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AJ's Top 10: Neil Young Songs
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Neil Young
Credit: PR Photos

Neil Young will open his vast archive of music for anyone to listen to online for free next month. The 72-year-old Canadian rocker has announced on Facebook that his archive will open on Dec. 1, the same day his new album "The Visitor" is released. Young promises that the free archive will allow fans to "visit and experience every song I have ever released in the highest quality your machine will allow." A note on the archive site says users will be able to view all of his released albums and ones currently in production. The archive dates to 1963, when Young made his first recording in Canada.




1) Rockin' In The Free World ( Freedom-1989 ): While many artists tend to mellow as they age, who would have ever thought that Neil Young would deliver such an immediate, rocking track 20 years into his career? This guitar-based anthem is an enduring testament to the universal power of the song.


2) Ohio ( Decade 1977 ): A protest song written in response to the 1970 Kent State shootings, Young is accompanied by his Crosby, Stills and Nash bandmates on the song's chorus. Young reportedly wrote the lyrics to the song after reading about the incident in a magazine.


3) Old Man ( Harvest 1972 ): Reportedly inspired by the caretaker of a property in California which Young would eventually own, this nugget embodies the very spirit of Young. With a powerful chorus sung by Young, Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor.


4) Cinnamon Girl ( Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere 1969 ): Few tracks are as immediately identifiable with Young as this track is, and with good reason. The hand claps and simple guitar riff that lead the song are basically the stuff of legend.


5) Heart Of Gold ( Harvest 1972 ): Arguably one of Young's best-known songs. The song is notable for the way it stays in first gear, refusing to budge out of its comfort zone. Somehow, it still makes for one of Young's career highlights.


6) The Needle And The Damage Done ( Harvest 1972 ): A heartfelt ode to Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, whom he was seeing descend into heroin addiction, this two-minute song does more to evoke the sad and stark scenery of a drug addict trying to score than almost any other song.


7) Cowgirl In The Sand ( Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere 1969 ): Unconventional in the sense that it is almost two full minutes before Young begins singing, the song, loosely held together by Crazy Horse, delves into searing guitar solos that rank as one of Young's career highlights


8) Like A Hurricane ( American Stars And Bars 1977 ): Young took the song to his band Crazy Horse with just two lines written on an envelope: "You are like a hurricane, there's calm in yer eye." The band struggled with it for 10 days on Young's ranch before a breakthrough. 


9) After The Gold Rush ( After The Gold Rush 1970 ): This track features Young's vocals accompanied throughout the song by piano, in addition to a horn solo that comes mid-song. The incomplete manner in which Young chooses to end the song makes the listener desperately want to hear more.


10) Down By The River ( Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere 1969 ): Many argue that it was on his sophomore record that Neil Young began truly finding his voice. This rocker nears the 10-minute mark showing that even early in his career, Young wasn't willing to play by anyone's rules aside from his own. 

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