Neil Young: Homegrown review – The album that hurt too much

Fri, Jun 26, 2020, 05:45

   
 

Album:
Homegrown

Artist:
Neil Young

Label:
Reprise

Genre:
Singer / Songwriter

While undoubtedly better late than never, 45 years is pushing it. This album was due to land in early 1975 but Young, reeling from a painful break with Carrie Snodgress, his actor partner and mother of his first child and to whom the album was dedicated, pulled Homegrown because it was too close to the bone.

“The heartache. I just couldn’t listen to it. I wanted to move on. So I kept it to myself, hidden away in the vault ... it’s actually beautiful. That’s why I made it in the first place. Sometimes life hurts. You know what I mean. This is the one that got away.”

Well, no longer. It should be remembered that Young was then in the middle of his most creative and productive streak – he could do no wrong and he had a fallback: within weeks he released the bleak Tonight’s the Night, an album shelved from 1973.

Homegrown is actually more sad than dark; the songs reflect his rock and folk leanings and the mood of the time. Of the 12 tracks, seven are new: Separate Ways, Try, Mexico, Kansas, We Don’t Smoke It Anymore, Vacancy and Florida, a weird spoken piece. The latter apart, they are all, plus or minus, worthy additions to the Young canon. Versions of the other five turned up on later records.

Interestingly, he now views Homegrown as forming a bridge between 1972’s Harvest and 1978’s Comes a Time. He’s right.