Silver & Gold
The Music Box's #6 album for 2000
First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2000, Volume 7, #7
Written by John Metzger
With his new release Silver & Gold, Neil Young has once again shifted gears. For this outing, he has moved back to the acoustic-oriented fare that he had previously explored on such masterpieces as After the Gold Rush, Harvest, and Harvest Moon.
Silver & Gold took several years to create and was originally envisioned as an entire album of solo acoustic material — much of which was debuted on a tour in Spring 1999. After reuniting with his pals David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash, however, Young saw fit to donate several tracks, which were originally intended for his own album, to the new CSNY effort Looking Forward. While this might have diminished the quality of many artists' subsequent releases, this certainly can not be said for Young. He rethought his album, made a few modifications, and pulled together one truly amazing disc. While Silver & Gold is not really a solo acoustic effort, it is perhaps his most sparse and intimate affair to date.
The soft and quiet atmosphere created by Young serves his songs well, adding to the reflective nature of his lyrics. The narrative thread binding the tracks together is that of a middle-aged man contemplating his life and the love he has found and lost throughout it as he wonders just what it all means. "Love's the answer/Love's the question," Young states on Horseshoe Man, and this is precisely the dialogue that he ponders throughout Silver & Gold.
On Daddy Went Walkin', Young ruminates on his own childhood — focusing on the happier days, rather than his parents' divorce. He proclaims the importance of family, friends, and lovers, and he regrets the rift of time that has divided them. "Workin' hard, everyday/Never notice how the time slips away," he sings on the title track. On Buffalo Springfield Again he adds, "Like to see those guys again/and give it a shot," and on Good to See You, he croons, "I been down on the Endless Highway/I crossed on the solid line/Now at last I'm home with you/Feel like makin' up for lost time."
Without question, Silver & Gold is a deeply personal album, and Young concludes it with the melancholic Without Rings. Here, he drives home his point that it is far better to mend the wounds that divide than to wait. Death and loss can strike at any time, and material gain and personal recognition achieved through the rat race only serve to separate. So put down the treasure chest and let it slip away, Young urges on the title track - adding "Our kind of love never seems to grow old/It's better than silver and gold."
Silver and Gold is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2000 The Music Box