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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 me / All in the way that you smile.
“Tell Me Why,” 1970

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I hope it don't turn away / All 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 past / When you try to make a good thing last.
“Ambulance Blues,” 1974

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Pardon my heart / If 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 descending / There'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 finger / Cover 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 school / Never 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 smoke / We 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 thing / To 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 me / Calling 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 fog / And 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 same / That'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 land / Now 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 crawl / The laughter in your eye is never all.
“Give Me Strength,” 2017

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Featured image 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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