Neil Percival Young turns 77 years young today, and he’s still rocking in the free world. The Canadian-American musician has recorded more than 1100 songs in his career as part of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and as a solo artist. To celebrate the icon’s birthday, check out seven of our favorites, in no particular order.
(Also, a reminder: You can’t listen to most of Neil Young on Spotify, so you’ll have to stick to iTunes, or, as we prefer, vinyl records.)
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This is one of Young’s most interesting and mysterious songs, with long instrumental sections (including jagged, angry guitar riffs) and the enigmatic lyric, “Down by the river, I shot my baby.” Who or what is the baby? A cheating lover? An addictive drug? It’s open for interpretation, and Young himself has offered different explanations over the years.
“Let’s Roll” isn’t Young’s greatest song, but it’s one of his most important and timely (not unlike “Ohio”). He wrote it shortly after 9-11 as a tribute to Flight 93 hero Todd Beamer. The opening is chills-inducing and the rest of the song is amazing.
Exquisite, haunting song about the permanence of rock and roll, and the impermanence of our beloved rock and rollers. It’s terrifying how many performers have taken so literally the lyric, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” (Editor’s note: The Noel Gallagher-sung Oasis cover is solid, too.)