Neil Young – 1970

Now here’s a tough decision! There a few artists out there that embody a musical style based on creating awesome hard, driving songs and magnificent soft, contemplative songs. I may have chosen the following two to review but they’re not exactly my favorites, they’re just a snapshot in thought. Well, if anything embodies taking trips anywhere its that same thought. Sometimes you know where you want to go and sometimes you just can’t make up your mind because the options all seem inviting. Then again sometimes we have an idealized sentiment for a land we hardly know and are driving to, which always leaves you with some latent feeling of ambivalence. All these emotions might be what Neil Young hints at on “Cowgirl in the Sand” off the Everybody Knows This is Nowhere album.

Everything moves forward in this first track except the clarity that Neil seeks about his ideal woman. Thirty seconds into the track, after Neil spends some time meandering with his guitar, the full onslaught of Crazy Horse and himself barrel in like a person just waking up realizing they have to get going. The song then just starts to build more and more into a maze-like ode to distorted guitar solos. Sometimes the piercing guitar sound from Neil goes straight forward giving respite to contemplate his yearning lyrics…then it comes roaring back in through zig-zag sonics presenting the underlying confusion of the whole lyrical theme. Does this ideal cowgirl really love him? or will she use him just the same? I don’t think Neil discovers at the end of the song. This song presents a traveler quite the time to follow Neil Young down the same sonic byzantine ziggurat and maybe…just maybe…air guitar solo minutes on end for that same answer.

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Listen to Cowgirl in the Sand at Grooveshark.

Neil Young and CSN (the other crazy horses)

Now this is a true softie. Signifying the change from Neil Young’s truly rocking Cowgirl in the Sand era to the more contemplative After the Goldrush country-rock sound, “Tell Me Why” is a bittersweet way to start off this masterpiece of an album as well. Written during the early CSNY period, Neil Young and a very young Nils Lofgren, an artist I’ll cover later, play acoustic guitars while Crazy Horse harmonize in the background on a melancholic theme which is moving on to newer pastures in life. Times like these are full of fright, because you’re in essence moving past the home you know like the back of your hand…for this new, personally quite uncharted territory. Isn’t that why Neil says:

Tell me lies later,
come and see me
I’ll be around for a while.
I am lonely but you can free me
All in the way that you smile
Tell me why, tell me why

Your loved ones can say “we’ll see each other soon”, but for some us, its a beautiful, hopeful white lie. We all know that we have to go on, to where we have to go on, and live our separate lives, but its still appreciated that they greet and send you off with a smile. I mean, that’s why its hard to make arrangements with yourself. You have a new base and you really can’t go home again. Nothing bad about that per se, but sometimes you can’t help but pine for your old way of life.

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Listen to Tell Me Why at Grooveshark.