Albuquerque

Album: Tonight's the Night (1975)

Songfacts®:

  • "The most noticeable feature of this track is how disciplined Young's vocal sounds," Johnny Rogan writes in The Complete Guide to the Music of Neil Young. "It's as if he's sobered up completely, even though the lyrics would have sounded equally appropriate if he had sung them completely out of tune."

    Rogan's comments are looking at the the song within the context of the rest of Tonight's The Night. Most of the album is filled with rough instrumentation and angry, grief-filled vocals - that's the album's cherished calling card to this day. Compared to those other roughhewn tracks, "Albuquerque" is clean and measured.
  • The song sees Young returning to a theme that has filled his music from very early on: the vapidity of fame. It's something he seems to struggle with even more than most other musicians. Or, at least, it's something he's chosen to sing about more often than most. It may in fact be the most common theme of all his music, besides obvious stuff like heartbreak and love.

    In "Albuquerque," Young is thinking about renting a car and driving from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Santa Fe, just to be alone and "independent from the scene." He never tells us why he's in Albuquerque to begin with, but he does tell us he wants to roll a joint and rent a car and stop to eat some "fried eggs and country ham."

    The "country ham" bit is kind of interesting, because country ham is a food popular in the southeast, not so much in the southwest. It's probably just a simple oversight on Young's part, but it may also reveal another common thread in Young's music: the escape into rural simplicity as a cure for the craziness and fakeness of modern day life.

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