Neil Young’s “Toast”: There’s a reason he held it back for two decades

Neil Young’s “Toast”: There’s a reason he held it back for two decades

If there’s one word to describe Neil Young’s career, I’d go with prolific. In his fifty-year career as a solo act, Young has now released forty-two studio albums. In addition to these records, there is other recorded music that he has held back for a variety of reasons. One of these albums was “Toast.”

Originally recorded with the band Crazy Horse in 2001, the theme of the album was the troubled state of his marriage with his then-wife, Pegi. The lyrics and tone of the songs were extremely dark. He felt it was so brutal and personal that he decided not to release the record.

However, he reworked some of these songs using Booker T. & the M.G.’s as his backing band. That gave the tunes a lighter feel. They made it on his 2002 album, “Are Ya Passionate.”

It’s now more than twenty years since the original recordings were made. Neil and Pegi divorced in 2014. She died five years later. Enough time has passed that it wasn’t as painful to revisit the music. It was time to let the public hear the songs as they were originally meant to sound. It was time to release “Toast.”

There are very few surprises when you hear a Neil Young with Crazy Horse album. You know it’s going to be guitar-centric with plenty of power chords. These guys were a garage grunge band more than a decade before it became an accepted genre of music. And that’s what you get with “Toast.” The guitars make the subject matter even heavier.

And yet, the lyrics on these songs are relatable. The breakdown of a relationship, especially a marriage, is brutally painful. You can hear and feel the hurt and angst in Young’s voice. It’s a reminder of some of our own experiences.

While “Toast” doesn’t rate among my favorites in the Young/Crazy Horse catalog, it’s certainly worth a listen or two. That’s not a bad thing.

Related Post: Neil Young and Crazy Horse “Barn”: A familiar and comfortable album

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