Archive | July, 2018

Certain Songs #1275: Neil Young & Crazy Horse – “Country Home”

Album: Ragged Glory
Year: 1990

Recorded at Plywood Digital, Broken Arrow Ranch on April 27, 1990

According to Jimmy McDonough’s invaluable Shakey biography, Ralph Molina and Billy Talbot were so pissed at Neil Young after being replaced for the Bluenotes in early 1988 that they weren’t even sure that they wanted to play with him again. So when Neil decided he wanted to do another Crazy Horse album in early 1990, they all met at the Harris Ranch Restaurant on the I-5 to discuss the possibility of recording together again.

Which, of course, they did. I mean, if your choice is recording with Neil Young or not recording with Neil Young, it really isn’t much of a choice, tbh.

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Certain Songs #1274: Neil Young – “Rockin’ in the Free World”

Album: Freedom
Year: 1989

Recorded at Plywood Digital, Broken Arrow Ranch on March 10, 1989

There were a lot of warning signs that Freedom was going to be a major album for Neil Young: not only was it was his first album with his hand-scrawled title since Rust Never Sleeps, it was only the third (and final, as of this writing) of his albums with different versions of the same song opening and closing the album.

But for those of us who wanted, needed, craved a great new Neil Young album in our lives, what really clinched it was his performance on Saturday Night Live the weekend before the album came out. While I’m sure that there was early buzz on the album, and the song called “Rockin’ in the Free World” that bookended it, there was no way we could have been prepared for what the song actually was.

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Certain Songs #1273: Neil Young – “Too Far Gone”

Album: Freedom
Year: 1989

Recorded at Plywood Digital, Broken Arrow Ranch on March 19, 1989

From my standpoint as a lifelong Neil Young fan who discovered him at the very end of his amazing 1970s run, Freedom was probably the most important album he ever made. After a decade of wandering in the wilderness of his own muse, it was reasonable to assume that his best days were behind him.

And maybe they were, but I personally think that Neil Young was as much of a force to be reckoned with in the 1990s as he was in the 1970s, as Freedom kicked off a streak of good-to-great albums that in toto comprised a completely unexpected and utterly unprecedented second act.

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Certain Songs #1272: Neil Young – “Someday”

Album: Freedom
Year: 1989

Recorded at Plywood Digital, Broken Arrow Ranch on July 25, 1988

The earliest recording that made it to Freedom was recorded with the same group of palookas that made up the Bluenotes, though they aren’t credited as such on the album.

That’s because Freedom is a Neil Young album, not a “Neil Young & the” album: fusing together all of his disparate styles into a single coherent album almost effortlessly, regardless of who was actually playing on the song. You had to go back to Harvest or After The Gold Rush to find another Neil Young album like this.

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Certain Songs #1271: Neil Young – “Don’t Cry”

Album: Freedom
Year: 1989

Recorded at The Hit Factory, NY & Broken Arrow Ranch on December 14, 1988

Neil Young found his way home, of course, but he took the scenic route. As you do.

In Neil’s case, after going back to Reprise Records following his unsuccessful stint at Geffen, he had his first minor hit single in quite some time. Well, not so much a hit single as a hit video. And really not so much a hit video as a banned video that won MTV’s Video of The Year back when that still meant whatever it had ever meant.

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