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Neil Young is kicking off his long-awaited Bootleg Series by releasing his December 4th, 1970 show at New York’s Carnegie Hall. It will come out October 1st on double vinyl, CD, and High-Res Digital Audio.
Young played solo acoustic shows at Carnegie Hall on December 4th and December 5th that year, and the second gig has circulated as a beloved bootleg for decades. The first show, which has never been heard before, is now being released.
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The 23-song set mixes features Buffalo Springfield classics (“I Am a Child,” “Expecting to Fly”) and CSNY tunes (“Ohio,” “Helpless”) with many After the Gold Rush songs (“Tell Me Why,” “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” “Southern Man,” “After the Gold Rush”). He also played “Old Man,” which wouldn’t appear on record until Harvest in 1972. Check out the above preview of “Cowgirl In The Sand.”
These were the most prominent gigs Young had played up until that point in his career, and he flew out his parents, Scott Young and Rassy Young, to witness them. “We sat, I guess, like visitors from another world,” Scott Young wrote in his 1984 book Neil and Me. “But once the place was dark, we could all see this dark form approaching the front of the stage and then the spotlight came on him: tall and thin, blue jeans, checkered shirt, work boots, dark straight hair to his shoulders or beyond, two acoustic guitars on a rack beside a plain wooden chair, a concert piano to his let. Moving gingerly as if his back was bothering him. No music to play except the songs in his head, all his own.”
Several more volumes of the Bootleg Series are planned for the coming months, including Royce Call 1971, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion 1971, the Rainbow Theater 1973, the Bottom Line 1974, and a 1977 club gig with his short-lived band the Ducks.
“This one — Carnegie Hall, December 4th, 1970, is very special to me,” Young wrote last year on the Neil Young Archives. “Change happens fast. As I have gone through these early bootlegs, Carnegie Hall, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion [2/1/70], Royce Hall [1/30/71], and others, they show a change, something you can hear — an evolution. My first time playing harmonica, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, is heard as well as what the harmonica replaced — heard on earlier shows. That was interesting to me because I don’t remember exactly when I started playing harp until I heard that. At Carnegie Hall, I hear myself doing a new song, one about my ranch I had just moved to — ‘Old Man.’ Time flies.”
Neil Young hasn’t played live since Farm Aid nearly two years ago. He was booked to perform at the upcoming Farm Aid at Hartford, Connecticut’s XFINITY Theatre on September 25th, but he backed out earlier this week due to Covid concerns. He has, however, been busy in the recording studio with Crazy Horse. They’ve released finished work on a new album, but they have yet to announce a release date for it.
Carnegie Hall 1970 Tracklist
1. Down by the River
2. Cinnamon Girl
3. I Am a Child
4. Expecting to Fly
5. The Loner
8. Southern Man
9. Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing
10. Sugar Mountain
11. On the Way Home
12. Tell Me Why
13. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
14. Old Man
15. After the Gold Rush
16. Flying on the Ground Is Wrong
17. Cowgirl in the Sand
18. Don’t Let It Bring You Down
20. Bad Fog of Loneliness
22. See the Sky About to Rain
23. Dance Dance Dance
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