Neil Young announced on Friday that he will be launching an online archive that will include “every single, recorded track or album I have produced” since his first recording session in 1963. A technological evolution of his sprawling “Archives” boxed set — the first volume of which was released in 2009 — the archive will display as a timeline where fans can click on songs or albums and view loads of information around each release.
“View all albums currently released and see albums still unreleased and in production just by using the controls to zoom through the years,” Young wrote in a detailed letter announcing the archive. “Unreleased album art is simply penciled in so you can where unreleased albums will appear on the timeline, once they are completed.” Ever the exacting audiophile, he also promises that the music will be streamed via Xstream Music, a streaming service that “are always pure uncompressed masters.”
A rep for Young said the project has been in the works for many years and has no release date, and longtime fans will know not to hold their collective breath. More than any other artist except perhaps Prince and Frank Zappa, Young is both wildly prolific and a meticulous curator of his own career, with seemingly boundless patience to wait until he deems the moment right for his creations to be shared with the world. Songs and entire albums sit unreleased for years or even decades after their creation, if at all — the latest example, coming on Sept. 8, is “Hitchhiker,” a stunning solo acoustic album containing early versions of songs like “Pocahontas,” “Captain Kennedy” and the title track, that has sat in his vault for some 41 years.
Yet the projects are always subject to Young’s seeming whims — the first release in his “Neil Young Archives” series was a legendary, much-bootlegged 1970 show with Crazy Horse at New York’s Fillmore East that was prepared for release in 1996 but did not see the light of day until 10 years later, and there are many similar songs and albums (such as 1975’s still-unreleased acoustic “Homegrown,” which was bumped from the release schedule by “Tonight’s the Night,” which itself had been on the shelf for two years) in the Young archive.
All of which is a longwinded way of saying: History has proven that for Neil Young fans, good things come to those who wait — but you might be waiting for a long time.