Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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After the Gold Rush

Neil Young


Messy but direct, the blueprint for despairing acoustic rock to come.

After the Gold Rush is probably the first multiplatinum album to be recorded in someone’s basement, but just as importantly, it sounds like it. Young settled into the style that defined him for the next 50-plus years: intuitive, direct, a little messy, but with a reliable line on what often felt like deeper creative truths. When the hotshot teenage guitarist Nils Lofgren fielded his request to play piano by saying he didn’t know how, Young said great—that’s exactly the kind of pianist he was looking for.

And in a moment when the optimism of the ’60s was dissipating into the realities of the Vietnam War and ecological ruin, Young took the now-familiar step of engaging his surroundings by withdrawing to somewhere quieter and more despairing (“After the Gold Rush”), a tone that eventually gave us everything from Elliott Smith to Bon Iver. James Taylor and Joni Mitchell could keep their sophistication—Young was gonna rhyme “burning” with “turning” and “fly” with “sky” all day long.