Last modified 04.03.02018

On the Beach Neil Young

Album review by André Dack, Frederick O'Brien, and Andrew Bridge


On The Beach is perfect for those late nights alone, where the further you venture into the album, the more poignant the evening feels. Both mellow and despondent, the record features the purest of songwriting from a genuine artist, flowing gracefully from start to finish.

The real beauty, though, lies in the somber trio of songs that concludes the album, starting with the stunning title track (‘though my problems are meaningless, that don’t make them go away’) and ending with “Ambulance Blues,” a truly harrowing song that sees a self-reflective Young attempting to move past his sorrow, and instead look forward with hope of wiping away the thoughts of despair. It’s a great record, and it does a fine job of reminding you that you’re human.

8 out of 10

Favourite tracks // On the Beach ­Walk On ­Ambulance Blues


As is often the case with my favourite albums, when I try to articulate my admiration I flounder pretty hard. In my mind, On the Beach is Neil Young’s finest work, and as our discussion testified to its quality often defies description.

It’s an album that needs to be heard to be appreciated. It is therapeutically human. Grounded as it is in the immediate and the sombre, the music — like Young on its cover — dares also to raise its eyes to the horizon, and the results are gorgeous.

Although I’ve obliged with choosing favourite tracks, they come with the asterisk that they change almost every time I listen to the album. The whole work is a joy. No one does sad quite like Neil Young does. Melancholy has rarely sounded more beautiful, or more dignified, than it does in On the Beach.

10 out of 10

Favourite tracks // On the Beach ­See the Sky About to Rain ­Ambulance Blues


On The Beach provides for a relaxing, positive listen at a cursory glance. Natural production and a variety of folk and rock instrumentation make for an album that rises and falls at a great pace. The tracklist is well structured, the lyrics catch your attention; a good album on paper.

But the closer one listens, the more there is to find. Between Young’s cynicisms and commentary on the music scene that he was part of, the album provides a lot for the emotions besides a the simple warmth of good music.

Describing quite what I’ve found so far in the album to make it so intersting and notable however, has proven incredibly hard. All I do know is that I want to go back for another listen to hear more of it. Something that must be heard to be believed.

9 out of 10

Favourite tracks // For the Turnstiles ­Walk On ­On the Beach