Neil Young has released the charming “Try” from Homegrown, the long-lost 1975 album that he’s finally decided to release next month. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the record’s arrival, but we’ve already waited nearly 50 years for it to come out. What’s another few months?
The soothing barroom ditty opens with Levon Helm’s subtle drumming, as Young beckons, “Darlin’, the door is open/To my heart, and I’ve been hopin’/That you would be the one to struggle with the key.” He blankets his request with a startlingly optimistic statement: “We got lots of time to get together if we try.”
Emmylou Harris lends lovely, fleeting vocals, while half of Young’s later band the Stray Gators — pedal steel legend Ben Keith and bassist Tim Drummond — chug along behind. It’s almost too fitting that Young sings, “And I try to wash my hands/And I try to make amends,” but its timeliness is appreciated just the same.
Homegrown was written in the wake of Young’s painful separation with actress Carrie Snodgress, his muse on the 1972 breakthrough Harvest who appeared in his 1974 cinematic oddity, Journey Through the Past. Later, on “Try,” he quotes her mother’s favorite catchphrase, “Shit, Mary, I can’t dance.”
“Try” is one of the seven unreleased tracks off Homegrown. Young tossed it into setlist rotation in 2007 and 2008, performing it a mere 20 times. When he can finally get back on the road, it’ll be interesting to see if and how he plays it, dusting it off from its time in the vault.