The Songs Neil Young Wrote About American Culture
Neil Young in an interview, 2005 - Team Coco / Youtube
Neil Young may be born Canadian, but his consciousness often relies more upon the American Landscape. His keen observation of the land’s politics, culture, and history made him aware of what’s happening in his surroundings; thus, prompting him to write some of the best songs that tackle anything there is to know about the US. With that in mind, let’s revisit these songs penned by Young about the American culture and bask in the glory of his open-mindedness.
“Florida” – Homegrown (2020)
Never the type of person who settles for what’s normal, Neil Young sometimes goes outside the box in the name of creativity. With that, “Florida” is one of Young’s weirdest compositions ever, composed mainly of spoken-word pieces and someone rubbing a damp finger on a wine glass.
“Philidelphia” – Philadelphia (1993)
Young was asked to create a song to be included inside the Tom Hanks movie, Philadelphia, starring Hanks as a lawyer with AIDS. Film writer John Demme wanted Young to write a song from its soundtrack because he wanted a rock anthem about injustices that only the singer could deliver.
“Alabama” – Harvest (1972)
The song was said to be a follow-up to the singer’s 1970 song “Southern Man.” “Alabama” is Young’s plea against severe racism and although his message is strong, it remained unrecognizable until Lynyrd Skynyrd picked it and made their global hit “Sweet Home Alabama,” acknowledging Young in it.
“Kansas” – Homegrown (2020)
Composed around somewhere between 1974-1975, around the same time that “Florida” was composed; it was written in the wake of the singer’s breakup with his then-girlfriend Carrie Snodgress, which is why during this time he was touring like crazy. “Kansas” is about finding companionship on one-night stands.
“Albuquerque” – Tonight’s the Night (1975)
Thinking about renting a car and driving from Albuquerque to Santa Fe to feel independent, away from the shallowness of fame. Oftentimes, we can hear Young’s songs with this type of topic, as this is one of the more common issues that he talks about; the others are about heartbreak and love.
“Last Trip To Tulsa” – Neil Young Archives Volume II: 1972–1976 (2020)
Competing to be one of the musician’s weirdest songs ever created, “Last Trip to Tulsa” is only meant to be heard, not interpreted. “It’s not important to me,” Young said so after being asked the details of the song.
“L. A.” – Time Fades Away (1973)
Young always makes sure that we have time to be aware of our environment, and with “L.A.,” he preaches raucously about an apocalypse that’s coming after the destruction of the city. He expects nothing, even asking when “Will I finally be heard by you” repeatedly.