I’ve got to admit that over the years, I feel that I”ve been very spoiled. There have been things I never thought I’d see or hear that have occurred. Maybe it’s the advent of the internet age? Maybe it’s the artists feeling their mortality? Maybe they need the money? Maybe it’s just the hands of time seeing fit to bless us all? Who knows? But, with all the unreleased music and especially Bob Dylan and Neil Young opening up their vaults has me salivating and getting my credit card(s) ready.
“Homegrown” by Mr. Young is one such pleasure that we’ve all been waiting on for years. We knew it existed, but didn’t know if we’d ever get to hear it. My copy was delivered at the house about a week and a half ago and between it and Bob Dylan’s new record, “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” I’ve been toggling back and forth. Both are prescient to the times we’re in and were worth the wait, much long in the case of “Homegrown.”
The album was recorded in late 1974 and early 1975. This era of Neil’s music is holds a special place in my heart as it is around the time I was born, but also, while always a prolific creator, the output was incredible. Three of my favorite albums “On the Beach,” “Tonight’s the Night,” and “Zuma”all came out in this time. “Homegrown” was slated to be released after “On the Beach,” but “TTN” came out instead. And, “Homegrown” was shelved until now. The release in June of 2020 makes it, technically, the 40th studio album of Neil’s career. Talk about a long journey home.
Highlights of this record for me include, “Separate Ways,” “Kansas,” & “White Line” (the latter featuring Robbie Robertson of the Band guesting on guitar). “Try” is a great country shuffle that features guest collaborators Emmylou Harris on vocals and Levon Helm on drums. “Love is a Rose” is a well known song that Linda Ronstadt took and made a hit with. “Star of Bethlehem” was included on “Decade,” so I’ve been familiar with it for a long time.
“We Don’t Smoke it No More” and “Homegrown” are both great toe-tappers and enjoyable. The whole album, and I do recommend you listen to it as a singular piece of work, feels like an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while. It is as comforting as a bourbon that you forgot about until a December evening. There’s an organic feel and a realization that this is how music was meant to be made. The production is just right and not over done.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Neil Young with Crazy Horse, but these albums with a more sparse sound seem to mean a lot to me. This could’ve been a wild, wild time however, if Rusty Kershaw would’ve shown up like he did during “On the Beach.”
I highly recommend you check “Homegrown” out. It’s a great album and super enjoyable. I’m hoping to see Neil in concert again some time when it is safe for everyone to gather together and get to hear some great tunes.