Friday, February 7, 2020

Neil Young - Shots - Various Songs (1976-1978)

Here's the fourth Neil Young post of the day! I want to get my reorganization of his mid-1970s stray tracks material all done at once. If you look at any one particular album, you might wonder why some songs were or weren't included. But hopefully it makes more sense if you consider all four together.

Neil Young has long had a habit of writing a song and then not releasing it for years afterwards, sometimes waiting decades. For all of these stray tracks albums, I've imagined that he released his songs in the normal fashion, putting them on an album a year or two later at the most.

I've also disregarded the Stills-Young Band album "Long May You Run." I've tried to find solo versions of those. For "Midnight on the Bay," I found a good live version. But although he did play "Ocean Girl" a few times in concert, none of them had good sound quality. So instead I used the "Long May You Run" version. I didn't include "Fontainebleau" from that album, because I consider it a weak song by Young's usual standards. "Evening Coconut" is a Stills-Young Band live performance, but that song was never officially released.

"No One Seems to Know" was finally released on the live archival album "Songs for Judy" in 2018. "Cryin' Eyes" came out in a very different version on the "Life" album in 1987. "Lost in Space" and "Captain Kennedy" were both recorded in 1977, but not released until the 1980 album "Hawks and Doves." A different version of "The Ways of Love" was included on the 1989 album "Freedom." A rocking version of "Shots" was included on the 1981 album "Re-act-or," but this is an acoustic version.

The song "Long May You Run" was written in 1973, if not earlier. He didn't release it for a long time because he hoped it would go on a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young album, which never happened. Instead of using the famous version from the Stills-Young Band album of the same name, I chose an unreleased 1977 version he did in concert with the Ducks.

That leaves just "Windward Passage" and "Lady Wingshot" as songs that are still unreleased in any form today.  "Lady Wingshot" is a song about the famous female sharpshooter Annie Oakley, by the way. This version of "Windward Passage" sounds great, and comes from a soundboard, but it got cut off before it ended. However, I faded it out at a point where I feel it sounds finished.

There's at least one more unreleased original song from this time period, "Bright Sunny Day." Young only played it one time in concert, in 1978. Unfortunately, the bootleg recording of it sounds terrible, so bad that I couldn't even bear to include it as a bonus track. But if you're curious, you can find it on YouTube.

1978 is not just the chronological end of this album, it was the end of an era for Young. He had two hit albums in 1979, "Rust Never Sleeps" and "Live Rust." But they were recorded in 1978. He didn't play any concerts or do any studio recording in 1979 at all, because he'd given birth to a child with cerebral palsy, and taking care of him would end up taking 15 of more hours of his day, every day, for the next few years. So Young's 1970s flood of songwriting creativity ends in 1978. In my opinion, it would take him a long time to fully get his groove back.

01. No One Seems to Know (Neil Young)
02. Midnight on the Bay (Neil Young)
03. Evening Coconut (Stills-Young Band)
04. Ocean Girl (Stills-Young Band)
05. Lady Wingshot (Neil Young)
06. Windward Passage [Instrumental] (Neil Young & the Ducks)
07. Cryin' Eyes (Neil Young & the Ducks)
08. Lost in Space (Neil Young)
09. Captain Kennedy (Neil Young)
10. Long May You Run (Neil Young & the Ducks)
11. The Ways of Love (Neil Young)
12. Shots (Neil Young)

The cover art photo comes from a Crosby, Nash and Young (no Stills!) concert in Santa Cruz in August 1977. I cropped the photo so that Crosby and Nash aren't included.


  1. Hey, great stuff! I've been considering making a post for a sort of alternate Neil Young discography for ages, so it's nice to have a second opinion on the matter.

    Do you also plan on making something specific to The Ducks? Maybe gather together all the non-cover songs and make a Ducks album

    1. I've already dealt with the Ducks:

      Basically, I posted the one show we have in soundboard quality in full. Then I made another album of all the other songs we have in soundboard quality.

      Maybe you want to take the best of that and try to imagine what a studio album from them would have been like?

  2. Thanks for all your work. Please continue! Very enjoyable indeed. I've always thought a Neil Young 'Goofin Off' album would be fun. All his really wonderfully weird funny songs :Let it shine, ride my Lama, piece of crap, Carnival, you get my drift? I know you like acoustic music. So a Crazy Horse series might not be on your mind? Hmmm I wonder if an acoustic Crazy Horse album would be possible from the 90's. All those bridge School Benefits had some great content. Many thanks.

    1. I'm not a big fan of a lot of his goofy songs, so I don't think I'd make a compilation like that. I'd be more interested in a collection of Richard Thompson's funny songs, but I don't know if he has enough for an album.

      I do plan to post the 1994 Bridge School show with an acoustic Crazy Horse. It's pretty much the "Sleeps with Angels" album, but better.

  3. Digging your Neil lps. Didn't think the albums he released in the mid to late 70's made a lot of sense. They all seemed a bit schizophrenic. Yours have a much nicer flow. Nice work, thanks ! I lost interest in him after Rust, so it's nice to get these.

    1. Yeah, American Stars N' Bars is kind of the epitome for me of an album that should be good, but doesn't hang together. I think he made a lot of mistakes on his albums back then. But if my collections have a nice flow, credit Neil, because I don't have much wiggle room, esp. as I'm limited chronologically.

      I hope you'll check out my collections from 1980 onwards. He had a lot of good music, it's just that he didn't get it on his albums much for most of that decade.

  4. I check out all your stuff by artists I like. You really do some cool stuff. I did buy most of Neil's albums, I just don't find myself listening to them. Got much more into Richard Thompson around this time.

  5. These albums are great – as others have pointed out, probably more cohesive than Young’s actual releases at the time. His erratic progress through the 70s and 80s may have been due to the effects of being immensely prolific while at the same time suffering from an overriding fear of gathering moss if he fully explored a single facet of his music for any length of time. That he continues to go back and re-order his stuff and release previously unavailable material, a behaviour which he began to exhibit 43 years ago with “Decade”, may also be a symptom of his creative restlessness. It’s all very refreshing - long may he remain a contrarian.

    1. Yeah, Neil is a double-edged sword. His creative restlessness is a big part of what makes him great, but it can be incredibly frustrating too.

      I also think that, for most of the 1970s, he didn't want to be too popular. He didn't want another "Harvest" type album that sold millions, because that level of fame was more trouble than it was worth. So he deliberately held back "Homegrown" and other music like that.