Neil Young has been making records for a long time. The sheer length of his career is a feat in itself, but more impressive than just the fact that he’s been making records for roughly 45 years is that he’s managed to stay dedicated, committed, and inspired for that entire time.
Since the mid 60s he’s been releasing albums to varied levels of acclaim, but while critics might not have loved everything he’s ever done, one thing Neil Young can never be accused of is being boring. There is no on — and I’ll repeat that for emphasis — no one who has maintained the level of quality as Young has while still consistently experimenting and reinventing himself, genre-hopping, and basically just being awesome. So because of that, and because the man took home two Junos last Sunday as well as an honorary award for his humanitarian work, this week on Tuesday Tracks we tip out hat to (in our mind) the Greatest Canadian.
His win could be dismissed as a “career award,” one given for a body of work rather than his most recent album, Le Noise. But the thing is, it actually isn’t.
The Daniel Lanois-produced album is an inspired blend of the two things Neil does better than almost anyone: thoughtful folky songwriting and fuzzy, angry guitar work. Traditionally those sounds have been separate, occupying albums all their own, but here, on Le Noise, they meet. Unlike most of his electric albums, there is no band; just Neil and his guitar. But this time his guitar is plugged in—and it’s loud.
Today’s track, “Hitchhiker,” is basically a folk song with layers and layers of droning, distorted guitar overlaid. It’s a five minute biography starting off in Toronto and following Neil as he makes a name for himself in California and dips into drugs, paranoia and reclusiveness along the way.