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How Neil Young inspired Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood


It’s always interesting to hear about which musicians inspire one another throughout history, especially when it comes to those who don’t have a great deal in common at first glance. And this is definitely something that can be said for Neil Young and his impact on Jonny Greenwood and Radiohead in general.

Although it’d be tough to find many direct addresses when it comes to the two interacting or talking about one another, it’s clear even stylistically when you take a look at Greenwood and Radiohead just how much of an impact Young has had. The angular and minimalist style echoes Young exceptionally well, not to mention their shared affinity for the ‘one-note-solo’.

Greenwood has said of his musicality before, “It’s not really about can I do my guitar part now, it’s more… what will serve this song best? How do we not mess up this really good song? Part of the problem is Thom will sit at the piano and play a song like ‘Pyramid Song’ and we’re going to record it and how do we not make it worse, how do we make it better than him just playing it by himself, which is already usually quite great.”

And taking this view of finding what will work best and utilising all of the best resources isn’t new. Greenwood has even said of his instruments before, “Guitars are like typewriters. It’s technology, it’s not something to be admired or worshipped. Like, oh, a washing machine or something. It does the job. You start seeing people putting them on walls as decorations and it’s just… it’s like putting a vacuum cleaner there. That’s really bizarre for me. They’re okay; they all sound the same, it’s the brutal truth.”

The place where the two actually come together is, of course, on the Inherent Vice soundtrack. Greenwood scored the movie, but the soundtrack features songs both by Radiohead and Neil Young. Not to mention the fact that Greenwood’s original solo song on the soundtrack, ‘Amethyst’, rings quite similar to the Neil Young album Harvest. Who knows? Perhaps Greenwood found some direct inspiration in the album, especially considering the fact that ‘Amethyst’ appeared on a soundtrack beside Neil Young himself.

If you want to take a listen to the song, you can find ‘Amethyst’ linked below. Really, though, it’s easy enough to find the inspiration when you really listen for it.