Archive | June, 2018

Certain Songs #1254: Neil Young – “Tonight’s The Night Part II”

Album: Tonight’s The Night
Year: 1975

Recorded at S.I.R., Hollywood, on September 13, 1973

So while the spring and summer of 1988 was one of the worst stretches of my life, a couple of good things did happen to me during that time. The first thing was that I started living on my own for the first time in my life, in an apartment at the corner of Wishon & McKinley in the Tower District. It was a bit expensive: $375 a month plus utilities, but my landlord often forgot to charge me for the utilities.

The living room of that apartment was just big enough for a TV, a couch, and — oh yeah — my drum kit in the back corner, which was good, because of the other good thing that happened: one night, right around the time my band Blackbird Stories disintegrated for good, Ron “Doc” Morse walked up to me outside of the Olympic Tavern and told me he wanted to play music with me.

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Certain Songs #1253: Neil Young – “Tired Eyes”

Album: Tonight’s The Night
Year: 1970

Recorded at S.I.R., Hollywood, on August 26, 1973

The heart of Tonight’s The Night, both figuratively and literally, was recorded in a single overnight session in Hollywood: “Tonight’s The Night,” “Mellow My Mind,” “World on a String” “Speakin’ Out” and “Tired Eyes” were all put away that night, along with massive quantities of weed and booze.

The first of those songs to be recorded was “Tired Eyes,” and you can just feel the wasted tone in nearly every single note, every single beat, every single vocal of Neil’s harrowing lyric about a drug deal gone wrong.

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Certain Songs #1252: Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “C’mon Baby Let’s Go Downtown”

Album: Tonight’s The Night
Year: 1970

Recorded at the Fillmore East, New York on March 7, 1970

I almost didn’t write about this song. After all, as you know, I usually like to go chronologically, and not only was this song recorded five years before it was released on Tonight’s The Night, it has since been released in the proper context: the amazing Live at The Fillmore 1970; one of the very first of the Archives-oriented reissues.

Not to mention, Neil doesn’t even really sing lead on this, and even his co-write status is a bit dodgy.

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Certain Songs #1251: Neil Young – “Borrowed Tune”

Album: Tonight’s The Night
Year: 1975

Recorded at the Broken Arrow Ranch on December 5, 1973

One of the most storied albums in Neil Young’s entire career, Tonight’s the Night famously sported an almost two-year gap between the time the bulk of it was recorded in late August and early September and the time it was released on June 20, 1975.

Fueled by equal parts of guilt, grief and tequila, the songs on Tonight’s The Night were frank and fucked-up on multiple levels as Neil — with the help of Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot, Ben Keith & Nils Lofgren — confronted the overdose deaths of roadie Bruce Berry and guitarist Danny Whitten.

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Certain Songs #1250: Neil Young – “Ambulance Blues”

Album: On The Beach
Year: 1974

Recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood on March 25, 1974

It’s of course, so obvious that Bob Dylan was one of Neil Young’s influences that I haven’t even bothered to mention it until now. Mostly because I hadn’t really loved Neil’s longer, impressionistic folk songs. Until now.

“Ambulance Blues” is eight minutes of quiet surrealism which somehow always surprises, despite the only instruments being Neil’s acoustic & harmonica, Ben Keith’s bass and, of course, Rusty Kershaw’s fiddle. I say, of course, because the fiddle is doing the heavy musical lifting here, weaving in and out of the song, which starts autobiographical, and then goes in a completely different direction.

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