Winding paths through tables and glass
First fall was new.
Now watch the summer pass
So close to you.
Too late to keep the change,
Too late to pay.
No time to stay the same.
Too young to leave.
No Pass Out sign on the door set me thinking
Are waitresses paying the price of their winking?
While stars sit at bars and decide what their drinking.
They drop by to die 'cause it's faster than sinking.
Find out that now was the answer to answers
That you gave later.
She did the things that we both did before now,
But who forgave her?
If I could stand to see her crying
I would tell her not to care.
When she learns of all your lyin'
Will she join you there?
Country girl I think you're pretty.
Got to make you understand
Have no lovers in the city.
Let me be your country man.
Got to make you understand. (2x)
Country Girl is billed as a medley of songs including Whiskey Boot Hill, Down Down Down, and Country Girl (I Think You’re Pretty), only the last of which seems clearly delineated. Leaving out the choruses, there seem to five different melodies, not three. “Whiskey Boot” sounds like it would be about something out of the Wild West; it was used in the title “String Quartet from Whiskey Boot Hill” on the first Neil Young album, released in November 1968. But in the context of Country Girl, “Whiskey Boot Hill” seems to be about a Hollywood bar full of fading “stars”. The chorus lyric is related to Young’s song Tell Me Why, which kicks off his After the Goldrush album, released in August 1970, with a lyric that goes Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself / When you’re old enough to repay / But young enough to sell? At any rate, as the lyric progresses, I imagine the poet has picked up a waitress from the bar who has been treated cruelly by her previous lover. She appears to be out of her element in Hollywood, and the singer is reassuring her that he too is not comfortable among the stars, preferring a quiet country life.
This is the last of Neil Young’s psychedelic “suites”, his most famous being Broken Arrow, released with the Buffalo Springfield in November 1967. In my opinion, neither song is among his best. I prefer the abbreviated conglomerate Here We Are In The Years from the first Neil Young album, which shifts between four distinct melodies almost seamlessly with little fanfare. Country Girl seems overstuffed with its tympani and its “Phantom of the Opera organ” (as Richie Unterberger puts it in his allmusic article). There’s nothing that sounds “country” about it, which is especially damning in that steel guitars were showing up all over other rock tracks at the time. (Indeed on the album Déjà Vu itself, Jerry Garcia’s steel guitar is featured on Graham Nash’s Teach Your Children.) It just so happens that YouTube has a November 1969 acoustic guitar recording of this entire song performed live in Detroit which, despite weaker vocals, is much better without the bombastic clutter.