A long long time ago, I had just moved out west. And, I don’t think I was honest with myself at the time, I was really fucking lost. I was leaving Chicago, where I had just made friends and got into the swing of things. Just in time to uproot and head to a completely different part of the country.
And when I first moved, I had literally nothing to do at work. I didn’t know at the time that I would have one of the worst Jan-June periods of my life where I was easily working 90-120 hour weeks. At that point, I was just bored and kind of alone.
So, I decided to fill my time with what little enrichment I could at the office (working from home wasn’t a thing just yet). That was when I started going through album lists. A way to both relieve boredom and go through the classics. I have written about this before, but having a service that at least let me listen to an album I didnt own once was revolutionary. Proto-streaming.
I went through the RS 500 first, cause it was the easiest list to access at the time. Most of my journey through that I would describe as uneventful. Some albums I had heard already. Some I had heard the big single. But, the ones that will always stand are ones that really kicked me in the ass the first time I heard it. Enter After the Gold Rush.
Fucking blew me away. I had already heard some Young, but this is the first album of his that I had a visceral connection to.
Well first off, I like when artists make deliberate sound decisions on the album. I don’t have a great vocabulary for this, but this whole album feels spread out. A bit echo-y without having any real reverb. It feels sparse but focused. Like in this track here. Tell Me Why has these wonderful harmonies that feel far less clean and produced than CSNY. Neil must have spent hours trying to get that fucking sound.
This is a studio album in the purest sense. Great songs facilitated by production that you can only get in a studio.
I think Neil doesn’t get enough credit for his melodies. I almost want to say riff-work cause his sense of what will carry a song through reminds me of some metal artists. He has this exceptional sense of how to balance instrumentation with the song. Track 2 here just has him and piano. Cause that’s all we need.
Oh as we carry on, I’m going to skip the most politically charged song on the record, as I already wrote a whole other blog entry on it.
I cannot stress enough how much I love the sound of this record. This kind of album is a good example of why scene culture is crap. They always pick the worst fucking music to try to make into a genre. Why isn’t there are a pile of bands trying to emulate the guitar sound on this track into a After the Gold Rush-scene.
The balance here. That guitar feels almost too dark and heavy for a song about being young and love, but it comes off natural. Completely organic.
Ok, let me cover my pick for best song on this thing.
I cannot express the degree to which I connect to this song. The first time I heard it…on Lala…sitting in that cubicle….I bought the CD immediately.
See it was a weird era. Neil hadn’t put his shit on the iTunes store, and plus I never bought into the iTunes store. At that point, I may as well have a physical CD for the same price….thank god I did, cause Amazon retroactively gave their users access to those songs on their streaming platform now.
But I digress, this fucking song man. Neil Young has this way with his lyrics. Moving from esoteric to right on your nose and back again. Seamlessly. I still say Don’t Let It Bring You Down/It’s only castles burning a ton in my real life.
A masterpiece song. Like if I were to be the one to try to communicate to aliens the human experience in one song, I would pick Don’t Let it Bring You Down.
Overall, there is easy and obvious reasons why this is a perennial favorite of Neil Young fans and music critics everywhere. Fucking masterpiece record. One of Neil Young’s best, so therefore, one of the best albums ever made.
4/4 – This album is better the sum total of Joe Rogan’s entire existence.
Also, if you truly love something, buy it in physical media. I don’t expect people to own fucking Squid Game for example. But if there is some shit you can’t do with out. Buy it physical. Cause it may go away.