Neil Young’s archives are so deep even he doesn’t know what’s in them. In fact, he recently discovered a collection of 1987 demo recordings labeled Summer Songs, and despite not having any recollection of the sessions, he plans on releasing the album soon.
Writing on his official website, Young said, “We are not sure of the exact original dates of these recordings yet. They were all given the same date in the NYA Vault’s records, but they all have a very similar unique sound. To give you an idea of place and time, Farm Aid and the Bridge School concerts had just begun their long runs.”
(Farm Aid launched in 1985, and while the Bridge School benefits started in ’86, they actually skipped ’87 and ’88.)
The vagueness stretches beyond the dates, with Young saying his team believes the sessions took place at the Broken Arrow studio “as far as we can figure.” They also aren’t sure who engineered the recordings, as Young admits, “I don’t remember the sessions at all!”
These “sketches of arrangements we made to preserve the initial ideas” (as Young puts it) were recorded with just acoustic guitar or piano alongside “simple added embellishments.” The eight tracks — “The Last of His Kind,” “For the Love of Man,” “American Dream,” “Name of Love,” “Someday,” “One of These Days,” “Hangin’ on a Limb,” and “Wrecking Ball” — would later be fully realized on the albums Freedom, American Dream, Psychedelic Pill, and Harvest Moon. However, Young notes that “the words of these originals are significantly different from their subsequent master album releases in many cases. Several completely new and unheard verses are found in the songs of this collection.”
Although the current plan is to include Summer Songs on the upcoming Neil Young Archives Volume 3, there’s the possibility of a separate Archive album prior to that. Research is still being done into the exact origins of the newly uncovered recordings.
Summer Songs is but the latest archival release from Young. This year along saw him release the 1990 Crazy Horse live album and concert film Way Down in the Rust Bucket, 1982’s previously unreleased Johnny’s Island LP, a bootleg of his 1970 Carnegie Hall concert, and the “lost” 1971 live album and concert film Young Shakespeare. There’s also new material on the horizon, as his latest full-length with Crazy Horse, Barn, set for a December 10th release.