Neil Young

After the Gold Rush

Song Review by

The title song from Neil Young's 1970 album After the Gold Rush is a version of the apocalypse -- either from the consequences of environmental neglect or nuclear holocaust. Based on the title of a screenplay written by Young's friend, actor Dean Stockwell, all cinematic similarities end there. The surreal imagery in the lyrics is among what would fill Young's songs for the next 30 years: archers (arrows), spaceships, and the omnipresent sun. Singing in his most desperate, melancholic tones and accompanied only by his piano and an unidentified horn or keyboard sound (there's a solo before the final verse), the song has an overwhelming sadness about it. Artists as diverse as Flaming Lips to Dolly Parton have reworked it, but no one has done it to greater effect than Young who also re-recorded it nine years later for Live Rust (1979). Throughout the '90s, he usually delivered it in concert on pump organ; by keeping the song alive, he's managed to turn it into yet another one of his many signature songs.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
After the Gold Rush 1970 Reprise 3:46
No Image 1973 Warner Bros. 0:00
Decade 1977 Reprise / Warner Bros.
In Berlin [Video/DVD] 1986 Rhino
No Image 1992 Bootleg 0:00
No Image 1993 KTS 5:53
Shallow Hal 2001
Original Soundtrack
Island / Uptown / Universal 3:47
Greatest Hits 2004 Reprise / Warner Bros. 3:48
Neil Young Archives, Vol. I (1963-1972) 2009 Reprise / Warner Bros. 3:48
Neil Young Archives, Vol. I (1963-1972) [Video] 2009 Reprise 0:00