“The record chronicles the post-hippie, post-Vietnam demise of counterculture idealism, and a generation’s long, slow trickle down the drain through drugs, violence, and twisted sexuality. This is Young’s only conceptually cohesive record, and it’s a great one.”
~Dave Marsh (The New Rolling Stone Record Guide)
“Tonight’s the Night is that one rare record I will never tire of.”
~Chris Fallon (PopMatters)
The title cut:
|Released||June 20, 1975|
|Recorded||August–September 1973 at Studio Instrument Rentals, Hollywood, CA (except “Come On Baby”: Fillmore East, NYC, March 1970; “Lookout Joe”: Broken Arrow Ranch, December 1972 and “Borrowed Tune”: Broken Arrow Ranch, December 1973)|
|Producer||David Briggs, Tim Mulligan, Neil Young, Elliot Mazer (track 10 only)|
Tonight’s the Night is the sixth studio album by Canadian musician Neil Young, released in 1975 on Reprise Records, catalogue MS 2221. It was recorded in 1973 (most of it on a single day, August 26), its release delayed for two years. It peaked at #25 on theBillboard 200. In 2003, the album was ranked number 331 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Roll Another Number (For the road):
Tonight’s the Night is a direct expression of grief. Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and Young’s friend and roadie Bruce Berry had both died of drug overdoses in the months before the songs were written. The title track mentions Berry by name, while Whitten’s guitar and vocal work highlight “Come on Baby Let’s Go Downtown”; the latter was recorded live in 1970. The song would later appear, unedited, on a live album from the same concerts, Live at the Fillmore East, with Whitten credited as the sole author.
Fans have long speculated that an alternate version of Tonight’s the Night exists. Neil Young’s father, Scott Young, wrote of it in his memoir, Neil and Me:
Ten years after the original recording, David Briggs and I talked about Tonight’s the Night, on which he had shared the producer credit with Neil. At home a couple of weeks earlier he had come across the original tape, the one that wasn’t put out. “I want to tell you, it is a handful. It is unrelenting. There is no relief in it at all. It does not release you for one second. It’s like some guy having you by the throat from the first note, and all the way to the end.” After all the real smooth stuff Neil had been doing, David felt most critics and others simply failed to read what they should have into Tonight’s the Night — that it was an artist making a giant growth step. Neil came in during this conversation, which was in his living room. When David stopped Neil said, “You’ve got that original? I thought it was lost. I’ve never been able to find it. We’ll bring it out someday, that original.”
Here is “Roll Another Number” (unreleased from the Acetate tape):
Tonight’s the Night (unreleased – from the acetate tape):
This should end any lingering doubts as to whether the real Neil Young is the desperate recluse who released two albums in the late ’60s or the sweet eccentric who became a superstar shortly thereafter. Better carpentered than Time Fades Away and less cranky than On the Beach, it extends their basic weirdness into a howling facedown with heroin and death itself. It’s far from metal machine music–just simple, powerful rock and roll. But there’s lots of pain with the pleasure, as after all is only “natural.” In Boulder, it reportedly gets angry phone calls whenever it’s played on the radio. What better recommendation could you ask? A
~Robert Christgau (robertchristgau.com)
All songs written and composed by Neil Young, except when noted.
Album @ spotify:
There’s a scream inside everyone of us at every moment. And every one of us has had the experience of listening to a record and feeling that scream take over. Release. Abandon. Let it all out. Rock and Roll for me is about Eros, not Logos, which is paradoxical since my job is putting the experience in words.
~Paul Williams (Author’s note)
One of our favorite authors here at JV is Paul Williams, and…. he did write about other stuff than Bob Dylan.
We all love lists, so I’ll try out a new series of posts honoring one of his lesser known books:
..the list is chronological, starting back before the beginning and going through the 50′s and the 60′s and the 70′s and the 80′s, and ending for the sake of convenience in 1991. So #1 is not supposed to be ‘better’ than #100. It just got in the line first.
My criteria are simple: the song has to have been released as a seven-inch 45 rpm single in the United States or Great Britain (Robert Johnson’s 78 rpm ten-inch is the exception that proved the rule), and it has be “rock and roll” according to my subjective evaluation…
~Paul Williams (Author’s note)
All quotes are from the book.
Here is #21 – 30
I never thought of myself as being a good songwriter. There are a ton of other people that are good songwriters, but I don’t think I’m in the club. What I do well is perform, sometimes sing pretty good, and accompany myself well and arrange fairly well.
If you’re writing anything decent, it’s in you, it’s your spirit coming out. If it’s not an expression of how a person genuinely feels, then it’s not a good song done with any conviction.
The Box Tops – The Letter (Upbeat 1967):
|Birth name||William Alexander Chilton|
|Born||December 28, 1950
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||March 17, 2010 (aged 59)
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Genres||Rock ‘n’ roll, power pop, proto-punk, hard rock,blue-eyed soul, indie rock|
|Occupations||Musician, singer, songwriter, record producer|
|Associated acts||Box Tops, Big Star, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns|
A young Alex Chilton w/ Dan Penn:
William Alexander “Alex” Chilton (December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010) was an American songwriter, guitarist, singerand producer, best known as the lead singer of the Box Tops and Big Star. Chilton’s early commercial success in the 1960s as a teen vocalist for the Box Tops was not repeated in later years with Big Star and in his indie music solo career on small labels, but he drew a loyal following in the indie and alternative music fields and is often cited as an influence by many mainstream rock artists and bands.
Big Star – Thirteen (1972):
Box Tops – I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan Cover):
Big Star – #1 Record (1972):
…. Big Star’s debut album for the first time decades after its release (as, inevitably, most people must), you may be reminded of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers or R.E.M., who came after — that is, if you don’t think of the Byrds and the Beatles, circa 1965. What was remarkable about #1 Record in 1972 was that nobody except Big Star (and maybe Badfinger and the Raspberries) wanted to sound like this — simple, light pop with sweet harmonies and jangly guitars. Since then, dozens of bands have rediscovered those pleasures. But in a way, that’s an advantage because, whatever freshness is lost across the years, Big Star’s craft is only confirmed. ….
~William Ruhlmann (allmusic.com)