Neil Young Says the 1969 CSNY Live Album "Sounds Like God"

He's also found some lost verses to all-time slow burner "Cortez the Killer"

CMA-Creative Management Associates/Atlantic Records (PD)

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Apr 16, 2024

Earlier this month, Neil Young excited listeners by teasing an unearthed 1969 Crosby, Stills Nash & Young concert recording from their early days as a quartet, and if you thought things couldn't get any better than "Pure. Analog. No Digital," Young has now done us one better in saying of the tapes, "It sounds like God."

Rolling Stone shares that the latest update from Young on the live album came yesterday (April 15) via a Zoom engagement with paid subscribers to his Neil Young Archives.

"I've been hanging out with [Stephen Stills]," Young said on the Zoom. "We just finished the CSNY Fillmore East 1969 live album. We did it together with John Hanlon engineering and mixing."

While a release date and other details for the sought-after live release have yet to be revealed, Young shared, "[Rhino Records] had almost completed a digital thing made of digital copies of all the original tapes. It was so depressing that I couldn't even listen to it. You could hear that we were playing great, but I just didn't want to hear that anymore, where you know you have a lot more sound than what you're hearing."

Enter Young's all-analog version: "We found the original analog tapes, and we mixed them. It sounds like God. It's amazing. There's an 18-minute 'Down by the River' on there that's maybe the best 'Down by the River' ever. Stills is just smokin' it. I think I might have already smoked when we started off, so it was a lot of fun."

Looking ahead to his North American tour with Crazy Horse, Young also shared with his Zoom audience that he has unearthed lost lyrics for "Cortez the Killer" — the crown jewel of his 1975 LP Zuma — noting, "We may have those lost lyrics in the show, which will be fun for me."

Though "Cortez" clocks in at seven and a half minutes, Young and the Horse had intended for it to run longer. As his father, Scott Young, detailed in 1984's Neil and Me, the band's recording console died in the midst of tracking the song, resulting in the fade-out heard on the finished version. When producer David Briggs broke the news to the band, Young replied, "I never liked that verse anyway."

"It was a good take," Young recalled on Zoom. "So what we did [for Zuma] was take the master tape and find ways to cut it together so that it would work, but we lost a couple of verses. They were gone. Now that I've found the lyrics, I'm trying to find exactly where they come in the song. I need to look at the tape and see where the cut is, where we lost some. I'll insert them there."

Ahead of that tour with Crazy Horse, Exclaim! has been enjoying his LaserDisc-exclusive concert film Solo Trans, and listing all of Neil Young's Albums Ranked from Worst to Best.

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