Neil Young – Comes a time (1978)

Down from the Misty Mountains

Neil didn’t make a sequel to his smash hit album “Harvest” until 1978. He has said he didn’t want to travel in the middle of the road, he headed for the ditch. He met more interesting people there he said. After some dark times, grieving dead friends, and a lot of guitar-based Crazy Horse sessions he finally went for the lovely and harmonious country rock that made “Harvest” what it is.

The guys he is playing with here are better than Crazy Horse who brings friendship and feeling instead. Tim Drummond on bass, Ben Keith on steel guitar, Karl Himmel on drums, Spooner Oldham on piano and Rufus Thibodeaux on fiddle are all great. With that said the first stellar song on the album “Look out for my love” is one of two songs backed by Crazy Horse! “Goin’ back” and “Comes a time” are good but they can’t compare to “Out on the weekend” and “ Harvest” of course.

The second Crazy Horse song is “Lotta love”, a song you really gotta love. It is one of the more sneaky songs on the album. You would be surprised how many times you have been singing the song out loud! The lyrics are masterful. “Peace of mind”, the last song on side A, is a fragile soft song where Neil sings with his most sensitive voice. Nicolette Larson is singing with Neil on the album. Here the harmonies are extra lovely. A very strong first half indeed.

The second side starts in the best possible way. “Human highway” is one of my favourite songs by Neil. Together with Nicolette this is a wonderful version. It was originally written in 1974 for CSNY. I have heard even better versions of this song, but this is maybe the best that is released “for real”.

“Already one” is painfully beautiful. The country feeling and Nicolette’s soft voice soothing Neil’s makes this another favourite. I can’t believe how… good it is.

What do we think of Neil’s humour? Here we get “Field of opportunity”. It reminds me of a song like “Roll another number”. It should be played in a rowdy bar in the Wild West. The bar is filled with muddy boots, smoke and lost souls. The band plays in the corner, Rufus with the violin, Nicolette with a flower in her hair. In the field of opportunity it’s plowing time again.

“Motorcycle Mama” is a marvel and here Nicolette takes a step forward. She is heartfelt and soulful. Rufus never lets us down. And the piano! What a song, what a band!

It is all wrapped up with a very rare cover by Neil. Written by Canadian Ian Tyson in 1961, “Four strong winds” has often been covered but this is supposedly the best version. Neil, Nicolette and the Gone With The Wind Orchestra don’t disappoint. Big John always loved it, even before the river took Emmylou.

“Comes a time” was never as big as “Harvest”, and I myself didn’t appreciate it enough. But this is a damn good record. One of the best!

My rating: 9/10

Side A:

  1. Goin’ back
  2. Comes a time
  3. Look out for my love
  4. Lotta love
  5. Peace of mind

Side B:

  1. Human highway
  2. Already one
  3. Field of opportunity
  4. Motorcycle mama
  5. Four strong winds

Best songs: “Look out for my love”, “Lotta love”, “Human highway”, “Already one”

Released on October 21st, 1978

Media: Reissued remastered, 2016, Official Release Series 10

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