Album no. 186/1001
After The Goldrush was a movie about the end of the world. Neil Young was brought in to write a soundtrack. The soundtrack never got finished, the movie never got made, but a couple of songs and the title stuck around.
This sold much better than Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, and a lot of that is probably off the back of the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album. There is more of a folk influence on this album, which probably helped folks who had just bought Deja Vu feel right at home. It went to number 8 on the albums chart, and ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ went to number 33.
Neil Young was on the map as a solo artist. Crazy Horse (the backing band from Everybody Knows This is Nowhere) were involved in the recording at various stages, but Neil eventually fired them because of guitarist Danny Whitten’s issues with heroin. Remember this, because it will become relevant in 1972 (hint: every junkie’s like a setting sun).
Have you listened to this album before?
CL: No. I’m still on the fence about Neil Young. Could go either way.
NK: First of all, can I mention that ‘Cripple Creek Ferry’ is the THIRD mention of Cripple Creek, after ‘Cripple Creek’ by Skip Spence and ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ by The Band. What the hell was it about this place? I looked it up, it’s a former gold mining town (makes sense for this album I guess) in Colorado with a population of about eleven hundred. There was a big mining strike there in the 1890s, but I still have no idea why so many folks were singing about it in the late sixties/early seventies. Oh, songs. How good is ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’?
CL: Mmmmm. Mmmmkay. Yep. Nup. This isn’t really for me. I quite liked Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, but this is pretty different. Much more country. Much more emphasis on his voice which, to be frank, I’m not crazy about. All I could think of while listening to this album was how much he sounded like Milhouse from The Simpsons.
NK: ‘After The Gold Rush’ (the song) is very strange. I think you can tell it was written for an end of the world movie. There’s a depressing environmental focus (look at mother nature on the run in the nineteen seventies), a decidedly paranoid feeling (I was thinking about what a friend had said, I was hoping it was a lie), and a worryingly prescient concern for the future (flying mother nature’s silver seed to a new home in the sun). And it’s really minimalist, with just Neil and a piano and what sounds like a French horn solo. That said, I really like it! I also like ‘Till The Morning Comes’ (1.21 of strange fun), and ‘When You Dance You Can Really Love’ (a rocker!). That and ‘Southern Man’ are the only tracks that sound like they are by the same guy who did ‘Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere’.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: Late night, home from the party, maybe still a little bit drunk, probably have to get up the next day, worried about the future but also in an existential crisis about how little you actually matter and how little difference your actions will make, don’t think you’ll make it through a movie but want to do something. Perfect.
CL: …Wow. Ok. I was just going to say put it on when there isn’t anything else to listen to, but you’ve really hit the nail on the head with the existential crisis. Mostly because I’m in the middle of one – and I can confirm that this album did little to help.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: This is the last album Neil Young made while he was still a relative unknown. Also it’s really weird. It fits together ok, just, but the title track especially hints at a whole other world he could be singing about. He’s also gone a lot more mellow musically. If you listen to Everybody Knows This is Nowhere then Deja Vu then this it sort of makes sense. But if you listened to ‘Down By The River’ and then ‘Cripple Creek Ferry’ you’d think it was two different artists.
CL: I think this is a pretty good example of just having a go. Even if your voice sort of sounds a bit like a strangled cat, just give it a go! Someone will like it.
Will you be listening again?
NK: This album always draws me back in. I’m not sure why, but it does.
CL: No, I won’t be. Sorry Neil, you’re toooooo country for me. And you’re not even from the country!
Listen to After The Goldrush on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.