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Tonight's The Night by Neil Young

Album: Tonight's the NightReleased: 1975
  • This song was written as a tribute to Bruce Berry, a Neil Young roadie who died of a heroin overdose. Berry was the second noteworthy person in Young's life to die of a heroin overdose, the first being Danny Whitten, Crazy Horse's original guitar player. The song is unusually detailed for a requiem. It takes a series of candid snapshots from Berry's life, describing how he drove the van, slept late, and clowned around with Young's guitar after gigs.
  • Neil Young's Rolling Stone interview concerning this song and album is recorded in Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History: "Tonight's the Night is like an OD letter. The whole thing is about life, dope, and death. When we played that music we were all thinking of Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry, two close members of our unit lost to junk overdoses. We played Bruce and Danny on their way all through the night."

    Speaking of "Tonight's the Night," Young declares what might as well be his M.O. for all of his art: "All of these things happen to people, so I figured it happened to me so I'll write about this, and I'll just write from my heart, and if other people have this happen to them they'll relate to this."
  • Neil and Crazy Horse recorded this song without playing it back until after they finished it, which added to the raw sound that the song would be recognized for. Musicians on this track were:

    Young - piano
    Billy Talbot - bass
    Ralph Molina - drums
    Nils Lofgren - guitar
    Ben Keith - steel guitar
  • This song opens the album, and the closing track is "Tonight's the Night—Part II," a more spare version of the song. Using two different versions of a song as the opener and closer is a trick Neil used several times in his career, including on his album Rust Never Sleeps ("My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue), "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)") and Freedom ("Rockin' In The Free World").
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Comments: 2

A great song from Neil Young's greatest album in my opinion. He has a ton of great songs and plenty of great albums.... but there is just something about this album that speaks to you. When it ends it begs you to listen again - when you do, you're glad you did. There's a certain sadness on the album that somehow only peeks its head out at you as to say I'm in here if you really want to find me -- but it never fully discloses itself. As melancholy and dark as the lyrics are on the whole album there is a certain brightness to it in songs like Roll another Number, Lookout Joe, Speakin' Out World on a string... but direct opposite effects on songs like Albuquerque, Borrowed Tune and Tired Eyes, which in my opinion may be the most depressing song ever written. Tonight's the Night remains as one of the most important albums Neil Young ever made and the quintessential album that defines his approach to music-- I'm doing it my own way and if you don't like it - tough s--t.Greg - Harrington Park, Nj
Ronnie Van Zant, the lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd who had a "feud" with Neil Young, would wear a t-shirt with the image of the Tonight's the Night album cover in concerts. It's also what he's wearing on the cover of Street Survivors, Lynyrd Skynyrd's final album before the plane crashJon - Tucson, Az
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