Readers Poll: The Best Neil Young Songs – Rolling Stone
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Readers Poll: The Best Neil Young Songs

Selections include ‘Cortez The Killer,’ ‘Powderfinger’ and ‘Harvest Moon’

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Last year Neil Young released the stellar Daniel Lanois-produced "Le Noise" and toured it around America. This year he seems to be more focused on looking back. He's on tour right now with Buffalo Springfield, and on the verge of releasing a live album recorded on his country tours of the mid-Eighties – hence our decision to poll our readers and see what their favorite Neil Young songs are.

Unsurprisingly, you're quite keen on his Seventies catalog. We can't blame you: Between 1969's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and 1978's Rust Never Sleeps Young reached a level of genius that few songwriters have ever topped. Click through to watch videos of your top 10 tracks. 

By Andy Greene

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3. ‘Heart Of Gold’

"Heart of Gold" transformed Neil Young from a beloved rock figure into an international superstar. In 1972 the song was inescapable, peaking at Number One on the Billboard Hot 100. During that time, Bob Dylan was living with his family in seclusion in Arizona.  "I used to hate it when it came on the radio," Dylan said in 1985. "I always liked Neil Young, but it bothered me every time I listened to 'Heart of Gold.' I think it was up at Number One for a long time, and I'd say, 'Shit, that's me. If it sounds like me, it should as well be me.'"

Young didn't like his transformation into a mainstream pop act either, and over the next few years did everything he could to make sure it wouldn't happen again. "This song put me in the middle of the road," Young famously wrote in the liner notes of his 1977 LP Decade. "Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there."

RELATED:
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Play video

2. ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’

When Neil Young first played "The Needle And The Damage Done" in January of 1971, Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten was nearly two years away from dying of a heroin overdose – but Young could already see where Whitten's horrible addiction was heading. Whitten wasn't the only one in Young's circle of friends who had succumbed to a heroin addiction in the early 1970s, and this song addresses all of them. When Young's roadie Bruce Berry died of a heroin overdose just seven months after Whitten, Young went into a depression and wrote Tonight's The Night about the tragedies. 

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1. ‘Old Man’

In 1970 Neil Young bought a giant plot of land in Northern California. He dubbed the place Broken Arrow Ranch and he's lived there to this day. When he moved in, the land was overseen by a man named Louis Avila. "Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep," Young said in 2005. "He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there's this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, 'Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?' And I said, 'Well, just lucky, Louie, just real lucky.' And he said, 'Well, that's the darndest thing I ever heard.'" Young wrote the song about him. Sidenote: Young is older now than Avila was when they first met. 

RELATED:
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Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Enchant London Audiences in 1970: An Exclusive Excerpt from David Browne's Book
Review: Neil Young and the International Harvesters' A Treasure

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