Certain Songs #1293: Neil Young – “Hitchhiker”

Album: Le Noise
Year: 2010

Recorded at Le Noise, Silver Lake on March 29, 2010

After Prairie Wind, each of the new studio albums that Neil Young released for the balance of the 2000s had an interesting backstory, as well a few good songs, maybe even great ones.

In 2006, Living With War tried literally to raise rabble with pointed songs about Gulf War II like the title track and “Shock and Awe,” as well as the controversy-generating “Let’s Impeach The President,” (for lying, which seems both quaint and totally apropos today), though the best one was “The Restless Consumer,” a catchy commentary on late capitalism which was nevertheless too strident by half.

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Certain Songs #1292: Neil Young – “No Wonder”

Album: Prairie Wind
Year: 2005

Recorded at Masterlink, Nashville on March 19, 2005

It would be 2005 before we got another good Neil Young album.

That’s not as bad as it sounds, I guess. First off, Broken Arrow was his last album of the 20th century, unless you count 1999’s CSN&Y album, Looking Forward, which I don’t even remember, so I guess I don’t.

But even a glance at the always helpful timeline on the invaluable Neil Young Archives shows an absolute paucity of studio recording during that period, and no lost albums.

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Certain Songs #1291: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Slip Away (Los Angeles 09-11-1996)”

Album: Year of the Horse
Year: 1997

Recorded at the The Forum, Inglewood on September 11, 1996

Along with “Big Time” and “Music Arcade,” “Slip Away” was a definite highlight of Broken Arrow, but where it truly shone was on Year of The Horse, where it had time to slowly unfold.

I mean, sure, it slowly unfolded on Broken Arrow, too, but it kinda got lost a bit, being the third long slow song in a row to start off on that record, whereas on Year of the Horse, it was the first song on the second disc, following a pair of shorter songs that ended the first disc.

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Certain Songs #1290: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Barstool Blues (Santa Cruz 05-09-1996)”

Album: Year of the Horse
Year: 1997

Recorded at the Catalyst, Santa Cruz on May 9, 1996

One of the fun things about Year of the Horse, the live album that Neil Young culled from the nearly year-long tour he undertook with Crazy Horse, was that it contained not one, but two songs originally on Zuma, neither of which was “Cortez The Killer.”

One of those songs was an utterly epic take on the long-lost “Danger Bird,” and other was a great, jammy version of “Barstool Blues,” which was definitely not a blues, but felt like it was written at last call.

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Certain Songs #1289: Neil Young – “Music Arcade”

Album: Broken Arrow
Year: 1996

Recorded at Plywood Digital, Woodside, CA on March 29, 1996

But the best song on Broken Arrow wasn’t one of the long Crazy Horse jams, but rather just Neil alone with an acoustic guitar singing in an incredibly hushed manner, like he really didn’t want to sing the song, but also felt obligated to, as well.

Mood-wise, it’s almost a companion piece to “Borrowed Tune,” and while utter despair conveyed by that tune has been replaced with acceptance, the tone is still sad:

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