It’s hard to shout “Rock’n’roll will never die!” without sounding like an idiot. But Neil Young can pull it off. Easily. For over half a century, the Canadian legend has proved himself to be one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, constantly renewing himself and taking rock’n’roll down both rustic and rougher paths. The proof lies in these ten albums.

With some fifty solo recordings to his name, Neil Young is one of the most prolific artists in the history of rock. As capricious as he is schizophrenic, the Godfather of Grunge has been exploring a whole range of avenues since the late 60s. An electric rebel, folk hippie and neo-cowboy, Young has travelled through decades and styles, scooping up every generation along the way. Despite going through considerably less aesthetic transformations, Neil Young is up there with David Bowie in terms of his ability to excel in unexpected genres, always eager to reach an artistic freedom and challenge himself.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)

A few months after Buffalo Springfield broke up, a group where he never really managed to make a name for himself, Neil Young set off on his solo career with a wise (perhaps too wise?) eponymous album, released in January 1969 to little commercial success. Nevertheless, tracks like The Old Laughing Lady arranged by Jack Nitzsche showcased his original style. Just four months later, he followed up this debut album with something completely different - Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, his first masterpiece that brought together a whole array of sounds and styles. The 23-year-old Canadian was surrounded by musicians who would make up his Crazy Horse band: Danny Whitten on guitar, Billy Talbot on bass and Ralph Molina on drums. For the first time ever, he explored his passion for electric, rugged guitars (like on the classics Down By The River and Cinamon Girl). Amid an atmosphere of unruly rock’n’roll with distant folk and country accents, Young left plenty of room for improvisation (like the long solo in Down by the River). It’s this style swerving, where the guitars are released like thoroughbreds in the wild, that characterises the unique, rough and spontaneous Crazy Horse sound, layered under Young’s equally rough voice. The Canadian songwriter is also an expert of softer melodies and the track Round & Round (It Won’t Be Long) took subtlety to new heights, carried by his inimitable falsetto. There’s no doubt that, as early as 1969, Neil Young was a cut above the rest.

After the Gold Rush (1970)

A few weeks after Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Neil Young got together with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash to write the album Déjà Vu, a record that shot to the top of the charts and turned the four musicians into global stars. Striking while the iron was hot, he took this chance to release his third solo album in the summer of 1970 - without Crazy Horse this time - which boasts some of his most beautiful songs, mostly recorded in his house in Topanga Canyon, California. Steeped with disillusion and confusion, he took his songwriting up a notch. His folk melodies are truly wonderful (Only Love Can Break Your Heart) as are the vocal harmonies (I Believe In You). In keeping with the times, a hippie utopia was still his main preoccupation, as shown by the political engagement at the heart of his famous anti-redneck anthem Southern Man (to which Lynyrd Skynyrd answered with Sweet Home Alabama). After the Goldrush is a magical album, perfectly balancing rock, folk and country (Young covers/revisits Don Gibson’s Oh, Lonesome Me), an alloy of which Neil Young is still one of the masters.