Posts Tagged ‘Neil Young’

After a Crazy Horse barn tour was cancelled owing to coronavirus touring restrictions, Neil Young devised other ways to perform live music for the masses. Choosing to keep on streaming in the free world, Young envisaged the Fireside Sessions: a “down-home production, a few songs, a little time together” beamed live from his Colorado home. For the inaugural six-song acoustic set broadcast on March 19th 2020, Young pulled a couple of mouth-watering cuts from his sprawling catalogue. There was “Love/Art Blues”, debuted during CSNY’s 1974 tour, and the first solo outing for On The Beach’s “Vampire Blues” since 1974. Young closed the set with another deep cut: “Little Wing”, revived after an absence of over 40 years. A song about a benevolent bird that flies into town each summer, “Little Wing’s” inclusion felt especially timely. Although it appeared on 1980’s Hawks & Doves, its origins lie much further back, on “Homegrown” – one of Young’s legendary ‘lost’ albums, which finally arrives, 45 years late, in May.

Intended as a follow-up to On The Beach, Homegrown was pulled – apparently at the suggestion of The Band’s Rick Danko – in favour of a rehabilitated Tonight’s The Night. Young’s official reason for cancelling Homegrown was that its downbeat mood depressed him. Describing it now as “the sad side of a love affair”, at the time Young may have also felt uneasy about the number of songs about Carrie Snodgress, from whom he separated shortly before recording began. Five of Homegrown’s 12 songs later made it onto American Stars ’N Bars, Decade, Hawks & Doves and Ragged Glory. Among the other seven, several have only been played live a handful of times over the years, while three have never been heard until now.

Superficially, Homegrown resembles Hitchhiker – another ‘lost’ album from Young’s golden era that was finally released in 2017. But while Hitchhiker was a focused snapshot of Young’s creative process, recorded during one night in August 1976, Homegrown had more digressive beginnings. Sessions ran between June 1974 and January 1975 in Los Angeles, at Young’s Broken Arrow Ranch and even in England. The bulk of the work, though, took place at Nashville’s Quadrafonic Sound, where Young recorded Harvest along with producer Elliot Mazer. Reunited with Mazer and Harvest alumni Ben Keith on pedal steel and Tim Drummond on bass, Young also called on future International Harvester drummer Karl Himmel, Hawks/Band pianist Stan Szelest, Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson.

More than just a trove of buried treasure from Young’s fecund ’70s – Homegrown is the missing chapter in his fabled Ditch Trilogy. Ben Keith’s exquisite pedal steel and Tim Drummond’s agile basslines provide a musical through-line; meanwhile, as Young picks through the debris of his relationship with Snodgress, Homegrown displays both the introspective qualities of On The Beach and the vérité nakedness of Tonight’s The Night.

Opener “Separate Ways” begins halfway through a chord, as if the band had started playing a split second before Mazer hit ‘record’. Sparsely arranged for a bare-bones ensemble, Young reflects on his split from Snodgress: “Though we go our separate ways/Lookin’ for better days/Sharin’ our little boy/Who grew from joy back then.” Keith’s pedal steel weeps sympathetically behind him as Levon Helm plays a slow, measured beat. The mood deepens with “Try”, a tribute to Snodgress’s mother, who committed suicide shortly after the couple separated. Here, Young incorporates some of her favourite expressions, including “Shit, Mary, I can’t dance”. Emmylou Harris harmonises on the chorus while Helm’s discreet fills and a lovely, rolling piano from the great Stan Szelest lift the final third of the song. The rainy days continue with the sorrowful “Mexico” – the first of three travelogues – where Young sits alone at the piano, asking, “Why is it so hard to hang on to your love?”

Love Is A Rose” – familiar from Decade – opens with a supple bass run from Tim Drummond and a blast of Young’s harmonica before settling into the kind of palatable country-folk familiar from Harvest. Then it’s into “Homegrown” itself. Essentially a goofy jam about the pleasures of the herb, the version here is breezier and funkier than the Crazy Horse re-recording on American Stars ’N Bars. It’s welcome light relief before Young drifts back into his cursed fog. On the unreleased spoken-word piece “Florida”, he relates a macabre yarn about a glider crashing into a 15-storey building in the city centre. On this, Young is accompanied by what could either be a saw, a detuned violin or perhaps someone running a wet finger around the rim of a glass – or, more likely, all three.

After the strangeness of “Florida”, “Kansas” is a more conventional acoustic piece. The narrator wakes up to find a companion lying next to him in bed – “Although I’m not so sure if I even know your name.” With its world-weary delivery, “Kansas” resembles one of the more downcast moments from On The Beach, the harmonica motif seeming to reference “Ambulance Blues”. Thematically, it is another meditation on the hollowness of stardom – this transient romantic assignation takes place “In my bungalow with stucco/That the glory and success bought.” With the album’s temperament growing unstable, Young withdraws into “We Don’t Smoke It Anymore” – a strung-out blues vamp that wouldn’t sound out of place on Tonight’s The Night.

Sometime in September 1974, shortly before CSNY played Wembley Stadium, Young and Robbie Robertson recorded a song called “White Line”. You’ll know the electrified version from Ragged Glory, of course; but here, in a simple acoustic arrangement, it casts a note of wary optimism: “I’ve been down but I’m coming back up again.” The guitar interplay between Young and Robertson is warm, complementary – you might wish they’d collaborated musically more often. Meanwhile, whatever positive emotions Young had experienced on “White Line” have evaporated by the time the churning riffs of “Vacancy” start up. This is Young at his most fractious. “I look in your eyes and I don’t know what’s there,” he sings in a sarcastic jeer. “You poison me with that long vacant stare.” Is he addressing Snodgress directly? Or perhaps he’s expressing a broader disdain for the industry sharks and hangers-on around him?

The album winds down with two more acoustic songs: “Little Wing” and “Star Of Bethlehem”. If you squint hard enough, it’s possible to read the former as an allegory about Snodgress – “Little Wing, don’t fly away” – but “Star Of Bethlehem” rages with acrimony and betrayal. A crepuscular ballad, graced with elegant harmonies from Harris, it finds Young at his most merciless: “All your dreams and your lovers won’t protect you/They’re only passing through you in the end/They’ll leave you stripped of all that they can get to/And wait for you to co As with much of Homegrown, a heaviness crashes through the mellow musical vibes.

Had Homegrown been released in June 1975, as intended, would Young’s career be any different? Does this previously missing instalment of the Ditch Trilogy (now Quartet?) alter our perceptions of the releases around it? If Time Fades Away, On The Beach and Tonight’s The Night address the tragedies of Young’s recent past and his disillusionment with the limousine lifestyle Harvest bought him, Homegrown telescopes in on troubles at home – making it the most human of this run of albums. Young’s writing is unashamedly autobiographical in ways it has seldom been since (other unreleased songs from this period like “Frozen Man”, “Homefires” and “Love/Art Blues” further illuminate Young’s inner character). He is bereft, injured, cold – but he also experiences a certain karmic resignation. As he sings on “Separate Ways”: “Me for me, you for you/Happiness is never through/It’s only a change of plan/And that is nothing new.” There will always be heartbreak and loss. It’s the way things are and the way they will always be. It’s Young’s Chinatown moment.

Neil Young puts it best:
“This album is the unheard bridge between Harvest and Comes a Time”.
Recorded between June 1974 and January 1975, Homegrown was intended to come out in 1975 before Neil cancelled the release. The album has remained unreleased until now, achieving a legendary status among Neil Young fans in the process.
The album is made up of twelve Neil Young songs, of which seven are previously unreleased – “Separate Ways,” “Try,” “Mexico,” “Kansas,” “We Don’t Smoke It No More,” “Vacancy” and “Florida” (a spoken word narration). Also included are the first recordings of “Love Is A Rose,” “Homegrown,” “White Line”, “Little Wing,” and “Star Of Bethlehem” – different versions of which would all later appear on other Neil Young albums.
Neil plays solo on some tracks (guitar, piano and harmonica), and is joined by a band of friends on other tracks, including Levon Helm, Ben Keith, Karl T Himmel, Tim Drummond, Emmylou Harris and Robbie Robertson.
Recorded in analogue, and mastered from the original master tapes, this long-lost album is a wonderful addition to Neil’s incomparable catalog.

Neil Young has described his new album as “the one that got away”

Neil Young has released “Vacancy,” the latest offering from Homegrown, the previously shelved 1975 album he’s finally releasing on June 19th.

One of the seven unreleased tracks on the album, “Vacancy” opens with a churning guitar riff, as Young sings “Who are you?/Where are you going to?” He then addresses an old lover: “I look in your eyes and I don’t know what’s there/You poison me with that long, vacant stare.” One of the seven unreleased tracks on the album, “Vacancy” opens with a churning guitar riff, as Young sings “Who are you?/Where are you going to?” He then addresses an old lover: “I look in your eyes and I don’t know what’s there/You poison me with that long, vacant stare.”

Recorded at Young’s Broken Arrow Ranch Studio in January 1975, the track features Stan Szelest on Wurlitzer organ, Ben Keith on lap slide guitar, bassist Tim Drummond and Karl T. Himmel on drums.

“Vacancy” follows the single “Try,” another previously unreleased track he performed on tour between 2007 and 2008. He recently performed the title track — released off 1977’s American Stars ‘N Bars — during his home concert series in quarantine.

Young, who recently announced a Bootleg Series, dropped a 2019 solo acoustic rendition of “Southern Man” in the wake of mass protests over the police killing of George Floyd. “Have hope,” he wrote in an op-ed on his website on Monday. “I feel a change. … We know black lives matter. My heart goes out to all our black families affected, so that’s all the black families through American history. I feel like we are turning a corner. All Together, all colours on the street. We know our mission is the right one for America and for mankind.”

Neil Young’s “Vacancy” from ‘Homegrown’ available on June 19th.

At the core of Neil Young’s catalogue is the belief that art has the power to transform the world around us: whether he is speaking truth to power, highlighting the injustices he sees in our society, or using his platform to elevate the voices of those who are not as fortunate as himself, Young has come to signify a certain kind of relentless optimism in the face of a very harsh reality.

Right now, we sorely need this sort of optimism. The Trump administration’s commitment to denigrating, brutalizing, and criminalizing immigrants has reached a fever pitch with the family separation policy. Although the practice of family separation has reportedly been halted, there are still thousands of children that have been lost by DHA.

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TFN is excited today to premiere this new video from New Hampshire’s Rick Rude. The track is their version of Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere,” which can be found on the new release “Look Out For My Love: A Neil Young Covers Album to Benefit RAICES”. Their track is a highlight from the compilation and should also get you geared up to hear some more new music from the band!

The compilation features 18 tracks from different indie musicians, that not only includes Rick Rude but Lung, Halfsour and Adult Mom (which contributed an excellent version of “Harvest Moon.”) All funds raised by this compilation will be donated to RAICES which is a nonprofit that provides free and low-cost legal and social services for immigrants.

Neil Young’s personal life was in free fall by 1974. His wife, actress Carrie Snodgrass, was gone for good, and attempts to rekindle a working relationship with CSNY only resulted in the aborted Human Highway project and the goodwill-shattering “Doom Tour.” It was during this turbulent time that he composed songs for a new collection to be named “Homegrown”.

“It was intense, like trying to make a record in the middle of 42nd Street, or Vietnam,” says producer Elliot Mazer “Here’s a guy going through hell, and this is like a fuckin’ catharsis for him.” Titles like “Frozen Man,” “Separate Ways” and “Love-Art Blues” paint a stark portrait of a lonely and heartbroken man. Those who heard the completed album insisted that it was as strong as Young’s breakthrough smash, Harvest. Cover art was printed, and label executives braced themselves for a million seller.

And then Young changed his mind. He had assembled friends, including the Band’s Rick Danko, at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont to get an opinion on his latest work. As a tape of “Homegrown” came to an end, a mix of the dark, gritty and unreleased “Tonight’s the Night” came on the stereo by chance.

Danko preferred the raw power of “Tonight’s the Night” to the comparatively delicate “Homegrown”. Disregarding advice from his label, Young released it instead that June. “[Homegrown] might be more what people would rather hear from me now, but it was just a very down album,” he told Rolling Stone at the time. “It was a little too personal.  It scared me.

Neil Young fans have been clamouring for the release of Homegrown, the lost album that was nearly released in 1975 and most recently slated for the still-yet-to-happen Record Store Day 2020. Now, it’s been announced that the album described by Neil as “the missing link between “Harvest, Comes” “A Time, Old Ways” and “Harvest Moon” will finally reach fans on June 19th.

“Homegrown” is all analouge!  The purest sound,” Young wrote in a post on his Neil Young Archives site.  “Hear the vinyl.  Get a nice phonograph player.  This is the record to do that on!  My first ever narration with Ben ‘Longgrain’ Keith and live sound effects.  Some beautiful music and fun rockin’ songs as well.  This is the one that got away.  I am stoked to share this with you.”

While much of the industry is in flux due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Neil hasn’t stopped moving forward with his Archives projects.  Also on the radar is a audiovisual release of a Greendale stage tour performance from Toronto in September 2003 entitled Return to Greendale.  That one is currently set for release on double vinyl in July.

The Neil Young Archives team has also unearthed pro-shot video and multitrack audio tapes of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s celebrated November 1990 show at The Catalyst.  Previews have been posted sporadically in the Hearse Theatre section of the Archives website, whetting the appetite for the October release.  “I think this has to be one of my all-time favorite Crazy Horse performances!” Neil wrote last year.  “It’s hard to believe this did not come out a long time ago! .

Neil will also look back to a solo show from January 1971 with Young Shakespeare, the show came three days after his Massey Hall concert and stands as a career “high water mark,” according to producer John Hanlon.  Currently slated for November 27, Young Shakespeare will include both audio and video content.

If that weren’t enough, it seems that the long-awaited box set Neil Young Archives, Volume 2 will finally arrive on August 21st should all go to plan.  Neil has revealed it will be a 10-CD set covering the prolific period from 1972-1976 and will include Odeon Budokan, a live album and concert film from the Zuma tour’s stops in London and Japan.

Finally, Neil has been in touch with Graham Nash about compiling a 50th Anniversary Edition of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Deja Vu” album which would likely appear by the end of the year.Looking ahead to 2021, Young has announced that he’s also been working on an album called Road of Plentywhich spotlights his work with Crazy Horse during the late ’80s.  The album will feature recordings from the group’s 1986 tour, plus “some amazing music” recorded during the rehearsals for Saturday Night Live in 1989.

This is the first of 5 Archives releases Neil Young has announced for this year. It’s confirmation gives me hope that the other 4 will happen as scheduled. The release schedule is 31st July-“Back To Greendale Live” album plus film of a 2003 Toronto concert of the Greendale album with Crazy Horse complete with actors and stage settings. He has been previewing a song a week on the Archives site
21st #August- Archives Volume 2.The big one-10 cds plus a DVD covering the years 1973 to 1976. Includes the already released Tuscaloosa, Roxy and Songs For Judy..The only other confirmed disc is a live album from the Zuma tour taken from shows at the Hammersmith and Budokan which is also the basis of the DVD. The Homegrown tracks are likely to be included but mixed in with other recordings rather than as a stand alone album.
16th October-Down In The Rust Bucket Live album plus film of a Crazy Horse show at a small club called the Catalyst at the outset of the Ragged Glory tour. Again he has been showing a song a week on the web site.
27th November-Young Shakespeare Live album plus film of a solo show done within a few days of the Massey Hall concert that was in Volume 1. Yet again previews have been on site.

There was some mention this would be part of an expanded After The Gold Rush but lately it is being referred to as a stand alone.
This Will be a great year to be a Neil fan if all this happens. Another good reason to stay safe.

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Neil Young has announced that he’s working on a new archival album based around material from the mid-to-late 1980s. The album will consist of music made with his band Crazy Horse during a 1986 US tour, combined with tracks recorded in 1989 with the band he would go on to perform with on Saturday Night Live.

The title track is an early version of what would go on to be released as the song ‘Eldorado’ on Young’s 1989 LP ‘Freedom’. In a post on his website reflecting on the period, Young said that he first “tried out” the song during a private reunion with his 1960s group Buffalo Springfield. “It was my fault that we didn’t get together at the time and have a reunion, tour and album,” Young reflected in a post on his website.

He said that he and Crazy Horse have a “monster take” of the track, recorded at a show in Minneapolis in October 1986 which will be included on the album. “How this song escaped is hard for me to believe,” he said. Three years afterwards, Young and a band consisting of Crazy Horse guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro, drummer Steve Jordan and bassist Charley Drayton “recorded some amazing music” while rehearsing for their SNL appearance, “all of which” will appear on ‘Road Of Plenty’.

“Niko [Bolas, producer] and I have been working on this project for a while and I think it will be a highlight of 2021,” Young said. A specific date next year for the album’s release is yet to be announced, with a number of archival Neil Young releases on their way in the intervening months.

His legendary ‘lost’ LP ‘Homegrown’, shelved in 1975, is finally coming out after 45 years on June 19th, followed by the release of a 2003 live performance ‘Return To Greendale’ on July 17th, a 1970s-spanning compilation ‘The Neil Young Archives Volume 2’ on August 21st, a 1990 Crazy Horse club gig ‘Rust Bucket’ on October 16th and a 1971 solo acoustic show ‘Young Shakespeare on November 27th.

Meanwhile the veteran singer-songwriter recently shared a new, re-recorded version of his 2019 track ‘Shut It Down’, prompted by fans “reaching out [and] expressing the elevated poignancy the song has come to represent during this pandemic”.

Neil Young and his Performance Series releases from the Neil Young Archives is “Bluenote Café” released on November 13th via Reprise Records. The album collects various performances captured during Neil’s 1988 tour.

The album is volume eleven in Young’s Archives Performance Series, and features performances from Young’s 1987–88 American tours with his then-backing band, The Bluenotes (renamed here as Bluenote Café ), with whom he recorded his seventeenth studio album, “This Note’s for You”.

Aside from live versions of “This Note’s for You” songs, the album features a number of songs that weren’t released at the time; “Welcome to the Big Room”, “Hello Lonely Woman”, “Bad News Comes to Town”, “Crime of the Heart” and “Doghouse” make their first appearances on any official Neil Young release (“Doghouse” was covered in 2011 by Young’s then-wife Pegi on her album “Bracing for Impact”. Two of the album’s tracks, “This Note’s for You” and “Ain’t It the Truth,” previously appeared on the compilation album “Lucky Thirteen”. The album received positive reviews,”generally favourable reviews”. Chris Gerard of PopMatters gave the album nine stars out of ten, stating: “Bluenote Café” is essential Neil Young, and further evidence that Young’s 80s work has more value than many would expect.

This superb live 2-CD, 4-vinyl LP set documents one of Young’s most funky and heartfelt periods and features seven unreleased songs: and a searing 19+ minute version of the immortal “Tonight’s the Night” from The Pier in New York City.

See the source image

The Bluenote Café Band:
Neil Young – guitar & vocals
Rick Rosas – bass,
Chad Cromwell – drums
Frank Sampedro – keyboards
Steve Lawrence – lead tenor saxophone
Ben Keith – alto saxophone
Larry Cragg – baritone saxophone
Claude Cailliet – trombone
Tom Bray – trumpet
John Fumo – trumpet
Billy Talbot – bass
Ralph Molina – drums

Neil young homegrown

Neil Young issued an apology for the delay in releasing the 1975 album “Homegrown”, calling it “the one that got away.” He’s finally putting out the LP this year. Neil Young has updated the timeline at Neil Young Archives to include dates for five upcoming archive titles scheduled for release during 2020.

First on the slate is shelved 1975 acoustic album Homegrown, which was given a release date of April 18th the original date for Record Store Day – despite the album disappearing from the official RSD list over the weekend. Just before its original scheduled release date, he decided to issue Tonight’s the Night instead. He later described Homegrown as “a very down album” and “the unheard bridge between “Harvest” and “Comes a Time.” It was recorded during a period when he was having marital problems as well as personal issues with his Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young bandmates.

“I apologize,” Young wrote on his archives website. “This album Homegrown should have been there for you a couple of years after Harvest. It’s the sad side of a love affair. The damage done. The heartache. I just couldn’t listen to it. I wanted to move on. So I kept it to myself, hidden away in the vault, on the shelf, in the back of my mind … but I should have shared it. It’s actually beautiful. That’s why I made it in the first place. Sometimes life hurts. You know what I mean.” an unreleased acoustic album by Neil Young from 1974-1975. Young originally recorded Homegrown at a time his career when new songs were coming to him at an incredible pace, many of them inspired by his painful split with girlfriend Carrie Snodgress.

According to the timeline, it will be followed on June 19th by Return To Greendale the concert film of Young’s 2003/4 Greendale tour; and most excitingly on July 24th by Archives Volume 2, reportedly covering the years 1972-82. It’s thought that it may contain unreleased albums Chrome Dreams and Oceanside/Countryside. The other planned 2020 releases are Rust Bucket (October 16th), a live album and film of a mammoth November 1990 show that Young has called “one of my all-time favourite Crazy Horse performances!”; and Young Shakespeare (November 27th), another live release dating from January 1971, billed as the earliest known film of any Neil Young performance.

He noted that Levon Helm and Emmylou Harris were among the artists who recorded with him and that the album carries “a narration, several acoustic solo songs never even published or heard until this release, and some songs played with a great band of my friends.”

Young said Homegrown would be his first release of 2020, though he didn’t provide a date for its arrival. “This is the one that got away,” he added. “This album, in vinyl, displays the beauty, feeling and depth of music record in the analog domain, before digital. It’s the perfect example of why I can’t forget how good music used to sound.

Neil Young puts it best: “This album is the unheard bridge between Harvest and Comes a Time”.

Recorded between June 1974 and January 1975, Homegrown was intended to come out in 1975 before Neil cancelled the release. The album has remained unreleased until now, achieving a legendary status among Neil Young fans in the process.

The album is made up of twelve Neil Young songs, of which seven are previously unreleased – “Separate Ways,” “Try,” “Mexico,” “Kansas,” We Don’t Smoke It No More,” “Vacancy” and “Florida” (a spoken word narration). Also included are the first recordings of “Love Is A Rose,” “Homegrown,” “White Line.”

“Little Wing,” and “Star Of Bethlehem” – different versions of which would all later appear on other Neil Young albums.
Neil plays solo on some tracks (guitar, piano and harmonica), and is joined by a band of friends on other tracks, including Levon Helm, Ben Keith, Karl T Himmel, Tim Drummond, Emmylou Harris and Robbie Robertson. Recorded in analog, and mastered from the original master tapes, this long-lost album is a wonderful addition to Neil’s incomparable catalogue.

Neil Young, Neil Young Crazy Horse, Neil young Shut It Down, Shut it down, Neil Young Shut It down 2020, Neil young Crazy Horse Shut It Down, Neil Young Crazy Horse Colorado, Colorado

With sometime on his hands ever since he recognized the riskiness of scheduling a tour with Crazy Horse in the current climate, Neil Young has used that time to create an updated version of his song “Shut it Down,”  from their 2019 album,” Colorado” On April 9th, he released a video for “Shut it Down 2020.” In announcing the video, Young wrote: “These are uncertain times. I wish you all the best as you care for our sick, the young and old who we love so much.

“Sending the best wishes to all the health care and government workers all over the world, to all the scientists who will learn and share with us the best ways to ensure survival in our world challenged. Let’s all work together and stay positive that we will find a way. With love to all, in all walks of life, all political persuasions, all colors. We will succeed working together for the good of our world as we are here together, hanging in the balance of nature.”

In early March, just two weeks after indicating that he was considering a 2020 tour with Crazy Horse, the classic rock legend indicated that the “barn tour,” as he described it, was on hold, due to these “uncertain times.” Young was referring to the Coronavirus outbreak.

According to a March 7th post on his website https://neilyoungarchives.com Neil Young Archives site, the veteran singer-songwriter-musician noted, “We are looking at this uncertain world with our fully booked Crazy Horse Barn Tour, ready to announce the first stage.

“The last thing we want is to put people at risk, especially our older audience. Nobody wants to get sick in this pandemic.”
Young closed the post by writing, “Sending best wishes to all of the health care and government workers in all of the world, to all the scientists who will learn and share with us the best ways to ensure survival in our world challenged.”. From Young’s late February description, the shows would take place not in actual barns but in “old arenas.” The news of the possible tour came only days after announcing that he would not be touring at all in 2020.

Young’s full statement in late Feb. was as follows: “We have been looking at booking the Crazy Horse BARN Tour,” Neil wrote. “Many of the old places we used to play are gone now, replaced by new coliseums we have to book (sp) year in advance and we don’t want to go to anyway. That’s not the way we like to play. It sounds way to much like a real job if you have to book it and wait a year, so we have decided to play old arenas – not the new sports facilities put up by corporations for their sports teams. Largely soulless, these new buildings cost a fortune to play in.”

“We wanted to play in a couple of months because we feel like it,” Young added. “To us it’s not a regular job. We don’t like the new rules.”  Young then listed a number of arenas in which he used to perform but have since been demolished, and then listed arenas still in existence. “If you are looking for us on our Crazy Horse Barn Tour, we will hopefully be in one of the existing arenas,” he said at the end of his statement.

Hi, this is Neil. Link to the NYA info-card for this song with press, documents, manuscripts, photos, videos. Look around NYA for fun and listening! ALL my music in high resolution at https://neilyoungarchives.com/info-ca.

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Yesterday (January 9th), The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon welcomed both actor Will and music guest Patti Smith. After Will Smith and Fallon rapped a history of Will Smith, Patti Smith showed up to discuss her new book Year of the Monkey, she read a poem, discuss being a jerk to Bob Dylan, and performed a cover Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.” 

Music guest Patti Smith performs a cover of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush” for the Tonight Show audience.

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Graham Nash was on a helicopter with drummer Dallas Taylor flying into Bethel, N.Y., where their band was scheduled to perform at a festival. As they neared their destination, Taylor asked what lake they were flying over. It wasn’t water, the pilot replied. It was the audience.

The gig was Woodstock. The band was Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The gathering on Max Yasgur’s farm would be only their second-ever live performance, after recently solidifying a touring lineup with Neil Young, Taylor and bassist Greg Reeves. The weekend would prove to be a high point for the counterculture that Woodstock quickly came to represent—and for Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young, the ensemble that was in some ways the house band for the Woodstock generation.

“Their music and their image became indissolubly linked with the fate of the baby-boomer era,” music historian Peter Doggett writes in CSNY, one of two engaging biographies released tracing the band’s fractious history. The other is Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young by David Browne, a senior writer for Rolling Stone magazine.

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Browne covers the full arc of the band’s career, from its members’ musical origins in other groups in the ‘60s to the present. Doggett focuses on the musicians’ early lives and careers through 1974, when David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and Neil Young toured together for the last time. Though both books cover some of the same ground, Doggett’s is far more detailed about the beginnings of the band and the musicians’ upbringings. Browne takes on the monumental task of summarizing a half-century’s worth of conflict, self-sabotage and, when the musicians managed to get out of their own way, music.

Crosby, Stills & Nash wasn’t intended to be a “band” at all, at least not in the late-‘60s sense of the word, which implied a specific identity, expectations and business commitments. Those things amounted to limitations, in the minds of Crosby, Stills and Nash, who had each dealt with all that in the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and the Hollies, respectively. They started singing together for the thrill of it, and they quickly realized that they harmonized with an uncommon purity that astonished their friends. That feeling of amazement carried over to the listening public when the trio released Crosby, Stills & Nash at the end of May 1969, thanks to songs including “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” “Long Time Gone” and “Helplessly Hoping.”

The singers intended CSN to be a sort of “mothership” situation that would, between group efforts, permit solo projects, outside collaborations and plenty of musical experimentation. Yet converting their “party trick” harmonies (Browne and Doggett both use the term) into something that certainly looked like a band, with a record deal and all the attendant obligations, quickly subsumed the idea of singing together for its own sake. If bringing in Young to help flesh out the songs onstage made sense from a musical standpoint, each book illustrates how adding a fourth massive ego also hastened the band’s descent into creative disputes and power struggles.

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Though both authors admire the group and its songs, the musicians come off as intensely dislikable, especially as money and fame transform them. Stills is a taskmaster perfectionist with control issues. Crosby is a blowhard, a drug-addled hedonist with an attitude toward women that is startlingly chauvinistic, even for the era. Young, who had been part of Buffalo Springfield with Stills, is a cynical opportunist who sees joining CSN as a way to jumpstart his own then-lackluster career. Only Nash sometimes seems sympathetic; the most level-headed, he tries to act as a go-between among warring factions with limited success.

Together (and, just as often, separately), they cut a path through popular music in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Doggett writes vividly about the L.A. scene that produced Crosby, Stills & Nash, chronicling their interactions with Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, Peter Tork of the Monkees, Joni Mitchell (who was romantically involved with Crosby, then Nash), Judy Collins (whose relationship with Stills inspired “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”), Jimi Hendrix, Atlantic Records impresario Ahmet Ertegun, David Geffen and more. Doggett does his best to tame the mythology of CSN, sorting through various stories and inconsistent recollections about when and where they first sang together (Was it at Elliot’s house, or Mitchell’s? The night the Hollies played the Whisky in February 1968, or sometime afterward?) and when various songs were written and recorded.

Browne in many ways has the harder task, as the band’s earlier years were its most thrilling and creatively rewarding. Surprisingly little of the music they made together still resonates; after their first two studio LPs, CSN and 1970’s Déjà Vu with Young, and the 1971 live album 4 Way Street, the Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young) catalog is a study in diminishing returns. In the latter half of Browne’s book, there’s almost a numb inevitability to the musicians’ fumbling attempts in the ‘80s to contemporize their sound, Crosby’s ever-deeper descent into drug addiction that led to a stint in prison, and Young’s inability to stop dangling the possibility of a full-scale reunion in front of his bandmates, only to flake out nearly every time for inscrutable reasons of his own.

Taken together, CSNY and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young present as full a picture of the group as is ever likely to emerge. It’s not a triumphant story. Beneath the promise of those early songs—and that initial camaraderie—lurks a mostly unwritten, certainly unanswerable question that poses itself again and again: What if?

Much like the dream of the Woodstock generation, the tale of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is awash in senseless vanity, squandered chances and potential left tragically unfulfilled. Yet it’s often hard to look away—just like with any car wreck.