Recorded in the Seventies, Young's most personal LP feels perfect right now.
By Angie Martoccio in Rolling Stone
ne Los Angeles evening in 1975, Neil Young gathered a few friends together at the Chateau Marmont to play them some music. He had two new albums in the can and wasn't sure which one to release. There was Tonight's the Night, his grueling, tequila-engorged meditation on fallen friends and the death of the Sixties. The other record, Homegrown, was harder to pin down; on the surface, it recalled the relaxed country rock star that had made Young a star, but that warm exterior hid some of his most personal writing -- so personal, in fact, that it was never released. "I think I'd be too embarrassed," Young said.
"I won't apologize," he declares on the opener, "Separate Ways," his caustic words melting into Ben Keith's pedal steel guitar. On "Mexico," he laments his loss over sparse piano: "Oh, the feeling's gone/ Why is it so hard to hang on to your love?" The slow-burner "Try" is slightly more optimistic, as Young playfully sings, "I'd like to take a chance/ But shit, Mary, I can't dance," quoting a favorite catchphrase of Snodgrass' mother. And then there's "Vacancy," a barnyard rocker assisted by Stan Szelest on Wurlitzer organ, where Young sings, "I look in your eyes, and I don't know what's there," as if seeing an ex-lover who now appears as a phantom.
Such raw feelings of loss also color the LP's looser, throwaway moments. On the spare, acoustic "Kansas," Young seems to imagine finding new love as an impossible escape from reality: "We can go gliding though the air/ Far from the the tears you've cried." His aloneness also gives fun, half-baked tunes like the hazy blues oddity "We Don't Smoke It No More" and the stoner-anthem title track an endearing quality; they're not classics, but it's nice to hear Young lighten up a little as he loses himself in jams with his friends, which included Robbie Robertson, a cuttingly funky Levon Helm, and Emmylou Harris, who sings beautifully on "Try."
In 1975, Homegrown evoked an organic hippie ideal. Right now, the title has more depressing overtones. But in a sense, it's hard to think of a better time to hunker down and listen to songs of anguish, confusion, and isolation. This is an album that proves something beautiful and enduring can come from even the most dire circumstances. * * * * 1/2
By Madison Vain in Esquire
ack in 1974, Neil Young recorded what his label was absolutely sure would be an album stacked with hits. Young was certainly in the market for a few -- Time Fades Away and On the Beach, his two previous LPs, hadn't fared well with fans. But Homegrown, a de facto musical companion to 1972's Harvest written in the wake of his break-up with girlfriend Carrie Snodgress, was never released -- until now. "It was a little too personal," Young said in 1975 of the decision in an interview with Rolling Stone. "It scared me." He echoed the sentiment recently as he announced the plan for the legendary work to emerge: "It's the sad side of a love affair. The damage done. The heartache. I just couldn't listen to it. I wanted to move on." Seven of the 12 songs had never been released before in any studio album, including "Separate Ways," a pedal-steel-laden lament for the lonely, and the devastating "Try," which adapts some of Snodgress's actual phrases into lyrics. And as has long been rumored, the record features both the Band's Levon Helm and Dr. John acolyte Karl T. Himmel on drums, plus Emmylou Harris on backing vocals. All the tracks were painstakingly mastered to vinyl from the original analog tapes. To listen to them is to finally hear one of the necessary building blocks of one of American music's finest catalogs.
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl reminisces about the time he jammed onstage with Led Zeppelin.
By Dave Grohl as told to Leah Greenblatt in Entertainment Weekly
e were at the tail end of a long few years of touring, and our manager asked if we wanted to play Wembley Stadium in England, I said, 'Of course, but is that even possible?' It's such a huge venue. But we put the tickets on sale and wound up doing two nights there.
We had this song 'The Pretender' that we had just played on the 2008 Grammys with a strings section that John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin had arranged, and we'd sort of made friends from that, so being a total freak -- I mean, I've got Led Zeppelin tattoos -- I thought, 'Well, we've gotta call him.' Their importance is hard to explain. Because I didn't take lessons, I don't understand conventional theory and I can't read music, but listening to their albums taught me so much. And there was just part of me that always fantasized that one day I would be able to jam with these guys. And I figured, this is the most momentous occasion of my entire life, playing Wembley, why not call the band that changed it all for me?
So I got on the phone with [Zeppelin guitarist] Jimmy Page and he basically said, 'Well, what do you want to do?' And I was terrified to answer, but I had to say something, so I said, "How about "Rock and Roll"? And he said, 'Yeah, what else?' I said, 'How about "Ramble On"?' He said, 'Great, see you at rehearsals.' I mean it was that easy, I couldn't believe it. They were such wonderful, generous people.
When we rehearsed the day before in the empty stadium, I remember I was so nervous and hungover, and when they showed up and I sat down at the drum set, I couldn't believe that it was finally the moment I had been waiting for. To stand in front of 80,000 people or whatever it was with them -- just being eight feet away from Jimmy Page as he shredded these classic leads, it was almost as if I had fallen into a Led Zeppelin movie.
I remember seeing my mother, my daughter, my wife at the end of this long runway that went out into the middle of the stadium, and thinking, 'This wasn't supposed to happen, this band was never supposed to do this. And I'm so grateful for all the other things in my life, but I'd hate to feel like this was just another show.' It wasn't, and it never will be for me."
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