Classic Rock Review

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Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)


As strange as it may sound, I’ve always been curious as to how our generation will look back on the music of our time. I’d imagine this was a much more austere question for the previous generation; a simpler time when bands didn’t take three years to record new material and a period in which FM radio spun full-length LP’s. The 1960’s and 1970’s were obvious breakthrough epochs in music history, deeming the influx of influential artists such as The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and hordes of others.

Our parents’ generation has always made a big deal about the music they grew up with, describing how The Beatles changed their life, how Dark Side of the Moon was the most incredible thing they had ever heard, or how Led Zeppelin was an astonishing transition into hard rock. With much of that conceptualized among the general public, artists such as Neil Young were also thrown into the mix, developing a legacy that so adamantly defined the time.

Sparingly in the past have we come across a musician with such raw talent and innovation as Neil Young, which we saw him prove time and time again with both his guitar work and songwriting. Young has been so successful during his career because of his ability to channel the talent, and craft something completely unconventional. It would be hard to argue against the inference that in 1969, Neil Young was well ahead of his time. The year marks Young’s debut with Crazy Horse, a band which consisted of guitarist Danny Whitten, drummer Ralph Molina, and bassist Billy Talbot. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere is the second record of Young’s illustrious career, and a colossal improvement on his self-titled debut.

Neil Young was a commercial disaster; failing to reach the charts, and faulted by terrible production. Everybody Know This is Nowhere offers a stark comparison to its predecessor, and is a testament to what Young is all about as a musician. This seven-track, forty-minute record is unlike anything that the music world had seen; country-tinged rock melding so intricately with Young’s falsetto vocals and eccentric guitar leads.

With the exception of misleading opener “Cinnamon Girl,” Everybody Knows This is Nowhere offers a disparate outlook to the rock and roll of the day; a mellow affair, drawing influences from folk and country music. The record’s chilled ambience is orchestrated by Young’s delicate tenor vocals, which is especially prevalent in the tranquil “Round and Round.” The album’s most notable characteristic however, is that of Young’s guitar playing, which is featured extensively on tracks such as “Down By the River” and “Cowgirl in the Sand.” The soloing is almost as if Young had scrapped the written music and opted for improvisation, but still having the audacity to gradually increase the tension.

This is overly apparent on gem “Cowgirl in the Sand;” a ten-minute masterpiece that is glorified by Young’s mind-blowing guitar work. The verses are virtually replaced by extensive soloing in between the choruses, with the apprehension dramatically heightening. “Cowgirl in the Sand” is constantly evolving in such as way that the track’s long length appears irrelevant, ultimately developing into a spastic fireball of guitar mastery. The record’s final track is the perfect closer, and a definitive Neil Young song.

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere is the first notable release from a man that has become a rock and roll legend throughout the past forty-plus years. Ever since Young’s music has failed to be confined to conventional and standard rock restrictions, both verifying his status as an original artist, and proving his timeless work. Most importantly, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere is an indication that Young is going to do things his own way, regardless of how others feel about him.

February 24, 2013 - Posted by | Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere |

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