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The Most Poignant Lyrics From Neil Young

Neil Young’s career as a singer-songwriter has spanned more than half a century, with 42 studio albums, 12 live albums, four soundtracks, and more than 60 singles. His distinctive tenor singing voice is one of the most recognizable in the music industry, and his profound and often deeply personal lyrics have earned him a huge and loyal following across various genres, including country, folk, rock, and grunge.

The themes in Young’s songs vary greatly — encompassing love, friendship, alienation,  politics, and memories of youth — but they always have one thing in common: a whole lot of heart. He has written thoughtful love songs such as “Harvest Moon,” as well as angry protest songs such as “Rockin’ in the Free World.” His latest album, World Record, was released in 2022, featuring his longtime collaborators Crazy Horse. And the legend, now 77, shows little signs of slowing down. As he once told an interviewer, “You know, the future's a huge, gigantic place. I have no idea what's going on out there. I'm just going to walk into it and see what happens.”

Here are some of the most poignant lyrics from songs throughout the artist’s extensive discography, from the 1970s to the modern day.

I am lonely but you can free meAll in the way that you smile
“Tell Me Why,” 1970

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I hope it don't turn awayAll my pictures are falling
From the wall where I placed them yesterday
The world is turning
I hope it don't turn away
“On the Beach,” 1974

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It's easy to get buried in the pastWhen you try to make a good thing last
“Ambulance Blues,” 1974

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Pardon my heartIf I showed that I cared
But I love you more than moments
We have or have not shared
“Pardon My Heart,” 1975

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Where the eagle glides descendingThere's an ancient river bending
Through the timeless gorge of changes
Where sleeplessness awaits
“Thrasher,” 1979

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Shelter me from the powder and the fingerCover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
Just think of me as one you never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
“Powderfinger,” 1979

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There’s one more kid that’ll never go to schoolNever get to fall in love, never get to be cool
“Rockin’ in the Free World,” 1989

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Now I was in hurry but that don’t matter now'Cause I had to gеt off of that road of tears somehow
“Mansion on the Hill,” 1990

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Somewhere in a fire of love, our dreams went up in smokeWe danced beneath silver rain
Upon the field of green, where time was just a joke
“Over and Over,” 1990

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Seemed like such a simple thingTo follow one's own dream
But possessions and concession
Are not often what they seem
They drag you down and load you down
In disguise of security
“Days That Used to Be,” 1990

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Someone is talking to meCalling my name
Tell me I'm not to blame
I won't be ashamed of love
“Philadelphia,” 1993

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Burn off all the fogAnd let the sun through to the snow
Let me see your face again
Before I have to go
“Barstool Blues,” 1997

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Someone saying that I'm not the sameThat's not so easy to be
But when I'll learn to be free
I wonder if I'll miss the pain
“Everybody’s Alone,” 2009

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I used to walk like a giant on the landNow I feel like a leaf floating in a stream
“Walk Like a Giant,” 2012

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The happier you fly, the sadder you crawlThe laughter in your eye is never all
“Give Me Strength,” 2017

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Photo credit: Paul Natkin/ Archive Photos via Getty Images

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About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
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