From The Vault: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” (1969)
Without a doubt, Neil Young’s first three albums stand as markers for which all of his music will be judged. Whether that’s a good thing or not is beside the point, because like it or not, it’s a fact, plain and simple, a sublime collection of songs, playing and musicians who all cosmically found themselves in the right place at the right time, where they created life changing enduring music that will never go out of fashion. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is nothing short of amazing, as groundbreaking as The Beatles Revolver and Rubber Soul, and as resounding and influential as Jimi Hendrix on Electric Ladyland.
The album is laced with chilled ambience, where Young draws deeply from the influences of rock folk and country music, soaring to astonishing heights, and mellow as buttered cornbread crumbling in your fingers, yet with a sense of profound looseness and spontaneity. It’s also here that Neil creates his most masterful and dramatic opuses, “Down By The River” and “Cowgirl In The Sand,” though all of the songs on the album are woven with Young’s delicate tenor vocals, vocals that nearly exist in a realm outside of the instrumentation, vocals that soar equally as high as his shimmering guitar work, seeming to be devoid of limitations until they mix with the music so intoxicatingly that they are indistinguishable from each other. And if I may be so bold, for a brief moment in time, put him on equal footing with Bob Dylan.
Most surprising is that the album was not received well when it was released, though like a locomotive coming into focus on a downhill run, it gained bewildering acceptance, to the point were Young refused to play several of the songs live, feeling that he’d no interest in rekindling those fires … though I find it hard not to give this release it’s full due, and more. And to prove the adage that most really good things nearly spark from nothing in the blink of an eye, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere was recorded in a mere two weeks, and while Young was rocked back with a 103 degree temperature from the flu he wrote three of the record’s most inspirational songs. This was an album that came to be because there was a space in the cosmos that needed to be filled, and Neil Young with his band Crazy Horse were there to answer the call.
*** The Fun Facts: Neil has been very tight lipped about who his Cinnamon Girl was, with most people of the day considering the term Cinnamon Girl to be synonymous with a groupie. The lyrics have the singer daydreaming for a girl to love, singing that he waits “between shows” for his lover. Young has claimed that he wrote the song “for a city girl on a peeling pavement coming at me through Phil Ochs’ eyes playing finger cymbals. It was hard to explain to my wife.” The city girl playing finger cymbals is a reference to folk singer Jean Ray.
The dog on the front cover is named Winni [Winnipeg], after Neil’s hometown, with the album shoot taking place in Topanga Canyon.
– Jenell Kesler
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