Neil Young Releasing 1970 'Cellar Door' Concerts - Rolling Stone
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Neil Young Releasing ‘Cellar Door’ Concerts

The solo acoustic shows from 1970 feature the debut performances of “Old Man” and “See the Sky About to Rain’

Neil Young

Neil Young

Dick Barnatt/Redferns

Neil Young‘s ongoing Archive Performance Series will continue on December 10th with the release of Live at the Cellar Door, recorded during Young’s six-show stand at Washington D.C.’s matchbox-sized Cellar Door between November 30th, 1970 and December 2nd, 1970. The two-disc set will be available on CD and 180-gram vinyl.

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The solo acoustic shows came about four months after the release of After the Goldrush, Young’s best selling album to date that featured “Tell Me Why,” “Don’t Let It Bring You Down,” “Birds” as well as the haunting title track. Those songs are all on Live at the Cellar Door along with older favorites like “Down by the River” “Cinnamon Girl” and Buffalo Springfield classics “Expecting to Fly,” “I Am a Child” and “Flying on the Ground Is Wrong.” 

The six Cellar Door shows marked Young’s first concerts after a nearly five-month break. He spent some of that time writing new material, and the shows featured the debut performances of “Old Man,” “Bad Fog of Loneliness” and “See the Sky About to Rain.” It’s also one of the few concerts where he played “Cinnamon Girl” on the piano.  

He played two shows per evening at the Cellar Door, and they essentially served as a public rehearsal for his two-night stand at New York’s Carnegie Hall on December 4th and 5th, 1970. Nobody knew it at the time, but Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young quietly broke up after their summer tour wrapped that July. The success of After the Goldrush demonstrated that Young was a genuine superstar outside of the short-lived supergroup, and his fame would only grow as the decade went on.  

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The Cellar Door was likely on his mind when he wrote “The Needle and the Damage Done,” which he debuted in concert just one month after playing the venue. The song begins with the line, “I caught you knocking at my cellar door.”

Live at the Cellar Door is the third volume of Young’s Archive Performance Series to spotlight a show taped between March of 1970 and January of 1971, the others being Live at Massey Hall 1971 and Live at the Fillmore. In 2009, he released his long-anticipated box set The Archives Vol. 1 1963-1972, but fans are still awaiting any information about the second box set, which would likely cover the remainder of the 1970s.  

Here is the complete track listing for Live at the Cellar Door

Side One:

“Tell Me Why”
“Only Love Can Break Your Heart”
“After the Gold Rush”
“Expecting to Fly”
“Bad Fog of Loneliness”
“Old Man Birds”

Side Two:

“Don’t Let It Bring You Down”
“See the Sky About to Rain”
“Cinnamon Girl”
“I Am a Child”
“Down by the River”
“Flying on the Ground Is Wrong” 

Update: The original release date of November 26th has been updated.

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