The lyrical poet, Neil Young has always had a knack for songwriting, and his talents became very clear to audiences around after the release of his second studio album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969).
The album was released only four months after his first album hit musical connoisseurs worldwide and was created with the American rock band, Crazy Horse. It is widely recognized as one of Young’s best albums. Young came into his own using the force of his sorrowful vocals. Young is storyteller at heart and was able to capture ears by spreading his mournful tunes, while maintaining an overwhelming degree of musicianship.
The album brought Young three hits that became a staple to his name and live performances. The songs “Cinnamon Girl,” “Down By the River,” and “Cowgirl in the Sand” became some of his most popular hits. In fact, “Cinnamon Girl” is one of Young’s most well known songs and probably one of his best creations. Though the lyrics are simple, the whole tune provides audiences with an easy feeling. It is also a song that showed Young’s softer side, “A dreamer of pictures, I run in the night, You see us together, chasing the moonlight, My cinnamon girl.” Put plainly, it is a simple song about wanting to be with a girl – if only songs were that simple these days.
Like Bob Dylan, Young was a master at assimilating a folk tone into his music and it worked with his voice. The murder ballad “Down By the River” is as disturbing as it is incredible to listen to! With his deep, folk sound and twangy, country voice, Young created one of the most recognizable songs of the late 1960s. The sorrowful lyrics describe a man who shoots his lover and it is a tune where each note carries just as much meaning as each and every word. The tragic lyrics read, “Be on my side, I’ll be on your side, There is no reason for you to hide, It’s so hard for me staying here all alone, When you could be taking me for a ride… Down by the river, I shot my baby.”
The combination of Neil Young’s vocals and the talents of Crazy Horse created an album that became a landmark for folk rock. Every song is flawless, with outstanding harmonies, guitar licks and a peaceful, calm tone. As a vocalist, Young does not have the best of voices, but it makes him stand out as a unique musician. His voice compliments the lyrics he sings, and portrays a feeling of sorrow. Like Bob Dylan, Neil Young is one of the most important artists to their genre and rock music as a whole.
The Canadian musician has bounced around for years and became popular in two bands: his founding band Buffalo Springfield (1966) and as the fourth member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. However, he began building what would become one of the most acclaimed solo careers of all time.
His first solo album Neil Young (1968) created a giant foreshadow to his second album, which did not receive the best reviews immediately after its release in 1969. In fact, many people felt his first album was much better, but after awhile audiences began realizing its stamina. The album can be seen as a jump start to Young’s solo career and reached #34 on the US Billboard 200. It was also certified as a platinum album by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Neil Young has released 37 albums since Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and continues to perform live. He is a two-time inductee in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, once inducted for his solo career in 1995 and then again for Buffalo Springfield in 1997.
In 1982, Young was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and was awarded two Grammy Awards in 2010 and 2011. Young is also a big supporter for other bands and holds the Bridge School Concert with his wife every October. Together, they have hosted bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, R.E.M, Dave Matthews and many more. The concert helps to raise money to produce advanced technologies to benefit the education of children with disabilities.
In 2000, Rolling Stone ranked Neil Young #34 on their list of 100 greatest musicians in history and five of his albums were placed on the list of 500 greatest albums in history in 2003. He was also initiated on Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2000.
The infamous singer/songwriter has been dubbed the “Godfather of Grunge” due to his musical influence on bands such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana, but he is undoubtedly one of the most important musicians to music history. Equated with Bob Dylan, the folk influence on his music has impacted the industry and he has been referenced as one of the biggest influences to bands in the past four decades.
Reviewer: Lauren Vinyard
IRC: Bill Pulice
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