.
Neil Young constitutes with Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen the great triad of "moral" voices of American popular music. As is the case with the other two, Young's art is, first and foremost, a fusion of music and words that identifies with his era's zeitgeist. Unlike the others, though, Young is unique in targeting the inner chaos of the individual that followed the outer chaos of society. While Dylan "transfers" his era's events into a metaphysical universe, and Springsteen relates the epic sense of ordinary life, Young carries out a more complex psychological operation that, basically, bridges the idealism of the hippy communes and the neuroses of the urban population. His voice, his lyrics, his melodies and his guitar style compose a message of suffering and redemption that, at its best, transcends in hallucination, mystical vision, philosophical enlightenment, while still grounded in a context that is fundamentally a hell on earth.
The various aspects of Young's career (the bucolic folk-singer, the liberal militant, the post-hippie moralist, the apocalyptic guru, the universal pessimist, the melancholy loner, the alienated rocker) are merely stages of a long calvary, which is both individual and collective.
Young did to the lyrical song what Dylan did to the protest song: just like Dylan wed the emphasis of Whitman's poetry and the optimism of Kennedy's era with the themes of public life, Young wed Emerson's humanism and the pessimism of the post-Kennedy era with the themes of private life.
On top of this, Young invented the distorted, cacophonous, nightmarish style of guitar playing that would influence the grunge generation.
Young is also unique in his schizophrenia, which runs at several levels. First and foremost, one has to deal with the live/studio dichotomy of his career. Charged with the sonic equivalent of a nuclear reaction, the "live" Young albums seem to come from a different artist, a musical terrorist, a true punk. Within the studio album, one has to deal with another dichotomy: the pretty, linear, smooth country-inspired ballad, and the ugly, noisy, acid-inspired jam. These two modes rarely coexist: they alternate, they compete for control of Young's career (and mind?), each studio album being dominated by either of the two.
As a matter of fact, his alter-ego may well be a more creative musician than Young is, as Dead Man (1996), a movie soundtrack which is a rare specimen of ambient psychedelic music, and Arc (1991), a collage of "found" segments from his live performances, further clarified his status as a crafter of sound as opposed to mere songwriter.

(This section translated from my original Italian text by DommeDamian) Young has shown all his idiosyncrasy by subtly changing style, from album to album as a pop music singer (not as an "author" with a personal style), sometimes ending up falling into the very fashions (from hard-rock to synth-pop) against which he had launched harsh invectives, but Young also had some of the most illuminating "visions" of the time. In fact, Young's music reflects in an acute and almost paranoid way the crises, and the consequent fears, of his generation, the first to have to live in the new world erected by the "liberals" of the 1960s. The great concepts of maturity, Tonight’s The Night and Rust Never Sleeps, are moving moral frescoes of the restless post-hippie era, in which the epic of the "loner" finds a new, better definition. The desperate chants of Like A Hurricane, Oh My Hey Hey and Rockin 'In The Free World (choruses-slogans coupled with powerful hardrock riffs) and the evocations of ghosts of the past (from Cortez to Pocahonta) make up a powerful fresco of the politics of the "realignment" (public and private), even if they have clouded the true voice of universal anguish, that which dominates the ghostly landscapes of Last Trip To Tulsa.

After leaving Buffalo Springfield (for which he had already written masterpieces such as Mr Soul, Broken Arrow and Expecting To Fly), Neil Young (originally from Toronto, but now transplanted to Los Angeles, and then to San Francisco) began a solo career in parallel. and militancy in the supergroup Crosby Stills & Nash. For the three partners Young wrote harsh political and social songs (Ohio and Southern Man) and melancholy introspective ballads (Helpless, an anticipation of "slo-core", and Don't Let It Bring You Down).

At the age of 24 he released his first solo album, Neil Young (Reprise, 1968), on which he was only inhibited by somewhat awkward arrangements. Moreover, he found the illumination of Last Trip To Tulsa, a long and solemn story for solo voice and acoustic guitar, humble and suffered blues for alienated whites, destined to remain one of his masterpieces, and diligently composing his own anthemic self-portrait in the pressing Loner. So far Young seemed more like a skilled folksinger, specializing in melancholy serenades and dizzying evocations. Sugar Mountain was released only on 45 rpm, which is its trait d'union with classic folk. Young retains the slow and majestic gait through wide open spaces of Canadian folksingers, who grew up without the rush of the crowd and the nightmare of skyscrapers.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969), the first album produced by David Briggs, instead announces a more complex personality, and, above all, a leading guitarist. In fact, the album contains long homilies with a heavy sound, supported by the rhythm and instrumental interweaving of a rock band (Crazy Horse) and pierced by the stabbing stigmata of his guitar. The most rock song is a martial boogie, Cinnamon Girl; the busiest is Losing End; the two most extensive frescoes are Cowgirl In The Sand, ten minutes of scratchy syncopes that sublimate into a gentle folk refrain, and Down By The River, a dreamlike jam in the name of a rarefied folk-rock (and the first great solo by Young). Violent and neurasthenic guitarism transfers his stories still as a bucolic minstrel to urban alienation, and lets glimpse behind the stereotypical scenarios of large free spaces, with the painful convulsions of his generation torn apart by drugs, by disorders, by fear. Young swings his ballads between the two extremes of glorious, solemn, archaic folk, and gritty, electric and arranged rock. The tone of his voice, a kind of falsetto tenor, now bends to the most sublime pathos, to the most masculine vigor.

After The Gold Rush (1970), is diametrically opposite to This Is Nowhere: recorded with a folk accompaniment instead of rock, it is a cycle of more concise, melodic and tender songs. The arrangements are sparse, slow and delicate. The ballads are marked by the poignant, angular and almost agonizing register of his song. In place of the acute pangs of the guitar, a martial atmospheric piano makes its way, capable of redeeming even ghostly and archaic depressions like After The Goldrush. The free-form neurosis of the previous album subsides in catchy choruses like Only Love Can Break Your Heart or in airy vocal harmonies like Tell Me Why, with the only boogie riff in When You Dance. The album still betrays a fundamental uncertainty of the young Young, but it seems to deny the neuroses of the predecessor in favor of a simpler and more linear ballad.

This period of "ebb" by Neil Young culminated with Harvest (1972), the album that consecrated him among the stars of rock music. Without repeating the exploit of Last Trip To Tulsa or the nightmares of This Is Nowhere, it contains several country-rock classics (Out On A Weekend, Harvest, Old Man, Heart of Gold), tender and sad ballads with poor instrumentation. and marked rhythmic, accompanied by melancholy notes of harmonica and languid moans of slides, catchy motifs sung in a characteristic anemic tone that ends up accentuating the moving epic; and some painful piano ballads (Man Needs A Maid). It is his most faithful album to Nashville, but it is also the synthesis of previous records: the decadent mythology of the debut, the nervous pessimism of the second, and the quiet folk-rock of the third find a mature point of balance. There was also a polemical piece against the racism of the Southerners, Alabama, which, continuing in the wake of Southern Man, would raise controversy, and a weak sermon against drugs, Needle And The Damage Done, which made the same era (perhaps the passage most overrated of his career). Harvest just looks like a nice copy of that "blueprint" that was After The Gold Rush, but actually it also contains a dark, menacing, terrible side, clumsily bridges This Is Nowhere.

This album was followed by a period of personal crisis, marked by the death of two friends (Bruce Berry and Danny Whitten), during which his personality underwent a profound transformation. Pessimism, which previously had been little more than a diversion, became a grim philosophy of life, and took away the musician's liveliness and enthusiasm. The premature spiritual aging resulted in ever more realistic themes treated with ruthless transparency. In the best moments those themes are combined with enthralling accompaniments and compose frightening visions of the individual and collective psyche.

Time Fades Away (1973), recorded live, was thus cradled in an inert and lugubriously introverted sound, from Don't Be Denied to Last Dance, with another invective against heroin, precisely Time Fades Away.

On The Beach (1974), the first studio album in almost two years, mostly acoustic, was instead an apocalyptic prophecy, a concentration of anguish and real terror. Southern rural folk-inspired hysterical ballads (Walk On, Revolution Blues, For The Turnstiles) counterbalance the acoustic monologue of Ambulance Blues, which stands out in all its truculent calm for eight intense minutes. With these works Young denied his career in a melancholy confessional style that overturns exactly that of the "loner" of the origins, while starting from the same premises of "solitude".

Adding to the depression came Tonight's The Night (1975), another funeral record recorded two years earlier but blocked by the singer. It is an elegiac, dense concept, not only towards missing friends (the disconsolate and sarcastic epitaph of Tired Eyes), but of the entire hippie era and its alternative ideals, with the tragic emphasis on drugs, violence and sexual perversion that resulted from it. The music is as lashing as an indictment against everyone, and against himself in particular: the long drunk and self-ironic blues of Tonight's The Night, the martial and furious boogie of World On A String, the relentless refrain of Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown contrast with the tired notes of Speakin 'Out, a beaten cocktail track, and Roll Another Number, which cleverly parodies Harvest's airy and optimistic country. Tonight is the first consistent concept album of Young's career and probably his supreme masterpiece.

Homegrown (2020), the mostly countrified album recorded in the same sessions, was only released 45 years later.

Zuma (1975), returning to the electric ballad of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, pulled him out of the crisis for good, with a more mature sound and a strongly introspective plot. In this record Young managed to touch several times the most sublime strings of his lyricism, especially where piano and violins do not spoil the atmosphere created by his rusty and desperate singing. Another intricate "hard" composition, Cortez The Killer, sets the tone for the collection, which also includes Looking For A Heart, Danger Bird, Pardon My Heart, Barstool Blues, Don't Cry No Tears, one more “bad" than the other.

Long May You Run's ironic country-rock, taken from Stephen Stills' album, makes Long May You Run (1976), seems out of place.

Hitchhiker (2017), recorded in 1976, was only released 41 years later.

Like A Hurricane, a poignant melody overwhelmed by the most twisted and hallucinated feedbacks, is the tour de force that seals the era, almost nine minutes of brooding and neurasthenia. Electric, indeed electric enough to redo Hendrix. And, on the same American Stars & Bars (1977), recorded for over three years, the lashing Bite The Bullet is no exception, while Will To Love takes up nearly as epic as On The Beach’s Ambulance Blues.

After so much violence Comes A Time (1978) comes as a purifying bath in acoustic folk. It's a cathartic bath as Harvest was, but the songs (including Comes A Time and Look Out For My Love) are far inferior.

Ballads like Lotta Love or the long Old Homestead on Hawks And Doves (1980), which mostly collects "leftovers" from previous records, seem to bring back the bucolic atmospheres of Harvest, but this is only a parenthesis: the metamorphosis of the singer; the electric poet frontier of metropolitan alienation, and the contemporary physical decline (due to drugs) lead him instead to a more raw and sharp sound, far from the sophisticated melodic of the beginnings.

Decade (1977) is an excellent anthology and Live Rust (1979) is an excellent live experience.

(This section is original text by Piero Scaruffi)

Rust Never Sleeps (1979), recorded live with Crazy Horse, represents another creative peak in Young's endless career. Propelled by his favorite riff, the one of Harvest, here reincarnated in the solemn overture of Oh My Hey Hey, and by that song's tempo, resumes in the elegiac Sail Away, Rust Never Sleeps is a schizoid concept, that matches an acoustic folkish side with a terrifying hard-rock side, as if Young were determined to finally reconcile the two egos of his split persona. It boasts at least three of his greatest ballads: Powderfinger, another neurotic rant against nihilism and despair of the post-hippie age; Pocahontas, another tender and fantastic vision of the Native-American epics; Thrasher, another bitter satire against everything and everybody (Bob Dylan done better than Dylan himself). He pens two out of three with little more than his guitar. Only Harvest can compete with the melodic intensity of these songs. On the other hand, the electric side seems to know no boundaries of violence, peaking with the pummeling quasi-hardcore Sedan Delivery and the acid reprise of Oh My Hey Hey. Whether sculpting memorable lines with memorable melodies, or scorching the whole world with burning riffs, Young towers like an old-fashioned hero over the ruins of his civilization.

The emphasis on Re-ac-tor (1981) is definitely punk. There are few moments of true greatness, but Open A Star and the lengthy T-Bone deserve a spot in his career retrospective.

The technological conversion of the 1980s, that led him to Trans (Geffen, 1982), was enough to infuse new emotive tension to Young's paranoid and introverted artistic persona, but yielded a hard and synthesized sound that seemed hardly fit for the issues of the chief post-hippie bard. Nonetheless, he managed to create overnight the musical equivalent of primitive, bleak, visceral computer science.

The futuristic concept Trans (Geffen, 1982) features the heroic eight-minute loner celebration of Like An Inca, but mostly indulges in a kind of melancholy kitsch enhanced with catchy computer melodies. When it works, it gets close to coining a new genre, "synth-folk" (Computer Age). The electronic arrangements add yet another edgy element of tension to Young's paranoid and introverted persona, in the form of a visceral, dark, primitive computer science.

The experiments continued with Landing On Water (1986), fundamentally a synth-pop album with drum-machines and synthesizers (and with a video for the entire album, not just one song).

Young's music had become so "odd" that his record label sued him for recording "nonrepresentative" albums.

From the tribute to rockabilly of Everybody's Rockin' (1983) to the tribute to country music of Old Ways (1985), from the rhythm'n'blues revival of This Note's For You (Reprise, 1988) to the self-referential West-Coast sound of American Dream (1988, on CSN&Y's reunion album), Young's 1980s were marked mostly by a continuous attempt at reinventing himself. At every step of his insecure middle age, though, Young was still capable of meditating on the evils of his time, and to criticize the hypocrisy of the "showbiz".

At the peak of this identity crisis, Young released Life (Geffen, 1987) and Freedom (Reprise, 1989), two collections that, as fragmentary and heretogeneous as they were, reignited the rock fury of the old days and recast it in a new moral scenario: urban decadence in the new America, where moral, social and spiritual values had collapsed. In his voice and (even more so) in his guitar Young basically condensed a mixture of terror, melancholy resignation and compassion.

Philosophically speaking, the quintessential sermons, Long Way Home and Mideast Vacation, are on Life.

Freedom is simply a better version of Life. Opened Rust-style by a live acoustic, cynical and sarcastic, finger-pointing anthem, Rockin' In The Free World, it roams an unusual emotional and musical soundscape in the lengthy Crime In The City, a bitter fresco of urban poverty delivered as a subdued, nocturnal, whispered shuffle, as if it were a shameful secret.

While it doesn't match the high standard of material, Freedom resembles Rust Never Sleeps also in the way it juxtaposes the raging, Hendrix-ian glissandoes of Don't Cry, and one of his most tender love ballads, Hangin' On A Limb, the driving riff of No More and the bitter tex-mex spices of Too Far Gone.

Inca Queen (on Life) and Eldorado (on Freedom) are the new chapters of his mythological saga (rather inferior chapters, compared with the previous ones).

Lucky Thirteen (Geffen, 1993) is an anthology of this "experimental" period.

The "live in the studio" EP Eldorado (1989) let it be known that Young had reached a new stage of maturity. Cocaine Eyes and Heavy Love rank among his wildest bursts of violence.

Ragged Glory (1990) is precisely what the title proclaims. Young is clearly back to his alter ego, his "ragged" and epic and mournful and rebellious self. The sound is drenched in distortion, and the effect is glorious in the lengthy Love to Burn and in the passionate Over and Over. The raw sound of White Line and F*!#in' Up is enough to re-energize punk-rockers, but the melodies lack any pathos or punch: Country Home was written twenty years earlier, and it shows; Over and Over is an embarrassing pub-style singalong; etc. Days That Used To Be and Love To Burn achieve perhaps the best compromise between power and catchiness. Two songs, Mansion on the Hill and the lengthy roaring Mother Earth, resurrect hippie themes of peace, love and nature. Young ends the album on an idealistic note, as he hails Love And Only Love in yet another extended work-out.

The years of experimentation were not spent in vain, though. Young (and Crazy Horse) delivered one of the greatest live albums in the history of rock music, Weld (1991), that, basically, reinvented the idea of a live album. This sonic tour de force sounds like an affirmation of Young's leadership over the grunge generation: he is the one who invented that sound, and nobody can do it better, or louder, or noisier.

By the same token, Arc (1991), a collage of "found" segments from his live performances, is an epic excursion into avantgarde music, a by-product of Weld that further clarifies his status as a sculptor of sound as opposed to a mere songwriter. This 35-minute piece of chaotic drumming, gently floating feedback erupting into thunderous distorted riffs, and snippets of Neil Young's ghostly vocals, is the hysterical alter-ego of Dead Man.

To prove that he was still the same person, and, in fact, to prove that he could top anything he had done in his former life, Young re-did Harvest twenty years later, by enrolling the same conspirators and returning to that kind of melodic country-rock, and to that kind of "love" theme (love as redemption, but also love as unattainable nirvana). Harvest Moon (1992) is a diligent revisitation of Harvest, and occasionally (Unknown Legend, the allegorical From Hank To Hendrix, the neoclassical Such A Woman) tops that album's tenderness, but mostly the new Harvest offers half-baked imitations that quote the identical melodies (Harvest Moon, You And Me) that make even the original sound dated. The ten-minute Natural Beauty is basically a melodic fantasia built on melodic themes from Harvest. The anti-war War of Man is one of the least inspired protest songs of his career. The most original track is Old King, a folkish rigmarole for jug band: at least it's funny.

Sleeps With Angels (1994) is an ambitious concept album disguised as a collection of unpretentious confessions. There are are two levels of semantic interpretation. The first one originates with the opening lullaby My Heart (saloon pianola, vibraphone, marimba), is amplified by Western Hero (the melodic center of the album), and eventually returns at the end of the album, thus framing the other interpretation, which is centered around the 15-minute love rumination Change Your Mind, the feedback-drenched blues jam Blue Eden and the dark, obscure Safeway Cart (Eagles). While Young spins his cryptic magic, the listener is treated to the usual dose of noise (Sleeps With Angels). The most intriguing quality of the album is its complete opacity: Young has never been so inscrutable. Perhaps death itself is the subject of these tales.

The Crazy Horse were replaced by the Pearl Jam on Mirror Ball (1995), a collection that features three winners (I'm The Ocean, Song X, a bit reminiscent of pirate songs, Big Green Country, reminiscent of garage-rock of the Sixties, Downtown, the grittiest boogie) and a rosary that revisits assorted stereotypes of Neil Young's liturgy (Truth Be Known, Throw Your Hatred Down). The best of these self-celebrations, the nine-minute Scenery, replicates the CSN&Y's jams of Fourway Street and Cowgirl In The Sand. But mostly the album offers a lot of indulgent noise.

Returning to his sonic experiments, Young's soundtrack for Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (Vapor, 1996) is a phantasmagoria of ambient psychedelic music. 1 is a stuttering guitar trying to utter rational riffs. The unrelenting distortions of 11 paint a fresco of psychological devastation. Several tracks sound like Jimi Hendrix playing to himself. Unfortunately, the album includes spoken pieces by the actors of the film, which detract from Young's echoed guitar tones, which, otherwise, constitute a formidable effort in the realm of abstract soundpainting. The soundtrack is worth a lot more than what was released on the CD.

The Crazy Horse joined Young again on Broken Arrow (1996), which is, basically, a more conventional version of Dead Man: each "song" is an ambient piece that roams a psychological universe. Young reaffirms his leadership over the new generations (he invented "slo-core" in 1968, after all). Half of the album is a masterpiece: Big Time, Slip Away and Loose Change. The other half is basically an EP of left-overs from a much less ambitious program (Changing Highways being the most satisfying of them).

The double-disc Year of the Horse (1997) contains lengthy, convoluted live jams/meditations, mostly remakes of his old classics.

Silver & Gold (2000) is yet another version of the quintessential cathartic album, Harvest. Young's life proceeds in waves and cycles, and, after a burst of violence, needs to purify itself, anchor itself back to Young's roots. Silver & Gold, Razor Love, Good To See You, Horseshoe Man are the new gems. One gets the feeling that, every now and then, Young wants to prove (to the entire nation) that he "could" have been the greatest country musician of all times... if only he had wanted to. Just in case they forgot.

Road Rock (2000) is another live that significantly alters the perception of Young's classics. It may well be that this version of Cowgirl In The Sand is the definitive one. It may well be that Young will eventually re-record each of his classics

Are You Passionate (Reprise, 2002) continues the descent into "trivial" studio albums with a confused collection that seems to pay homage to soul (You're My Girl, When I Hold You In My Arms), funk (Don't Say You Love Me), blues (Let's Roll), etc. Goin' Home and She's A Healer can't compete with his best extended jams.

Greendale (Reprise, 2003) is an ambitious rock opera (ten songs in 80 minutes), that feels like a movie in music and reads like a novel in chapters: the songs tell the story of a police officer who is shot to death in a fictional rural town, and then analyze the tragic effects on family and town. The story might be interesting, but the delivery is monotonous and old-fashioned, no matter how much noise the Crazy Horse concoct. Young sings the singalong refrain of the martial Falling from Above unusually subdued, turning a potential anthem into an elegy. The bluesy Double E sounds like the Ten Years After covering the Beatles' Hey Jude. The rocking Devil's Sidewalk pivots around a crunchy riff and Young's colloquial delivery evokes Lou Reed. Finally, the harmonica-led Leave the Driving rises to the standards of Harvest: a slow catchy shuffle for smoky night-club, it works well for conveying the stately narrative. The 10-minute Carmichael, however, is too somnolent to justify its duration, and the 13-minute Grandpa's Interview only makes it worse. Young over-indulges in telling his stories, but the problem is precisely the "telling", that is not adequately supported by the "playing", These songs are just too long for the few variations that they offer. The band is betting that the narrative is interesting enough to keep the listener glued to the music for more than ten minutes. The brief, funereal, organ-driven, gospel-ish Bringin' Down Dinner comes as a refreshing moment.
The 12-minute Sun Green, however, appropriates the classic waltzing Young pace to shape a dramatic atmosphere and couples it with a filtered voice for some additional power. Its guitar work, that blends Jimi Hendrix and John Lee Hooker, and (towards the end) a rumbling bass line a` la Spirit in the Sky, help achieve the sense of tragedy.
Oddly enough, Young brings the plot to closure with an environmental singalong, the nine-minute Be the Rain, that has little to do with the rest of the album. What is missing is the existential and transcendent ferocity of Young's best extended narratives. Here, Young talks too much and takes too long to deliver his punch. Keep Sun Green, Leave the Driving, Devil's Sidewalk and Bringin' Down Dinner; the rest is tedious repetition.
The album spawned a film and a graphic novel.

Neil Young's first "film", Greendale (2004), is basically an album-length music video.

After a close encounter with death because of a brain aneurysm, Young recorded Prairie Wind (Reprise, 2005), an autumnal work if there ever was one (It's a Dream). This gentle and even domestic alter-ego of Neil Young has always been less interesting than the visceral rocker, and this set of intensely personal recollections is no exception to the rule.

Politics has never been Neil Young's forte, although hatred for Richard Nixon helped him compose one of his most vibrant songs (Ohio). Living With War (Reprise, 2006) is his most political album yet, and certainly a very angry one. Neil Young is not quite capable to emulate Bruce Springsteen in painting national frescoes, because his music is, first and foremost, a very personal (not national) outburst of emotion. Young rarely identifies with the everyman. Young is, fundamentally, the snobbish intellectual who despises the masses and preaches to their dumb minds. The lyrics are, in fact, the weakest part of the album. There are plenty of senators and tv commentators who can do a better job than Young's at debating a war (and, after all, a song titled Let's Impeach the President is no less commercial than Britney Spears singing "oops i've done it again", as they are both easy to digest and recycle by the very national audience that Young the intellectual despises). But the obnoxious garage-rock riffs that Young weaves one after the other constitute a force of nature.

Each of Neil Young's albums had relished in some kind of internal consistency. While Young might change dramatically from album to album, within the same album he was able to impersonate one cohesive and profound persona from beginning to ending. Chrome Dreams II (2007), ostensibly a follow-up to an unreleased 1976 album, is a notable exception to the rule (Chrome Dreams would have contained the original versions of Powderfinger, Pocahontas and Like a Hurricane). Young assembled the album as a collection of rarities and unreleased songs from different periods of his life. Hence the stylistic confusion. One can basically replay Young's entire career in the space of one album: Harvest-style country-rock (Beautiful Bluebird, Ever After, Boxcar), Crazy Horse-style work-outs (No Hidden Path, Spirit Road, the 14-minute No Hidden Path), gloomy dirges (Dirty Old Man), and the rambling 19-minute epic Ordinary People (with piano and horns) that was recorded in 1988. On top of this parade of Neil Young impersonations, one also gets some rare variations: a soul ballad (Shining Light), a piano-based lullaby (The Way, with children's choir), a Tamla-style party ditty (The Believer, with call-and-response backing vocals). Mostly, it is music that should have been buried for good.

Too much emphasis on the (political) lyrics makes Fork In The Road (Reprise, 2009) a very mediocre work. If it weren't Neil Young, nobody would have reviewed this album.

The Archives Vol. 1 1963-1972 (Reprise, 2009) is the eight-disc box set and compiles his unreleased material from 1963 to 1972.

Every now and then Neil Young got inspired to unleash his inner demons through otherworldly music, like he did with Dead Man. He did it again on Le Noise (Reprise, 2010), an odd hybrid of heavy-metal music and post-psychedelic noise, a sonata for voice, guitar and electronic effects produced by ambient minimalist Daniel Lanois and recorded live in the studio with no overdubs. Walk With Me is not anthemic enough (and rather dejavu), the lamenting tone of Someone's Gonna Rescue You doesn't sound sincere enough, Rumblin could be a Bruce Springsteen elegy, and the seven-minute Peaceful Valley Boulevard is certainly not up to the standard of his classic lengthy ruminations. Hitchhiker is easily the strongest rant. The reverb-drenched production is a mixed blessing. In the end the folkish Love And War steals the show.

A Treasure (2011), his country and western album, documents a 1984-1985 live collaboration with a Nashville country band.

The Crazy Horse finally returned for Americana (2012), but it was just an album of covers, and covers from the ancient past of North America. Much better was their double-disc Psychedelic Pill (Warner Bros, 2012), with three epic-length jams. The appropriately titled 27-minute Driftin' Back is Neil Young's most abused riffs, chords, melodies, etc drifting aimlessly for half an eternity, jagged guitar line after jagged guitar line, but complemented with the kind of ecstatic vocal harmonies that had disappeared after Crosby Stills Nash & Young's albums. A nonchalant choir (whistling and humming like in a vocal group of the 1950s) surfs over the grittier hard-rocking 16-minute Walk Like a Giant intoning a tune that sounds like a remix of Like A Hurricane. The martial, anthemic, thundering 17-minute Ramada Inn is another self-tribute of sorts, the same tempo and the same tone heard on countless songs of years past. At "only" eight minutes She's Always Dancing feels like a short song, and it is also relatively restrained in its cacophony and rant compared with the rest.

A Letter Home (2014) is a collection of lo-fi covers. Storytone (2014) was an experiment: the songs were recorded live with a big band. The album was basically a concept about his divorce and his love affair with Hollywood actress Daryl Hannah.

Peace Trail (2016) was recorded with drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Paul Bushnell.

The concept album The Monsanto Years (2015), a political commentary on a much hated corporation, the live Earth (2016), the sprawling and political The Visitor (2017), containing Already Great and the ten-minute Freedom, and the soundtrack Paradox (2018) were erratic and idiosyncratic collaborations with Promise of the Real.

Crazy Horse returned with Colorado (2019), which contains the 13-minute ecological dirge She Showed Me Love, and Barn (2021), two mediocre and senile works of mellow and nostalgic alt-country music. There are only flashes of the band's past jamming fury.

What is unique about this music database