Artist: Neil Young
Album: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Genre: Country Rock / Hard Rock
“Everybody seems to wonder
What it’s like down here
I gotta get away
from this day-to-day
this is nowhere.”
CANADA REPRESENT! Love seeing some good, old Canadian talent getting the recognition they deserve. If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m very much a Canadian (French-Canadian to be exact, hence why I was so excited to see Leonard Cohen pop up (but I do a great job of explaining that in that post)). I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a proud Canadian because the idea of patriotism doesn’t really make sense to me, how can you be proud of being a nationality? But I am proud of Canada’s achievements especially when it comes to the arts. Believe it or not, Canada is a huge exporter of artistic talent. Some of the biggest talents in music and film have come straight out of Canada. Jim Carrey was an Ontarion, Dan Akroyd, original not ready for prime time player and the writer for Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers, RUSH, one of the biggest prog rock bands out there with mega hits (who funnily enough I am currently listening to), Leonard Cohen, who I don’t need to talk more about, Celine Dion, the Quebec sensation who sang the Titanic song, Seth Rogen, stoner extraordinaire, Joni Mitchell, who also doesn’t need any introduction, and many, many, many more. Neil Young is just one of the hundreds of talents to come out of this country and from Toronto no less, which is my current home town.
There is a good possibility every time I come across Canadian talent, I’ll get excited, but that’s only normal. Everyone loves to see successful people who have brought some sort of joy to many come from their countries and especially their home towns and you do feel a sense of pride knowing that such great people are representing your home in a good way. (There’s tons that do in a bad way too, I mean Justin Bieber and Drake also come from Toronto, but I think Neil Young properly out shines them any day).
I’ll be honest, despite what I just said, this is actually my first exposure to any Neil Young music. The closest I’ve come to seeing any of his work was from his film Human Highway, and even then I only saw the segment with Devo performing “It Takes A Worried Man”, and that’s only because I’m a huge Devo fan. Of course, I don’t live under a rock either so Neil Young was definitely a name I knew and a musician I was 100% aware of but never listened to. Don’t even know why, I guess it was a lack of interest on my part to discover his work and also, and this is probably a big possibility, he falls under the country rock category, and everyone knows how much I avoid Country music as if my life depended on it. Either way, I really didn’t know what to expect going into this and I think the fact I went in with zero expectations is what caused me to enjoy the album as much as I did.
Yes, I enjoyed music that falls under the Country Rock category. I know, it’s insane. But to be fair, it’s country rock mixed with a healthy dose of hard rock, and I do really love me some good hard rock and it’s clear throughout that the hard rock aspects overshadow the country rock parts. This is nothing like The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, it’s very much Neil Young doing his own thing with his own style under the genre. Based on what I’ve read, this is where Neil Young sort of let loose and just went nuts forming his own sound, incorporating a lot of improvisational bits into his tunes and setting up a blueprint for his future work. Along with the band Crazy Horse who support him here, they sound like they’re having a great time, especially on the long songs that clock in at 9 minutes. Within them they have segments where the guitar just gets to riff at it’s hearts content and it wails and screeches in the best possible way, having a blast as note after note is played. Thanks to this, these 9 minute long songs don’t feel like they’re 9 minutes at all. The zoom by, which is funny because two of the songs that are just 5 minutes feel like an eternity.
I could have done without Round and Round, which just like it’s name suggest, feels like it’s on a loop. It becomes repetitive fast and I found myself bored with it quickly. Especially it’s placement in the album, it just feels like it kills the momentum Neil had set up with the first two songs. However, that being said the second one, Running Dry, has a quality to it that makes it hauntingly beautiful. An aspect that permeates throughout the entire album. Neil Young manages to be morose without ever becoming cheesy and it makes the vocals rather haunting in a way, especially when mixed with the loud, hard rocking guitar riffs. The whole thing may not be perfect but I’ll be damned if Neil Young isn’t doing a phenomenal job on this album. Cinnamon Girl, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Down by the River and Cowgirl in the Sand are definite highlights that it makes the low points tolerable enough to sit through.
I’m glad to say I enjoyed it because I did think I might come out of it feeling very meh, which I thought would have been a real shame. But I didn’t, which goes to show it’s best to enter experiences having no expectations. Unfortunately, being human I know that won’t be the case with some future albums, but doesn’t mean it won’t happen and I look forward to those moments because they’re moments I cherish dearly.
Song of Choice: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere