Time Fades Away

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Time Fades Away
Live album by
ReleasedOctober 15, 1973
RecordedFebruary 11 – April 1, 1973 (except "Love in Mind": January 30, 1971)
ProducerNeil Young, Elliot Mazer
Neil Young chronology
Journey Through the Past
Time Fades Away
On the Beach

Time Fades Away is a 1973 live album by Canadian-American musician Neil Young. Consisting of previously unreleased material, it was recorded with the Stray Gators on the support tour following 1972's highly successful album Harvest. Due to Young's dissatisfaction with the tour, it was omitted from his catalogue and not released on compact disc until 2017. The album is the first of the so-called "Ditch Trilogy" of albums that Young recorded following the major success of Harvest, whereupon the scope of his success and acclaim became so apparent that Young subsequently experienced alienation from his music and career.[3]

Nevertheless, Time Fades Away received much critical praise[4] and was widely pirated after lapsing out of print because of the ensuing demand from fans.[5] It was initially reissued only on vinyl 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. In 2021 it is available on streaming platforms such as Deezer and Apple Music, and on the Neil Young Archives website.[6]


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.[7]

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 Kenny 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."[8]

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.[8] 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."[8]

Other band members performed erratically: according to producer Elliot Mazer, 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."[9]

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 CSN&Y, 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, Utah on April 3, 1973.


Time Fades Away was recorded directly from the soundboard to 16-track and mixed simultaneously 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[10]

While no master tape was created in the traditional sense, stereo tapes were in fact created while cutting to enable future remastering.[11]


Time Fades Away was released on Reprise on October 15, 1973, catalogue number MS 2151. The album reached #22 on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart, and quickly achieved gold status, selling over 1 million copies in both the US and UK.[12] It was issued on vinyl, cassette and 8-track.

The album's title track was briefly released as a picture disc single in November 1973, with the B-side of "Last Trip to Tulsa", a live version of the song recorded in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the Time Fades Away tour and unavailable anywhere else at that time.[13] It continued to remain unavailable for another 47 years until its release on the Neil Young Archives Volume II: 1972–1976 box set released in November 2020.[14]


Cameron Crowe pays homage to both the album itself and the Joel Bernstein album cover photograph in his movie Almost Famous. In great detail, as the lights go down during Stillwater's first concert performance of the movie, the short scene recreates the cover, from the raised hand of the concert-goer, to the solitary rose at the edge of the stage.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Christgau's Record GuideA[16]
Rolling Stonepositive[17]

Upon its release, Time Fades Away received positive reviews from Rolling Stone,[19] The New York Times,[4] and Robert Christgau of The Village Voice.[20] In more recent years, it has been rated highly by AllMusic,[21] Sputnikmusic,[5] and Blurt Online.[12]

Cash Box called the title track "infectious" stating that it is "a rocker with that laid back Neil Young quality that has made him the favorite of the masses."[22] Record World said that it "should be another hit for the living legend."[23]

R.E.M. has cited Time Fades Away as a source of inspiration for New Adventures in Hi-Fi.[24]

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.[25]

"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.[3]

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."[4][26]

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.[27] A 2014 documentary on Young was also named Don't Be Denied.


Time Fades Away long remained the only officially released Neil Young album unavailable on compact disk. Young had often cited his unfavorable memories of the tour as the main reason that the record had 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.[28] However, the CD release was shelved for unknown reasons.[28] 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 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.[29] From December 2014, Young's first 14 albums, including Time Fades Away, were released as high-resolution downloads via the Pono digital music service,[30] 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. The CD version was finally released for individual purchase on September 23, 2022.[31]

Time Fades Away is also available on streaming platforms such as Deezer and Apple Music. It is also available for streaming and download in high resolution audio on the Neil Young Archives website.[32]

Time Fades Away II and Tuscaloosa[edit]

In October 2009, Young told Guitar World that a disc titled Time Fades Away II would 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."[33]

In January 2019, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Young mentioned the upcoming release of Tuscaloosa, a live album featuring the February 5th, 1973 show at Tuscaloosa, Alabama from the tour.[34] The album was released on June 7, 2019. Young has since stated on his Archives website that Tuscaloosa is "as close as Time Fades Away II that we'll get".

Track listing[edit]

Side one[edit]

All tracks are written by Neil Young.

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

Side two[edit]

1."Don't Be Denied" (recorded at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona, March 28, 1973)5:16
2."The Bridge" (recorded at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, California April 1, 1973)3:05
3."Last Dance" (recorded at San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego. California, 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."
  • David Crosby — guitar on "Yonder Stands the Sinner"; vocal on "Yonder Stands the Sinner" and "Last Dance"
  • Graham Nash — organ, vocal on "Last Dance"
The Stray Gators
  • 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"
  • 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"


Chart performance for Time Fades Away
Chart (1973) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report[35] 29
Canadian RPM 100 Albums[36] 9
Japanese Album Charts[37][failed verification] 24
Norwegian VG-lista albums[38] 16
Swedish Kvällstoppen charts[39] 17
UK Albums Chart[40] 20
US Billboard Top LPs & Tape[41] 22
US Cash Box Top 100 Albums[42][failed verification] 9
US Record World album chart[43][failed verification] 17
2022 weekly chart performance for Time Fades Away
Chart (2022) Peak
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[44] 70


Chart performance for singles from Time Fades Away
Year Single Chart Position
1974 "Time Fades Away" US Billboard Pop Singles[45][failed verification] 108
US Cashbox Pop Singles[42] 111
US Record World Pop Singles[43] 121


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[46] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


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  2. ^ Mooney (1991). Newsmakers. Gale Research Inc. p. 483. ISBN 9780810373440.
  3. ^ a b Williams, Paul (1997). Neil Young: Love To Burn. p. 115. ISBN 0-934558-19-1.
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  5. ^ a b sputnikmusic article: "Time Fades Away review."
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  7. ^ 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.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
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  11. ^ Brown, Phil (25 August 2010). "Neil Young's "Time Fades Away" LP". Vinyl Engine. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  12. ^ a b Blurt Online article: "Time Fades Away review Archived 2010-02-05 at the Wayback Machine"
  13. ^ Neil Young - Time Fades Away, retrieved 2023-01-18
  14. ^ CD1 Track listing, p.232 of the box set booklet
  15. ^ Allmusic review
  16. ^ 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 robertchristgau.com.
  17. ^ "Rolling Stone review". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on October 22, 2006.
  18. ^ "Neil Young / Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Time Fades Away/Zuma Album Review - Pitchfork". pitchfork.com.
  19. ^ Rolling Stone article: "1/time_fades_away Neil Young: Time Fades Away: Music Reviews[dead link]."
  20. ^ Robert Christgau's official website: "Neil Young reviews."
  21. ^ AllMusic article: "Time Fades Away: Overview."
  22. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. November 24, 1973. p. 31. Retrieved 2021-12-11.
  23. ^ "Hits of the Week" (PDF). Record World. November 24, 1973. p. 1. Retrieved 2023-03-20.
  24. ^ McDonough, Jimmy, Shakey – Neil Young Biography, p. 399
  25. ^ "Widespread Panic - 12/31/2013 - Atlanta, GA". PanicStream.
  26. ^ Shakey by Jimmy McDonough, pp. 391.
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  28. ^ a b Side Street Records page: "Unreleased Neil Young compact discs 1988–1995[permanent dead link]."
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  30. ^ "Neil Young News: Neil Young ORS 1 - 14: RELEASE DATE - Dec 23, 2014". neilyoungnews.thrasherswheat.org.
  31. ^ "Time Fades Away CD".
  32. ^ "Neil Young Archives". neilyoungarchives.com. Retrieved 2023-01-18.
  33. ^ Guitar World interview with Neil Young.
  34. ^ "Neil Young on His Archives Website, Future Releases and Crazy Horse's Return". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  35. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 295. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  36. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (2013-04-16). "The RPM story". www.bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  37. ^ "クロスビー,スティルス,ナッシュ&ヤングの売上ランキング". ORICON NEWS. Retrieved 2020-10-11.
  38. ^ "norwegiancharts.com - Norwegian charts portal". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 2020-06-21.
  39. ^ "Swedish Albums". swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2016-07-22.
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  43. ^ a b "RECORD WORLD MAGAZINE: 1942 to 1982". worldradiohistory.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
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  45. ^ "Neil Young". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-04-03.
  46. ^ "American album certifications – Neil Young – Time Fades Away". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 17 November 2019.

External links[edit]