With Hitchhiker finally due out September 8th – exactly 41 years and one month after Young recorded the album in one night in Malibu, California’s Indigo Studios – “Uncle Neil” detailed the LP’s hurried recording session and why it was never released.
“No one had ever heard [these songs] before. The album was called Hitchhiker,” Young says. “I had no accompaniment but my guitar, harmonica and the studio piano as I sang the songs in the order you still hear them today. ”
Young said that producer David Briggs and Young’s friend, actor Dean Stockwell, were the only people to witness the session. “The idea I had at the time was to present these new songs in their purest and simplest form, just as they had been written,” Young said, citing the bare bones recordings of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and “1960s folk music.” However, Young’s record label deemed the album as a simple collection of demos and ultimately shelved it.
While eight of Hitchhiker‘s 10 tracks were later revived and reworked by Young for a variety of projects – most recently, the title track popped up on 2010’s Le Noise – the album features a pair of unreleased tracks, “Hawaii” and “Give Me Strength,” both of which were inspired by Young’s breakup with actress Carrie Snodgrass, the singer reveals in the video.
Ahead of its September 8th release, Hitchhiker is streaming now on NPR.