70 FROM ’70 — THE TOP TEN — #5

5. NEIL YOUNG — After The Gold Rush

How did Neil’s nasal voice and the sparse country-ish feel of much of this album so capture the young man I was? Slumped under uncomfortable headphones in the Record Lounge of the Student Union Building day after day; lost, but listening. Neil’s voice is mixed way forward so I could learn the words, even if I didn’t understand. Except for “Only love can break your heart” and “I believe in you”. Perhaps that was it. Needing someone to believe in me, I turn-tabled to Neil. It is possible that, sitting alone writing this, the memory of a long-gone lonely teen escaped on a sigh. Lockdown blues or no, that’s potent music, that is.


A post on After The Gold Rush that doesn’t mention “Southern Man”. Is that even legal?

Does this rate amongst your Neil Young favourites?

29 comments

  1. What a lovely evocation. (I consider myself lost but listening even now…) Nils Lofgren was still a teenager when he played on this (I guess he wasn’t lost!). I’d say I like this and Harvest equally.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you JDB. My struggles with Harvest are less to do with the songs, more the overbearing arrangements on some of them (Hello, Man Needs A Maid).

      As you and others observe, J, the players are always an important part of Mr Young’s albums and Nils’ contribution here is no exception.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s an interesting connection with Highway 61 Revisited. Both albums utilised keyboard players Nils Lofgren on ATGR, Al Kooper on Highway 61) whose primary instrument was guitar, and who in fact had very little keyboard experience prior to the sessions. The results were fabulous but it wouldn’t happen today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great point, Dave. Both on the players and on the looseness that allowed their contributions. Neil has always had a leaning towards the ramshackle.

      Like

  3. I’ve grown very fond of Neil Young’s music, especially his albums all the way to his first greatest hits compilation “Decade,” one of the best such collections I know. As for this particular album, only the title track and “Southern Man” make it worth the admission.

    One of my greatest live concert experiences was to see Neil Young solo in July 2018. I drove 4.5 hours from Central New Jersey to Boston to make it happen. It was worth every friggin’ mile. The highlight of that show was Neil’s performance of After the Gold Rush on a church style pipe organ. The sound of that magnificent instrument in combination with Neil’s high and fragile voice was just unbelievable.

    Here’s a video I took, which admittedly doesn’t give it full justice. Plus, the image is blurry. It still makes me feel like crying!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s very special, Christian. There is a purity of the artist and a single instrument–one steeped in spirituality–that adds a moving timelessness to one of Neil’s more mythic songs.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. #3 – After Live Rust and Americana.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Live Rust is a ripper!

      Like

  5. This was the first album on which I ‘got’ Neil and was the one that facilitated my journey further into his vast, awesome catalog. Are you still paying attention to him? I have really liked Colorado and did not mind at all the ramshackle indulgence of Psychedelic Pill.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Guess I kind of stopped with close attention to Neil. Similar to Van, but different reasons. Like the grungy Crazy Horse stuff now and then, and surprised to enjoy Greendale, but not too much else from this century!

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  6. I came on board later and then went back and liked this one more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Plenty to explore, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My first Neil Young album, I sat and dissected every moment of the album again and again and still do, it defined a genre in one sense and disrupted it with the harsher sounding songs mixed in with the melancholy and sweet.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beautifully put.

      Like

  8. This is my favourite Young, just ahead of Rust Never Sleeps and On the Beach. The 21st century one I think is decent is Prairie Wind, although I’ve barely heard any of his recent stuff.

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    1. Delighted to find we align on this one, Graham. (Though I often choose Time Fades Away 🙂 )
      It’s a mammoth catalogue, that’s for sure. Don’t know Prairie Wind (nor Americana or Colorado, mentioned by others. On the beach is harrowing but magnificent, as indeed is the entire ditch trilogy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s kind of a ditch Quadrilogy now, with Homegrown out?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thanks for waving at Homegrown, Graham. Hadn’t come across it; certainly the claim for a quadrilogy is strong. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. If Time Fades Away is one of your favourites you’ll probably enjoy Homegrown.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Don’t forget Tuscaloosa!

              Liked by 2 people

            2. Kind of forgot that one, but it fits too.

              Liked by 1 person

  9. Evan Jenkins · · Reply

    Thanks for the reminder of many happy days spent lazing in the Record Lounge at RMIT when I first went to Uni. I even ended up working behind the desk in there. This album was on high rotation for James and I when it first came out and it kicked off a lifetime love of Neil’s work. I still remember taking my 12 year old son Liam and his mate to see Neil Young and Crazy Horse in Geelong for his first real live Gig. The weather was horrific, and I’ll never forget his face as he watched Neil playing Hurricane in a howling gale, with all of us being totally drenched. Happy Days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing those first class anecdotes, Evan. Unlike me, I suspect you passed your course as well as Rock 101.
      A stormy outdoor concert in Geelong. That’s dedication, that is.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Evan Jenkins · · Reply

        Unfortunately I too failed first year. Got a job making guitar amplifiers while I repeated subjects and then changed course and started again. Thanks Gough!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Indeed. All hail the great reformer!

          Like

  10. Love the backstory, including those uncomfortable headphones (G-d, how many of those did I end up having back then?!). This is my absolute favorite Neil Young album. I too always thought Harvest was a little too over-produced in some places, though there are some real gems on it. But I love every single song on After the Goldrush; even the two that are barely one minute each. Favorite songs are “Tell Me Why” and “I Believe In You,” but honestly every song is great. Oh, and, yeah — that “Southern Man” one ain’t too shabby. 😉 – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Really enjoying these responses, hearing how different folks enjoy Mr Young’s vast catalogue. And it is lovely when choices coincide. Thanks Marty!
      -Bruce

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I didn’t have much use for this when I listened to it 8 years ago – the voice was too much of a deterrent.
    But several Neil albums later, his voice has become a big selling point, so I imagine upon revisiting this I’d really enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good chance, Geoff. It a very Neil Young album. 🤫

      Liked by 1 person

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