In early 1973, Neil Young should have been on top of the world. His most recent record Harvest had propelled him to stardom, and the single "Heart of Gold" was one of the the most popular songs of the previous year. A 62-date arena tour was booked, and it should have been a triumphant victory lap – but painful back problems, the recent death of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten, band tension and Young's general unease with fame turned it into an endless slog. Young also decided to challenge the audience by playing a ton of unreleased material that wound up on the 1973 live disc, Time Fades Away. While songs like "L.A." and "Don't Be Denied" are absolutely brilliant, this wasn't the disc people were pining for and it sold poorly. He has yet to release it on CD.
"Nobody expected Time Fades Away and I'm not sorry I put it out," Young told Rolling Stone's Cameron Crowe in 1975. "I didn't need the money, I didn't need the fame. You gotta keep changing. Shirts, old ladies, whatever. I'd rather keep changing and lose a lot of people along the way. If that's the price, I'll pay it. I don't give a shit if my audience is 100 or 100 million. It doesn't make any difference to me. I'm convinced that what sells and what I do are two completely different things. If they meet, it's coincidence.