Because I may not know music, but I know what you should like
… and where to find it1
Neil Young – Piano Songs 1970-1992: Time Crunch
I typically don’t publish two Heck Of A Guy Best Bootlegs entries in three days;2 in this case, however, an outstanding music collection is available for a limited time only, necessitating a prompt posting.
BigO, the site hosting the files, is atypical in a number of ways compared to most other bootleg sites:
- As noted, the downloads are available for only a short time.3
- The recordings are almost always high bit rate mp3 files offered in a one song-one file format.4
- The BigO home page comprises a unique mix of bootlegs, movie and music reviews, and Southeast Asian political polemics, each component of which appears to be independent of the others.
BigO is also unusual in that it provides a thorough write-up for each bootleg. The following is the site’s description of Neil Young – Piano Songs 1970-1992:
With the imminent release of the Neil Young Archives, here’s a fan compilation of the “old man” alone at the piano. Here’s the info we got when we joined a tree to obtain this wonderful compilation:
“In early 1996, longtime Rusty, Shawn “Just Riding My Llama” McCorkle, decided that he liked Neil’s piano work so much that he grabbed a bunch of his favourite performances and made a special tape full of them.
“Shawn then performed a unique tree: hundreds of branch leaders, but no defined leaves! Rather than use the regular tree format, he temporarily accepted a 100-minute blank tape from anyone and everyone who sent one, and dubbed onto it a copy of his compilation.
“After over a hundred such dubs, he suspended the distribution and turned over follow-on distribution to those who have already been served.”
The criteria also required the songs be sung with intimacy. Hence some interesting onstage dialogue has been left on. Listen to Young confessing his love on Love In Mind, where he wrote this song and the mysterious girl who inspired him. It’s a song about a rambler who connects to his girl on the phone. Much like how SMSs have become the essential relationship tool.
Then there’s the softly, softly version of the Buffalo Springfield’s Out Of My Mind, with the candy-coating pop sucre removed. Neil Young has that quality to make a public performance sound very private, just for you. His songs are touching, with a genuine melody, and his searching voice in some ways was the voice of his ’60s generation, restless, earnest and always inquiring.
The jump to CD2 is also a mood shift. On these tracks, Young shows he can party and the piano becomes a barroom piano and you’re right there in Neil Young’s saloon. Things sober up from Track 9, with Such A Woman, an almost dirgelike lament. A song seldom sung and found on his Harvest Moon album.
Almost everything here is taken from audience recordings, some better than others. Don’t let that put you off. It’s very listenable because you’ll love the versions here. The performances chosen by Shawn McCorkle are heartfelt and private and the order of the tracks also keeps the mood warm.
Each track has the date of performance and the city. You can search the web for the full concerts. Thanks to Shawn McCorkle for sharing his compilation.
~ Professor Red
These are high quality MP3s (sample rate of 192 kbps). According to the site, “As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.”
Track 101. Flying On The Ground Is Wrong [Dec 5, 1970 NYC]
Track 102. There’s A World [Jan 21, 1971 Boston]
Track 103. The Bridge [Feb 27, 1971 London]
Track 104. Borrowed Tune [Jan 14, 1973 Buffalo]
Track 105 .Soldier [Jan 21, 1973 NYC]
Track 106. A Man Needs A Maid > Heart Of Gold [both Jan 22, 1971 Stratford]
Track 107. Journey Thru The Past
Track 108. Love In Mind [both Feb 23, 1971 London, BBC]
Track 109. Sweet Joni [March 11, 1973 Bakersfield]
Track 110. No One Seems To Know [March 5, 1976 Osaka, Japan]
Track 111. Birds
Track 112. Out Of My Mind [both May 26, 1978 early show San Francisco]
Track 113. I Believe In You [March 28, 1970 Santa Monica]
Track 114. Tonight’s The Night [Nov 17, 1992 Chicago]
Track 201. Coastline [Jan 5, 1983 Santa Cruz]
Track 202. Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me [March 22, 1985 Sydney]
Track 203. Winterlong
Track 204. Someday [both Dec 13, 1989 Rotterdam]
Track 205. Helpless [April 28, 1989 Tokyo]
Track 206. Campaigner [Feb 18, 1992 NYC]
Track 207. Love Is A Rose
Track 208. Are You Ready For The Country [both May 18, 1992 Cleveland]
Track 209. Such A Woman [Sept 21, 1992 Los Angeles]
Track 210. Speakin’ Out [Sept 22, 1992 Los Angeles]
Track 211. Love Art Blues
Track 212. Homefires [both Nov 22, 1992 Minneapolis]
Track 213. After The Goldrush [Sept 5, 1989 NYC]
Bootleg Downloading Tip
Songs downloaded from BigO and many other bootleg sites often, but not always, have incomplete tags (the part of the file that contains information about the song, such as title, album, artist, etc.). Some, for example, list the song titles but not the artist’s name; others may present the names of the artist and the venue (in place of “album name”) but list the songs only as “Track 01,” “Track 02,” etc. I suggest checking the file tags immediately after downloading them and the download site is still on the browser so the data is available for manual entry. (The software of most mp3 players, such as iTunes, accommodates manual data entry.) Deferring the tag completion seems to inevitably result in awkward situations, such as
Sweet Young Thing: That’s a great song. What’s its name?
DrHGuy: That, Sweet Young Thing, is “Track 08 CD2″ sung by “Artist(s)” in 1978. Cool, eh?
Neil Young – Piano Songs 1970-1992 can be downloaded (and more information about the music can be found) at Don’t Shoot Me, I’m The Young Piano Player
- This post is part of the Heck Of A Guy Best Bootlegs Series. An explanation of this project is included in the first post in this category: Best Bootlegs: Otis Redding – A Soupçon Of Soul. [↩]
- Best Bootlegs: Jackson Browne At The Jabberwocky Club was posted on May 24, 2009 [↩]
- Some selections are made available for download again at later dates, but, as far as I can determine, which bootlegs will again made accessible at what date is unpredictable. [↩]
- I.e., each song can be downloaded separately as an mp3 file. Most bootleg sites offer compressed files, such as *.rar or *.zip, each of which contains several songs. [↩]