Neil Young

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

Reprise

Dec 17, 2009 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Gnashing guitar punctuated with snappy hand claps and crisp drumming explode out of the speakers to begin "Cinnamon Girl," and it stands as one of the best, most immediate openings to an album ever. The song is ferocious, and sets the tone for Neil Young's first album with Crazy Horse, his on and off backing band for the last 40 years. Once it gets going, "Cinnamon Girl" relaxes a touch, just enough for Young to spryly dance through with the lyrics, "Pa/send me money now/I'm gonna make it somehow/I need another chance/You see your baby loves to dance."

Everybody Knows This is Nowhere also contains two other Young staples that take up half the album's running time: the ecstatic murder riff "Down By The River" and the desert acid trip "Cowgirl in the Sand." The latter seems to be working in opposite directions; sometimes its meandering seems aimless, but Young always appears to have a destination in mind. Rather than having these contradictions spoil the song, they make the ride all the more enjoyable, as Young's plentiful guitar solos never feel like noodling. Experimenting, yes, but with a supreme purpose.

It's difficult to imagine someone writing "Down By The River" today, seeing as how the abrupt declaration at the center of the song still has the power to shock, especially given the couplet immediately preceding it, "She could drag me/over the rainbow/And send me away/Down by the river/I shot my baby." To go from rainbows to murder represents a stunning turn of events, set up even further by the romance and dancing that has occupied the album up to that point. When Young's supple tenor holds the word "Dead" for a good long while, one can almost hear him smiling. 

As effectively sequenced as any LP in history, Young lays the weight of the record on those two songs. The opening bombast of "Cinnamon Girl" sets it all up, "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" sweetens the pot, and everywhere Young redefines the elasticity of a rock 'n' roll record by going from quiet to loud to louder to loudest in the tidy span of 40 minutes. Everybody Knows This is Nowhere gave the world country rock that rocked hard and set the blueprint for Southern rock, despite the fact that Young hails from Canada. The man, only a boy then at 24, blazed a trail followed by as many bands as any of his contemporaries. (www.neilyoung.com)

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Joshua
December 27th 2009
5:21pm

No one appreciates Neil Young’s music more than me, but calling his guitar solos “plentiful” is giving way too much credit. There’s not too much good that can be said about this aspect of his playing, except maybe “passionate”. To my ears he plays like a drunkard.

ben
June 14th 2013
12:55pm

Lol Cinnamon girl is track B1. It is not the album opener.