The Neil Young song he doesn’t understand the meaning of

There is no formula for songwriting. Like anything else in life, songwriters improve their craft the more that they write, but putting in the hours doesn’t guarantee greater results than a moment of inexplicable genius. Neil Young prefers to wait for songs to arrive to him rather than to chase a creative sapark, and on one occasion, the lyrics flowed straight out.

The song in question is ‘The World (Is In Trouble Now)’, which appeared on his album World Record with Crazy Horse. On the track, Young sings about his fears regarding the current state of the planet we share, and sings: “The flowers growing from the ground, The sunlight shining down, My memories of the past delight, In all the things I found, Because the earth has held me so.”

When Young released the song, the Covid-19 pandemic was coming to a close after two years of lockdowns which changed the mechanics of how we live. During this time, people became more divided than ever, and the singer-songwriter removed his music from Spotify after accusing the streaming platform of airing disinformation about the vaccines on The Joe Rogan Experience.

Even when the conversation moved on from Covid-19, the world has continued to be in a troublesome place. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been harrowing, and the planet still feels like a ticking time bomb amid the climate crisis.

Due to the state of the world in 2022, Young could have been inspired to write the song by various global events. However, he has no recollection of a specific story triggering him to sing about the plight of the planet, suggesting it was a combination of everything which led to the creation of ‘The World (Is In Trouble Now)’.

Appearing on The Zach Sang Show, Young was asked if he remembered what was running through his mind when he penned the lyrics. In response, he explained: “No. They came so fast, I didn’t even think. I knew the world was in trouble, and that was part of what I recorded on the flip phone when I was walking along, whistling the melody.”

He continued: “I heard a lot of things as I was walking along, and I didn’t know what the song was about, but I heard this bass part which I recorded on the phone. That was the most constructed of all the songs because I made all the parts which I put together on the flip phone.”

Young concluded: “Where did it come from? First of all, who was that guy whistling? Why was he there that day and not the other day? That’s important. Why are those trees dead? There are millions of them, and they are dead. They used to be great.”

While no specific event led directly to the song’s birth, over time, Young had subconsciously noticed the earth’s decline and stored this information in a pocket of his mind that he stepped into for ‘The World (Is In Trouble Now)’.

Listen to the track below.

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