Certain Songs #1256: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Don’t Cry No Tears”

Album: Zuma
Year: 1975

Recorded at House, Point Dume, CA on June 1, 1975

Life came at you fast if you were a Neil Young fan in the the mid-1970s. After scrapping Tonight’s The Night and releasing On The Beach in July of 1974, Neil Young then started & scrapped a CSNY album to coincide with their 1974 tour, and later in the year recorded a whole album called Homegrown, which he then scrapped in favor of finally releasing Tonight’s The Night in June, 1975.

At the same time, he was recording most of the songs for the follow-up: Zuma, which was released on our birthday week in 1975. Here’s the thing about Zuma: it was mostly an album of short hooky garage-pop songs, complimented with a couple of longish jam songs.

It was also the first album since Everybody Knows This is Nowhere that was credited to both Neil Young and Crazy Horse, with Frank “Poncho” Sampedro aboard as the replacement for the late Danny Whitten. This is where Neil’s collaboration with Crazy Horse finally takes the form it has retained ever since, a form which is immediately apparent with the opening track, “Don’t Cry No Tears.”

Starting off with Poncho providing the initial guitar hook over Billy Talbot’s melodic bass and Molina’s steady pulse, “Don’t Cry” is the friendliest-sounding song Neil had written since “Cripple Creek Ferry,” even if it was a breakup song.

Don’t cry no tears around me
Don’t cry no tears around me
Because when all the water’s gone
The feeling lingers on
Oh, true love ain’t to hard to see
Don’t cry no tears around me

With Crazy Horse singing “ahhhs” deep in the background, and Neil playing a short, melodic solo, “Don’t Cry No Tears” just feels like a new beginning, even if they missed an opportunity to have call-and-response vocals at the end of each verse.

In my mind, that chorus should go:

Don’t cry (don’t cry)
No tears (no tears)
Around me

But that’s just quibbling: even without those, “Don’t Cry No Tears” is one of Neil Young’s greatest pure pop songs.

“Don’t Cry No Tears”

“Don’t Cry No Tears” live in 2001

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