k d lang: After the Gold Rush
One thing that has become clear to me this week is that Neil Young’s songs have layers of meaning, with different aspects calling to different listeners. Dolly Parton once asked Neil Young about the meaning of After the Gold Rush. Here is the story:
“…when we were doing the Trio album, I asked Linda and Emmy what it meant, and they didn't know. So we called Neil Young, and he didn't know. We asked him, flat out, what it meant, and he said, 'Hell, I don't know. 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.”To me, the song has a structure, with one verse each for past present, and future. And there is an environmental theme, with the last verse having a few humans selected to travel to a new, clean, planet and a fresh start, while the unlucky ones left behind look on in envy and sorrow for what has happened to their world. K d lang latches on to this sense of loss, and delivers one of her most subtle vocals in her version of the song. Lang can belt out a ballad with the best of them, but she knows that a quieter performance serves this song better.