Neil Young :: A Hitchhiker On The Road

Hitchhiker, Neil Young's latest archival release, is an absolutely essential addition to the songwriter's canon, capturing a skeletal mid-1976 solo acoustic session. It's also our first chance to hear the original version of the LP's title track, a tune with an extremely tangled history. Let's do a little un-tangling.

According to Neil, he wrote the song just a few days before the Hitchhiker session, proudly playing it for Bob Dylan at Shangri La, The Band's Malibu studio. "That's an honest song," Dylan responded. And as usual, he's right – "Hitchhiker" is an intense "autobiography in drugs," following Young's path through hash, amphetamines, cocaine and beyond. “If it was a TV show, it would be called ‘The Drug Chronicles, T.M.I.,’” he told the New York Times in 2010. Young may have penned the ultimate anti-drug anthem in "Needle & the Damage Done," but here he owns up to his own abuses ... and sounds fairly unrepentant along the way (Young admitted that the Hitchhiker session was fueled by weed, beer and coke– and its safe to assume he's not talking about soda). Was "Hitchhiker" too honest? Maybe – Neil left it unreleased and never played it live during the 1970s.

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