The 5 Songs That Makes Neil Young A Genius
Neil Young live in 2009 - DrSalvadoctopus / Youtube
The term ‘genius’ is often tossed around, sometimes losing its true weight. Yet, when it comes to Neil Young, the title comfortably rests on his shoulders, earned through a remarkable contribution to his craft and an unmatched emotional depth in his music. Neil Young is not just a guitarist; he’s a genius, and here’s why…
Neil Young’s brilliance doesn’t lie in complex techniques or flashy solos; it’s embedded in the conviction and emotion he brings to his music. His playing is a visceral experience, a gut instinct that mirrors the very essence of his existence—music flows through him like breath, like life itself.
Neil Young’s genius isn’t confined to intricate techniques but is deeply rooted in the soul-stirring impact of his music. As we explore these five songs, we witness the essence of a guitarist who plays not just with his fingers but with his heart and soul, leaving an indelible mark on the world of music.
Let’s delve into the five songs that unequivocally establish Neil Young as a genius guitarist:
1. ‘For What It’s Worth’
Originally composed by Stephen Stills, this song became a classic when Neil Young added his touch, infusing it with harmonics and solos. Young’s contribution elevated the track, striking a perfect balance between emphasizing the lyrics and adding enough instrumental complexity to make it instantly recognizable. The high-pitched pluck and whammy bar accents make ‘For What It’s Worth’ a timeless classic.
2. ‘Cinnamon Girl’
Neil Young’s musical journey took a significant turn when he picked up a ’53 Gibson Les Paul, a guitar that would become synonymous with his distinctive style. ‘Cinnamon Girl’ marked a turning point, showcasing Young’s mastery of the instrument. The heavy yet melodic riff and the innovative one-note solo, played with a whammy bar, define the brilliance of Neil Young’s guitar work.
3. ‘Southern Man’
Using his Les Paul through a ’50s Fender Deluxe Tweed, Neil Young created one of his best solos in ‘Southern Man.’ The gritty and passionate solo resonates with emotion, showcasing Young’s ability to convey deep feelings through his guitar. This track’s impact is evident in the response it garnered from Lynyrd Skynyrd, who dedicated ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ to it.
4. ‘Cortez the Killer’
Neil Young’s control over distortion, evident in the Zuma hit ‘Cortez the Killer,’ inspired generations of musicians. The solo in this track is a perfect blend of melody and noise, accompanied by the droning sound of his double drop D tuning. Young’s mastery of distortion, a temperamental effect, sets him apart and influences artists like Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, and J Mascis.
5. ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’
A powerful anthem born from protest, ‘Rockin’ In The Free World’ showcases Neil Young’s genius in conveying raw emotion through his guitar. The intentional screeching distortion adds depth to the rage-fueled number, demonstrating Young’s ability to use sound as a medium for powerful expression. This track reflects Young’s refusal to conform with age, choosing thought-provoking and passionate compositions over a predictable musical path.