Even within the confines of self-quarantine, Neil Young hasn’t stopped performing. Over at the Neil Young Archives, the legendary songwriter has shared his first Fireside Session, and the six-song acoustic set was even more intimate — and strange — than fans could have hoped for.
The concert was filmed by Young’s wife Daryl Hannah, and it took place over a wide variety of fireplaces inside and outside of his home in Telluride, Colorado. Young began with one of his earliest songs, “Sugar Mountain”, standing at a backyard fire pit overlooking a foggy dell. He performed in a picturesque light snow, striding back and forth in front of the gorgeous view, or sitting near the pit to play harmonica.
He followed that up with an indoor rendition of the rarity “Vampire Blues”. Afterwards, he joked, “That’s a little ditty from our sponsor there.” Young ripped off a guitar lick, and suddenly a somber expression came over his face. “Actually, our sponsor is water. That’s our sponsor. We hope you enjoy our product, and that you can get a lot of it whenever you need it.”
Here, the concert unexpectedly cut to commercial, and it was indeed an advertisement for “Water: Earth’s Finest Product.” The side effects include “increased performance” and “excessive urination”. It’s a funny little interlude, ending with the reminder that water is “only available on Earth while supplies last.”
Young also played well known cuts like “Tell Me Why” and lesser-known songs such as “Love Art Blues”. At one point, he paused to duct tape his harmonica holder, which he explains is merely “a fireplace tool with a horseshoe on the end of it.” At this point, viewers were treated to an in-depth explanation of how to build a harmonica holder of their own.
Young closed off the set with “Little Wing”, seated at a piano in the dark and facing away from the camera. This wouldn’t have made sense earlier in the show, but here, at the end, it’s a beautiful, delicate moment. Overall, the concert footage moves from a snowy daytime valley view through warm interiors to a cozy piano nook at night. Musically and visually, the first Fireside Session is a stunning performance in a career full of stunners. Watch the full session at the Neil Young Archives.
Earlier this week, Young performed “Heart of Gold” as part of a digital Bernie Sanders rally. He’s not the only artist bringing fans into his home, either. Ben Gibbard has been performing nightly, and recently shared an excellent cover of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees”. Willie Nelson has done some streaming, and Erykah Badu, Christine and the Queens, and Waxahatchee have announced live concerts of their own. For an updated list of quarantine livestreams, click here.
Fireside Session Setlist:
Love Art Blues
Tell Me Why