Artist: Neil Young
Songs: The Emperor Of Wyoming/The Loner/If I Could Have Her Tonight/I've Been Waiting For You/The Old Laughing Lady/String Quartet From Whiskey Boot Hill*/Here We Are In The Years/Whay Did You Do To My Life?/I've Loved Her So Long/The Last Trip To Tulsa
Written by: Neil Young, except *by Jack Nitsche
Produced by: Neil Young & David Briggs ("The Old Laughing Lady", "String Quartet From Whiskey Boot Hill" and "I've Loved Her So Long" produced by Jack Nitsche, Ryland Cooder & Neil Young)
Thoughts: Neil Young's debut album was clearly made by a man who had no idea what the hell he wanted to do. For that, the album is all the better. Six of the album's ten tracks run less than three minutes, meaning that Young knew that these songs did not have to go on forever. He knew he had short statements and there was no reason to extend these with useless instrumental guitar riffs and jamming. These tracks are just beautiful, short statements. Neil Young has three epics, "The Loner", "The Old Laughing Lady" and "The Last Trip To Tulsa". "The Loner" is one of my favorite tracks and just screams onto the stereo after the beautiful "The Emperor Of Wyoming". Neil's fuzz box effect on his guitar, which he uses often throughout this LP, gives it a unique sound along with the oddly placed string phrase that comes in after every chorus. "The Old Laughing Lady" is downright strange. The lyrics are rather cryptic but at the same time simple. It's just about an old laughing lady that sees everything...and laughs. All these things happen and she just sits and laughs. Production-wise, it sticks out. The backing vocalists swallow up Neil's lead and control the majority of the song. At other points of the album the vocalists are you to accent Neil, like in "I've Loved Her So Long", but here they take a different role. Finally, there's the album's closing, nine minute and twenty-two second acoustic epic, "The Last Trip To Tulsa". When I first heard it, I dismissed it as a Bob Dylan take off, but it really isn't. Neil's lyrics are filled with oddball surealistic humor with a slight touch of uncomfortable musings. Here is the second verse:
Well, I used to be a woman, you know
I took you for a ride
I let you fly my airplane
It looked good for your pride.
'Cause youre the kind of man you know
Who likes what he says.
I wonder what it's like
To be so far over my head.
Well, the lady made the wedding
And she brought along the ring.
She got down on her knees
And said: "Lets get on with this thing."
Now isn't that freaky or what? The thing to note here is that Neil seems to shift easily from a first-person to a third-person view, which, if you're listening, it's hard to see. The rest of these long verses aren't as tough to get as this one, but that's when you take the verses seperately. They are each stories that Neil tries to wind together, but he doesn't really seem to. Getting back to the album as a whole, it's certainly unique! None of these songs made his Greatest Hits, so if you think you know how Neil Young got his solo career started, you have no idea until you buy Neil Young.