Son don’t be home too late…

Time Fades Away, the first of the famed Ditch Trilogy.

Damn the whole thing looks intimidating, a crushed rose on the edge of the stage as the audience stands in the murk, all of them looking in different directions, one lone member raising the peace sign.

For years I used to look at this album in HMV on Church Street and not buy it, I would pick up something else but keep coming back to look at the album. In my mind it took on some sort of life of it’s own. I had never heard any of the songs but it followed Harvest and had Crosby and Nash on it, it had to be good. I probably bought twenty records while looking at Time Fades Away and then it was gone. For some reason I had a sense of loss about this. I never did get it though, until overwhelmed with the collecting bug it was the last of the 70’s albums that was needed and therefore had to be found.

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Time Fades Away is not a bad album, it’s  not a great album either when compared to After the Goldrush and Harvest that preceded it. It has in Don’t Be Denied Young’s most autobiogrpahical song and one of the more harrowing in Yonder Stands the Sinner and Last Dance is almost apocalyptic. Young dragged his band around the states self-medicating and howling into the wind seemingly determined to self-destruct at every turn. The audience apparently was as confused as the band at what was going on. Between grief, anger and Tequila Young determined to make a document fo the tour.The inclusion of Crosby and Nash did not bring any sweeter harmonies just more volume and a sense of disaster in their vocals. The end of the album is particularly harrowing with the repeated “Last Dance” vocal coda plaintively echoing around the arena.

If you look at it as a document of Young’s descent into the abyss dragging his complicit band along then it makes sense. At the end of the tour Young abandoned this band and holed up with what was left of Crazy Horse and Nils Lofgren, Ben Keith and some others, calling themselves the Santa Monica Flyers  to record Tonights the Night and drink tequila. Drinking all day and recording into the small hours.

The album is a document of decline, the trilogy itself is the record of redemption, climbing out of the ditch not wallowing in the muck that collects at the side of the road. Time Fades Away in this way would be the rock bottom of the ditch were the beer cans and roadkill collect to decay. It’s were the winos and vagrants pick through the mess looking for anything that can be reused or is of any value.

Time Fades Away is a nasty, dirty album. The whole record like the front cover seems to have been recorded in a haze of smoke and sweat, the scent of tequila and weed permeate the whole thing. It’s the edge of the road, the ditch, a place of refuse.

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2 thoughts on “Son don’t be home too late…

  1. How did I miss this? I love this album – in my NY top three for sure. Neil hated it; shows how much he knew.

    Now I’m gonna be totally narcissistic and go back and read my post on Time Fades Away from a long time ago…

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