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Thursday, August 31, 2017

STREAMING: Neil Young's New Album "Hitchhiker" | NPR

Neil Young's new album "Hitchhiker" is now streaming on NPR @ (Thanks Scotsman!)

From First Listen | NPR by Tom Moon:
It's not clear why Young chose to share Hitchhiker now, but the music itself might hold clues. "Campaigner," which was on the 1977 Decade compilation, talks about political speech and duplicity, using almost pitying terms to speculate on the "soul" of Richard Nixon. Change the name and....voila, instant protest song!

Then there's the line in "Human Highway" (which appeared on Comes A Time in 1978) that laments the coarseness that Young sensed was newly unleashed in American culture at the time: "Take my eyes from what they've seen / Take my head and change my mind / How could people get so unkind."

The key word there is "get," not "be." Like many of Young's couplets, this one voices, in harrowingly direct language, a slow-moving, tectonic shift that many feel but few articulate. It's downright haunting, the way this moment from a productive night long ago resonates clear and true and apt, all over again.

Neil Young | Hitchhiker
(Click to enlarge & preview tracks)

Neil Young's newest album "Hitchhiker" is now due for release on September 8.

"Hitchhiker" is now available on vinyl and CD to pre-order on

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At 8/31/2017 07:33:00 PM, Blogger Shakeydave said...

first time i've posted here but been reading for years....longtime Neil fan here....seen him many times....this album is why i love Neil Young.....and anyone who loves him will understand....i am just grateful that Neil is still with us and is gracing the world with his beautiful songs - shakeydave

At 8/31/2017 07:43:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

shakeydave so great to hear from you.

We go back to early rust days back in the 90's? Tape trading?

Anyways, likewise, we're grateful that Neil is still with us and is gracing the world with his beautiful songs.

"Take my eyes from what they've seen
Take my head and change my mind
How could people get so unkind."

How could people?

At 8/31/2017 09:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9/01/2017 12:11:00 AM, Blogger Hounds That Howl said...

It may be old but it's good...the ride my llama lyric wonderfully describes the album. Solo acoustic, quiet, intimate, it pulled me in to listen. It quieted my mind and my soul. Neil's,voice is young tender and humble. Every Rustie would love one on one time with Neil for an evening of music. Well Neil just delivered it. Enjoy. Namaste.

At 9/01/2017 05:52:00 AM, Blogger Glenn said...

So much for that early report that stated it was a different take of Captain Kennedy to the one on H&D. It's exactly the same take.

At 9/01/2017 08:48:00 AM, Blogger joe lookout said...

Just incredible how Neil's voice and guitar sound crystal clear.
Would be curious to know why he released Campaigner on Decade cutting the verse 'Traffic cops are all color blind.......' which I find quite intriguing!


At 9/01/2017 09:21:00 AM, Blogger Acoustic FeedBack said...

Ok, I listened a few times. The ones he nailed he really nailed 'em. I was disappointed in Give Me Strength. This has been a favorite bootleg of mine and one that I sing quite often. Would it have killed him to just try it again?

At 9/01/2017 09:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe lookout: these performances are all about presenting the song in the most concise and intense way. To my ears the cut verse doesn't add a great deal to the song, with a few recycled ideas from the other verses. I speculate that is why it was cut out in 1977, to get it down to the essence, but of course it is great to have the full version now as we already have the trimmed version on Decade.

So what did you all think of Neil's facebook video yesterday? I've always thought he is a fantastic storyteller with a perfect voice for the job. If the music career doesn't work out he can always get a job as a narrator. I very much enjoy hearing about his memories from years gone by, whether in interviews or in his well-written books. It was great to see him again, though as others have noted he looked a bit frail and tired in the video, so I hope he is okay.

I'm waiting for next Friday to listen to Hitchhiker in its entirety (I've sampled a couple of tracks), but in the meantime I am enjoying listening to Earth, one of my favourite Neil records in recent years. If you haven't listened to it in a while I suggest you give it another go, it really is fun to experience. Relax, turn it up on a decent pair of headphones and it comes to life.

One final thing. Neil mentioned in his story yesterday that some consider Hitchhiker to be the "high-water mark", which got me thinking as to what I would consider the high point of his career (and obviously it is fool-hardy to even consider this idea when he has been making varied music for 50+ years).

But I'm very tempted to say: Greendale. I think in many ways it is the quintessential Neil Young album, brimming with wild creativity, storytelling, emotion, and wise observations about life that we can all relate to. As far as I am concerned it stands up well against any of the seventies albums, even surpassing them in some ways. Even the slightly-wayward lead guitar adds to the charm.

Regardless, I suspect if you asked 30 Neil Young fans what the "high-water mark" of his career is, you would get 30 very different answers. There are a lot of problems in the world, but a shortage of great Neil Young albums is not one of them.


At 9/01/2017 12:48:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Neil's "high-water mark" is very clear to me:

The 1971 acoustic tour between After the Goldrush and Harvest. Brilliant performances of new and old songs sung in a breathtakingly clear and pristine voice. Everything about that tour shows Neil at his peak: guitar notes melodically echoing around the halls magically, new songs being written almost daily and re-worked from show to show, his plaintive inspirationally confident voice soaring above yet meshing perfectly with his instrumental playing on both guitar and piano.

Neil has had many peaks and valleys, but 1971 found him fully confident in his primal natural unrestrained voice, and let's be honest: his voice is far and away his most important trademark asset.

This "Hitchhiker" release and performance is very good to great, but it shouldn't be mentioned in the same breath as the amazing "Live on Sugar Mountain/Young Man's Fancy" bootlegs or his officially released Massey Hall performance. To me, it's like comparing Rust Never Sleeps to Psychedelic Pill--there are certain base similarities but the results and feelings speak for themselves without having to analyze or compare.

When music truly speaks, it screams and needs no explanation or defense. Neil's music in 1971 screamed from atop the mountain...

"Take my advice
don't listen to me"

At 9/01/2017 01:07:00 PM, Blogger Acoustic FeedBack said...

Neil's high water mark to me is from the 1975/76 Crazy Horse Tours right up to the conclusion of the Rust Never Sleeps Tour. That period has all the phases and the best songs and greatest guitar workouts.

At 9/01/2017 01:29:00 PM, Blogger mrtew said...

Kinda pisses me off. I know I'm probably over sensitive but I agree with Neil that vinyl is the best way to listen to music, especially old acoustic music recorded analog, and ordered the vinyl the day it was announced and started counting the days until I could listen to it before anyone and "my" man goes and releases it early to all the white yuppy pseudo-intellectual hipster liberals (I'm one) that listen to crappy internet steams (definitely not one) before his lifelong paying fans. What a nice little Friday "fuck you" to me and the others on this site. I hope he at least releases my 'free' download that I paid for later today so I can edit this post a little. What a jerk.

At 9/01/2017 01:40:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

ShakeyDave, so well said!!!

At 9/01/2017 01:42:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Just streaming this for the first time … ahh … I was skeptical but its oh so sweet … love these old acoustic cuts … its the music of my childhood, what an amazing journey. Neil thank you!! So grateful!!

At 9/01/2017 04:15:00 PM, Blogger Minke said...

Of course vinyl is the best material for listening to analog recordings, but this rule should not stand in the way of us imbibing this new gem through the digital channels made available to us so early in the day. The fact is, that the material is so strong and the recording so fresh and direct, that even through the lousy membranes of your laptop, you will be transfered into the recording room at Indigo on August 11, 1976 from the ‘Ready, Briggs?’ and the first chords of Pocahontas onwards.
Without any doubt, this record is a tremendous achievement of an artist in his full powers (which he still is, by the way). One full moon evening, a few joints and two friends. And a string of truly great songs, of course. It is all it took to create a great, great record.
What amazes me – not for the first time – is the sheer craftmanship of Young. If he has a reputation for being capricious, if his appearance is often less than decorous, this has nothing to do whatsoever with his attitude to his music, whether on stage or in the recording room. There is no sloppiness in his performance. He is there, fully on the ball. It is all calculated, or perhaps it is better to say, there is mastery behind all. Even a few joints, a few gulps of tequila and beer, do not inhibit his playing and singing – of course, being a one-go recording, we hear some glitches, but they add to the directness and charm. Briggs was right here.
Having said this, I can understand that Briggs and Young decided not to push through the album. (I even wonder whether the plan was to turn this session into a formal record from the outset.) It has its flaws. Some songs work better than others, The truly hair-raising performance is that of Powderfinger, which in its ‘simple’ rendering cuts to the marrow. Other great songs are Pocahontas, Captain Kennedy, wellbeknownst to us, Hawaii, Ride my Llama, and in a strange manner also The Old Country Waltz. This last song, which I always considered to be a bit of a ditty on American Stars ’n Bars, comes to stand in a somewhat clearer light here, as one of several songs written in this phase of mourning his lost relationship. It becomes a truly personal song, maybe also because the performance has a few slips. Hitchhiker is fine, but a trifle flat. Give me Strength, which is a great song, receives a less captivating rendering here, as does Human Highway. Young has chosen a strumming accompaniment of many of the songs here, and while it sometimes works (as in Powderfinger), sometimes it clearly doesn’t.
Now we heard Young tell us on KOTO radio that when listening carefully, we could hear the drugs ‘kick in’ during ‘Hitchhiker’ (although he merely referred to ‘libations’, not to drug intake during the intermission). Who hears the drugs? I don’t. Well, we know Young was a semi-permanent user of both beer and weed, but to what extent it affected his playing negatively at certain moments, is hard to tell. Perhaps what we can hear, throughout the record, is a certain slur in Young’s voice and playing, which may be premeditated, sometimes to great effect, but which may also be accounted for by the consumption of certain substances. I wonder whether Young in his KOTO talk in a tongue in cheek way referred to the lyrics of Hitchhiker, which of course is his autobiography as a drug user, rather than to the effects of his intake at that very evening (which he obviously did). Who cares, anyway?

At 9/01/2017 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Minke said...

What remains, is an excruciatingly sober, demure, and ‘honest’ recording that does not fail to strike deep and resonate long.
And immediately comes the thought of his more recent ventures into restraint and intimacy. More recently, I have given many listening sessions to both Peace Trail and the solo version of Storytone. Both are records that have been applauded by too few, which is a grave mistake. Those are masterpieces, both in their songwriting and in their stripped-down performances. There is no way to know the intentions and strategies of Neil Young, but it is alluring to think of Hitchhiker as the next installment of his explorations of the intimate.

At 9/01/2017 04:18:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

I think Neil's high water mark is the entire decade of the 1970's. There's a reason why a publication like the Village Voice named him the "Artist of the Decade". His output between 1970 thru 1979 is one of the greatest of any musician, of any time.

His run from Freedom thru Greendale ain't bad either, but still not as epic as the 70's run from Goldrush to Rust, in my eyes anyways.

At 9/01/2017 05:28:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

For me, I feel "The Old Country Waltz" is the real special moment here. It's quite powerful and intimate when stripped of its full country treatment we heard the next year. Very moving piano treatment that I feel brings out the real feeling and depth in the song...

Regarding high-water marks, I agree with what a few others have posted, but I took the question to mean one specific moment!

"Take my advice
don't listen to me"

At 9/01/2017 05:31:00 PM, Blogger joe lookout said...

Considering also the Archives performance series the 70's Decade 'is still out of reach'.
When expressing our like or dislike about Hitchhiker we should think that if released in 1976 we would acclaim it as Neil's best record ever...
Same thing with Homegrown and Chrome Dreams, probably.


At 9/01/2017 06:00:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Hounds That Howl - exactly, HH is a one on one with Neil for an evening of music.

Enjoying. Namaste.

@ Glenn - well, we're glad we got got it 35+ years ago and didn't have to wait until today.

@ joe lookout - it really does sound great even on the NPR stream.

'Traffic cops are all color blind.......' intriguing, indeed.

Sort of like all of the financial experts who can't count. All of the expert talking head pontificaters who wouldn't understand a logical fallacy or epistemology vs ontology if it hit them upside the head. Sort of like ...


@ Acoustic FeedBack - well, as Neil said last night, they were just trying to lay it all down under the full moon. And that they did.

@ Scotsman - Neil's facebook video last night was quite essential and so great that we got it.

Can you imagine if he did that sort of track by track run down on every release?

Greendale as a "high-water mark" is not un realistic. Maybe not "the" high-water mark, but pretty up there. We'll agree with others that this period where the songs came faster than he could record them is way up there.

Really liked the part at the end...

Neil: "The Visitor will be arriving soon. Enjoy."

@ TopangaDaze - good call on 1971 acoustic tour as high water.

For us, "Hitchhiker" shows Neil sitting down and doing 10 fantastic songs as practically 1st takes. Seems a pretty remarkable accomplishment. Can anyone point to any other single studio session as productive as this from another artist?

@ Acoustic FeedBack - great comments here on Neil's high water mark.

All the more reason c'mon NYA Vol #2!

@ John - sorry to hear you feel this way, but try not to let it bring you down ... it's only old acoustic music recorded analog.

@ Minke - The sheer craftsmanship of acoustic to piano to out the door is a thing of beauty.

Hitchhiker is his exploration of the intimate. Glad we got to hear these raw versions after the band versions.

@ Richard - no disagreement here on the high water mark is the entire decade of the 1970's.

But we have all been here before...

You know, Peak Neil? Everyone was talking about it in 2006


At 9/01/2017 06:36:00 PM, Blogger Shoffology said...

In regards to Give Me Strength, while I would usually agree with those who are disappointed by the mistakes, in the case of this song I think they add to its power. It makes it sound like it's being sung by someone truly struggling to get over that relationship; he clearly doesn't have the strength yet that he's pleading for.

The title track is also my new favorite version of this track for some reason. The way he sings "had some caaaaaaash" and that high pitched "ooh" at the end makes me believe that he would smoke it again. Again, it's the sound of someone trying to move on from someone who clearly just "drove on through" his life. Add the amazing version of "Powderfinger," a bluesy. On the Beach-style tone poem in "Hawaii," and as good of a solo version of "Human Highway" as we could ask for, and you've got a fantastic solo acoustic record that stands as a nice snapshot in time of a crossroads moment in his life. The only track that I think is below par is "Ride My Llama," and that's only because it sounds obviously rough and unfinished.

At 9/01/2017 06:37:00 PM, Blogger Shoffology said...

^ *for the same reason

At 9/01/2017 08:32:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

If I was gonna be more specific on a high water mark for Neil, other than my original answer of the entire 1970's, I guess I have to say the 2nd side of the On The Beach album. If I had no choice but to listen to those three songs and no other Neil material for the rest of time, I would still be pretty happy. Which is odd, because none of those three songs are very happy to begin with, ha ha.

At 9/01/2017 09:18:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 9/02/2017 12:16:00 PM, Blogger mark said...

>> "There are a lot of problems in the world, but a shortage of great Neil Young albums is not one of them."

..... true statement, that.

At 9/02/2017 01:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am with Shakey Dave and Minke.

Just grateful


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