World Record

World Record

The fate of Earth and the infinite cruelty of man toward nature have been themes in Neil Young’s music as far back as 1970, when “After the Gold Rush” imagined a dystopian scene not too different from what we’re living through now. “We’re so terrified today, don’t you think? Look at people, they’re striking out at each other, worried about the other side,” he tells Apple Music. “We’re scared shitless, because at the bottom of everything, there’s another thing going on: They say the world might not be the same in 15 years. We might be really screwed.” Like 2021’s Barn, World Record—his 42nd album, and 13th with Crazy Horse—is a loose, folksy outing whose simplicity is backed by a lifetime of thought. There’s innocence (“Love Earth”), there’s anger (“The World [Is In Trouble Now]”), there’s nostalgia (“This Old Planet [Changing Days]”) and the kind of fortified naivete that has made Young a beacon to anyone sick of how things are but honest about what it might take to change them (“I Walk With You [Earth Ringtone]”). Most of the songs started as melodies Young whistled to himself while walking in the woods, and were written start to finish in two days. Producer Rick Rubin says it barely felt like they were making an album. “Most of what you hear on the record were things that, at the time that they were recorded, we were like, ‘Boy, I hope someday they’re going to learn the song,’” Rubin tells Apple Music. But Young’s looseness has always been central to his vitality, and his pessimism has always resolved into messages of hope, however tempered. “We’ve got a lot of work to do,” he says. “It’s probably the only time in the world that you could ever see where all the people of all the countries all around the world could have the same idea: ‘Wait a minute, we got to do something because this is no good.’ We’re all feeling it.”

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