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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tonight’s the Night: So Well Remembered


It's a full moon tonight, so that can only mean one thing... tonight’s the night.

Speaking of which -- while you're getting in full moon mode -- check out this blog on Neil Young's Tonight’s the Night « So Well Remembered.

It's really a conversation amongst a bunch of bloggers. Kinda hyper real time chat.
Tonight’s the Night was recorded in the dog days of Summer 1973 after the brilliant (but ill-fated) Time Fades Away tour with the Stray Gators. Reprise Records rejected TtN at that time and didn’t release it until June 1975. In the meantime, Young wrote and recorded On the Beach. Of these three “Ditch” records, Tonight’s the Night is the most coherent in its nihilism. It’s sloppy as hell — very clearly rehearsed in shitty bars and recorded between the busted-out walls of some practice rooms at an instrument rental shop in Hollywood. The vocal harmonies are way off, the band is looser than most professionals would find acceptable, and Young bumps the mic a few too many times during harmonica solos.

But it’s a magnificent record. A deliberately bleak and shambling masterwork.
More on So Well Remembered.

Also, see more on Neil Young's ditch trilogy and Tonight’s the Night - the darkest and deepest of the ditch.


At 4/28/2010 10:52:00 PM, Anonymous SONY said...

Only 'Speaking Out' here, but Tonight's The Night is the quintessential Neil for me. Never a time when I've put it on and didn't enjoy it. It's the Alpha to Zuma. Matter of fact, gonna go slap it on and watch the moon.

At 4/28/2010 11:08:00 PM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

I LOVE this album! I know, what Neil fan doesn't? I'm so glad this record exists- its so real its gorgeous! Fantastic songs, raw energy and exposed-nerve- emotion. Its a constant reminder of the dark side, its not always in sight so its possible to forget sometimes... for a little while. But the dark side is always there, no matter where you go, no matter who you try to be, no matter how much you try not to notice that's its right over your shoulder, ready to smother your bright, sunshiny day. Especially on a full moon, make no mistake. The darkside could be in some dingy back alley somewhere, or right in your own suburban back yard. Lookout Joe! Personally, I like it on my turntable. I own a mint, original Tonight's the Night LP. A prized possession.
Goodbye Waterface.

At 4/28/2010 11:10:00 PM, Blogger ShittyHorse said...

PS- Release the Original TTN- the Briggs version! Limited LP run!

At 4/29/2010 02:53:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

About the BD-live download... which I thought this post was about. Is it really the same Mustang from Early Years disc 1? Haven't had the chance to check it out yet.

At 4/29/2010 08:19:00 AM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

Right on ShittyHorse - as much as we all want Time Fades Away released again in a remastered format, the original David Brigg's version of TTN would be the brighter gem in my opinion.

Briggs was quoted as saying that the casette tape he carried around for years was the "real" TNN - not the officially released version which he said was "ruined".

Maybe it will appear on Archives 2? Wouldn't that be something...

At 4/29/2010 09:00:00 AM, Anonymous Matt Lintzenich said...

Yeah, I'm with ShittyHorse - I wanna hear the Briggs version! I've heard it's got all of Neil's crazy ranting in between the songs and whatnot, plus some different songs, and is the original vision for the album.

Hey Thrash, how about a new petition - Release the Original, unaltered version of Tonight's the Night! Hey - you never know, maybe it'll be on Archives Volume 2...

p.s. - hey, what happened, I can't log in with my blogger account?

At 4/29/2010 09:03:00 AM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Aright, let's try this again... my previous comment appears to have gone the way of the Mastodon... hey Thrash, if I double post, please accept my apologies...

Yeah, I'm with ShittyHorse - I wanna hear the Briggs version! I've heard it's got all of Neil's crazy ranting in between the songs and whatnot, plus some different songs, and is the original vision for the album.

Hey Thrash, how about a new petition - Release the Original, unaltered version of Tonight's the Night! Hey - you never know, maybe it'll be on Archives Volume 2...


At 4/29/2010 09:57:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anybody who said that Bob Dylan trumped Neil on introducing new forms of music must never have heard TFA or TTN. Nobody had even thought of the words "punk" or "grunge", but Neil nearly single-handedly invented those genres through the seeds sown on those two albums... hence, he is truly the "Godfather of Grunge". and both albums hold up extremely well today. And, yes, I will now click on my IPod, don my headphones and listen to the sweet, sweet sounds of Albuquerque, New Mama, Lookout Joe (a VERY underrated song), and Tired Eyes. His legacy sits side-by-side Dylan in the music "market maker" category. If Dylan is Goldman-Sachs, Neil is Morgan-Stanley of the music market makers.
Rock On!

At 4/29/2010 12:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found an old portable 8track player and bought Tonight's The Night on ebay. Sounds incredible coming out of that tiny mono speaker!

At 4/29/2010 12:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my favorite albums from anybody.Albuquerque is in my top 5 fav songs of all time.Praying that complete concert from TTN tour will make it onto Archives vol.2.Hope that comes out in my lifetime.

Rancho Relaxo

At 4/29/2010 01:01:00 PM, Anonymous Babbo said...


Archives Guy says over on Rust List that it is indeed the same "Mustang," only in DTS MA 24/192 (like all BD Live downloads) instead of uncompressed 24/192. They included it with an explanation of how Neil received the previously lost tape from his brother.


At 4/29/2010 01:12:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Jim, I'm not so sure about those analogies. Something about comparing those two to financial corporations makes me cringe... heh heh

I think a more palatable suggestion is... maybe Dylan as Sidney Lumet to Neil's Stanley Kubrick.

There, that makes me feel a bit better. lol

At 4/29/2010 03:20:00 PM, Anonymous folkrockin said...

What amazes me the most, is that Warner released everything Neil came up with back then. They even allowed for all the gizmos like the black label, the waterface stuff and the blotted cardboard cover. Keeping in mind that at the same time Neil withheld Homegrown, which could have been a possible pop bestseller. If someone would come up with an album like Tonight's the Night today he'd never get through with it.

At 4/29/2010 03:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could someone explain why the bd-live download was the same version of a song that was already on the archives box set? I just can't get my head around that.

At 4/29/2010 06:41:00 PM, Anonymous Babbo said...

From Archives Guy, on the Rust List:

"Neil wanted to share the story of the song and the tape, hence the inclusion as a BD-Live download."

At 4/29/2010 11:38:00 PM, Anonymous BigChief said...

Ah, the 'dark side'! Everybody has one, and Neil certainly exposed his during the recording of this little gem. This wasn't something that one could even attempt to sit down and write without having to have experienced or at least observed what was going down in the sub-culture during that time period. Written, recorded, and performed shortly after the deaths of both Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry, who by the way,was the brother of Jan Berry of 'Jan & Dean' fame, who was living out his own period of 'darkness' after his tragic car accident had ended his own illustrious career and ultimately his life. While most of his peers at that time were still trying to ride out the wave of peace and love, Neil was one of the very few who were keenly aware of the consequences brought forth as a result of the 'Hippie Dream'. The short lived Utopia that was induced upon the youth, post 'summer of love', as a result of the seemingly innocent widespread consumption of marijuana and psychedelics led way to rampant abuse of far less innocent drugs such as Heroin, Cocaine, and the element of crime that ensued (Tired Eyes). The soldiers returning home from the war certainly didn't get the 'heros welcome' that our returning soldiers enjoy today. So much had changed in the short time they were gone that most of them were overwhelmed with 'culture shock' upon returning (Lookout Joe). As the great visionary that he is, Neil captured the essence of societies ill's and created a masterpiece of a recording depicting the ups and downs of the drug culture at that time, along with some contrasting tunes offering hope and redemption (Mellow My Mind, New Mama). This record stands alone, even among the other two 'Ditch' siblings, nothing else that Neil has done before or since can compare. This is one of those things that just happen, a moment in time captured like a photograph. Of all of his records, this defines what would eventually become synonymous with Neil Young, the irony that the only constant with Neil is change. This record has all of the trademark elements of a Neil Young record, however, it would probably be a poor choice to play for someone during an attempt to gain a convert, especially on a sunny afternoon at the beach. Rather, around 2am after the ones who 'can't hang' have gone and those who remain have grown weary of whatever it was that had been playing, turn down the lights and crank this one up ... thats how it was meant to be heard!

At 4/30/2010 08:33:00 AM, Anonymous Jonathan said...

Yes - not a Saturday morning clean-the-house album for sure.

More like a 2:00am red-eyed buzzed out on the edge album.

At 4/30/2010 08:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great commentary, Big Chief, you've captured the essence of TTN so very well. Unlike many around him, Neil could live in his "dark side" yet not get consumed by it. The culture had gone off the tracks, and Neil was there to record its detour into the "ditch", somewhat like Hunter S. Thompson or Kurt Vonnegut were doing in other genres... TTN is a portrait, our culture depicted as a barren and sometimes hopeful landscape, music on canvas, with tequila as its nourishment.

At 4/30/2010 09:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Chief, you hit the nail on the head-rumor has it that Neil has a song comming out called "Hit the Nail on the Head." Regarding 'Tonights the Night,' I cherish the photo as well as the concert footage of Ronnie Van Zandt donning a TTN T-Shirt. Sweet Home Indeed!

At 5/01/2010 01:26:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much to be said about a one of a kind record. I think some of the earliest terms applied (exorcism, wake) still make the most sense to me. The balls it took to release this!, even given the fact that it took time and the reassurance of a peer review listening party to get it past a stalled state. I'm no exhaustive source on the history of recorded music, but how many other records could there be that expose the artist in just this way- harrowing, drunk, off key, shredded vocal chords, just this side of despairing? Sure, TFA had already trashed Harvest, but this is quintessential Neil- the unvarnished truth of the record itself, and the damn the torpedoes release.

The moment that still sticks out for me among my countless TTN moments, is a cold winter night back in school, returning to my apartment from a listless party, lighting one up and sitting down on the floor in front of the speakers, with just some dim lamp light behind me. The opening piano notes and the opening line- made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. "Speaking Out" propelling the whole thing forward, the rough rockers, the impossibly quiet moments, and maybe my favorite Neil line of them all: "Well tell me more, tell me more, tell me more. I mean was he a heavy doper or was he just a loser? He was a friend of yours." The artless phrasing of “loser” and "yours", as in don't pretend with me, let's just tell the truth. After all, at its core, isn't this the spirit of the album in a nut shell? Pretty close to the truth, if not "the" truth, at least for me. But the album means so many things on so many levels, we are all in Neil’s debt that he put it out.

Oh, and count me in as preferring a Briggs version first before any TFA re-release, albeit that without TFA, there might never have been a TTN in any form (might not have been). Also, could someone correct me if I'm wrong, I thought I had read that the complete Briggs recording was somehow lost, and does not exist, or can't be reconstructed, or something along those lines. Do I have that wrong? I hope so.

In the spirit of "Tired Eyes", Greg M (A Friend Of Yours)


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