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After the Gold Rush song meanings
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  • +6
    General CommentIt's interesting how art transcends specific meaning, as this site attests.

    While environmental concerns seem to fit the lyrics well, that is a modern preoccupation and I think it more likely that - as some have pointed out - Young had war on his mind as the devastator of the Earth and humanity. The nuclear blast in the middle verse is quite shocking, once pointed out. And yes, Vietnam and the end of the hippy dream are also hovering at the edges of this lyrical world.

    I love that people are pointing out the past, present and future structure (reminds me of 'Various Times' by The Fall, which uses the same device), but have you also noticed how the past and future are both described as dreams? The idyllic medieval past and the rescue of humanity aren't real, but the burned-out basement and the bomb are. Quite a depressing song, really.
    chrisrazoron May 24, 2009   Link
  • +5
    General CommentPart of the mythology making the rounds in counterculture back in those days was the Starship story and there are several references to it in music. Counter culture was steeped in naturalism and a yearning to return to the natural world. There was push back to "development" and to the destruction of the natural world and curiosity about ancient and pagan beliefs such as druidism. So what does this have to do with "silver spaceships," and, "what a friend had said?" It had to do with a fatalism about saving the natural world and that rescue would come in the form of spaceships that would take us to a new world. Whether one really believed that or not was not the point. It was an expression of hope against odds. The belief was that, "America hates her crazies." (more on that later) The story really did make the rounds and was openly discussed. Listen to (or read) the lyrics to Wooden Ships which was really a description of another alternative to post apocalyptic vision. However, if you want another Starship reference, I can't think of a better one than, "Have you seen the stars tonight," by The Jefferson Starship. This one gets into greater detail. It is also a good explanation as to the name change from ...Airplane to ...Starship. Then listen to "A Child is Coming," "Home," and "Starship." The alternative to "America hates her crazies..." was the hope of going to the place of "free music, free love, free..." If nothing else, read the lyrics on the internet and I believe you will see a common theme.
    BlueCoyDogon June 27, 2011   Link
  • +3
    My Interpretationit sounds like a war and young is saying were killing the world (mother nature on the run) then since the Earth was made uninhabitable, people (only the great, chosen ones) were allowed to go on spaceships and live somewhere else, so as to keep the human race alive...
    jehosefaton April 06, 2003   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthe three verses in this song represent the past, the present, and he future.
    binky the doormaton May 03, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General CommentYeah it is sort of past present future. First you got the knights and whatever, starting to cut down trees. Then its the present, the person in the basement who is has heard that we're killing the earth, but is hoping that its a lie and continues to ignore the problem. Then you have the future with the "chosen ones" leaving a destroyed earth to find life on a another planet. I might be wrong but whatever. Its a really cool song.
    coolnuts5on June 17, 2006   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is (obviously) about the sad state of the world. The first verse is full of metaphors that could be interpreted many ways. The middle verse is absolutely beautiful. "Hoping it was a lie" in my opinion refers to the fact that someone told him (maybe an Al Gore-like figure at that time) that the world was in very bad shape. The last verse talks about the evacuation of planet earth.
    Darth Eddie Vaderon January 24, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually, this song was based on the script to a movie that was never produced. Many of the themes discussed here were supposedly prominent in this movie. Neil is now talking about doing a rock/theater type thing like he did with Greendale using the original After the Gold Rush script as a premise.
    afrostratrockon October 05, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Commenti love this song so much. but it does seem to be about the rapture a little bit. The "chosen" ones going to a new home in the sun. I dont know what the space ship part would be about then though.
    Luckypenny821on June 17, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is obviosuly very enigmatic and steeped in possible interpretations but the middle stanza I definatley think is remenicent of Vietnam.

    The first lines reminds me of a soldier, crouched down in an old foundation which was recently ravaged by fighting and bombing, looking out onto the battlefield nervously and awaiting action. This would not be uncommon in Vietnam as most battles took place either in dense jungle or dense, civil war ravaged, cities where soldiers hid in ruined, "burned out basenments"

    "I was hoping for replacement" also fit my theory seeing as how many of the soldiers would be hoping for the next soldier to take their place on duty.

    The next line, "When the sun burst through the sky" is difficult to anaylize but in keeping with my war theme it does seems to make sense. As it is impossible to be watching the full moon and have the sun suddenly burst into the sky the sun must be a symbol of something else. I think that the sun is a bomb (possibly of the atomic nature) going off nearby which would light its surroundings suddenly. Thsi goes witht the rest of teh song which seems to allude to humans ravaging the earth and killing Mother Nature by unatural, violent means.

    "There was a band playing in my head
    And I felt like getting high." only further backs up my Vietnam theory because it was at this time that young soldiers were notorious for tuning up the hendrix and breaking out the hash when serving. it was a release for them. An escape from the grim reality they were facing. And appropriatly the next lines deal with just that; denial.

    The lines "I was thinking about what a
    Friend had said // I was hoping it was a lie", I think, is the soldier thinkning to himself that he hopes that what his friend had told him of the pollution, and destroying of nature through war isnt a reality. If the later part of my interpretation was correct and the sun bursting through the sky really was a bomb then this thought might be provoked in the soldier's mind.
    This line is obviously important as its repeated and also holds ironic significance. The thought of a person wanting his friend to have lied to him is ironic. Honesty is usually a trait we, as humans, value in a friend.
    phisherofsoulson October 07, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAgree with what most of you said: the earth represented in past-present-future, mankind ruining it, and in the end a few chosen ones flying to a new world with mother nature's silver seed.
    Never thought of that, but why had the loading begun "all in a dream"? Could it actually be that who's speaking dies dreaming of the escape? Or is it just referring to an unreal and dream-like atmosphere?
    I think the "After gold rush" thing, apart from the movie title, refers to the end of the hippie era, such as a lot of things in Neil.
    Anyway, incredibly powerful and beautiful song.
    jack83on April 22, 2008   Link

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