American Stars 'n Bars

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American Stars 'n Bars
American Stars'n'Bars.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 27, 1977 (1977-05-27)[1]
RecordedDecember 13, 1974-April 4, 1977
StudioQuadrafonic, Nashville; Wally Heider Studios, Hollywood, California; Broken Arrow Ranch, Redwood City, California; Indigo Recording Studio, Malibu
LabelReprise, Warner Bros.
ProducerNeil Young, David Briggs, Tim Mulligan
Elliot Mazer "Star of Bethlehem"
Neil Young and Crazy Horse chronology
Long May You Run
American Stars 'n Bars
Singles from American Stars 'n Bars
  1. "Hey Babe"
    Released: 1977
  2. "Like a Hurricane"
    Released: 1977

American Stars 'n Bars is the eighth studio album by Canadian musician Neil Young, released on Reprise Records in 1977. Compiled from recording sessions scattered over a 29-month period, it includes "Like a Hurricane," one of Young's best-known songs. It peaked at #21 on the Billboard 200 and received a RIAA gold certification.[2]


In the summer of 1976, Young rekindled his partnership with Stephen Stills, resulting in a tour that ended abruptly and an album. He then embarked on his second tour of the year with Crazy Horse, but spent the first half of 1977 off the road.[3] His previous album had been issued in November 1975; after recording several country rock compositions at sessions in April, he assembled additional tracks from a variety of earlier recording dates to make up the balance of the new album.

The April 1977 sessions featured Crazy Horse augmented by an ephemeral conglomeration dubbed "The Bullets": pedal steel guitarist and longtime Young collaborator Ben Keith, violinist Carole Mayedo and backing vocalists Linda Ronstadt and Nicolette Larson.


"Homegrown" and "Star of Bethlehem" had initially been slated for his unreleased LP Homegrown.[4][5] Both of those songs, along with "Like a Hurricane," "Hold Back the Tears" and "Will to Love," had also been slated for yet another unreleased Young album project, Chrome Dreams. Seven of the nine tracks feature his regular backing band Crazy Horse, and another features country music star Emmylou Harris. Songs from the April 1977 sessions are all in a country-styled vein.

The album cover was designed by actor and Young's close friend Dean Stockwell, who had also written the screenplay that inspired After the Gold Rush. It features Connie Moskos, then the girlfriend of producer David Briggs, drooping with a bottle of Canadian whisky in her hand and an intoxicated Young with his face pressed against the glass floor.[citation needed]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic3/5 stars[6]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[7]
Pitchfork Media(8.3/10)[8]

Initially receiving favorable reviews, the album was described as a "sampler...of Young's various styles",[9] even a "hodgepodge."[5] Paul Nelson, reviewing the album for Rolling Stone commented on the mixed selection of songs and styles, and praising the "gale-force guitar playing" on "Like a Hurricane":

The album can almost be taken as a sampler, but not a summation, of Young's various styles from After the Gold Rush and Harvest (much of the country rock) through On the Beach (the incredible "Will to Love") to Zuma ("Like a Hurricane" is a worthy successor to "Cortez the Killer" as a guitar showcase) with a lot of overlap within the songs.[9]

According to William Ruhlmann, in a review for Allmusic,

Neil Young made a point of listing the recording dates of the songs on American Stars 'n Bars; the dates even appeared on the LP labels. They revealed that the songs had been cut at four different sessions dating back to 1974. But even without such documentation, it would have been easy to tell that the album was a stylistic hodgepodge, its first side consisting of country-tinged material featuring steel guitar and fiddle, plus backup vocals from Linda Ronstadt and then-unknown Nicolette Larson, while the four songs on the second side varied from acoustic solo numbers like "Will to Love" to raging rockers such as "Like a Hurricane." "Will to Love" is a particularly spooky and ambitious piece, extending the romantic metaphor of a salmon swimming upstream across seven minutes. The album's centerpiece however, is "Like a Hurricane," one of Young's classic hard rock songs and guitar workouts, and a perpetual concert favorite.[6]

It was finally released on compact disc, as an HDCD, on August 19, 2003, as part of the Neil Young Digital Masterpiece Series along with On the Beach, Hawks & Doves, and Re-ac-tor.

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

Performed by Neil Young, Crazy Horse and the Bullets.

All tracks are written by Neil Young, except where noted.

1."The Old Country Waltz" (recorded April 1977) 2:58
2."Saddle Up the Palomino" (recorded April 1977)Neil Young, Tim Drummond, Bobby Charles3:00
3."Hey Babe" (recorded April 1977) 3:35
4."Hold Back the Tears" (recorded April 1977) 4:18
5."Bite the Bullet" (recorded April 1977) 3:30

Side two[edit]

Performed by Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

1."Star of Bethlehem" (recorded November 1974)2:42
2."Will to Love" (recorded May 1976)7:11
3."Like a Hurricane" (recorded November 1975)8:20
4."Homegrown" (recorded November 1975)2:20


  • Neil Youngvocals, guitars; harmonica on "Star of Bethlehem"; glockenspiel, keyboard, piano, vibes, drums on "Will to Love"
  • Frank "Poncho" Sampedro — guitars all tracks except "Star of Bethlehem" and "Will to Love"; synthesizer on "Like A Hurricane"; backing vocals on "Like A Hurricane" and "Homegrown"
  • Ben Keithpedal steel guitar on "The Old Country Waltz," "Saddle Up the Palomino," "Hey Babe," "Hold Back the Tears," and "Bite the Bullet"; Dobro, backing vocal on "Star of Bethlehem"
  • Carole Mayedo — violin on "The Old Country Waltz," "Saddle Up the Palomino," "Hey Babe," "Hold Back the Tears," and "Bite the Bullet"
  • Billy Talbotbass all tracks except "Star of Bethlehem" and "Will to Love"
  • Tim Drummond — bass on "Star of Bethlehem"
  • Ralph Molina — drums all tracks except "Star of Bethlehem" and "Will to Love"; backing vocal on "Like A Hurricane" and "Homegrown"
  • Karl T. Himmel — drums on "Star of Bethlehem"
  • Linda Ronstadt, Nicolette Larson — backing vocals on "The Old Country Waltz," "Saddle Up the Palomino," "Hey Babe," "Hold Back the Tears," and "Bite the Bullet"
  • Emmylou Harris — harmony vocal on "Star of Bethlehem"


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-06-08. Retrieved 2016-10-18.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Sugar Mountain". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  4. ^ Williamson, Nigel (2003). Journey Through the Past: The Stories Behind the Classic Songs of Neil Young. Hal Leonard. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-87930-741-7.
  5. ^ a b Schinder, Scott; Andy Schwartz (2008). Icons of Rock. Greenwood. p. 469. ISBN 978-0-313-33847-2.
  6. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Neil Young: American Stars 'n Bars > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
  7. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: Y". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 23, 2019 – via
  8. ^ Mitchum, Rob (September 30, 2003). "Neil Young: On the Beach/American Stars 'n Bars/Hawks & Doves/Re-ac-tor". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  9. ^ a b Nelson, Paul (August 11, 1977). "Neil Young: American Stars 'N' Bars > Review". Rolling Stone (245). Retrieved 22 March 2011.

External links[edit]