- 31 Dec 18
Young Earns Another Garland
Neil Young was a busy man back in 1976. He was on the road for most it, either with Crazy Horse or with old sparring partner Stephen Stills, as part of the Stills-Young band, promoting their only record together, at least as a duo; Long May You Run. Young pulled out of that tour after only nine shows, citing a sore throat, although the telegram he sent Stills, advising him to “eat a peach”, points to “contrary bastardness” as the main cause. This was also the year he turned up on The Last Waltz, pinned to the gills.
Released in 2017, Hitchhiker – the best thing with Young’s name on it in a long time – stems from an August ‘76 session, and now here’s Songs For Judy, acoustic performances - named from a tall tale he tells as the record opens - from that Crazy Horse tour. Young would open the shows with a quiet solo set, before the Horse turned up, and brought the noise.
‘Too Far Gone’, which wouldn’t see official release until 89’s Freedom, Ragged Glory’s ‘White Line’, ‘Heart of Gold’, ‘After The Gold Rush’, ‘Harvest’, ‘Pocahontas’ – there’s plenty of Shakey classics here, although only one “new” song as such, ‘No One Seems To Know’. Young’s in great form - performing against acoustic guitar, harmonica, and the odd piano and organ - as are the audiences. Indeed, you can still smell the marijuana fug, even at this distant remove, as they whoop and holler when ‘Roll Another Number’ is recognised.
It’s an amalgamation of several shows, selected by Cameron Crowe, on the tour in his Rolling Stone/Almost Famous rock journalist incarnation, but you’ll struggle to see the joins. The sound quality is great too, marking this out as a worthy addition to the canon of a man at the top of his game.