21 Essential Songs from Neil Young's Archives Vol. 1

Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (1963 - 1972)So let’s say you’re a Neil Young fan who doesn’t care about all the trappings of the Archives. You don’t care about old photos, rare video footage, or hand-written lyric sheets. You just want the music. Let’s assume you already have the first four albums, plus Decade, the Buffalo Springfield albums, and Deja Vu. Of course you already picked up Live At The Fillmore East 1970 and Live At Massey Hall 1971 when they came out. Do you really need the whole Archives?

Thankfullly for you, iTunes and Amazon MP3 both allow you to cherrypick from the Archives‘ sprawling 125 tracks. Here are the 21 tracks (iMix) you should download immediately:

1. (#1) Aurora by The Squires 2:07

2. (#2) The Sultan by The Squires 2:32

3. (#3) I Wonder by The Squires 2:21

4. (#5) I’ll Love You Forever by The Squires 3:22

5. (#6) (I’m A Man And) I Can’t Cry by The Squires 2:30

6. (#8) Casting Me Away From You by Neil Young & Comrie Smith 2:13

7. (#12) Runaround Babe by Neil Young 2:39

8. (#13) The Ballad Of Peggy Grover by Neil Young 2:48

9. (#15) Extra, Extra by Neil Young 2:41

10. (#22) Sell Out by Buffalo Springfield 1:40

11. (#25) Slowly Burning by Neil Young 2:58

12. (#29) Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (promotional single) by Neil Young 2:15

13. (#31) Birds (Previously Unreleased Version) by Neil Young 2:15

14. (#68) Everybody’s Alone by Neil Young with Crazy Horse 2:31

15. (#71) Dance Dance Dance by Neil Young with Crazy Horse 2:24

16. (#74) It Might Have Been by Neil Young with Crazy Horse 4:18

17. (#84) Wonderin’ by Neil Young 2:10

18. (#92) Tell Me Why (Previously Unreleased Live Version) by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 5:41

19. (#114) Bad Fog Of Loneliness by Neil Young with The Stray Gators 1:55

20. (#120) Journey Through The Past by Neil Young with The Stray Gators 2:21

21. (#125) War Song by Neil Young & Graham Nash with The Stray Gators 3:29

Bonus tracks: While you’re at it, you might as well pick up the two Mynah Birds songs on Disc 2 of The Complete Motown Singles, Vol. 6: 1966 (Hip-O Select).

After the jump, I break out what’s included in the Archives and why some things are more essential than others…


Disc 1: Early Years (1963-1968)

28 tracks total. 6 released on albums. 22 unreleased or non-album versions.

1. Aurora [45 RPM Single] [Mono] The Squires 2:07

2. The Sultan [45 RPM Single] [Mono] The Squires 2:32

3. I Wonder [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] [Mono] The Squires 2:21

4. Mustang [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] [Mono] The Squires 2:23

5. I’ll Love You Forever [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] [Mono] The Squires 3:22

6. [I’m A Man And] I Can’t Cry [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] [Mono] The Squires 2:30

These are kinda cool, but “I Wonder” is great because it eventually got turned into “Don’t Cry No Tears” on Zuma. “I’ll Love You Forever” sounds like one of those dopey early Springfield songs. “I Can’t Cry” is pretty tame, early 60s garage pop. The other three songs are instrumentals. Nothing mind blowing.

7. Hello Lonely Woman [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] Neil Young & Comrie Smith 3:57

8. Casting Me Away From You [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] Neil Young & Comrie Smith 2:13

9. There Goes My Babe [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] Neil Young & Comrie Smith 2:23

These are kinda lame. Mediocre acoustic coffeeshop music. Starting to sound a little like Neil though. Of the three, “Casting Me Away From” is the most interesting. The liner notes claim that “There Goes My Babe” is an unreleased song, but a demo version is the first track on the Buffalo Springfield box set.

10. Sugar Mountain [Previously Unreleased Original Demo Recording] [Mono] Neil Young 2:43

11. Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing [Previously Unreleased Original Demo Recording] [Mono] Neil Young 3:05

Does anybody really need to hear more versions of these songs? Especially on this box that contains superior versions of both songs?

12. Runaround Babe [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] [Mono] Neil Young 2:39

13. The Ballad Of Peggy Grover [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] [Mono] Neil Young 2:48

14. The Rent Is Always Due [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] [Mono] Neil Young 2:54

15. Extra, Extra [Previously Unreleased Original Recording] [Mono] Neil Young 2:41

Neil is starting to sound like a real songwriter. These are worth picking up. “The Rent Is Always Due” is an early version of “I Am Child” with totally different lyrics and despite what the liner notes say, a demo was included on the Buffalo Springfield box set.

16. Flying On The Ground Is Wrong [Mono] Neil Young from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set 3:08

17. Burned [Mono] Buffalo Springfield from the album Buffalo Springfield 2:16

18. Out Of My Mind [Mono] Buffalo Springfield from the album Buffalo Springfield 3:05

19. Down, Down, Down [Mono] Neil Young from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set 2:11

20. Kahuna Sunset [Mono] Buffalo Springfield from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set 2:52

21. Mr. Soul [Mono] Buffalo Springfield from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set 2:44

If you already have the Buffalo Springfield Box Set, you don’t need any of these. The liner notes claim that “Down, Down, Down” is a “previously unreleased version,” but a spokesman has admitted that this is an error, and it’s actually the same. If you don’t have the Springfield Box, you should get “Down, Down, Down” (an early version of “Broken Arrow” and the badass version of “Mr. Soul.” “Kahuna Sunset” is a silly instrumental.

22. Sell Out [Previously Unreleased Song] [Mono] Buffalo Springfield 1:40

This was the first “Holy shit!” moment of the Archives for me. A totally ripping unreleased Springfield song. No idea why this wasn’t included on the box… It’s awesome.

23. Down To The Wire [Mono] Neil Young from the album Decade 2:29

24. Expecting To Fly Buffalo Springfield from the album Buffalo Springfield 3:45

You have these already.

25. Slowly Burning [Previously Unreleased Unfinished Recording] Neil Young 2:58

Weird instrumental. I like it.

26. One More Sign Neil Young from the Buffalo Springfield Box Set 2:01

27. Broken Arrow Buffalo Springfield from the album Buffalo Springfield Again 6:13

28. I Am A Child Buffalo Springfield from the album Last Time Around 2:19

You have these.

Disc 2 – Topanga 1 (1968-1969)

14 tracks total. 7 (or 8) released on albums. 6 (or 7) alternate versions

29. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere [Stereo 45 RPM promotional Single] Neil Young 2:15

31. Birds [Previously Unreleased Version] Neil Young 2:15

This version of “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” is fascinating. You know how the first Neil Young album sounds weird and overproduced? Especially when compared to the Crazy Horse album that followed it? Well, this is what the title track from that album would sound like had Neil never recruited the Horse. It’s weird, and not as good as the “real” version, but you definitely have to hear it. If for no other reason that to make you appreciate Crazy Horse even more than you already do. Weird that this was released as a promo single… “Birds” is similar except with After the Goldrush. It’s interesting, but not as strange or compelling as “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.”

32. What Did You Do To My Life? [Previously Unreleased Mix] Neil Young 1:53

35. I’ve Been Waiting For You [Previously Unreleased Mix] Neil Young 2:28

These remixes sound great, but I’m not sure how necessary they are if you’re already happy with the album mixes.

30. The Loner Neil Young 3:50

33. The Last Trip To Tulsa Neil Young 9:27

34. Here We Are In The Years Neil Young 3:17

36. The Old Laughing Lady Neil Young 6:00

37. I’ve Loved Her So Long Neil Young 2:44

These are all from the Neil Young album. “Here We Are In The Years” is from the second version. I’m not whether or not that counts as an album version, or not…

38. Sugar Mountain [Previously Unreleased Stereo Master] Neil Young 6:16

39. Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing [Previously Unreleased Live Version] Neil Young 5:21

These sound great. But again, how necessary are they?

40. Down By The River Neil Young with Crazy Horse 9:17

41. Cowgirl In The Sand Neil Young with Crazy Horse 10:06 Album Only

42. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere Neil Young with Crazy Horse 2:29

Album versions.

Disc 3: Live At the Riverboat (Toronto 1969)

20 tracks. Only 11 songs. With 9 tracks of between-song banter.

The performances are really great. You might think that since you already have the Live at Massey Hall (Toronto 1971) album, that you might not need more live, acoustic Neil. You would be wrong. It’s a great, great set.

Disc 4: Topanga 2 (1969-1970)

12 songs. 7 previously released (including 1 as a b-side and one on a soundtrack). 2 alternate mixes. 3 unreleased versions.

63. Cinnamon Girl Neil Young with Crazy Horse 3:00

64. Running Dry [Requiem For The Rockets] Neil Young with Crazy Horse 5:35

65. Round And Round [It Won’t Be Long] Neil Young with Crazy Horse 5:54

Album versions from Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere.

66. Oh Lonesome Me [Previously Unreleased Stereo Mix] Neil Young with Crazy Horse 4:00

67. Birds [45 RPM Single] [Mono] Neil Young with Crazy Horse 1:37

68. Everybody’s Alone [Previously Unreleased Song] Neil Young with Crazy Horse 2:31

These aren’t dramatically different from the versions on After The Gold Rush. They sound great., and it’s cool to hear Crazy Horse playing on “Birds.” There’s not enough Danny Whitten-era Horse in the world, so we’ll take anything new Neil will give us. “Everybody’s Alone” has been widely bootlegged, but I had never heard this Crazy Horse version. Sounds awesome.

69. I Believe In You Neil Young with Crazy Horse 3:28

Album version from After The Gold Rush .

70. Sea Of Madness [Live Woodstock Version] Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 3:16

71. Dance Dance Dance [Previously Unreleased Version] Neil Young with Crazy Horse 2:24

“Sea of Madness” was released on the Woodstock album although it wasn’t recorded there. It’s a good, ragged CSNY jam. Played a little too fast, which of course makes it better. The melody of “Dance Dance Dance” eventually got reused on “Love Is a Rose” but Neil must really like this song since the Archives contains three versions.

72. Country Girl Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 5:11

73. Helpless [Previously Unreleased Mix] Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 3:45

“Country Girl” is the Deja Vu album version and contains the only synthesizer on this box, which sounds strange and disconcerting. This new mix of “Helpless” is cool. Almost makes the song sound like you haven’t heard 50 million times in your life. Almost.

74. It Might Have Been [Previously Unreleased Live Version] Neil Young with Crazy Horse 4:18

A live cover of an old country trifle. The fidelity is not great on this one compared to most of the other live tracks in the Archives. But Neil’s introduction is kind of funny, acknowledging that he heard it at a church dance in high school, but he doesn’t know who wrote it. “You might not like it, but it used to be my favorite. It’s kind of hokey.”

Disc 5: Live At the Fillmore East (New York 1970)

Nothing new here. A great set, but it’s still missing “Cinnamon Girl,” which appears on the bootlegs. If the quality of “It Might Have Been” was good enough for the Archives, why not “Cinnamon Girl”? Neil’s mind works in mysterious ways.

Disc 6: Topanga 3 (1970)

14 songs. 10 previously released. 4 unreleased or non-album versions.

81. Tell Me Why Neil Young 2:57

82. After The Gold Rush Neil Young 3:46

83. Only Love Can Break Your Heart Neil Young 3:09

85. Don’t Let It Bring You Down Neil Young 2:57 (first pressing)

86. Cripple Creek Ferry Neil Young 1:34

87. Southern Man Neil Young 5:31

88. Till The Morning Comes Neil Young 1:16

89. When You Dance, I Can Really Love Neil Young with Crazy Horse 3:46

These are the album versions from After the Gold Rush. “Don’t Let It Bring You Down” is the “first pressing” version of that album, if that’s important to you…

84. Wonderin’ [Previously Unreleased Version] Neil Young 2:10

Pretty similar to the live version on Live At the Fillmore East (New York 1970). Which makes me think that the live stuff (what Neil calls the “NYA Performance Series”) should’ve been broken up into a separate set. The live shows interrupt the flow of the studio stuff. They’re great on their own, but why are they here? And why not include the Canterbury set? Yes, I know it was thrown in to Blu-ray and DVD sets as a “freebie,” but why? You’d think that after all this time, Neil would’ve come up with a clear philosophy of what belongs in the Archives and what doesn’t. But it doesn’t seem like he has if he’s doing last-minute, half-assed things like stuffing an extra, previously released disc into some versions of the set but not the CD version. To be blunt, it just seems like senility.

90. Ohio [Stereo 45 RPM Single] Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 3:00

This is one of the best protest songs ever written, pulling no punches and naming names. Of course you know that already. And you already have this song, probably on numerous collections. This sounds awesome.

91. Only Love Can Break Your Heart [Previously Unreleased Live Version] Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 4:15

92. Tell Me Why [Previously Unreleased Live Version] Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young 5:41

A couple of live CSNY tracks with Smothers Brothers-style introductions. Note that the album versions appear earlier on this disc. If Neil wanted the Archives to contain the definitive version of each of his songs, why would he include multiple versions of the same song…on one disc? The live CSNY version of “Tell Me Why” is better than the Crazy Horse album version, but “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” doesn’t add much. I’d prefer to hear the whole show added to a future NYA Performance series…

93. Music Is Love David Crosby, Graham Nash & Neil Young 3:20

94. See The Sky About To Rain [Previously Unreleased Live Version] Neil Young 3:56

“Music is Love” is from the David Crosby album If I Could Only Remember My Name, and it’s pretty cool, a stoned acoustic jam. “See The Sky About To Rain” would be released years later on On the Beach (1974), but this version is solo, piano. Very, very similar to the version on Live at Massey Hall (Toronto 1971), so what’s the point? The more you listen to this collection, the more obvious it becomes that the Performance Series is unrelated to the non-Performance discs.

Disc 7: Live at Massey Hall (Toronto 1971)

This a great solo, acoustic set. That’s why you bought it when it came out.

Disc 8: North Country (1971-1972)

14 songs. 6 released on albums. 2 released but long out of print. 6 unreleased or non-album versions.

112. Heart Of Gold [Previously Unreleased Live Version] Neil Young 3:49

This a fantastic solo acoustic version of one of Neil’s most popular songs.

113. The Needle And The Damage Done Neil Young 2:10

115. Old Man Neil Young with The Stray Gators 3:22

116. Heart Of Gold Neil Young with The Stray Gators 3:08

118. A Man Needs A Maid [Previously Unreleased Mix] Neil Young with The London Symphony Orchestra 4:10

119. Harvest Neil Young with The Stray Gators 3:09

121. Are You Ready For The Country? Neil Young with The Stray Gators 3:22

122. Alabama Neil Young with The Stray Gators 4:03

All from the album Harvest. The new mix of “A Man Needs A Maid” feels a little less bombastic. Maybe

114. Bad Fog Of Loneliness [Previously Unreleased Version] Neil Young with The Stray Gators 1:55

117. Dance Dance Dance [Previously Unreleased Version] Neil Young 2:14

120. Journey Through The Past [Previously Unreleased Version] Neil Young with The Stray Gators 2:21

These are all Stray Gators versions of songs that we already know. And they’re all great. “Journey Through The Past” in particular is far superior to the officially released version on Time Fades Away.

123. Words [Between The Lines Of Age] [From The Original Soundtrack Album “Journey Through The Past”] Neil Young with The Stray Gators 15:52 Album Only

This is un-fucking-listenable. The version on Harvest is long enough at 6:40. To add another nine minutes of pointless, uninspired noodling is just bad. This originally appeared as Side Three of Journey Through the Past a/k/a the side of the album I never got all the way through.

124. Soldier [Previously Unreleased Mix] Neil Young 3:22

You know this song from Decade. This new mix still sounds dreary.

125. War Song [45 RPM Single] [Mono] Neil Young & Graham Nash with The Stray Gators 3:29

This is a nice rarity. Issued as a single in support of George McGovern in 1972, and out of print since Nixon was re-elected.

So that’s it for Vol. 1. One thing to point out is that everything sounds really, really great. Even on CD. So I’m guessing the Blu-ray version sounds like Jesus. If you’re a hardcore Rustie you don’t need this guide and you probably disagree with at least half the stuff I wrote. That’s okay: let us know what you think…

Previously: Neil Young Album Tracks Not on the Archives.

Neil Young: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki.

13 thoughts on “21 Essential Songs from Neil Young's Archives Vol. 1”

  1. This is useful in determining that I don’t really want or need Vol. 1. Vol. 2 and 3 are going to be where the meat is at. Let’s hope Neil actually finished them.

  2. Jay, to get the bonus tracks on the DVD and Blu-ray versions, you have to buy the DVD or Blu-ray version. I haven’t heard them. Tough luck, eh?

  3. just picked up the archives and i have to disagree about the 15 minute of words(between the lines…). thought the 15 minute version was nothing short of revelatory…

  4. while attempting to buy Live at the Riverboat from the archives at Neil’s Garage, where you are directed to buy individual releases, it shows only 11 tracks identified by song titles. are the 9 banter tracks missing and only available at itunes or amazon?

  5. I’m always interested in comments re: Young and his early music, since I first saw him perform by happenstance in spring of 1969 at New Haven, a roadhouse cafe near Yale, off “95.” From the curb, watched him get out of a limo from the NY airport before paying for a ticket: I was with a friend and we didn’t really believe Neil Young from California’s Buffalo Springfield was appearing, solo. Fantastic acoustic set. Then, he brought out his new band. With about twenty or so in the small audience, everyone was completely blown away by the electric set… new, evocative long songs. Danny Whitten brought out some of the best in Young. I never see reference to this episode, not in Jimmy McDonough’s biography, not anywhere. I spoke briefly with Young, who was with his first wife, back in the dressing room. Three nights later at the same roadhouse Steven Stills showed up, by then to a packed house. Word had got out. Perhaps “Crazy Horse” had yet to be coined by Young himself. Those four nights at New Haven may have been among their first live gigs together. A stong, bluesy–almost jazzy–inspsirational rock and roll. Obviously, they were just warming up to what became one of the great bands of the 20th century.

    1. Re: jarlath’s Yale tale, told to the world-at-large after 41 years — what a fascinating bit of lore and thunderous experience — probably for Neil too…

      Awesome.

Leave a Reply