We look today at “After The Gold Rush”, the third album from solo artist and multi-group member Neil Young, who by this point had not only released solo albums but also recorded and performed with Crosby, Stills and Nash as well as Buffalo Springfield, also featuring Stephen Stills. This album, mixing country folk with an occasional harder edge, with Neil being a very accomplished guitarist along with his strong high-end vocals. The album is rated #90 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
My appreciation for Neil Young has grown a lot over the years. Once upon a time, I found both his voice and guitar playing to be a bit jarring, and the production of “Southern Man”, one of the most notable tracks on this album, is a good example of this. As many of you know, it was this song that prompted the lyrical response and reference from Lynyrd Skynyrd when they wrote “Sweet Home Alabama” and called out Neil Young. And while I do appreciate this side of Neil Young, it is typically some of his more melodic and basic tunes that really pull me in. On this album, the best example of this is the beautiful song “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”. The highest-selling single from the album, the harmonies and simplicity of the song are fantastic, and it is the perfect centerpiece for other similar songs like “Tell Me Why”, the title track “After the Gold Rush”, and the closer, “Cripple Creek Ferry”.
I find this album and its melancholy tracks to be very comforting, especially on a quiet summer afternoon like today. I can piece together the images and the time of the early 1970s, hand in hand with music like Neil Young and it is a feeling of blissful warmth.