Neil Young – On the Beach: #879 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Why is Neil Young’s On the Beach on my best 1,000 albums ever list?

Contemplative and quiet at times, bluesy and rocked up at others, and through and through a great Neil Young album.

Some stats & info about Neil Young – On the Beach  

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock, Rock Music, Country Rock, Singer Songwriter
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #311
  • All Music’s rating5 out of 5 stars
  • When was On the Beach released? 1974
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #879 out of 1,000

Neil Young’s On the Beach on YouTube

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective take on what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.

What does Neil Young’s On the Beach mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?

It’s really fun to appreciate different eras from Neil Young’s spectacular career. On the Beach seems to be an album that’s about dealing with and getting through some kind of depression, and perhaps it’s even an allegory for mourning the death of the idealized optimism of the 1960s. It’s contemplative at times, bluesy, and occasionally kicks the rock n’ roll up a few notches.

There’s a really cool keyboard effect on “See the Sky About to Rain” that, mixed with Neil Young’s simple yet wonderful vocal performance and stripped-down production, creates an emotional and powerful effect.

“Revolution Blues” reminds me of some of the best songs from Jesus Christ Superstar in a great way: this is rock n’ roll with a little funk edge, hippies disillusioned music, bummed out rock that overall equates to 1970s rock at its best.

And then “For the Turnstiles” has a very different vibe, old school Delta blues-infused rock with fantastic vocal harmonies.

It wound up being… interesting timing in writing this Neil Young entry, it being February 2022, especially in keeping in mind that I began doing research for this best 1,000 albums ever project way back in the fall of 2020.

Neil Young has been in the news in just the past week because he pulled his large music catalog out of Spotify in reaction to comedian, UFC analyst, and controversial podcaster Joe Rogan’s spreading of pandemic misinformation on his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.

It’s a truly a weird intersection of music, pop culture, politics, the pandemic, and the media. I have a great many thoughts and feelings about this situation, and some of them frankly are a bit mixed. While this website, Pop Thruster, and this massive project to catalog my best 1,000 albums ever is a shelter (for me, at least) from the ugly and depressing times we’re currently enduring these days, I feel the need to say this: I completely support Neil Young’s stand, and I find it distressing that many popular media outlets – not just Rogan’s of course, but the vast apparatus of conservative media across radio, blogs, Facebook accounts, FOX News, and many other sources – are actively broadcasting misleading, false, and dangerous information at a time when reverence for science, verified factual information, and trust in non-partisan public institutions is absolutely paramount.

What are my feelings mixed up about, you might ask? Well, mostly about my continued use and reliance on Spotify as a primary means to listen to music and podcasts, for one. And secondly and hugely importantly to me is my usage of Spotify in this best 1,000 albums ever project. Every entry to date has had a “here’s the album on Spotify” section, for instance. You’ll note above that it’s YouTube in this case for On the Beach.

I’m slightly encouraged by the fact that Spotify has taken action to introduce “content advisories” to podcasts discussing covid, and I do recognize that this is a sticky situation that can’t be magic wanded away. For instance, since Spotify signed a $100 million deal with Rogan in 2020 to obtain exclusive rights to The Joe Rogan Experience, I’m presuming they couldn’t simply pull the plug on the distribution of that podcast even if they wanted to – at least not without some kind of nasty and protracted lawsuit during which they might well be forced to keep carrying the show anyway.

In the short term at least, I’m going to continue to leverage Spotify for the best 1,000 albums ever project – with feelings of slight queasiness in doing so – but I’ll keep monitoring this story and may end up changing my mind based on how things develop.