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Friday, March 19, 2021

ANALYSIS: The Saga of Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane"

"Like A Hurricane" - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse
(See 34+ minute version of "Like A Hurricane" at the Paleo Festival, Nyon, Switzerland on July 23, 2013)


Here is an in-depth analysis on the recording of Neil Young's epic song "Like A Hurricane" by Robert Broadfoot, NYU – Neil Young Unreleased on Facebook.

This analysis comes in light of the information recently published on the Album Of The Week | NYA. As Robert notes below, the information about this historically very important song is not entirely correct on the NYA song file card.


The saga surrounding its recording continues

"Like A Hurricane"
Neil Young & Crazy Horse

Paleo Festival, Nyon, Switzerland on July 23, 2013
(Click photo to enlarge)

Some new information on Like A Hurricane in the latest Album Of The Week notes in NYA Times-Contrarian, throws new light on the rather confusing history of this epic song.


"Like A Hurricane"
Neil Young with Crazy Horse

A Day On The Green - Mar 16, 2013
Photo by Gary "Old Man Emu" Cee | Picasa Web Albums
(Click photo to enlarge)


In any event, it confirms, as I have long suspected, that the details for the song on the file card on NYA are incomplete, perhaps even misleading. Putting what we now know together: The song was recorded in two parts. Often, but perhaps not always when a song is clearly produced in two very different sessions, Neil shows the second recording session on the NYA file card as O/Ds (overdubs) with a separate date and/or location. He has not done that with Hurricane, which is a trifle misleading. 

"Like A Hurricane" - Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse
Philadelphia, 11/29/12
Photo by thrasher

The new article confirms that the first recording session, what Neil now describes as the "original tracking" - the basic recording of the music with Crazy Horse before overdubs, was done without vocals at "Modern Recorders” in Redwood City. Neil also says at the same time "at the Ranch", which is what it also says on the file card.

It certainly seems that Modern Recorders is an alternative name for the Ranch Studio at Broken Arrow Ranch, which itself is officially located in the Redwood City area (at least as far as the US Mail is concerned). Modern Recorders crops up elsewhere as the recording location for Re-ac-tor, Everybody's Rockin', Trans and Lucky Thirteen. So apart from Reactor it is basically a Geffen era phenomenon, and I can find no other info for a separate recording studio operation in that area. Also seem logical that when Neil was trying out material - Hurricane had various takes before they settled on one using the Synclavier, he would do so at his own studio at home. Neil was also significantly recovering from a stay in hospital.

"Like A Hurricane"
Neil Young with Crazy Horse

A Day On The Green - Mar 16, 2013


For the original tracking of Hurricane was made without vocals because Neil had undergone a throat operation, which had probably taken place mid-October 1975, and he was under doctor’s orders not to sing. The date given for the recording of Hurricane on the NYA filing card is 29 November. That may or may not be correct. In any event, the vocals were done quite separately and "later" at Village Studios in LA. Neil's speech when accepting a Producers and Engineers Grammy in 2014, a ceremony held at Village Studios in LA, has a lot of information on how Hurricane was recorded and is well worth reading:  

Poncho on "Like A Hurricane"
Waldbühne, Berlin, Germany, June 2, 2013
Photo by Paolo Brillo
(Click photo to enlarge)

Neil's recollection of the date of this second recording session is a little unreliable. He is on the record as saying both 'a couple of months' as well as 'a couple of weeks' after the first recording session. If it was a 'couple of months', then the 29 November 1975 date is presumably the first Ranch/Modern Recorders session, as the file card states, and the LA overdub session would have been in the new year. But since he recorded Lotta Love with Crazy Horse at Wally Heider in LA on 10 January, it seems odd, but not impossible, that he would use another studio for the Hurricane ODs around the same time. The Village session, whenever it was exactly, presumably did not involve any other significant recording, at least we know of nothing. And in early February 1976 Neil was already in Miami with Stephen Stills working on their new album project. More likely I think therefore is that the LA Village session took place before Christmas 1975. It could even be that the first Modern Recorders session was in late October or early November and that 29 November is in fact the date of the LA Village Recorders session. There are one or two indicators that the first recording may have been earlier than the end of November, but this last point is pure speculation on my part. 

Fans React to "Like A Hurricane"  


In any event, the NYA file card surely deserves two locations and two dates, if only for historical/archival accuracy, particularly important in my opinion for such an epic song. I did write to Neil and the Archive team about this some time ago but did not get a reply. 

One day I might try again!

Robert Broadfoot
NYU – Neil Young Unreleased on Facebook

Thank you Robert for the invaluable research on this epically essential historic song!

Also, see  "The Unforgettable Concert" -- Neil Young and Crazy Horse's "LIKE A HURRICANE" at the World Music Theatre in Tinley Park (Chicago), Illinois on the HORDE Festival tour on August 3rd, 1997.

"LIKE A HURRICANE" (encore) by Neil Young & Crazy Horse
(See Memorial Auditorium, Buffalo, New York - 1991-02-16)
frame via Hearse Theater | NYA

Labels: , , ,


At 3/19/2021 08:42:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 3/20/2021 07:35:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

holding the DVD in my grubby mits :) even 2 days before promised. yay

At 3/20/2021 08:31:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

the sound is so refined, its got the ad hoc nature of the show w studio sound. hardly a gripe. too many quarterbacks should not be a issue. enjoy

At 3/21/2021 11:15:00 AM, Blogger José from Paris said...

That's how life goes!
hello thrasher's always good to know how a song
was created. Still, thank you to Mindstash(YT)
for having engraved some assignments of the
Hurricane in the House Stephen still in July 1986.
These musical events will be able to join the Archives.

Belle journée
José de Paris


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