AFTER THE GOLD RUSH – Neil Young – Reprise – 1970
After the March 1970 release of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s Deja Vu album, each member of the group embarked on their own solo work. Neil Young’s output was After The Gold Rush, an introspective, sometimes controversial, but ultimately hopeful collection of songs. The album presents its themes of heartbreak, loss, environmentalism, racism, and ambivalence without affectation; Young is simply offering points to consider, and it is up to us how we choose absorb and interpret them.
Initially met with mixed reviews by critics, After The Gold Rush grew to become one of Neil Young’s most beloved albums, laying a foundation that numerous artists in the subsequent decades have built upon. In this episode, we discuss the political themes of this album that are still relevant today, dissect Neil Young’s versatility as a songwriter, connect the Laurel Canyon sound to today’s Americana artists, and, bewilderingly, manage to reference DJ Khaled once again.
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Episode notes and postscript corrections
- We’ve officially been a podcast for a full calendar year! Here’s a video from the early MTV days that reflects our mood.
- Hey, sorry not sorry for spamming you with this. We had a ton of fun on Chris Frantz’s Talking Head radio show at WPKN. You will have fun listening (if you have not already). Listen to it in the archive here.
- We’re doing #MWE! AKA, a Twitter thing where, every day for the month of February, music writers, fans, etc. pick an album they’ve never heard before, listen to it, and tweet a review. Follow us on Twitter to see our diverse picks so far.
- We turn up for dad rock, if you haven’t noticed already.
- We’re going to be dropping references to SO. MANY. SONGS. in this episode, including a bunch of great covers of “After The Gold Rush.” They’re all collected in our master playlist on Spotify for your listening pleasure.
- We discussed the Great Graham Nash and Joni Mitchell Breakup of 1970 at length in our Songs For Beginners episode. If you need to catch yourself up, re-listen to it here.
- Someone please remind Nikki Haley that music has always been political, FFS. (Like, girl. You’re the former governor of South Carolina. You’ve definitely heard “Southern Man” in your lifetime, for starters.)
- This 👏 song 👏 is 👏 complicated! 👏
- Unlike Patti Smith and “Rock and Roll N****r,” Neil Young actually admitted it’s problematic, which we appreciate.
- See our further reading notes below for a must-read story about how Merry Clayton — who did a fire cover of this song — ended up grudgingly doing backing vocals on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” It is essential.
- There are a lot of different viewpoints to be had when it comes to this song. We’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Get at us on email or slide into our DMs on Facebook or on Twitter if you’ve got opinions you’d like to share.
- At the end of the day, culture is cyclical, as we’ve said many times before, but not always in a good way. It’s embarrassing that this song is still relevant nearly 50 years later.
- If you’re new here: we stan sequencing. Get used to it.
- See our further reading links below for more about Jack Nitzsche’s storied musical history.
- See our further reading links below to read Rolling Stone’s early review of After The Gold Rush that will make you scratch your head and say “…wut?”
- Carly has a special classification of songs that are “breakfasts of songs.” Ask her about it.
- A huge slew of musicians past and present have been influenced by Neil Young. Check out our playlist for a bunch of references (including ones that will definitely make you think “Wait, is Ryan Adams… cosplaying… as Neil Young?”)
- Neil is still going strong. He just starred in a weirdo Western movie directed by his girlfriend Daryl Hannah and recently put his enormous archive online. So, um, yeah.
- First time here? Miss an episode? Just feel like listening to something again? Visit our episode archive to dig through all the albums we’ve covered so far.
Favorite track: Don’t Let It Bring You Down (Carly) | Southern Man (Carrie)
Least favorite track(s): After The Gold Rush (Carly) | Birds (Carrie)
- Neil Young — guitar, piano, harmonica, vibes, lead vocals
- Danny Whitten — guitar, vocals
- Nils Lofgren — guitar, piano, vocals
- Jack Nitzsche — piano
- Billy Talbont — bass
- Greg Reeves — bass
- Ralph Molina — drums, vocals
- Stephen Stills — vocals
- Bill Petrson — flugelhorn
Neil Young: Don’t Be Denied (Fantastic BBC/PBS American Masters documentary) | 2009
Neil Young: Heart of Gold | 2006
VH1 Legends: Neil Young | 2000
“After The Gold Rush” live at Farm Aid | 1998
Neil Young goes record shopping and finds bootleg Neil Young albums | 1972 (?)
“Southern Man” live with CSNY at the Fillmore East | 1970
Neil Young: Heart of Gold | 2015
Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life and Cars (Neil Young’s latest memoir) | 2014
Waging Heavy Peace (Neil’s first memoir) | 2012
The Story Behind The Song: “After The Gold Rush” | Team Rock (November 2016)
Watching Neil Young Movies With the AARP | Pitchfork (March 2016)
Retrospective Reviews: Neil Young After The Gold Rush | Noisey (October 2014)
Merry Clayton on 20 Feet From Stardon, Ray Charles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and “Gimme Shelter” | AV Club (August 2013)
After The Gold Rush: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time | Rolling Stone (May 2012)
After The Gold Rush rerelease review | Pitchfork (December 2009)
In Memoriam: Jack Nitzsche | The Guardian (August 2000)
After The Gold Rush review | Rolling Stone (October 1970)