Neil Young, Crazy Horse members look back and forward on two new albums. Is a tour next?
There’s a certain special magic in the air when traveling through the land of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.
Take, for example, two remarkable albums being released this spring. Neither is being sold under the traditional “Neil Young with Crazy Horse” moniker, but in roster, vibe and vision these albums feel like properly essential entries in the canon.
Recorded half a century apart, each feels inescapably, insistently relevant to the here and now.
“Somewhere Under the Rainbow,” arriving on Friday, April 14, as part of Young’s Original Bootleg Series, captures a November 1973 performance by Young and the Santa Monica Flyers at London’s Rainbow Theatre. Nine of the show’s 14 songs would be released on 1975’s “Tonight’s the Night” LP, and the infamously dark energy of that album is palpable here.
Young and company were playing in the wake of a pair of deaths in their musical family, losing Crazy Horse singer and guitarist Danny Whitten in 1972 and roadie Bruce Berry in 1973. But Young and the band — bassist Billy Talbot, drummer Ralph Molina and guitarist Nils Lofgren, all of Crazy Horse, and pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith — played on.
Talbot, a New York City native who spent his high school years in West New York, hears it all when he listens back to “Somewhere Under the Rainbow.”
“Hearing Neil and all of us ... brings back memories to me of that time and how new it was and fresh for me, and realizing now what Neil was going through,” Talbot said. “We were all going through it, but he was bringing it to life.”
“Somewhere Under the Rainbow” is a powerful and strikingly relevant listen. It's a haze of sharp grief and languid despair, beautifully heard through Keith’s soaring leads on “Albuquerque” and a thunderous, show-closing deep dive into the nearly 13-minute “Cowgirl in the Sand.” And after everything the world has been through since 2020, that quicksand combination of mourning, malaise and mania feels frighteningly familiar.
Finding 'All Roads Lead Home'
Half a century later, the energy has shifted.
Young has joined forces with Talbot, Molina and Lofgren for “All Roads Lead Home,” out on Warner Records on Friday, March 31. The album compiles three songs each from Talbot, Molina and Lofgren, recorded separately with different bands during the pandemic, plus Young’s live, solo rendition of “Song of the Seasons.”
The music on “All Roads Lead Home” beams with presence and gratitude. This sounds like the fruits of time, growth and healing, never more so than on Talbot’s “Cherish” with its simple, stacked harmony refrain of “cherish life.”
All four musicians are now in their 70s, Talbot noted, “so we should have more of a positive, uplifting attitude by this time or — I don’t want to be morbid — be dead. So that’s the way it is in life, I think. And hopefully (so) because some people grow up to be old salts. I’d rather not be an old salt. I’d like to be a little salty, but not an old salt.”
Young and Crazy Horse have been particularly busy since Lofgren re-joined the ensemble for 2019’s “Colorado,” releasing new material with “Barn” in 2021 and “World Record” in 2022, as well as the previously-unreleased 2001 album “Toast” last year.
To answer the question on countless fans’ minds: Yes, Talbot said “there has been some discussion” of another tour from Young with Crazy Horse.
Lofgren, also a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, is currently in the midst of a world tour with the Boss. Young has a handful of appearances on the books, including the Light Up the Blues benefit and Willie Nelson’s 90th birthday celebration, both happening in Los Angeles in April.
“(The tour) will probably be next year, if not sooner,” said Talbot. “I don’t know how we would do it but in any case I’d love to play some more. I think that at least one more go-around is called for at this time.”
Listen: “All Roads Lead Home” by Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot, Nils Lofgren and Neil Young will be released on Friday, March 31, followed by “Somewhere Under the Rainbow” by Neil Young with the Santa Monica Flyers on Friday, April 14, on vinyl and CD at the Greedy Hand Store at Neil Young Archies and at music retailers, with high-resolution digital audio available at Neil Young Archives and most digital service providers.
This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Neil Young, Crazy Horse members to release two new albums