Monday, March 3, 2008

The Ultimate Sixty Minute Neil Young Playlist

1. “Out on the Weekend” from Harvest

A great start to any mix, let alone one solely dedicated to Neil. “Weekend” showcases Neil’s exquisite voice and harmonica playing.

2. “Powderfinger” from Rust Never Sleeps

Playing with his band Crazy Horse, this is the greatest song Neil ever recorded, and one that makes me want to be twenty-two so I can say, “And I just turned twenty-two/I was wonderin’ what to do.” Also provides some blistering guitar solos.

3. “Heart of Gold” from Harvest

It’s nice to have a familiar song on a mix tape, and everyone knows “Heart of Gold,” Neil’s only real hit. It’s also a nice comedown from the epic “Powderfinger,” for it’s more about the melody than the music.

4. “Walk On” from On the Beach

No one ever talks about this track—or about the whole great album, for that matter. It’s short, breezy and insanely catchy (“Some get stoned, some get strange/But sooner or later, it all gets real”).

5. “Helpless” from Déjà Vu

The only song on the mix to not appear on a solo album, but instead appeared on one by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young—but it might as well just have been solo because Neil is clearly more talented than the other three.

6. “Change Your Mind” from Sleeps with Angels

A dark and depressing song that fits in well after “Helpless,” “Change Your Mind” contains multiple lengthy guitar solos that showcase how Neil can shred with the best of them.

7. “Field of Opportunity” from Comes a Time

It’s occasionally rough when rock stars want to sound “country,” but Neil (along with the song’s use of the fiddle and steel guitar) manages to pull it off.

8. “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” from After the Gold Rush

A very emotional song off of one of the most emotional records of all-time—a great song for a mix tape. The chorus: “Don’t let it bring you down/It’s only castles burning/Just find someone who’s turning/And you will come around.”

9. “Cortez the Killer” from Zuma

Another epic tale, with this one about Hernán Cortés conquering Mexico in the 1500s. More importantly, the song begins with Neil’s guitar leading the charge…for the first three and a half minutes, which is when the first word is sung.

10. “From Hank to Hendrix” from Harvest Moon

Neil can write about the uneasiness of love with the best of them, and this song is a great example of this: “Sometimes it’s distorted/Not clear to you/Sometimes the beauty of love/Just comes ringin’ through.”

11. “Down by the River” from Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

A song lasting over nine minutes with hardly any lyrics can seem like an eternity—or, if you’re Neil Young and Crazy Horse, you’ll make a perfect rock song.

On another note, today is a very important date in history, for it's the 53rd anniversary of Elvis' first television performance and, more importantly, the 75th anniversary of the New York premiere of King Kong. That, of course, means I have to post this picture: