Album no. 136/1001
Wrap up your moose and pour maple syrup on your poutine, it’s everybody’s favourite Canadian NEIL YOUNG! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
This is Neil’s second solo album, coming after Buffalo Springfield had split up and before he teamed up with Crosby, Stills and Nash. The title track was featured in Almost Famous, for those keeping track of movie appearances.
People were pretty confused by this when it first came out. Neil’s first album was all folky, full of lyrics and more lavish instrumentation. This one is really stripped back, with nine minute songs that just repeat the same lyric over and over. That might not sound too enticing, but it’s actually great.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: (extremely canadian voice): yah for sure
CL: No. I don’t know much about Neil Young – I know he was in Buffalo Springfield?
NK: Hard to pick! It’s probably ‘Down By The River’, Neil’s nine-minute murder ballad. HOWEVER, I also really like the ‘Cinnamon Girl’, ‘Cowgirl In The Sand’ and the title track . I like all the songs on this! It’s very difficult to choose.
CL: Interestingly, I did not hate this. In fact, I regrettably have to agree with you – ‘Down By The River’ is the standout here, even though it does noodle along for 9 whole minutes. There’s only 7 songs to choose from, so there’s not much room for error from old mate. I think he pretty much nails it – the only one I don’t really like it ‘Round and Round (It Won’t Be Long)’, just because I think his voice is too high and it annoys me.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: I get a real dusty, desert/summer feel from the title track. Not so much the others, but that one definitely. It sort of has a weirdo-country feel, but if country music was good. But really the answer here is that there is no bad time to listen to this album.
CL: I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEAN. If country music sounded like ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’, there’s no way I’d hate it as much as I do. I love those ‘la-la-la’s just creeping in there. It’s real good.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: One of the things I love about this album is how messy it is. Young had come out of Buffalo Springfield, doing Byrds-style harmonies and really tight arrangements. This album is the first time he hooked up with Crazy Horse, the group who went on to play on lots of his albums (I didn’t look it up, at least 20 or so), and the difference is immediate. The arrangements are really loose, the guitars play over the top of each other with solos and riffs that are really simple and stripped-back, and the vocals aren’t particularly polished either. It sounds really different and I really like it.
CL: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – it’s certainly way less produced, which makes a nice change this late in the decade. I’d say this sort of folky/country/rock business went on to be pretty influential. Parts of ‘Cinnamon Girl’ reminded me heaps of Pavement – like, that sunny, low key vibe.
Will you be listening again?
NK: Oh yah.
CL: Yes. I’ve already given it a couple of listens and it’s growing on me like Neil Young’s luscious mop on the front cover.
Listen to Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.