Time Fades Away

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Time Fades Away
Live album by Neil Young
Released October 15, 1973
Recorded February 11 – April 1, 1973 (except "Love in Mind": January 30, 1971)
Length 34:33
Label Reprise
Producer Neil Young, Elliot Mazer
Neil Young chronology
Journey Through the Past
(1972)Journey Through the Past1972
Time Fades Away
On the Beach
(1974)On the Beach1974

Time Fades Away is a 1973 live album by Canadian musician Neil Young. Consisting of previously unreleased material, it was recorded with The Stray Gators on the support tour following 1972's highly successful Harvest. Due to Young's dissatisfaction with the tour, it was not reissued on CD.[2]

Nevertheless, Time Fades Away received much critical praise[3] and was widely pirated after lapsing out of print because of the ensuing demand from fans.[4] It was initially reissued on vinyl only as part of the Official Release Series Discs 5-8 Vinyl Box Set for Record Store Day in 2014. The album finally saw an official CD release in August 2017 as part of the CD version of the boxset. It was also made available as a digital download for purchase through the PonoMusicWorld website (closed), the iTunes store and Qobuz.


Though "Love in Mind" dates from a 1971 solo tour, all other songs on the album are from the Harvest tour in early 1973. The program featured an acoustic solo set followed by an electric set with The Stray Gators. Longtime collaborator and former Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten had been set to join the Gators as a second guitarist before being sent home from rehearsals after it became evident that he was in no condition to embark on the rigorous tour. He succumbed to a fatal combination of Valium and alcohol on the night following his dismissal.[5]

Unlike Young's previous ensembles, The Stray Gators consisted of notable Nashville and Los Angeles session musicians; keyboardist Jack Nitzsche was the only member of the group who had worked with Young prior to Harvest. During the rehearsals, drummer Kenneth Buttrey demanded a salary of $100,000 (roughly $571,000 in 2017) to compensate for lost session work, leading Nitzsche (with support from Tim Drummond) to prevail upon the singer to extend this salary to the other band members. Although Young reluctantly acquiesced, Nitzsche would later reflect that "Neil got so pissed off ... I don't think things ever recovered after that."[6]

In the wake of the relatively dulcet Harvest, audiences did not always react positively to the new songs, many of which were emblematic of the Gators' raucous and heavily electrified live sound. Struggling to cope with Whitten's death, Young lambasted band members' performances following concerts and scheduled soundchecks that were often cancelled on short notice. Such behavior frustrated Buttrey, who left the band and was immediately replaced by former Turtles/Jefferson Airplane percussionist Johnny Barbata. Having previously stepped in to replace Dallas Taylor on Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's 1970 tour, Barbata ultimately performed on all of the Stray Gators selections on the album.[6] At the instigation of Drummond, Young also developed a penchant for tequila, with the singer later remarking that "it does something else to me than alcohol usually does."[6]

Other band members performed erratically: according to producer Elliot Mazer, Jack Nitzsche would often spew obscenities into his switched-off vocal microphone, while pedal steel/dobro player Ben Keith was so inebriated at one soundcheck that he could not recall the key of "Don't Be Denied", a song slated for the album. Following the loss of a pickup on his signature Old Black (a heavily modified 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop), Young switched to a Gibson Flying V; according to Young, the guitar "wouldn't stay in tune" and had other problems. Biographer Jimmy McDonough has characterized Young's performances on the instrument as "the worst guitar playing of his career."[7]

Alcohol abuse and strained singing would lead the singer to develop a throat infection in the final days of the tour. In a partial reunion of CSNY, Young hired David Crosby and Graham Nash to augment the harmonies and play rhythm guitar. Despite their integration, the band's repertoire remained confined to Young originals. Moreover, clashes among The Stray Gators continued, with Nitzsche complaining that he couldn't hear himself playing because Crosby's 12-string electric guitar overpowered the sound mix. Following sixty-two concerts over three months, the tour ended at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on April 3, 1973.


Time Fades Away was recorded directly from the soundboard to 16-track and mixed simultaneous to LP cutting using the Quad-Eight Compumix.

There were no 2 track masters ever made of this record. The master discs were cut directly from the 16 track masters through the Compumix system. A mix was recorded to a second 16 track machine--we had 2 that would run perfectly together--to feed the variable pitch system of the lathe--but was discarded when we were through. I was the mastering engineer who cut the masters.

— Phil Brown[citation needed]

While no master tape was created in the traditional sense, stereo tapes were in fact created while cutting to enable future remastering.[8]


Time Fades Away was released on October 15, 1973. The album reached #22 on the Billboard Charts, and quickly achieved gold status, selling over 1 million copies in both the US and UK.[9] It was issued on vinyl, cassette and 8-track.

The album's title track was briefly released as a single, with the B-side of "Last Trip to Tulsa", a live version of the song also taken from the Time Fades Away tour and unavailable anywhere else.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stonepositive[11]
Robert ChristgauA[12]

Upon its release, Time Fades Away received positive reviews from Rolling Stone,[14] The New York Times,[3] and Robert Christgau of The Village Voice.[15] In more recent years, it has been rated highly by AllMusic,[16] sputnikmusic,[4] and Blurt Online.[9]

R.E.M. has cited Time Fades Away as a source of inspiration for New Adventures in Hi-Fi.[17]

On December 31, 2013, Widespread Panic played the following three songs from Time Fades Away: "Journey Through The Past", "Don't Be Denied", and "Time Fades Away" at a concert in Atlanta.[18]

"Neil Young, having tasted fame and fortune with After the Goldrush and Harvest, famously said he would rather head for the ditch than stay in the middle of the road. And that's just what he did with Time Fades Away. Young recorded the stoned, muddy, hard-rocking album on a stadium tour to confused audiences who had never heard the songs before. No atmosphere, no acoustic balladry, just memories of getting a kicking in the schoolyard and an extended moan about LA. Young's profile duly disappeared."

—Bob Stanley of The Guardian, talking about the album's release in 2008.[1]

Young's appraisal[edit]

Neil Young commented on Time Fades Away in the original, unreleased liner notes for his 1977 triple-album compilation Decade:

Time Fades Away. No songs from this album are included here. It was recorded on my biggest tour ever, 65 [sic] shows in 90 days. Money hassles among everyone concerned ruined this tour and record for me but I released it anyway so you folks could see what could happen if you lose it for a while. I was becoming more interested in an audio verite approach than satisfying the public demands for a repetition of Harvest.[2]

In 1987, Young told an interviewer that Time Fades Away was "the worst record I ever made – but as a documentary of what was happening to me, it was a great record. I was onstage and I was playing all these songs that nobody had heard before, recording them, and I didn't have the right band. It was just an uncomfortable tour. I felt like a product, and I had this band of all-star musicians that couldn't even look at each other."[3][19]

Young has rarely played songs from Time Fades Away live. "Don't Be Denied" was included in the 1974 CSN&Y tour. In July 2008, he performed the record's title track at a concert in Oberhausen, Germany.[20] A 2014 documentary on Young was also named Don't Be Denied.

Aborted compact disc reissue and Time Fades Away II[edit]

Time Fades Away long remained the only officially released Neil Young album unavailable on compact disc. Young had often cited his unfavorable memories of the tour as the main reason that the record has not been reissued.

In the mid-1990s, plans were made to release the album on CD using the HDCD encoding; several test pressings were made, and a release date of November 7, 1995 was announced.[21] However, the CD release was shelved for unknown reasons.[21] In early 2007, Young's management reiterated that there were no plans to release the album on CD. Pristine vinyl copies are still available in used stores and on eBay, often with the fold-out liner notes still intact; some CDs from the 1995 test pressings exist, and copies of these CDs are circulated as bootlegs. Additionally, some fans have made CDs from the more readily available vinyl copies.

In October 2009, Young told Guitar World that a disc titled Time Fades Away II will be included in the second volume of the Archives box set series, noting: "It's interesting because [Time Fades Away II] has a different drummer than what was on that album. Kenny Buttrey was in there for the first half, and Johnny Barbata came in for the second. It's a completely different thing, with completely different songs."[22]

In 2014, Young released a limited edition box set of vinyl records that includes the original Time Fades Away along with On the Beach, Tonight's the Night, and Zuma.[23] From December of 2014, Young's first 14 albums, including Time Fades Away, were released as high-resolution downloads via the Pono digital music service[24], HDTracks and Qobuz. The album finally saw an official CD release in August 2017 as part of the CD version of Official Release Series Discs 5-8 boxset; unlike the vinyl reissue, it's not available to buy separately.

Time Fades Away is also available to stream in high resolution audio on Young's Archives website.

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

All tracks written by Neil Young.

1."Time Fades Away" (recorded at The Myriad in Oklahoma City, March 1, 1973)5:36
2."Journey thru the Past" (recorded at the Public Hall in Cleveland, February 11, 1973)3:19
3."Yonder Stands the Sinner" (recorded at the Seattle Center Coliseum in Seattle, March 17, 1973)3:17
4."L.A." (recorded at The Myriad in Oklahoma City March 1, 1973)3:11
5."Love in Mind" (recorded in Royce Hall at the University of California, Los Angeles, January 30, 1971)1:58

Side two[edit]

1."Don't Be Denied" (recorded at The Coliseum in Phoenix, March 28, 1973)5:16
2."The Bridge" (recorded at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, April 1, 1973)3:05
3."Last Dance" (recorded at the Sports Arena in San Diego, March 29, 1973)8:47


  • Neil Young — vocals; guitar on "Time Fades Away", "Yonder Stands the Sinner", "L.A.", "Don't Be Denied" and "Last Dance"; piano on "Journey thru the Past", "Love in Mind" and "The Bridge"; harmonica on "Time Fades Away" and "The Bridge"; basson "L.A."
  • Ben Keithpedal steel, vocal on "L.A.", "Don't Be Denied" and "Last Dance"; slide guitar on "Time Fades Away" and "Yonder Stands the Sinner"; vocal on "Time Fades Away"
  • Jack Nitzsche — piano on "Time Fades Away", "Yonder Stands the Sinner", "L.A.", "Don't Be Denied" and "Last Dance"; vocal on "Don't Be Denied"
  • David Crosby — guitar on "Yonder Stands the Sinner"; vocal on "Yonder Stands the Sinner" and "Last Dance"
  • Graham Nash — guitar, vocal on "Last Dance"
  • Tim Drummond — bass on "Time Fades Away", "Yonder Stands the Sinner", "Don't Be Denied", and "Last Dance"
  • Johnny Barbatadrums on "Time Fades Away", "Yonder Stands the Sinner", "L.A.", "Don't Be Denied" and "Last Dance"

† Neil Young credited as "Joe Yankee"


  1. ^ a b Stanley, Bob (7 March 2008). "How OMD lost 3 million fans in one easy step" – via www.theguardian.com.
  2. ^ a b Williams, Paul. Neil Young: Love To Burn. p. 115. ISBN 0-934558-19-1.
  3. ^ a b c Thrasher's Wheat page: "Time Fades Away by Neil Young".
  4. ^ a b sputnikmusic article: "Time Fades Away review."
  5. ^ Michael St. John. Downtown: The Danny Whitten Story. Self-published 2012. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-01-21.
  6. ^ a b c McDonough, Jimmy (13 May 2003). "Shakey: Neil Young's Biography". Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group – via Google Books.
  7. ^ McDonough, Jimmy (13 May 2003). "Shakey: Neil Young's Biography". Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Brown, Phil (25 August 2010). "Neil Young's "Time Fades Away" LP". Vinyl Engine. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  9. ^ a b Blurt Online article: "Time Fades Away review Archived 2010-02-05 at the Wayback Machine."
  10. ^ Allmusic review
  11. ^ "Rolling Stone review". rollingstone.com.
  12. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: neil young". www.robertchristgau.com.
  13. ^ "Neil Young / Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Time Fades Away/Zuma Album Review - Pitchfork". pitchfork.com.
  14. ^ Rolling Stone article: "Neil Young: Time Fades Away: Music Reviews."
  15. ^ Robert Christgau's official website: "Neil Young reviews."
  16. ^ AllMusic article: "Time Fades Away: Overview."
  17. ^ McDonough, Jimmy, Shakey – Neil Young Biography, p. 399
  18. ^ "Widespread Panic - 12/31/2013 - Atlanta, GA". PanicStream.
  19. ^ Shakey by Jimmy McDonough, pp. 391.
  20. ^ Sugar Mountain page: "Neil Young – 2008 setlists Archived 2008-07-17 at the Wayback Machine.."
  21. ^ a b Side Street Records page: "Unreleased Neil Young compact discs 1988–1995[permanent dead link]."
  22. ^ Guitar World interview with Neil Young.
  23. ^ "Neil Young - Official Release Series Vinyl Box Vol. 2". neilyoung.warnerreprise.com.
  24. ^ "Neil Young News: Neil Young ORS 1 - 14: RELEASE DATE - Dec 23, 2014". neilyoungnews.thrasherswheat.org.

External links[edit]