26 March 2021 | Neil Young | Neil Young Archives (original link)
When the pandemic hit we were just in the car on our way to Colorado and the Rockies. Soon after we arrived it dawned on me we would be in one place longer than i had been on one place for many many years. As I looked around inside my music, I saw that there were many things to for me to do. Unfinished projects were everywhere. In my music i have always moved fast, more interested in the moment, then on to the next….. No time for finishing or perfecting the present. Because of all of this I had a history of making records that were less produced and more like demos. i really went for the feeling – not the polished technical perfection. I still love to do that today, but when we arrived in the mountains and settled in, I began looking at the many unfinished records I had sort of made and went back….way back to the beginning, sifting through the feeling’s I had recorded. I began to see an order of things. It was the focus, A gift.
Whereas before this I have never been able to stop long enough to finish, I found myself in a new day. A day where there was time to organize and finish things. So that’s what we have been doing. With my friends Niko Bolas and John Hanlon we have been carving through the years and pulling out some old unfinished gems.
But when it really hit was in September of 2020 after we had done some Fireside Sessions together for the internet, just to stay in touch, when my love Daryl and I moved back to Canada to an old cottage on a lake. We winterized it, a 116 year old wooden beauty and we stayed for almost six months there in Canada near my old hometown, where I first had started to go to school. We did a recording in an old hall there and she filmed it. i did an old song, COMES A TIME and a new one ‘SONG OF THE SEASONS’. The new one was the same instrumentation as ‘Comes a Time’, so we used the older song to prepare the sounds for the new one. It worked.
At the same time I was planning all of 2021’s releases and began to restore many of the bootleg records people had made over the years, not all but 6, starting with Carnegie Hall in 1970, the first time I played there. We had those master tapes because I record everything, so we just mixed them and made new great sounding bootlegs, pieces of history recaptured, ripping off the original art and using it again. Fair enough. So that was six albums in vinyl. Some were doubles… And we had found the old film we now call Young Shakespeare from the Stratford Shakespeare Theater in Connecticut from January 1971 and made a solo acoustic album of that night’s performance, film and all. My first, earliest filmed performance. Elliot had arranged for it to be filmed.
Niko brought me a record that was mind blowing from our time together in the late eighties called ‘Road of Plenty’. ‘Road of Plenty’ is the song a later song I released, Eldorado, is based on. He had found an early take with the Crazy Horse and mixed it. Then he went through all of the Hit Factory sessions for Freedom and found several gems. The first ever ‘Fuckin’ Up’ among them! What a great take! me, Poncho, Steve Jordan and Charlie Draydon! We used our rehearsal tapes for Saturday Night Live and early Freedom takes for some more songs and had a truly wonderful record. ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ with Poncho Steve and Charlie. The original from Saturday Night Live and the highlights of those wild rehearsals were combined together – recorded by Niko and saved for posterity! It’s a giant record.
Then I remembered ‘Toast’ with Crazy Horse, another unreleased record from 2001. I got the original copies out and listened to the finished record I had never put out! Now it’s coming out just as we did it back then. It was too personal and I couldn’t bare to listen to it back then so i dropped it (like ‘HOMEGROWN’ years before), and moved on to ‘Are You Passionate’ and put that out. But ‘TOAST’ is like TONGHT’S THE NIGHT’…… The Horse at its most soulful best! An unbelievable record to just have waiting in the wings. We mastered it and it’s now ready in stereo and surround sound, (perfect for Atmos and Echo).
While all this was happening we continued on at the cottage in CANADA with Daryl, Niko and I putting together NYA Volume lll. Seven or eight films. More discs than any of the other Archives Volumes. Maybe more songs. Many unreleased albums back in their original shape, just like we did with Homegrown when we found it.
JOHNNY’S ISLAND, OCEANSIDE-COUNTRYSIDE ( the origin of ‘Comes a Time’), GIVE TO THE WIND ORCHESTRA live at Nashville Musician’s Union Hall with the whole orchestra and the wonderful Nicolette Larson. What a giant recording – 10 or eleven songs with the orchestra, Nicolette and I singin’ live. Truly a great find! The Archives is deep! Then ‘THE BOARDING HOUSE’ record and film – a moment of captured time we had never even reviewed! We went though it all in that cabin on the lake as the pandemic raged on. We put together the record based on Joel Bernstein’s original performance notes. Joel is brilliant here. Then I found the ‘BOARDING HOUSE’ movie – a continuous document of one show beginning to end. Magical to have this!
As the winter howled outside, and the lake was covered with ice, we went back and rebuilt the original OLD WAYS record, better than the released one by a lifetime. With the time to listen to all the takes from everywhere during the period, we made a great and soulful record which hardly resembled the released one. I’m so glad we did that. Many unreleased songs and tracks were found and included. So beautiful! At the same time, Micah Nelson and I were finishing the TRANS ANIMATED MOVIE, finally telling the whole story behind TRANS as it was originally envisioned, enhanced with Micah’s masterful ideas and animation. That was followed by ‘LIVE FREEDOM’ – an acoustic live recording with just me, Ben Keith and Poncho Sampedro in Europe. I love this record. That brought us to the end of Volume 3. 1990.
Now I started looking at the films.
‘CRAZY HORSE WORLD TOUR 1976’ Tokyo Budokan and London Odeon Hammersmith,
BOARDING HOUSE by Bernard Shakey, 1978
RUST NEVER SLEEPS by Bernard Shakey, 1979
HUMAN HIGHWAY by Bernard Shakey and Dean Stockwell, 1982
TRANS ANIMATED MOVIE by Micah Nelson and Neil Young, current
BERLIN by Michael Lindsay Hogg, 1982
SOLO TRANS by Hal Ashby, 1984
IN A RUSTED OUT GARAGE by LA JOHNSON and B SHAKEY, 1986
MUDDY TRACK 1987 B Shakey
We started compiling the pieces and put together a CD set (12 approximately) and a Blu-Ray set (10 approximately) for NYA Volume lll. The Blu-Ray has every song on the CD set. Some Blu-Rays feature movies and records on the same discs
All that time the lockdown was still in effect in CANADA as the pandemic raged. We stayed home with the rare gift of focus. We got a lot done, assembling ‘NOISE AND FLOWERS’ the Promise of the Real live record and film, possibly the best live record I have ever made. Ha! Maybe I am too close to it now….but it is a triumph! Done in memory of my old friend Elliot Roberts, manager of 50 years of my music, who left us less than two weeks before that tour kicked off. His Soul is in the air of that tour and movie. I am so thankful we have it. An amazing soulful piece–
‘Young Shakespeare’ just came out the other day. The bootlegs will come in August, ‘TOAST’ with Crazy Horse, “NOISE AND FLOWERS’ with Promise of the Real before the end of 2021 and ……if the creeks don’t rise, NYA Volume lll will arrive in the first half of 2022 as well as even more album releases from the Archives.
So the pandemic has given me the rare gift of focus – a strange gift for me -the opportunity to focus on what I have done and organize it for the music lovers out there who deserve to hear it my way. Not done by someone else after I’m gone. For this I am truly thankful.
Now, my heart goes out to all of you with families who have lost your loved ones, and to families now coping with those long haul symptoms. We still have a long way to go. I am staying busy, got vaccinated because I believe in it, and I hope everyone out there is taking care of everyone else, doing all we can to rid ourselves of this terrible virus and the damage it has caused to our world.