Neil Young’s legendary unreleased album Homegrown will finally come out in 2020. He recorded it in 1975 and was on the verge of releasing it, going as far as commissioning cover art, when he decided at the last minute to shelf it in favor of Tonight’s The Night.
“A record full of love lost and explorations,” Young wrote on the Neil Young Archives. “A record that has been hidden for decades. Too personal and revealing to expose in the freshness of those times…The unheard bridge between Harvest and Comes a Time, Homegrown is coming to NYA first in 2020.”
Young made the announcement in a post on his Neil Young Archives website paired with a video that shows his longtime producer John Hanlon working on it. “Mr. J. Hanlon is seen here mastering Homegrown in an all analog chain,” Young writes. “This is the way records were made when we started out. This is the way we made them sound great. We were told that this was impossible now, the Homegrown tapes were too damaged to use; we had to use Digital. We didn’t agree. We did not accept. We painstakingly restored the analog masters of Homegrown.”
Young originally recorded Homegrown at a time his career when new songs were coming to him at an incredible pace, many of them inspired by his painful split with girlfriend Carrie Snodgress. Warner Bros. loved the results and felt it would be another bestseller following the relative commercial disappointments of Time Fades Away and On the Beach. “It was a little too personal,” Young told Rolling Stone‘s Cameron Crowe in 1975. “It scared me. I’ve never released any of those. And I probably never well. I think I’d be too embarrassed to put them out. They’re a little too real.”
No exact track listing has ever surfaced, but during the sessions he did record songs like “Love Is a Rose,” “Homegrown” and “Stars of Bethlehem,” which surfaced on later albums . Other songs leaked out over the years or were played it concert, including “Try” and “Homefires,” while others have never been heard before. He was joined on the sessions by Emmylou Harris, Levon Helm, Ben Keith and Robbie Robertson.
The track listing of the 2020 edition of Homegrown hasn’t been announced, but sharp-eyed fans noticed a Post-it Note on John Hanlon’s console in the video with the following songs listed on it: “Separate Ways,” “Try,” “Mexico,” “Love Is a Rose,” “Homegrown,” “Florida,” “Kansas,” “We Don’t Smoke It,” “White Line,” “Vacancy,” “Little Wing” and “Star of Bethlehem.” “We Don’t Smoke It” has never been heard by fans, but you can hear a bit of it on the announcement video.
Young has released numerous archival albums in the past few years, including Songs For Judy, Hitchhiker and Tuscaloosa. He averages about two a year that appear simultaneously in stores along with streaming services and the Neil Young Archives, but he recently revealed a major shift in direction for 2020. He’s still working out the exact details, but the plan is to flood the Neil Young Archives with unreleased material so older fans can hear everything before they die.