Just five days shy of his 23rd birthday, Neil Young’s solo career launched in earnest with an engagement at The Canterbury House in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Having left the Buffalo Springfield only six months earlier, Neil brought just his guitar along to the facility operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan as a ministry to University of Michigan students, faculty and staff.
The truth was that the engagement was something of a “stealth” booking, an experiment to determine if audiences would accept Neil’s music in its most elemental form. Having performed previously in the context of a band, he was unsure if he could deliver his music as convincingly alone. The Canterbury House experience erased all doubts and set the stage for the succession of Neil Young solo albums that continues to this day.
The night of November 9, 1968 (and the night following), he performed his music and told stories between the songs to a rapt audience. The performances were recorded those evenings on a TEAC 2 track tape recorder, the tapes kept in storage over the intervening years.
More than 40 years will have passed when Reprise Records releases Sugar Mountain Live At Canterbury House 1968 as part of the continuing Neil Young Archive Performance Series. The 23-track album will be issued on November 25th and includes recordings made on both nights and offers a glimpse into the development of a legendary artist. The album includes songs that were written during his Buffalo Springfield tenure as well as newly written material that would appear on future solo albums. One of the spoken word standouts is an amusing tale of Neil’s hapless “day job” experience working in a Toronto bookstore that still brings laughs today as it did that night so long ago.
It should be noted that Sugar Mountain Live is not slated for inclusion in the long anticipated Neil Young Archives Vol. 1 (1963 – 1972). The 10-disc Blu-ray and DVD packages will be released early in 2009 with a specific date forthcoming.
The legendary title track, written on Neil’s19th birthday, is certainly a highlight as are such songs as “Mr. Soul,” “Expecting To
Fly,” and “The Loner.” Just about every one of the thirteen songs included in the album came to be appreciated as touchstones of Neil Young’s brilliant songwriting prowess over the decades to follow.
Sugar Mountain Live At Canterbury House 1968 was recorded in stereo on two tracks. It’s intimacy, warmth and brilliance still shine through forty years later.
1. (Emcee intro)
2. On The Way Home
3. Songwriting rap
4. Mr. Soul
5. Recording rap
6. Expecting To Fly
7. The Last Trip To Tulsa
8. Bookstore rap
9. The Loner
10.”I used to” rap
12. Winterlong (excerpt) and Out of My Mind – intro
13. Out Of My Mind
14. If I Could Have Her Tonight
15. Classical Gas rap
16. Sugar Mountain – intro
17. Sugar Mountain
18. I’ve Been Waiting For You
19. Songs rap
20. Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing
21. Tuning Rap & The Old Laughing Lady – intro
22. The Old Laughing Lady
23. Broken Arrow