'Computer Age' is the second track on Neil Young's violently atypical 1982 album 'Trans', an album which, in compete contrast to the rest of Young's output, is composed almost entirely of vocoder-heavy synth rock. As with the rest of the album, 'Computer Age' is surprisingly successful, as it is essentially a conventional Neil Young song with synthesizers layered on top, rather than a complete break into the world of ambient, say.

The song clearly owes a great debt to the title track of Kraftwerk's 'Computer World' - it has a similar riff, and the song is essentially about the same thing, the march of computer technology. As with Kraftwerk's song, 'Computer Age' is impenetrably ambiguous as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

The lyrics are hard to decipher, as they are sung through a vocoder, the end result being a not-unattractive electronic squawk; the vocals are best thought of as an extra instrument rather than a vehicle for delivering words. Nonetheless here are the lyrics, as far as I can tell, gleaned by listening to the song through headphones, several times, loud.

'Computer Age'
Neil Young
Cars and trucks
fly by me on the corner
but I'm all right
standing proud before the signal
when I see the light
I know I'm more than just a number
and I stand by you
or else we just don't see the others

(Chorus - with the title phrase sung three times in sequence, each repetition an octave higher)
Computer age
Computer age
Computer age

Bikes and vans
fly by me on the desert
but I'm all right
standing out here in the hot sun
when I see the light
I feel like more than just a number
and I stand by you
or else we just don't see the others


(Middle eight)
Precious metal lines
molded into highways
running through me
so microscopically

Days and nights
weeks and months and seasons -
flowing through me
so chronologically


I need you
to let me know that there's a heartbeat
let it pound and pound
and I'll be flying like a free bird
and you need me
like ugly needs a mirror
and day by day
this horizon's getting clearer

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