Only Love Can Break Your Heart

It’s a very tough field, but it’s decided; this is my favorite Neil Young song. It is, I think, a very profound message, delivered in the structure of a nursery rhyme. I’ve always understood it as a simpler statement of the famous bit in Tennyson’s  In Memoriam A.H.H. (‘Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.) Tennyson’s poem, obviously, is the more refined iteration of the sentiment, but one can’t go around quoting Tennyson, not least because one has never read Tennyson and thus doesn’t understand the context of the lines. You can quote Neil Young, though, because Neil Young doesn’t offer more than you can understand. In a barrage of dumb platitudes that comes at you when you’re feeling your lowest, it’s hard to find words that you can actually hold on to. To me, these lines – so simple, so basic – have always been rewarding to dwell upon.


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