On the Beach这张发行于1974年的专辑被称为是Neil Young 的Ditch Trilogy之一，另外两部曲是Time Fades Away(1973)与Tonight's the Night(1975)。这个名称源自于老杨本身的一段话："This song put me in the middle of the road. Travelling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there." 这首歌指的是让他成为流行巨星的排行榜冠军曲Heart of gold，老杨本身极度不适应、也不喜欢这种成名后所带来华而不实的明星生活型态，他宁愿选择一条较艰难却有趣的多的道路，除此之外，多年好友Crazy Horse吉他手Danny Whitten与乐团巡迴经纪人Bruce Berry相继因药物问题而去世也带给老杨极大的打击，因此这三张专辑内容流露的尽是黑暗与绝望的气息，于是又被称为是Doom Trilogy或者是Depression Trilogy，而On the Beach里的Revolution blues、Vampire blues与Ambulance blues三首歌明白点出了老杨当时的心境，这三首歌曲也是这张专辑里着名的蓝调三部曲Blues Trilogy。
在音乐部份，On the Beach的曲调虽是以民谣与乡村摇滚为主，但是整体却佈满深沉的忧鬱，吉他、口琴、钢琴、贝斯与鼓击都因沾满老杨哀愁的思绪而变得低调起来，是一种疲累到脚步沉重缓慢以至于几近无法行走的状态，整个人颓然地瘫坐在椅子上动弹不得，再加上老杨本身尖而细的嗓音，高音单薄但韧性十足，彷彿像针一般刺进你的心里，逼使自己正视那一块不想碰触的角落，然而即使流脓也是一件好事，因为所有的不快乐都随着聆听On the Beach这张专辑而被洗涤乾净，那是一种痛彻心扉后的舒服畅快，灵魂在此也得到拯救，而且没有人该是永远悲伤自怜的，老杨也想藉着三部曲之末篇On the Beach的发行(比Tonight's the Night晚录製却因唱片公司的考量而早一年出版)出清那段时间累积的负面情绪，于是在这张专辑里唯一一首轻快、带有些许阳光气息歌曲Walk on的出现便具有某种程度上的正面意义，让我们明白唯有放下过去继续往前走，未来才能值得期待，正如歌词所陈述，"sooner or later, it all gets real."。
Recorded after (but released before) Tonight's the Night, On the Beach shares some of that album’s bleakness and crude production—which came as a shock to fans and critics alike, as this was the long-awaited studio follow-up to the commercial hit Harvest—but also included hints pointing towards a more subtle outlook, particularly opener "Walk On".
While the original Rolling Stone review described it as "One of the most despairing albums of the decade", later critics such as All Music Guide’s William Ruhlmann used the benefit of hindsight to conclude that Young "[w]as saying goodbye to despair, not being overwhelmed by it". The despair of Tonight's the Night, communicated through intentional underproduction and lyrical pessimism, gives way to a more polished album that is still pessimistic but not so much so.
Much like Tonight's the Night, On the Beach was not a commercial success at the time of its release but over time attained both a cult following and high critical regard. The album was recorded in a haphazard manner, with Young utilizing a variety of session musicians, and often changing their instruments while offering only bare-bones arrangements for them to follow (in true Tonight's the Night tradition). He also would opt for rough, monitor mixes of songs rather than a more polished sound, alienating his sound engineers in the process.
Throughout the recording of the album, Young and his fellow musicians consumed a homemade concoction dubbed "Honey Slides", a goop of sauteed marijuana and honey that was, in manager Elliot Roberts' words, "...much worse than heroin. Much heavier." (Shakey: Neil Young's Biography, Jimmy McDonough). This may account for the mellow mood of the album, particularly side two of the original LP. Young has said of it "Good album. One side of it particularly—the side with "Ambulance Blues", "Motion Pictures" and "On the Beach"—it's out there. It's a great take." (Shakey)
For nearly two decades, rarity made a cult out of On the Beach—deleted from vinyl in the early 1980's and only briefly released on cassette—the old slip case style, as well as 8-track tape, it headed the list of most-desired albums not released on CD. Along with three other mid-period Young albums, it had been withheld from re-release until 2003; the reasons remain murky but there is some evidence that Young himself didn’t want the albums out on CD, variously citing “fidelity problems” and legal issues. Beginning in 2000, over 5000 fans signed an online petition calling for the release of the album on CD; this wish was finally granted in 2003.