On The Ditch Trilogy, Neil Young’s success collided with personal chaos | A.V. Club
Ahh yes, Neil Young’s Ditch Trilogy. So dark, yet so rich and rewarding.
We've written about The Ditch Trilogy extensively and can even claim a little credit for maybe not coining the term so much as solidifying it as a legitimate framework label for the period in our analysis way back there in the 1990's. Since that time, the phrase Ditch Trilogy has become established in the Neil lexicon by rusties around the world.
From On The Ditch Trilogy, Neil Young’s success collided with personal chaos | A.V. Club by Corbin Reiff:
From an outsider’s perspective, it probably looked like Neil Young had it made in the shade in those early months of 1972. In the last few years he entered into serious relationship with Hollywood actress Carrie Snodgress and had a son; he’d raked in a boatload of cash with the supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and he had just released the most commercially successful album of his entire career. It seemed like he should have been living it up on cloud nine. But Young was actually on the verge of spiraling out into a private hell that would take over his life for the next three years.Full article at On The Ditch Trilogy, Neil Young’s success collided with personal chaos | A.V. Club by Corbin Reiff.
With his fourth solo record, Harvest, Neil Young hit upon the kind of success that every artist dreams of achieving. The multi-platinum best seller—with a No. 1 hit, “Heart Of Gold”—almost perfectly synthesized the popular singer-songwriter movement underway in Southern California. By the time the full scope of that album’s success became apparent, Young wanted to have nothing to do with it. Looking back on it just five years later, he wrote in the liner notes to the Decades box set that the experience “put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.”
It wasn’t just the newfound fame and the crushing hero worship that sent Young reeling, although that might have been enough for some. His personal life was coming off the rails as well. His relationship to Snodgress was unraveling; his newborn son Zeke was recovering from the aftereffects of a slight brain aneurysm; and he’d been suffering from near debilitating back pain. The kicker of it all, however, was the sudden death of his Crazy Horse guitar player and friend, Danny Whitten.
Whitten looms rather large in Young’s personal history, both for his contributions on Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and After The Gold Rush and for being the figure most directly responsible for pushing Young off the rails after 1972. To coincide with the release of Harvest, Young and his managers had booked an ambitious 62-date tour of North America. Young was hoping to bring Whitten along with him.
Also, see The Ditch Trilogy: Albums by Neil Young | thrasherswheat.org.