Our 10 Best Covers of Neil Young songs looks back at some of the most loved Neil Young songs of all time while picking from various artists who add their own artistic interpretation to these classic songs. Neil Young is a very heavily covered artist. It makes perfect sense since he has released a large body of work filled with memorable songs. He easily stands as one of the top 10 classic rock songwriters and artists of all time along with artists such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and a handful of others.
There were many versions of Neil Young songs to pick from. Of course, the choices ran from A-List artists like Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, and others, to mid-level artists and many not so well known artists. There were many great covers versions we would have loved to have included on this list, especially from some of the greats like Nils Lofgren, Diana Krall, and many more. In the end, we could only pick ten and so we simply went with the ten we enjoyed listening to the most. We hope you have fun checking out these great Neil Young songs covered by these other legendary artists.
# 10 – Cinnamon Girl – John Entwistle
We open up our 10 Best Covers Of Neil Young Songs list with the legendary Neil Young song entitled “Cinnamon Girl.” This is easily one of Neil Young’s most popular and well-loved songs he has ever written. If we were going to pick an artist to represent this song on this list we needed to pick someone with a pretty important classic rock reputation. Well, there’s no other bass player in classic rock history with a better reputation than The Who’s John Entwistle.
We love his version of the song which actually never made the cut for his debut solo album entitled Smash Your Head Against the Wall. The album was released in 1971. John Entwistle’s cover was later released as a bonus track on the 1997 CD release of the album. John Entwistle doesn’t change much about the song. He just delivers a powerful classic rock performance in a similar fashion to everything else he ever played on.
# 9 – Don’t Let It Bring You Down – Annie Lennox
Continuing with our 10 Best Covers Of Neil Young Songs list we take a listen to the stirring version of the classic Neil Young song entitled “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.” Annie Lennox delivers a very cool and breathtaking vocal performance on this stellar track. The song is driven by a powerful drum beat and a heavy synth line that surrounds the majestic vocals of the beautiful Annie Lennox. The song was released on the album entitled Medussa. The album was released in 1995.
# 8 – Old Man – Wilson Philips
In the number eight spot on our10 Best Covers Of Neil Young Songs list, we present the song entitled “Old Man.” We could listen to Wilson Phillips sing cover songs all day long. Their harmonies are just out of this world gorgeous. They stay true to the song’s original melody and arrangments while adding a little of their own thing at the end. They really didn’t have to do anything special but just be themselves and sing like they always do. The Wilson Phillips version was released on the album entitled California. The album was released in 2003 when the group reunited.
# 7 – Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Jackie DeShannon –
In the number seven position on our 10 Best Covers Of Neil Young Songs list is the song entitled “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” This is one of the most covered Neil Young songs of all time. We picked this one because we love Jackie DeShannon’s voice. What was also most impressive about this version is the time change in the middle of the song where she switches from her country ballad feel to a more grooving gospel version. Don’t miss this one.
# 6 – After the Gold Rush – Lind Ronstadt
Landing in the number six spot on our 10 Best Covers Of Neil Young Songs list we present the song “After The Gold Rush.” This is a song that is so beautiful, you better bring your “A” game to this one. Of course, Linda Ronstadt defined the A game among vocalists. There are not many singers better than Linda Ronstadt. The legendary singer was joined by Emmylou Harris and Valerie Carter on backing vocals. This one is extraordinary. The song was released on the album entitled Feels Like Home. The album was released in 1995.
# 5 – Like A Hurricane – The Jeff Healy Band
At the halfway point on our 10 Best Covers Of Neil Young Songs list is the song entitled “Like A Hurricane.” Jeff Healy captures the rock and roll spirit of Neil Young on this smoking version. You know when you’re listening to the beginning of the track that this band will probably let loose eventually, but is holding back at first because this is such a long song. At the halfway mark Jeff Healy lets loose and it’s rock and roll guitar heaven Just like Neil Young would do with Crazy Horse, Jeff Healy takes this one all the way in a furious jam that hits 11.
# 4 – Southern Man – The Dave Clark Five
We wonder how many people have heard this version by the Dave Clark Five. We have never heard The Dave Clark Five sound this heavy before. This is pretty amazing stuff. In the end, it may have been a preview of what the band would have sounded like if they had not broken up and continued on into the 1970s. Listen to the guitar playing on this one. The bass runs at the end are killer. And the vocals are so outrageous. The ending is the best part.
# 3 – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Red Hot Chili Peppers
In the number three spot on our 10 Best Covers Of Neil Young Songs list, we present the song entitled “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.” The song was recorded by the Red Hot Chili Peppers live at the Koko Club in London on September 2, 2011. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are such powerful and emotional musicians that even when they are laying back, it’s still an intense performance. Flea lays downs a very grooving bass line completely in sync with the great Chad Davis. Love this one. This is one of the most important Neil Young songs ever written and the Red Hot Chili Peppers pay great respect to this memorable song.
# 2 – Lotta Love – Nicolette Larson
We really wanted to put this one in at the number one spot, but the Johnny Cash version of “Heart of Gold,” was just too special to not be placed at number one. Nonetheless, this is probably our favorite cover of any Neil Young song. Nicolette Lawson made this one her own. I was in high school when this song was first released in 1978. It was played on the radio all the time. We all loved it. Her vocal and the arrangement are all just so good. We will never forget the album cover, Nicolette’. This one will always bring us back in time. The spirit of the late cool 1970s captured so well on this recording.
# 1 – Heart Of Gold – Johnny Cash
When Johnny Cash sings the line “and I’m getting old,” it hits you pretty hard. As most of us old classic rock fans are getting up there in age, we can really relate to those words Johnny Cash sings. When Neil Young first sang the song, we were all young, including Neil Young. Yet, the years have gone by and that song has become a big part of our lives. The master producer Rick Rubin knew how to capture the spirit of Neil Young’s music and the artistry of Johnny Cash wonderfully without getting in the way. This one is just perfect. The Johnny Cash version was released on the Unearthed album. The album was released in 2003.
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You left Roy Buchanan’s version of Down by the River. His live version found on his box set is transcendent.