The song that took Neil Young a decade to finish

Neil Young

Songwriting is an ever-changing process for writers. The label usually calls to inquire about the completion of an album. Typically, writers can mull over songs until they reach a level of satisfaction sufficient for releasing them. Neil Young is one of the most prolific songwriters in rock history. He had to keep one song in the vaults for years before properly releasing it.

However, regarding phenomenal tracks, Young doesn’t necessarily care where the mix is. Young has developed a habit of creating songs that have a decidedly disheveled quality. It includes moments that are out of tune but suit the moment on albums like Tonight’s the Night and Zuma.

Young began to work in the 1980s. However, his desire to experiment with different genres led him down unexpected paths. Young went on a strange run of albums after signing with Geffen Records, toying with what made him a celebrity in the first place. It was from the synthesized Trans to the rockabilly sounds of Everybody’s Rockin.

Young would later return to the rootsy rock that made him famous after going through various creative wilderness periods. Young would return to the sounds of country music on albums like Old Ways. He did so by keeping in line with the music he made on Harvest and with Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

Even though the album contains many highlights from this period of his career, one of the more well-known songs from the sessions was not cut. He was more concerned with making a good record. ‘Depression Blues’ remained unreleased for over a decade, first appearing on charity albums for the first Farm Aid relief concerts.

Young was still embroiled in a legal battle with his record label for failing to deliver rock and roll albums. He was about to get a second wind as one of the forefathers of the following cultural movement. With the release of Freedom, Young became the paternal figure to grunge rockers worldwide. He made songs that spoke to the same disenfranchised young man that Pearl Jam did.

Young would eventually record with every member of Pearl Jam except Eddie Vedder. The studio version of ‘Depression Blues’ appeared on the compilation Lucky Thirteen. It featured songs from Young’s time at Geffen. His final album left off ‘Depression Blues.’ But it’s easy to see how it fits in with the rest of the project’s country aesthetic.

Since Young was putting together Farm Aid, it’s clear that rural struggles are on his mind in the song, which paints a picture of a lowly farmer struggling to make ends meet during the 1930s Great Depression. Although this may not have been the kind of Neil Young material that the label was expecting, it’s sometimes better to give the people what they need rather than what they want.

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