Tonight's the Night - Neil Young
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 the Billboard 200. In 2003, the album was ranked number 331 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
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.”
The band assembled for the album was known as the Santa Monica Flyers consisting of Young, Ben Keith, Nils Lofgren, and the Crazy Horse rhythm section of Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina. One track as stated above was taken from recordings of an earlier tour with Crazy Horse, and another from an earlier session with his band for Harvest, The Stray Gators.
Released: 20 June 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)
Genre: Folk rock, Blues rock
Producers: David Briggs and Neil Young with Tim Mulligan Elliot Mazer on “Lookout Joe”
No Singles released from the Album