That’s the moment that he cracked…

What do you play when it has all really been too much? Something uplifting and happy, a validation of life or something else.

For me it’s Neil Young’s Zuma. Yes the ditch trilogy will bring you down and let you wallow until catharsis brings you out on the other side ready to face whatever comes next. What came next for Neil Young was Zuma, and it get’s you there without any of the preamble and soul searching. A solid slab of Youngian doom and gloom and bright California sunshine.

Don’t Cry No Tears is almost a mission statement as young drags you down with Dangerbird, the guitar solo almost falling over. Pardon My Heart with the lyric “no, no, no don’t believe this song” leaves no excuses, you then go Lookin’ For A Love until side one finishes with Barstool Blues.


Misogyny rears it’s ugly head with Stupid Girl, Drive Back rock’s along in a paranoid and vindictive way until you get to Cortez the Killer famously banned in Spain for a time and then we all relax with Through My Sails.

It’s the perfect arc of an album.


Two epic guitar work out’s, several great songs reflecting on love, life and fame and a minimalist album cover that for me ranks with the best. This has always been a favorite with me ever since I bought it in W.H. Smith in Huyton and then had to reconcile these vindictive lyrics with Harvest which I bought on the same day. It was the first time I had to work to figure out what the heck was going on with an artist I liked. Up to this point the only Neil Young I had heard was After the Goldrush, I had no frame of reference for the biting solos and twisted lyrics. I was however drawn to the solo and urgent drums on Drive Back, Cortez the Killer made me actually think, mainly to try and figure out what the heck was going on.

So this evening as I began to think that I really was at the end of my wits and that vacation starting tomorrow couldn’t get here quick enough I reached for that black and white cover. This was by the way the very first new album I bought after getting a turntable, I think it was $15 from Amazon and was the very first shrink wrapped piece of wonder for over twenty years.

Thirtysometing minutes later those strange songs had soothed my mind and all was well enough to go on.

My 15 year old son is sure this feeling was actually all caused by listening to too much Progressive Rock, but I know he is wrong.


5 thoughts on “That’s the moment that he cracked…

  1. A buddy of mine, a self-described Neilhead, counts this as his favorite Neil Young album. I’m a Decade fan but can’t wait to find a decent copy of Zuma to test his sensibility. Thanks for the spur.

  2. I came to Zuma via a similar path, Harvest and After the Gold Rush first. Hearing Cortez the Killer for the first time was a mind blower; still is. More recently, I personally have found Psychedelic Pill to be worthy of a high position in the Zuma universe. Am I nuts?

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