10.08-WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY LIFE (Neil Young)

Neil Young



When we were living
Together I thought that
I knew you would stay.

Still when you left me
I tried to pretend we
Could make it some way.

        I don't care
        If all of the mountains
        Turn to dust in the air.
        (What did you do to my life?)

        It isn't fair
        That I should wake up at dawn
        And not find you there.
        (What did you do to my life?)


It's hard enough losing
Without the confusion
Of knowing I tried.

But you've made your mind up
That I'll be alone now
There's nothing to hide.

        [Chorus (3x) & Fade]

Upon regarding the lyrics to What Did You Do To My Life I need to at first remark on Neil Young’s aversion in this song, and the song previously considered, to the usual quatrain verses in pop songs. This is a very tightly written lyric with a note for every syllable sung, and on top of that, its meaning is very clear. It’s a song of heartbreak quite common to the pop music charts, though the focused sincerity of the lyrics set it apart from most. Even so, I can’t help but think that the verse I don’t care / If all of the mountains / Turn to dust in the air owes something to the metaphor Jimi Hendrix introduced in If 6 Was 9 [Fall mountains, just don’t fall on me!] and continued in Voodoo Chile [I’m standing next to a mountain / Chop it down with the edge of my hand.]

The music produced for the song is also measured, ringing with an echoing high pitch guitar note in a manner similar to that used by the Buffalo Springfield on For What It’s Worth, tolling between lines of verse carried on the simmering rage of a fuzz tone guitar that keeps to the background of the singer’s tender voice. The break is brief, with what sounds like an electric guitar played backwards against a strumming acoustic guitar rhythm. The last chorus slowly fades out with a ghostly multi-tracked voice crying above the complaints of indifference and injustice What did you do to my life?