Tell Me Why

Album: After The Gold Rush (1970)
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Songfacts®:

  • In 1998, Neil Young told Scott Cohen that he stopped playing "Tell me Why" live because it doesn't make any sense to him. "It sounds like gibberish to me. I stopped singing this song because when I get to that line, I go, 'What the f--k am I talking about?' You know I don't edit my songs."

    The specific line Young was referring to was:

    Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself?
    When you're old enough to replay but young enough to sell


    This is, of course, a disappointment to all those fans who assumed Young was burying some profound wisdom in those lines. Turns out, unfortunately, that it's just "convoluted hippie doublespeak," as Jimmy McDonough words it in Shakey.
  • Of course, none of this changes the fact that "Tell Me Why" is a beautiful song that many Young diehards admire. It's got a distinctly country "feel" about it, even if the music itself exists in that unique Young realm between country, folk, and rock. In Shakey, McDonough observes that the song displays Young's unique way of using acoustic guitar. He quotes Ken Viola saying, "Neil has a unique way of playing acoustic guitar which is solely his. It's a perfect combination of melody and rhythm. It's not just chording—the melodies are married to the words in a strum relationship that's not just simply played—it's very calculated, designed."

    All particularities and peculiarities aside, this song will likely forever hold a certain amount of longevity for no other reason than it's the first track on After The Gold Rush, one of Young-fans most cherished albums, and one of the longest-enduring to come out of the '70s.

Comments: 1

  • Mhilet Manuel from PhilippinesNeil Young one of the greatest singer and composer.
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