When so many love you, is it the same?

Hello cowgirl in the sand. Is this place at your command?” – Neil Young, Cowgirl in the Sand           

After my first contact with Neil Young I wasn’t too impressed. If I recall correctly a friend had recommended I listen to some of his more intense rock songs like Rockin’ in the Free World and Like a Hurricane. They were alright, but I had already discovered Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and I was a lot more focused on lyrics than any guitar solo. The songs weren’t doing it for me and Neil Young sort of got crossed off the list. I was a fucking fool.

One random weekend about 7 or 8 years ago I was talking music with my uncle and he mentioned Neil Young. Basically, I expressed my initial opinion from the paragraph above and he went on to express my final conclusion from the paragraph above, that I was a fucking fool.

“Can I stay here for a while? Can I see your sweet, sweet smile?”

My uncle put the album Harvest in my hand and told me to get back to him on that. I listened to it with a chip on my shoulder wanting to prove that my initial perception of Young had been right, but a fucking fool is hardly right. By the time I reached Heart of Gold (4th track) I was already convinced that Young was a stud and that the album was something special. I’ve since listened to it hundreds of time, recommended it to anybody who would listen and even made a few copies of it to give to girls, with surprisingly good feedback…

“Hello ruby in the dust, has your band begun to rust?

Harvest has everything to be considered one of the best albums of all time: the artist is in his prime, it has great lyrics and there’s not a single bad song in it. It’s also short enough, about 40 min, to leave you wanting more. However, since discovering Harvest I’ve explored Neil Young quite a bit and there’s one song which I love, to the point that it had to be the first song of his I include in this blog, Cowgirl in the Sand (Live At Massey Hall 1971 version).

“Hello woman of my dreams. This is not the way it seems”

I’m sure… well, almost sure. Alright… I want to think that I haven’t used this song to tell more than one girl that it reminds me of her. In fact I want to think that I have never said it to a single one. That would have been like cheating, the song is that good. I honestly don’t think I have, but I can’t guarantee. Whenever I listen to the song I like the mood that Young creates, but I really like the way he shifts the focus on the woman, sorry, the cowgirl. He sings about her, whoever she is. So what I like about the song is that it’s mystical enough that I’ve felt comfortable listening to it in many different situations. Whether it’s been intimately with a girl, reflecting on a relationship, pursuing a crush, dealing with a break-up… the song just fits well. Or at least it allows for interpretations that fit well, which I guess is the point, right?

So before I ramble on, if you haven’t listened to this song, or this version, here it is courtesy of a fucking fool.

“After all the sin we’ve had, I was hopin’ that we’d turn back”



33 thoughts on “When so many love you, is it the same?

      • I’m not sure you’re serious here… from Hernan Cortes, of course…. song supposedly bannde by Francisco Franco – what a joke he was ….

      • Haha, I knew it was Hernan Cortes, I was just wondering what led Neil Young to write about him, I’m not sure if he’s ever said…

        El “Generalisimo” was as an ass, no doubt about that.

      • I hate to do this because the reliance on Wikileaks, er, Wikipedia has been so over-the-top for so long… but it does reference Cortez the Killer and a quote from “Shakey” – which I could NOT get through … about the song and its origins…. the quote from Young is pretty classic Neil….

        re: Harvest… no… never got back there…. After The Gold Rush was Young’s last great hippie album… or from that era. Harvest seemed like a bunch of songs thrown together – some of the songs were old and had performed live for many years just never put on an album – not a commercial one, anyway; plus ‘there’s a world’ is just a dreadful, overproduced pile … with strings, no less… I mean, come on ..

      • Thanks for following up! I just read the Shakey quote from wikipedia and it’s does fit the bill for a typical Neil Young no bullshit response. Cheers!

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself…a real “fucking fool” would have thrown the album his uncle shared into a corner and missed out totally…”Don’t let it bring you down, it’s only castles burning, just find someone who’s turning…. and you will come around”….. :)

  2. Great blog. Great idea. Music really can connect life and the events that shape it. The attached video links are a great idea.
    One suggestion, put the video at the top, that way I can have them play as I read the article. Right now I will just have to drop to the end first, start the song playing, then go back up to the top to read your thoughts.

    • Thank you, and for the tip as well. I’m new to blogging so I’ll certainly play around with the format a little bit, thansk for the idea. All the best!

  3. You just whacked me with a great memory. When Harvest came out I was a senior in high school. I didn’t have a job at the time so me and a buddy washed pots at a local hotel on weekends until we made enough money to run down to the music store and buy it. We shared the cost. We went to my friends house and played the album over and over until we memorized each song. He had a haunting voice which suited proper teenage angst very well. Then life happened and it was long since forgotten until today.

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  5. One of my ‘Top Five’ favorite Neil Young songs.
    I (shamefully) used this song in a post, entitled “Hello Minefield in the Sand” a month or so ago. It’s about, yep: Minefields in the Sinai Desert.
    Your post is far better.
    Thanks for sharing.

      • Yes, so true. During my three years working in Sinai, I don’t know how many UN Soldiers, Bedouins (and lots of camels) lost their lives from old mines. Thankfully none of us working at SFM had any encounters (though I came real close one day while driving to Suez).
        Thanks very much for your visit. I appreciate your time.

      • Glad to! I liked the post (the one before it as well) and it was great to find another blogger who posted the same version of Cowgirl in the Sand just days before! All the best!

  6. This is a weird synchronicity. Within the past hour, I was sitting with a friend in a coffee shop when the Neil Young song “Like a Hurricane” came on the speakers. I know from what you write above that wasn’t one of his songs that hooked you, it’s one of my favorites. From any musician. Ever. I commented to my friend that I could listen to this song every day and never get tired of it, and generally never get tired of Neil Young as he’s one of the best. Then I stumble upon this post immediately after…

    • I love that things like these happen! The fact that some people actually read the posts is already a pleasant surprise in and of itself, but that there are actually coincidences like these is great.

      ‘ve actually grown to like the song more since becoming a fan of Neil Young. Rockin’ in the Free World still not so much, but Like a Hurricane has definitely grown on me. Cheers!

  7. OK, so, first, I like what you’re doing. Dont’ agree with everything – but we are off different ages and experience. I have been a Neil Young lover/hater ever since his Buffalo Springfield days; that was a great band as well; if you’ve never heard “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” . The basis, more or less, for the more-recent Live At Fillmore East release from a1970 performance with Crazy Horse – Neil’s ultimate band. The Fillmre East set had everything but “Cinnamon Girl” which I think they eventually released. I used to go around the underground record stores in the south San Francisco Bay area picking up as many bootleg Neil Young albums as I could find because there weren’t any live ones back then.; then, ack, to me, Harvest was dreadful. A complete sell-out – in my opinion. Last year I read ‘Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream” which was pretty touchy-feely but, at least for me, filled in a lot of gaps. I admired Neil for releasing Living With War – the only meaningful protest against the Bush years’ instanity at the time – and it came from a Canadian, no leass. Ry Cooder eventually picked up some creds in this department. I mean, really, in th end, what can you say about a guy who has lasted 50+ years in an unforgiving business – who helped formed the Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills, Richard Furay and others; who was around during the 60s to write some (one?) a poignant anti vietnam War song (Ohio), who took on the establishment, was the godfather of grunge and a hero to bands such as Pearl Jam and wrote dirge-like paens to Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, a provocative and thoughtful man (surprise). He has always been mercurial, unrelenting, erratic (many times in a good way; known for tearing up every set list he had numerous times so he would not precome predictable and boring; and, I think, at hear, a genuinely kind man.

    • That’s the way to write a fucking comment! Loved it!

      I complete agree Young’s merits are unquestionable, I’m glad I changed my mind on him. Did you ever get to liking Harvest by any chance?

      Take care!

  8. And let’s not forget the feathers Neil Young ruffled with “Southern Man.” Or the powerful, painfully honest “Needle and the Damage Done” that made me want to turn away from the picture it painted.

  9. OK, just “one more” one more thing; Neil lived on his ranch along Skyline Blvd on the coastal range between San Francisco … well, south of San Francisco; anyway, not that far from where I grew up at the time he lived there; the number of hours I spent driving the Skyline looking for his ranch I cannot even tell you; I don’t know what my parents thought I was doing (I was 16, 17) racking up all these miles with my mom’s red convertible 1964 Volkswagen bug looking for that place.. .. . . and never found it…. but I’m thinking I should have just stopped and asked someone, right? There was a store, after all, … but, really, not much else . . . I was intimated . . . Anyway, in 1970-71 or so, David Crosby and Graham Nash did a show at a small college (then called De Anza) amphitheater and sometime during the night Neil joined them for a few songs; it was a short drive from his ranch and we all hoped he’d show; Crosby and Nash were amazing together anyway and of course when Young showed up it was insane. … C&N’s last song was Nash’s “Military Madness” – the VN war still raged; Nixon in the White House; Johnny in the basement, mixing up the medicine; . . . at the end of the song, C&N started singing “no more war” over and over until everyone was on their feet – singing with then. . . then David and Graham stopped singing and stood, arms locked around the other’s back . . . their other arm holding up acoustic guitars gently reflecting the muted stage lights. . . they sparkled . . . listening to the crowd sing . . . they stood, smiling, for what seemed like forever. . . eventually, they said “that’s all you, man” and walked off the stage, while we kept singing. . . the place crumbled . . . and then exploded…. I did not think anyone would ever leave . . . a magical moment . . certainly, my heroes, one and all….

    • Incredible story!! Sounds like an amazing concert and I’m sure by the end when everybody was singing and having a blast nobody cared that Young didn’t make an appearance. I’ve never been to a rock concert with a moment that comes close to that, so thanks for sharing and it’s great that there are people there who were able to appreciate it. Take care!

      • Hi…. I guess I wasn’t clear … :-) Neil did play that night with David and Graham; he was a little drunk, you might say; it was great but definitely C&N were the show; I saw Young a year or so later in Oakland – the Coliseum – dreadful place for a concert. Young walked off the stage after feeling security were abusing fans trying to get close to the stage; Neil was on stage with his band and Graham Nash and he started singing “someone turn on the lights” over and over until… someone turned on the lights… and we could see people being chased around on the floor in front of the stage by security guards. . . . it was about this time Neil walked off the stage; his band followed; they did not return … and that is Neil . . . btw I took the post I made above and put it on my blog with a reference to your site and “when so many love you is it the same” … hope you don’t mind… didn’t steal anything of yours… just my own words. :-)

      • Damn, that makes the story even better!! I thought the other two had been so good that despite Young not popping up it had been an incredibly memorable concert, but he if he was actually there…puff, that’s hard to top. Take care!

  10. I’ve loved Neil Young since I was a teenager and many of my memories of those years are attached to his music. Thanks for sharing this. I helped him move a cow a few years ago. Nice guy with beautiful teeth.

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