Neil Young’s Top 10 Greatest Guitar Tracks
#3 - “Cortez the Killer” - Rusted Out Garage Tour, 1986
Well, after the feedback from the posting on the Top 10 Neil Young Love Songs, why not Neil Young’s Top 10 Greatest Guitar Tracks?
From Gibson Guitar Tracks by Michael Leonard:
Apologies already, as this Top 10 might not include your favorite Neil Young song. But what to do? Over six decades, Neil Young has recorded so much music, he cannot be distilled into a small cup. Great songwriter, activist, conceptualist, rocker, balladeer, maverick guitarist, awful/inspired singer? You take your pick. Young, who turned 66 last week, is certainly one thing. He is unique.
His guitar playing is not “technical,” and he certainly won’t throw in a tricky mixolydian (EDITOR: wtf?!) lick when blazing passion fits the bill. Neil Young plays guitar from the heart. These 10 tracks might not be his “best” songs, but their guitars either sob with sadness or roar with aggression.
If you want to hear Neil Young play guitar, we humbly suggest you start here.
And who can argue with any of these tracks selected like #3 - “Cortez the Killer”?
Just as Young would never claim to be world’s best singer, he would neither argue to be the world’s most subtle guitarist. But “Cortez the Killer,” from 1975’s album Zuma, is an axe epic. This mantric guitar centerpiece (it has reached 14 minutes live) could only have been played by Neil Young. Three chords (again in DADGBD), droning melodies, stinging solos, harmonics, much Bigsby wobbling… in a druggy big nutshell, this is a 101 in how to play guitar like Neil Young. “Cortez the Killer” takes on extra weight when played live: the version on 1991’s live album Weld is super-heavy. “Cortez the Killer” manages to be mournful yet angry, beautiful yet bitter.
And your favorite Neil Young Greatest Guitar Tracks?