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After the Gold Rush (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"After the Gold Rush"
Song by Neil Young and Crazy Horse
from the album After the Gold Rush
ReleasedAugust 31, 1970
RecordedMarch 12, 1970
GenreFolk rock
Songwriter(s)Neil Young
Producer(s)Neil Young
David Briggs

"After the Gold Rush" is a song written and performed by Neil Young and is the title song from his 1970 album of the same name. In addition to After the Gold Rush, it also appears on the compilation albums Decade, and Greatest Hits, and on Live Rust.

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Young has said that he doesn't recall what the song is about. Dolly Parton (who was in the process of recording a cover of the song along with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt) has said, "When we were doing the Trio album, I asked Linda and Emmy what (the song) meant, and they didn't know. So we called Neil Young, and he didn't know. We asked him, flat out, what it meant, and he said, 'Hell, I don't know. I just wrote it. It just depends on what I was taking at the time. I guess every verse has something different I'd taken.'"[1] However, in his 2012 biography Young reportedly gave a different explanation of the song's origin and meaning, describing the inspiration provided by a screenplay of the same name (never produced), which apocalyptically described the last days of California in a catastrophic flood. The screenplay and song's title referred to what happened in California, a place that took shape due to the Gold Rush. Young eventually concluded that “After The Gold Rush is an environmental song... I recognize in it now this thread that goes through a lotta my songs that’s this time-travel thing... When I look out the window, the first thing that comes to my mind is the way this place looked a hundred years ago.” [2]

"After the Gold Rush" consists of three verses which move forward in time from the past (a medieval celebration), to the present (the singer lying in a burned out basement), and, finally, to the end of humanity's time on Earth (the ascension process in which the "chosen ones" are evacuated from Earth in silver spaceships). On the original recording, in addition to Young's vocals, two instruments are utilized: a piano and a french horn. In the decades since the song was first released, the french horn solo in the song has typically been replaced by a harmonica solo by Young in live performances. The line "Look at Mother Nature on the run / In the 1970s" has been amended by Young in concert over the decades and is currently sung as "Look at Mother Nature on the run / in the 21st century."

Cover versions

The song has been covered numerous times:

  • Perhaps best known is the 1974 interpretation by the group Prelude, whose a capella version was a top 40 hit all over the globe, especially the United Kingdom where it re-charted in the Top 40 in 1982.[3] The song also peaked in Australia at number 51 in 1974, and the re-recording at 98 in 1982.[4] In the US, it went to number 22 on the Hot 100.[5]
  • The country music trio of Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt covered the song on the 1999 album Trio with two changes to the lyrics: The line "Look at Mother Nature on the run / In the 1970s" became "Look at Mother Nature on the run / in the 20th century", and the line "There was a band playin' in my head / And I felt like getting high" was changed to "There was a band playin' in my head / And I felt like I could cry."[7] Parton performed the song during the 2019 Grammys with Maren Morris and Miley Cyrus.[8] The Trio version of the song was also released as a single, and while it received modest radio airplay, a video accompanying the song was very popular on a number of cable video outlets, including CMT.
  • Billy Corgan performed the song on the October 16, 2017 episode of The Howard Stern Show.[9]


  1. ^ "Trio II - The Songs". Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  2. ^ Hasted, Nick. "The Story Behind The Song: Neil Young - After The Gold Rush". Louder Sound. Retrieved May 26, 2020.
  3. ^ "After the Gold Rush". Official Charts. Retrieved 2020-03-13.
  4. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 238. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2013). Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, 14th Edition: 1955-2012. Record Research. p. 670.
  6. ^ "Premiere: Patti Smith on New 'After the Gold Rush' Cover". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 27 September 2019.
  7. ^ "After The Gold Rush Lyrics - Trio". Absolute Lyrics.
  8. ^ Moreau, Jordan (11 February 2019). "Dolly Parton Honored by Katy Perry, Kacey Musgraves at Grammys". Variety.
  9. ^ "William Patrick Corgan Reflects on Working with David Bowie, Covers Neil Young, and Sings the Smashing Pumpkins Hit '1979' Live".
This page was last edited on 9 November 2020, at 15:12
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