Saturday, December 3, 2011

Neil Young - On the Beach

Genre: Neil Young
Sounds Like: Neil Young

To put it very bluntly, I have a lifelong obsession with Neil Young. My father played him continuously throughout my childhood. I can honestly say that I heard Neil Young while I was in the womb. It's actually a little hard for me to talk about Neil because I can't tell whether I'm being a critical music lover or just getting caught up in nostalgia.

Most honest reviews of Neil Young's career will mention that he's hard to categorize. This is a) lazy writing, and b) true. He's got a long career with some significant success, although most people know him because of his early CSNY stuff and his first few albums. His journey as an artist is an interesting story and worth reading. The short summary is that after 1972's #1 hit Harvest he got too famous. Drugs followed and eventually took the life of both his guitarist and roadie. It's during this period that he made the Ditch Trilogy, a series of three albums significantly darker and looser than his previous work. Of these, On the Beach probably represents the most solid artistic work. Neil flows seamlessly from haunting electric guitar to more traditional, stripped down acoustic ballads. He's always been his best writing low-key, sad songs and this album presents a treasure trove of music that really hits home. People will argue whether Neil Young is actually a technically good musician but they miss the point: he's an emotional artist and he puts himself into his music. Every song on On the Beach packs a punch and leaves you drained.

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