Neil Young - Hitchhiker Album Review

Story posted September 11, 2017 in CommRadio by Jack Grossman

Not even nine months after the release of Peace Trail, rock musician Neil Young appears with a “new” album — new being an expression that’s taken lightly. In reality, there are only two new tracks that were previously unreleased, and the rest are simply rerecordings and edits of previous Young tunes. That shouldn’t deter anyone from giving these songs a listen, however, as Young proves that a fresh coat of paint can fit any of his greatest hits.

Hitchhiker, while being a “lost” album, fits perfectly within Young’s early discography. The instrumentals are mostly guitar-oriented, as is per Young’s style. But they happen to be both extremely simple and precise, providing a unique noise that is only produced by Young. Young also incorporates soft sounds such as his voice and the harmonica, not creating music that is too busy for the listener.  

The lyrical content of Young’s tracks are ever-shifting; there are themes of travel, politics and internal sadness. “Give Me Strength” in particular tells of a melancholy Young who is having difficulty letting go of the love of his life and the past, while “Hawaii” tells of a strange deal Young makes with someone involving a place in the aforementioned state. The content might seem a bit off to the average listener, but in tandem with the instrumentals, Young is able to attract them over.

The album itself is a smorgasbord of different songs that were later used in Young’s discography, and the order in which they were listed is not in specifics. The reach of music spans from 1976 to 2010 and they all fit together accordingly in its own unique setup. This makes it fit snugly along Young’s other classics, which have all been previously crafted with the intent of making the listener feel relaxed and not having to worry about how it could be told.         

Some complaints that could be presented is that the music is potentially too rested or that it might be easy to lose focus when listening. The songs are enticing enough to pop them in your ears, but there are several instances where a proper relisten is needed in order to get the full meaning and effect of Young’s work. However, the purpose of his albums are made to feel that way. There is also a bit of difficulty getting used to his softness — “Pocahontas” is a tough opener to listen through, but once done so, the rest of the album flows very easily and in a way that is coherent.

Regardless, Neil Young still manages to create new from old in a way that isn’t exactly a rehash of golden tracks; rather a precise selection of tracks that had a significant event behind them. This album is a rarity as there are barely any song that have already been released in a remastered version. In a world banked on nostalgia, Young contributes and delivers a wonderful piece that feels like it was always part of his work.

Rating: 8/10


Jack Grossman is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email