Neil Young | Hitchhiker
Album Cover by Gary Burden | rTwerk.com
(Click photo to enlarge)
Neil Young's newest album "Hitchhiker" is due for release on 14 July 2017 according to a listing on Diverse Vinyl. (Thanks spook_the_horse!)
Last month, we posted an intriguing image by Gary Burden | rTwerk.com of what appeared to be a cover for the unreleased album Neil Young | Hitchhiker.
Gary Burden is Neil Young's long time art director and cover graphic artist. Also, credited is Jenice Heo, who is responsible for Art Direction, Design.
Hitchhiker includes solo, acoustic songs recorded in 1976 at the Indigo Ranch Studios in Malibu, California. Writing in "Special Deluxe", Neil Young's -- second memoir -- he comments on Hitchhiker:
"I spent the night there with David and recorded nine solo acoustic songs, completing a tape I called Hitchhiker.The song "Hitchhiker" was released on Neil Young's 2010 album Le Noise.
It was a complete piece, although I was pretty stony on it, and you can hear it in my performances. Dean Stockwell, my friend and a great actor who I later worked on Human Highway as a co-director, was with us that night, sitting in the room with me as I laid down all the songs in a row, pausing only for weed, beer, or coke. Briggs was in the control room, mixing live on his favorite console.
After posting album art last month, a spirited discussion ensued here on TW on possible track listing. Lone Red Rider suggested:
Ride My Llama
Hold Back The Tears
Too Far Gone
Will to Love
Blogger Lone Red Rider added:
I was mainly leaning on Shakey and The Visual Documentary as my sources for what was recorded at Indigo or recorded in that rough timeframe. If there is anything I question in the "LRR tracklist", it is Stringman and Will To Love. Both of those basic tracks (at least the versions in circulation) were NOT recorded at Indigo. The overdubs from Will To Love were recorded at Indigo. The Stringman we have heard was recorded live and then overdubbed with guitar and BG vocals. So those may not be a part of Hitchhiker. It would be very cool if there were a song on those tapes which we have never heard before!
The version of Stringman in circulation (with overdubs) seems like the basic track was from the last night at ODEON. I'm guessing that we would get this one on Odeon-Budokan or/and as a standalone track with the overdubs.
Blogger Scotsman said:
Here's a live acoustic version of Hitchhiker from 1992 that perhaps hints at what the mid-seventies version will sound like:Earlier, Scotsman wrote:
Notice how naked Neil is here; no sound-effects or bombastic performance to hide the essence of the song behind, to make it safer and slicker and more palatable. Just sparse acoustic guitar and vocals, occasional chilling bursts of harmonica. And the spirit of Neil Young; alone and vulnerable. Building in intensity to a thrilling and open-ended climax. The essence of the song is captured perfectly. It's haunting, isn't it?
That's what he is capable of. That's why we are all here.
Listening to this song, this 1992 performance, you can fully relate to why he has held this song back (in it's non-watered-down form) for so long. It must be like seeing your own ghost. At the same time, of course, we are all willing him on. Because that is what great art is about, and it doesn't come easy.
This should be a very exciting record. It's also a record where we don't really know what to expect, beyond a broad synopsis. So it is intriguing; one to eagerly anticipate.Let the speculation continue!
Neil recorded acoustic songs extensively with David Briggs during the mid-seventies (with several songs being rationed out onto the next few studio albums) and it will be very interesting to see and hear which songs (and how many) are included on this compilation. It's likely there will be some surprises. Little of this material has found it's way onto bootlegs.
Neil commented in recent years that the reason Hitchhiker went unreleased for so long is that it was not "finished". Unfortunately, he decided it was necessary to "finish it" (off) in 2010 by tacking on two bland new verses and burying the song on an album that constituted the most mediocre of his career.
So this Archives release should offer a better alternative. At the opposite end of the scale.
Instead of artless songwriting dressed up in gimmicky sound effects, this record will showcase the finest of Neil's songwriting captured in a more sparse and natural production. And until then, the live 1992 versions of Hitchhiker are fine, not "unfinished" at all, capturing much of the spook and mystery that was drained off of the overblown Le Noise version.
This mid-seventies period sees Neil as a man who had worked his way into a songwriting peak, fully in the zone, magical songs coming to him as naturally as tying your shoelaces. You have to work hard to achieve that level of mastery, and you need the right people around you, too. That's not to put other periods down at all, but this record should amply showcase the heights of Neil's seventies songwriting, where he could barely put a foot wrong, artistically.
I suspect too that Neil has very fond memories of this period, and will enjoy sharing them with us.
I'm really looking forward to this one.