Neil Young: Hitchhiker

Neil Young

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Neil Young recorded Hitchhiker with engineer David Briggs back in 1976. Since, most of these tunes have been re-recorded to find homes on Young releases, Rust Never Sleep. Hawks & Doves, Comes A Time, American Stars ‘n Bars and Le Noise. But here we get the tunes just Young’s high warble vocal and percussive acoustic guitar playing.

Opening with paegn to the American Indian, “Pocahontas,” Young sends out his sympathy imagining what it would be like to get close to the great Indian lady and “see how she felt.” The famous “Powderfinger” gets a more flick-y acoustic read here (Neil Yong’s particular percussive playing is evident throughout Hitchhiker) and “Ride My Llama” has got a plucky string backing to Neil’s weird science fiction hippy flit-of-a-tune.

There is plenty of statements made here; “Even Richard Nixon’s got soul” Neil sings over and over on the rambling “Campaigner.”

It’s on sweet tunes like “Give Me Strength” (one of two of these 10 that was unreleased) that we get the very best of what Young could deliver back then and maybe ever. Beyond political anthems, historic ‘story songs’ and rockers, Neil Young lending his time and delicate nature to a love song is about as good as it gets, I feel.

“Human Highway” sees Neil out front with this harmonica, channeling Woody Gutherie over the American landscape view he gives and the piano-led gospel, “The Old Country Waltz” ends.

With a songwriter as prolific (and odd) as Mr. Young, it’s no surprise we get stuff like this, 41 years after the fact! Good, bad, middle-of-the-road competent, Hitchhiker is still pretty cool stuff.

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