Listening to TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT by Neil Young. This is a record the critics fall over themselves praising despite it being Young’s most difficult “good” record as opposed to his difficult “bad” records which are difficult because they aren’t very good.
Inspired or disturbed by the drug overdose deaths of roadie and friend Bruce Berry (mentioned in parts one and two of the title track) and Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten (who sings on the live track “Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown), Young created an album of drugged out music, languid, sharp in places unexpectedly, tired.
I don’t however feel that this is a depressing record with the exception of the title track and perhaps “Tired Eyes”, the rest of the songs taken independently seem to be descriptions of an aimless musician’s stoner based life. However, they achieve their power when listened to in sequential order.
This is one of those records like PINK FLAG, MOTT, I WANT YOU, EXILE ON MAIN STREET that must be listened to in its entirety. The individual songs don’t mean as much apart.
I also feel the power comes from knowing the backstory already. Without it, it doesn’t feel as desperate, as mournful, as sad or angry. The songs bleed into each other and one could transpose that onto the 70’s themselves, an era of destructive, fatigued, self indulgent hedonism.
It’s not my favorite Neil Young album. I would rank it 5th or 6th but that’s still saying quite a lot as Young has made many great records. I will say that none of his other records sound like this one. His voice in particular is much rougher as if he’s screamed himself hoarse before each song.