An album I’ve noticed has an immediate affect on all who listen to it is Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. I have a good friend who goes to school with me that is type of girl who goes Dead Kennedy’s or Black Flag concerts and dives into mosh pits, but she also lists After the Gold Rush as one of her favorite albums. I have another friend who is a part-time drug dealer but has spoken at length about the greatness of “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” while I also know it’s one of my mother’s (who is neither a drug-dealer or mosher) favorites.
After the Gold Rush was Young’s third solo album (Neil Young and the magnificent Everybody Knows This is Nowhere being the first two) and it has become one of the most heartfelt albums in rock history. It begins with “Tell Me Why,” which has a “I was so much younger then”-type chorus of “Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself,/When you’re old enough to repay but young enough to sell.” That song is followed on the album by better ballads than anything Joni Mitchell could ever pen: “After the Gold Rush,” “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” “Oh, Lonesome Me” and “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.”
That’s not to say the whole album is full of Sinatra-esque torch songs; “Southern Man” and “When You Can Dance I Can Really Love” are rock blazers that could have been on Everybody Knows.
The album only comes in at slightly over 35 minutes, so it’s brief enough to listen to in one sitting but packs enough punch that it becomes truly memorable. Although Young has released stronger material, no album of his has had the emotional impact of After the Gold Rush.
Five Best...Songs from After the Gold Rush
#5. "Don't Let It Bring You Down"
#4. "Oh Lonesome Me"
#3. "Southern Man"
#2. "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"
#1. "After the Gold Rush"