Tell Me Why (Neil Young song)

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"Tell Me Why"
Song by Neil Young and Crazy Horse
from the album After the Gold Rush
Released August 31, 1970
Recorded Spring 1970
Studio Young's home studio in Topanga, California
Genre Acoustic rock, folk rock, roots rock
Length 2:54
Label Reprise
Songwriter(s) Neil Young
Producer(s) David Briggs, Neil Young

"Tell Me Why" is the opening track on Neil Young's album After the Gold Rush. Written by Young, it was first introduced during the Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young shows of 1970 prior to the release of Déjà Vu.[1] The song also appears on Live at Massey Hall 1971.

Composition and lyrics[edit]

Musically, the song marks a shift from the hard rock of 1969's Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and bears more folk and country influences, which would continue onto 1972's Harvest. The only instruments are two acoustic guitars, played by Young and Nils Lofgren. He is, however, backed by the vocal harmonies of Crazy Horse during the choruses.[2] 'Tell Me Why' has a simple lyrical structure, with 2 verses each followed by a bridge then chorus, and one final bridge and chorus before a short instrumental outro. The chorus line "Tell me why, tell me why/Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself/When you're old enough to repay/but young enough to sell?" is the most famous from the song, typifying the introspective and melancholic nature of not just this song, but the whole album.

Acoustic guitarists who want to play the song should know the song is in standard tuning, but each string is tuned down a full step (E down to D, A down to G, D down to C, G down to F, B down to A, and high E down to D).

Cover versions[edit]

Norah Jones has been known to cover 'Tell Me Why' as well as Radiohead,[3] most notably at the White River Amphitheatre and the Hollywood Bowl in 2008. The song is famously popular with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea.[4]

Year Artist Album
1994 Hemingway Corner Borrowed Tunes
2004 Dave House Kingston's Current


External links[edit]