This feature originally ran in 2014. We’re reposting in anticipation of Neil Young’s new album, Peace Trail.
As a kid, I remember wondering, “Who does a dentist go to to get his teeth cleaned, and does a barber cut his own hair?” These are silly thoughts, but the same type of thinking often creeps into my job as a music critic. For instance, I wonder who a legend like Neil Young, who has enough great songs to fill several box sets, turns to for songwriting inspiration or when he wants something else to sing. As it turns out, he, like a dentist or a barber, turns to his colleagues, and they’re not always the usual suspects. In some cases, Young remains faithful to a kindred songwriting spirit, but far more often he plucks a song from an unlikely source and turns that tune into something only Neil Young could’ve done. It’s that originality that makes a cover song by Neil Young feel like anything but phoned-in album or setlist filler.
So, here are our 10 favorite Neil Young covers from over the years.