On May 14, 1969, Neil Young's album "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" was released.
This is the Neil Young's (that will later be named "Godfather of Grunge"), second album, and his first with the backing band "Crazy Horse".
The seven tracks that unfold over 40 minutes, bring us different, innovative Neil Young and his first and certainly not his last masterpiece.
There is a reason why this album appears on "Rolling Stone" Magazine's 500 greatest albums of all time and on the list of "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die".
The opening riff of "Cinnamon Girl", proves that Neil Young has made a fundamental change from the style and sound that existed on his first album, to the point that it is hard to believe that only four months differentiate between them. The Canadian singer-songwriter has replaced the acoustic and melodic folk with loud alternative guitars and particularly dirty distortion, and has adopted a new sound that will later also become his hallmark.
We mentioned the "Godfather of Grunge" and meant it, because this is perhaps the first grunge album, which came out 20 years before the grunge era even began. From the first listen, it is clear why the grunge idols of the 90s, led by Kurt Cobain, worshiped Young, since there is undoubtedly a connecting thread that runs from this album through "Rust Never Sleeps", which will be released a decade later, to the revolution in Seattle of the early 90s. Even Young's flannel shirt on the cover of the album screams Grunge.
But the album does not only include squeaky guitar sounds. The lead guitar and background vocals in the theme song "Everybody Knows this is Nowhere" are in a "country" vibe, although the music is far from pure "country" style.
"Round & Round (It Won't Be Long)" which is mostly "folk", is also perhaps the weakest track of the album. The soft acoustic, the chord transitions, and harmonic singing are nice, but do not hold up for almost 6 minutes of the song. It's still a good song that is a passage to one of the good parts of the album.
The epic anthem "Down by the River" finishes the first side of the vinyl. This song lasts for no less than 9 minutes. The song is built on a slow rhythm, which is mainly based on a transition between only 2 chords and with sloppy and creepy solos. But make no mistake! It is precisely Young's singing that makes this song.
The second side opens up with "The Losing End (When You're On)," and Young's whimpering voice with the melancholy words wrapped, somewhat paradoxically, in relatively cheerful music.
"Running Dry (Requiem for the Rockets)", accompanied by a particularly high-pitched violin sound, is a "redemption" song in a melancholy atmosphere.
The song that seals the album, "Cowgirl in the Sand", is without a doubt one of the strongest songs on it. A 10-minute masterpiece, led by Young's amazing guitar work. The verses are replaced by long solos that develop with increasing drama and constitute a fascinating demonstration of guitar control.
(Photo: Neil Young Autobiography)
"Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" is Young's first significant work.
About a month after its release Young will join "Crosby, Stills, and Nash" and they will start working on their first album - "Déjà Vu" as a quartet. Two months later they will already be performing as "Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young" at the Woodstock Festival.
Young will continue to produce special, different, and unconventional music for the next fifty years, with "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" being a "sign of things to come" and a hint that Young is going to do things big, and in his own way ...