Helpless (3:32)

Cover of Greatest Hits

From Greatest Hits and 47 other releases

“Helpless” is a song written by Canadian singer-songwriter Neil Young, most famously recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on their 1970 album Déjà Vu.

Helpless was originally recorded with Young’s band Crazy Horse in early 1969, before Young’s new CSNY bandmates (he had joined the then-trio in mid-1969) convinced him it would suit them better. The song was simple, at its core effectively the repetition of one melody over a descending D-A-G chord progression, but despite (or perhaps because of) its simplicity the group found difficulty deciding on an arrangement and many different versions of the song were recorded before the group finally decided on the slow-paced version that appeared on the album. On this final version Young was in the foreground, singing the verses and the chorus with his bandmates providing the “helpless” refrain, while the instrumentation came in the form of acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar (or electric guitar with volume pedal), and piano. It became one of the most revered songs from the Déjà Vu album (Q magazine’s Peter Doggett regards it as “one of (the album’s) showpieces”), and has remained a live favorite of Young’s for over thirty years. Experimental rock artist Bill Nelson recorded a version of the song. K.D.


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There is a town in north Ontario
With dream comfort, memory to spare
And in my mind, I still need a place to go
All my changes were there

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics


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