The Real Story Behind Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush


According to Neil Young himself, he had no any idea what it meant, and he said that it might be about LSD:

“I just wrote it. It just depends on what I was taking at the time. I guess every verse has something different I’d taken.”

That means, it is open to any kind of interpretation.

Here’s how we understood it; it has three verses and sort of aligned in a past-present-future order in a sense.

The first verse talks about a dream which the singer had which involved some kind of medieval archetypes, giving some signs of the arrival of a queen. I don’t know who this queen is, but whoever she is, she’s chased out “Mother Nature.” In my own perspective, I see the arrival as somewhat we call “consumerism,” and it’s overtaking and trying to grasp our own reality, — chasing out naturalism. So personally, I think the first verse can be about environmentalism, in a sense. It would definitely fit Neil’s personality.

While the second verse can be interpreted as the “Present,” that everything is all playing out inside the singer’s head, and it’s not even a dream, unlike the first verse. It’s like personal experience and times it’s very hard to explain. But of course, that only concludes that he’s just high on drugs, which is true, Neil said it himself. The only thing that bothers me is the weirdness of the verse’s final line:

“I was thinking about what a friend had said/I was hoping it was a lie.”

Who’s that friend? We never really knew anything about that friend, what he/she has revealed. Is it a warning, or just gossip? I don’t know. But if we take it out of the context of the other verses, I could say that the past was a reckless one, and he fears about the future of how it can be destructive to his very nature, he’s still in the present, but he feels numb and looking for clear answers.

And the third verse — he’s finally dreaming about the future, just like everyone else’s thinking when they think about the future – on his thought,  “biblical-style apocalypse.” Disguised as something else, and it could be an alien invasion. Few people on the planet will be chosen and will survive and propagate “Mother nature’s silver seed” in another dimension.

But anyway, I’m just rambling stories here, the truth is the real story behind Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush he was just really on drugs.

The title though “After The Goldrush” can imply all the scenarios I talked about above. We are now more focused on materialism and financial gain.

But I could be wrong about those interpretations, but since Neil Young leaves most of his works open for interpretations to his listeners.