Editors' Notes One night in the mid-1970s, Neil Young invited some musician friends to join him at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood for a small listening party. He had not one but two finished LPs to share: Homegrown and Tonight’s the Night, which, since it happened to be on the same reel, was simply an added bonus. But in hearing them back to back that evening, Young had a change of heart. Written in the wake of his relationship with actor Carrie Snodgress, Homegrown was so personal and intense that it frightened him. He chose to release Tonight’s the Night in June 1975 instead, leaving most of Homegrown to sit in his vault for nearly five decades, unheard—a lost classic he described to his father as “great songs I can live without”.
Released now as part of his ongoing Archives project, Homegrown sounds like a troubled extension to the folk and country rock of 1972’s Harvest, the best-selling album that year. For a listener, it’s a thrilling juxtaposition: one of the decade’s brightest (and most enigmatic) stars at the height of his powers creatively, while also at his most vulnerable personally. Much of what’s here is previously unreleased—the crunchy title track and “Star of Bethlehem” appeared on side two of 1977’s American Stars ’N Bars, “Little Wing” on 1980’s Hawks & Doves—but all of it still feels cathartic, alive with regret. The album opens with a goodbye, “Separate Ways” speaking directly to Snodgress and making devastating reference to their son Zeke (“Sharin’ our little boy/Who grew from joy back then”) above a mournful tangle of acoustic guitar, pedal steel and harmonica. “Vacancy” offers anger and “Try” glimmers of optimism as well as vocal contributions from Emmylou Harris. Recorded as an acoustic duet with The Band’s Robbie Robertson before a CSNY show at Wembley, “White Line” is a highlight that Young would electrify later on with Crazy Horse for 1990’s Ragged Glory. “You were my raft and I let you slide,” Young sings, his voice weary. “It seemed like a long, easy ride/I was adrift on a river of pride.”