Thursday, November 12, 2009

Everybody knows this is impossible

What's your favorite Neil Young song?

Now there's a tough one. Might be the toughest question ever posed on SSS. Young's catalog is so deep and impressive it's impossible to single out one song. One album might not even be possible. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere? Harvest? Comes a Time? After the Gold Rush? Rust Never Sleeps?

Just start putting 'em on and playing them today because it's Young's 64th birthday. Maybe before the end of the night it'll come to you.

Young's early stuff is really difficult to beat. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere -- just his second album -- holds at least three possibilities: "Cowgirl in the Sand,'' "Cinnamon Girl'' and "Down by the River'' Supposedly he wrote all three, one after another, with a 103-degree fever.

There's been a lot of fabulous stuff through the years, not all of it suitable for this discussion but memorable in some way or another. But I don't think I can get past that album. Nope, it's got to be off that seven-song LP in 1969 featuring Young and Danny Whitten's incredible electric guitar work.

It's definitely from that album, it sure is ... and I'm thinking it goes like this:

Hello cowgirl in the sand
Is this place at your command
Can I stay here for a while
Can I see your sweet sweet smile
Old enough now to change your name
When so many love you is it the same?
It's the woman in you
that makes you want to play this game

Top that. I dare you.


  1. Hard to pick because he didn't stick to any style. Two of my favorites are Comes A Time and Cortez the Killer, about as different as two songs can be. I'd throw Revolution Blues in there, too. Those would be my Top 3 right now. At least I don't have to worry about picking from anything he's recorded in the last couple of decades.

  2. Kinda partial to Like A Hurricane, myself ...

  3. I'm going the mtp4610 route and taking a contrasting pair: the so-sweet "After the Gold Rush" and "Rockin' in the Free World," with the most ragingly sad lyrics around:
    "That's one more kid tha'll never go to school/Never get to fall in love/Never get to be cool." Chills my bones every time.

  4. Powderfinger. Nobody seems to know what it means, and Neil remains very coy about it, but the foreshadowing is absolutley chilling.