Neil Young has always been considered a maverick. When he takes the stage this week at Carnegie Hall, the audience will genuinely have no idea which Neil Young they will hear.
With a career spanning almost 50 years, Young is infamous for set lists that deviate from the norm. Bottom line? Neil Young will play whatever it is Neil Young wants to play.
To help prepare, we run through some of his most notable albums, songs and musical moments, some of which you might have missed along the way.
'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere' (1969)
Following the demise of Buffalo Springfield, Neil Young began his collaboration with Crazy Horse, a partnership that continues today. “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere” is significant for the release of "Cinnamon Girl," "Cowgirl in the Sand" and "Down by the River," the latter two of which still makes appearances on set lists from time to time.
'Southern Man' (1970)
This stand-out track off his breakthrough solo album “After the Gold Rush,” created controversy when its biting critique of Southern racism prompted a feud with Lynyrd Skynyrd. Skynyrd’s response can be heard in the famous single, “Sweet Home Alabama,” where he “hopes Neil Young will remember/Southern Man don’t need him around.”
Hoping to capitalize on his folk rock popularity, Geffen Records signed the outspoken artist hoping for the next “Harvest” (Young's acclaimed 1972 album). Instead they got an electronic album devoid of acoustic guitars, replaced instead by heavy synthesizers. While not commercially successful, “Trans” sums up Young’s insistence on musical exploration over commercial appeal.
Rockin In the Free World (1989)
Following a period of intense experimentation in the '80s, Young returned to the mainstream with this politically-jarring rocker – a pre-cursor to the heavy grunge movement that would later take over radio. Cited as a huge influence by Seattle’s biggest bands, including Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Sonic Youth, Young went on to record an album with the aforementioned Pearl Jam as his backing band in 1995.
Psychedelic Pill (2013)
This grungy guitar trip reunited Young with Crazy Horse for the first time since 1996. It also yielded him a Grammy nod for Best Rock Album. The fact that it’s Young’s 34th studio album is something to marvel at, in and of itself.
If you go: Neil Young is at Carnegie Hall Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., 57th Street and Seventh Avenue, limited seats available, call 212-247-7800 for information.