Published On: Thu, May 21st, 2009

Neil Young guitar tabs and techniques

Learn to play electric and acoustic guitar like Neil Young – lessons in the techniques that made Heart Of Gold, Sugar Mountain and Needle And The Damage Done such classics – with tab and chords

While not a technically accomplished guitarist, Neil Young plays with great feel, imagination and personality. ‘I started off writing instrumentals – the words came much later,’ he recalls of his formative years. ‘My idol was Hank Marvin, Cliff Richard’s guitar player from The Shadows. He was the hero of all the guitar players around Winnipeg at the time. Randy Bachman, too – he was great. He used a lot of tape echo on his guitar, which was neat for the time.’
Throughout his long and varied musical career, Young has immersed himself in many diverse musical styles and genres, often surprising, delighting and even alienating both fans and critics alike. Making his name with country- and folk-influenced rock in the late ’60s and ’70s, Young has never been one to rest on his laurels. There’s the rockabilly-based Everybody’s Rockin’ (1983), which led to Young being sued by his record company for making ‘unrepresentative’ music (that is, music that didn’t sound like Neil Young!), the big band stylings of This Note’s for You (1988), the grungy Ragged Glory (1990) and the highly experimental Arc. Originally packaged with the live CD Weld (1991), Arc consists of around 30 minutes of feedback. ‘It’s meant to appeal to people on the fucking edge,’ Young explained. ‘People right out there who can understand where it’s coming from.’
So where does this restless creativity come from? ‘Every one of my records to me is like an autobiography,’ he reveals. ‘My trip is to express what’s on my mind.’ For example, Harvest (1972) was recorded after Young slipped two discs in his back, making it impossible to hold an electric. ‘I recorded most of it in a neck brace which is why it’s such a mellow album.’ Tonight’s The Night (1973) was recorded after the death of rhythm guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry. ‘That whole album was about life, dope and death… we got right out there on the edge where we were wide open to the mood. It was spooky.’ The acoustic-based Harvest Moon (1992) was prompted by damage incurred to his hearing after the intensity and high-volume of Ragged Glory and Weld (‘it left me stunned’) – another example of Young’s songwriting reflecting either his physical or emotional state.

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