Neil Young has written so many great songs in so many styles that he has been likened to a chameleon, although at heart he is really a folk-rocker. But Neil is poles apart from your average folkie or rocker. Rhythmically his songs are usually pretty simple, and the chord structure is often rudimentary, but Neil has the ability to combine these basic ingredients to produce a seemingly infinite variety of music expressing the whole range of human emotion and experience.
As an example of the way Neil can bring a song to life, take the old favourite Only Love Can Break Your Heart from 1970, a simple song which is transformed from a plodding waltz into something special by the use of an unusual bridge into the chorus, ending with an F#m chord on the last word "heart", emphasizing the song's sad theme.
In a similar way he energizes 1977's The Old Country Waltz by the use of abrupt rests at the end of the second verse, after the words "loved", "lost" and "cried" - words which highlight the underlying story of the song. He follows this with a bridge which seems to double the tempo, bringing it to a halt with further sudden rests. The whole effect is to bring thew song to life, and, with Neil's soulful voice and the sad fiddle scratching out the tune, it becomes a highly evocative picture of a lonely guy drowning his sorrows in an empty bar, with the music "echoing off the walls".
To capture and express moods and ideas without resorting to over-complexity and artifice should, in my view, be one of the main goals of the songwriter. Neil has done this for more than four decades without ever sounding tired or hidebound. He's one of the most naturally gifted songwriters I know of.
On a personal note - I'd like to thank him for his kind suggestion for the colour scheme on this page ........ it just had to be "purple words on a grey background" . Thanks Neil !