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ALBUM REVIEW: Neil Young – Hitchhiker

NY Hitchhiker cover

In 1976, within weeks of finishing the recording of Long May You Run, his album with Stephen Stills, Neil Young visited the studio and in a solo and weed-assisted session laid down ten songs, many of which would become staples and high-water marks of his long and illustrious career.

Young has released many archival albums of live recordings but this is the first unearthing of a full album and one that comes from the golden mid-70s run that gave us Zuma, Tonight’s The Night and On The Beach. Hitchhiker is the missing piece from that period, a stark solo performance that breathes new intimacy into famous songs such as ‘Powderfinger,’ ‘Pocahontas’ and ‘Human Highway’, reveals the mastery of the title track and gifts the listener two unreleased songs in ‘Hawaii’ and ‘Give Me Strength’, the former being the better of the two.

Though Young would go on to use most of these songs, in varying stylistic forms, on future albums, it’s these songs, stripped back to the core elements of voice and guitar that reveal his striking ability to weave melancholy, melody and contemporary and allegorical poetry into song.

Chris Familton

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