Don't Cry No Tears

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Songfacts®:

  • "Don't Cry No Tears" is a song typical of Zuma, the first album after the famed "Ditch Trilogy," which sees Young picking his spirits back up and getting back together with his beloved Crazy Horse backing band. It was also one of the breakup songs.

    In this one, Neil comes off as almost icy as he tells his ex to stop blubbering and move on. Young had recently split with actress Carrie Snodgrass, who was the mother of his son Zeke. Young was being quite honest here - he was loving the new swinging bachelor life and happy after pulling out of his depressed funk.
  • That's Frank Sampedro on rhythm guitar, Billy Talbot on bass, and Ralph Molina on drums. Sampedro was the newest member of Crazy Horse and has stuck with them, but the group is so tight that even after all these years, he's still referred to by the others as "the new guy." Talbot and Molina discovered Sampedro and brought him to Young for an audition. It turned out Sampedro had spent a lot of time listening to Young's album Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and jamming along to it on his own guitar - in fact he'd learned all the parts!
  • Young scored a trifecta of dumping right around the time of "Don't Cry No Tears." First he dumped Crazy Horse again right when they were beginning to get their second wind with the tour for Zuma. Then he semi-reunited with CSN (&Y) only to pick Stephen Stills to collaborate with for Long May You Run and cut Crosby and Nash cold out of the action. Then he famously turned around and bit Stills, too. Neil Young is many things, but he's never been accused of being clingy.

    Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History gives the text of the telegram Young sent to Stills to let him know that the Stills-Young Band was finished: "Dear Stephen, funny how some things that start spontaneously end that way. Eat a peach, Neil."
  • Zuma was Young's follow-up to the now-legendary but inarguably bleak (or perhaps "legendarily bleak") Tonight's The Night, which was released only four months earlier. This is significant because Zuma is quite different from its predecessor, being much more loose and high-energy, and "Don't Cry No Tears" is the perfect song to kick it off.

    "Don't Cry No Tears" is exceedingly simple both musically and lyrically. It's a song about romantic troubles, but it's energetic and sort of fun, the way early rock songs usually had an edge of fun to them even when dealing with heartache or death. This energy contrasts dramatically with the mangled, tortured poetics of Tonight's The Night, and that's no accident.
  • Frank "Poncho" Sampedro replaced Danny Whitten, whose death was part of the inspiration for Tonight's The Night. Sampredro wasn't sure why he was there. He has said himself that he was nowhere near good enough to play with Young at that time, and has even claimed that the simplicity of songs like "Don't Cry No Tears" resulted from Young dumbing things down for him. Despite all that, Sampedro went into the Zuma recordings determined to help Young have fun.
  • The song is a reworking of "I Wonder," which Young had been carrying in his back pocket since his early days with the Squires. "I Wonder" was later reworked into a tune called "Don't Pity Me Babe," a demo of which was captured from recordings Young made in his early bid to be picked up by Elektra.

    The lyrics in this final incarnation of that old song were taken straight out of the stuff happening in Young's life at that time, though. He and actress Carrie Snodgress had broken up not too long before, but they were still in touch and talked occasionally on the phone. Snodgress would get so emotional that she'd start crying, and Young would never be able to take it and would hang up. "Crying is a big thing for Mr. Young," Snodgress said.

    So, despite having origins from long before Young met the actress, this song can be added to "A Man Needs A Maid," "Motion Pictures," "Harvest," "Already One," and possibly "Danger Bird" on the list of Young songs involving Snondgress.

Comments: 1

  • Dane from Green Cove Springs Fla., FlGood song. Check out Allison Moorer's version on her 2004 live album. Very faithful to the original.
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