Neil Young recently returned for episode six of his ongoing Fireside Sessions remote concerts. This latest edition featured Young singing a bevy of politically-minded songs from his porch, as well as a Bob Dylan cover in a tipi.
Since launching the digital concert series back in March, Young has used the Fireside Sessions as an opportunity to dust off rare originals and choice covers. Joined by his faithful wife and cameraperson Daryl Hannah, Young has played in front of every fireplace in his Telluride, CO home, so he moved this session to the porch.
After opening the video with a point-of-view walk out to his porch and taking a seat on a wood barrel, Young kicks of the show with “Alabama” from his 1972 record, Harvest. This began what would become a show filled with poignant songs that have, for better or worse, remained as true today as it was when they were written. Next came the first deep cut of the session with “Campaigner” from 1977’s Decade, marking Young’s first performance of the song since 2008.
Young then reached into the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young catalog for the eternal protest album, “Ohio”. As has been proven time and again by recent quarantine concerts from Young and Graham Nash, CSNY songs just don’t have the same power and beauty without the group’s trademark harmonization. Perhaps it’s the missing elements found in this rendition of “Ohio” that make the song even more chilling and poignant all these years later. Next came a change of scenery as Young moved the concert to inside a tipi, using the opportunity to advertise for the Navajo Water Project. From inside the indigenous housing, a silhouetted Young took on a cover of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changing”.
Upon returning to the porch and his own catalog, Young performed “Lookin’ for a Leader”, a 2006 track he updated with new lyrics to fit the modern political climate. “Yeah, we had Barack Obama, and we really need him now/The man who stood behind him has to take his place somehow/America has a leader building walls around our house/Who don’t know Black lives matter, and it’s time to vote him out,” Young sang, having recently endorsed Joe Biden for president.
Another old-school hit came in the form of “Southern Man”. Standing in stark transition to the original, overdrive-laden version from After The Gold Rush, this acoustic rendition saw Young delivering the lyrics in a more subdued tone, one that very well could have come from having to sing this same song for nearly 50 years without seeing much real change. Finally, Young wrapped up the “Porch Episode” of the Fireside Sessions with an extended version of “Little Wing” as the last rays of sun disappeared over the mountain. The track comes from Young’s recently-released “lost” 1975 Homegrown album.
Head on over to the Neil Young Archives to watch the latest installment of the Fireside Sessions.