43 Best Neil Young Songs


“Old Man” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1972

Neil Young wrote “Old Man” for an elderly caretaker of a ranch he bought in Northern California. You can interpret the lyrics as a message the narrator delivers to the older man. The singer states how, despite being born in different eras, they have the same desires and needs for living a satisfying life, such as love and companionship.

The instrumentation has a distinct country-like sound, giving the song a laid-back, down-to-earth tone. It ranked fourth on RPM’s Top Singles Chart and Billboard’s Hot 100.

“Powderfinger” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1979

“Powderfinger” is an iconic song thanks to its slower beat, guitar solos, and thematically dramatic story. The lyrics tell the story of a young man trying to defend his land and family from a gunboat instead of running away, resulting in his death.

The song ranked 450th on Rolling Stone's “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list in 2021. It’s the perfect song to listen to while working on projects in your home.

“Lookout Joe” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1975

Neil Young's “Lookout Joe” takes the perspective of a veteran returning from the Vietnam War, exploring how times have changed since the last time they were in the United States. This song poignantly captures the feeling of disillusion after what feels like forever.

It has an excellent guitar accompaniment and was a single on Young's album, Tonight's the Night, which peaked within the Top 40 of several US weekly charts.

“Tired Eyes” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1975

The main inspiration behind Neil Young's “Tired Eyes” stems from a deadly cocaine deal incident one of his friends got involved with a few years before the song's release. Young’s lyrics touch on the narrator's feelings that things shouldn't have ended this way, begging the fallen to rise back to life.

The song's slower beat and guitar, drum, and harmonica instrumentation give the song a tragic touch. Sometimes, the most movingly emotional songs stem from the worst situations.

“Albuquerque” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1975

Can't find any immersive songs to listen to during the loneliest days? “Albuquerque's” lyrics focus on the shallowness of fame and hauntingly reflect the feeling of solitude through its vocals and instrumentation. The pedal steel guitar and harmonica give this rock ballad a country touch.

This song might resonate with music lovers who drift from place to place, trying to find their purpose in the world. It’s the type of song you may hear while driving down a long highway or in a diner.

“Cortez the Killer” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1975

“Cortez the Killer” is a slow rock song with lyrics referencing the voyage of conquistador Hernán Cortés and the eventual fall of the Aztec Empire. The historical context of this song makes it stand out from Young's other iconic hits.

Although the vocals don't kick in until about halfway through the song, the guitar solo sets the mood and showcases its artistic presentation. You can’t go wrong listening to this history-infused track if you want to hear some of his finest guitar work.

“Danger Bird” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1975

“Danger Bird” is another of the best Neil Young songs if you're in the mood for slower hard rock music. The song's lyrics depicting a fossilized bird tell the tale of a failing romance, something Young experienced with Carrie Snodgrass.

It was one of several well-regarded songs on Zuma. That album sold over 5,000 units in the US and ranked 30th on Record World's Album Chart.

“Southern Man” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1970

One of Neil Young's most impactful songs of the 70s was “Southern Man.” It has a strong message about pushing back against discrimination and moving towards an era of change. The track features a rough guitar solo embodying the upward struggle toward peace for everyone in America.

“Southern Man” was recorded for Young's album After the Gold Rush, which peaked within the Top 20 of several international weekly charts.

“New Mama” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1975

Despite its short length, “New Mama” resonates with anybody starting a new family. Its main inspiration behind this song came from the birth of Neil Young's son when he was with Carrie Snodgrass.

The song's slower tempo and limited guitar and piano accompaniment enhance its lyrics' portrayal of how starting a family is a life-changing commitment.

“Unknown Legend” by Neil Young

Song Year: 1992

“Unknown Legend” has a laid-back tempo and an excellent guitar accompaniment that resonates with people who prefer laid-back rock songs. The lyrics tell the story of a mother who used to work at a diner and ride a motorcycle.

This song might resonate with people living simple lives who love remembering their past thrills. It was a featured track on the album Harvest Moon, which sold over two million copies in the US.

“Ohio” by Neil Young ft. Crosby, Stills & Nash

“Ohio” by Neil Young ft. Crosby, Stills & Nash

Song Year: 1970

After joining Crosby, Stills & Nash during the late 1960s, Young wrote “Ohio” after reading about the Kent State shootings during a student protest against the Vietnam War. This song's guitar, bass, and drum accompaniment blend well with the lyrics detailing the shock and outrage that followed the event.

Although several AM radio stations banned it due to its political tone, “Ohio” ranked 14th on Billboard's Hot 100. It got inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009.

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