Separate Ways

Album: Homegrown (2020)

Songfacts®:

  • We go our separate ways
    Looking for better days
    Sharing our little boy
    Who grew from joy back then


    There's no ambiguity with this one.

    Actress Carrie Snodgress was the mother of Neil Young's first child. Her biggest role was Tina Balser in Diary of a Mad Housewife, which won her a 1971 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress and earned her an Academy Award nomination (she lost out to Glenda Jackson for her role in Women in Love) for the same category. She passed away in 2004 at the age of 58.

    Young was deeply in love with Snodgress throughout a relationship lasting from late 1970 to 1975. He's written other songs about her, including "A Man Needs A Maid" and "Motion Pictures." He was devastated when he discovered that she'd been sleeping around while he was on the road (though in the book Shakey by Jimmy Mcdonough, Young admits that he'd been hypocritical and self-righteous because he'd been cheating, too).
  • Young recorded "Separate Ways" on December 11, 1974, while the troubles and breakup with Snodgress were fresh. That's the story behind all of Homegrown, which was finalized but put on the back shelf for almost 50 years before being released. The wounds were just too raw and real for Young, and he didn't want to put the album out into the world.
  • Before the 2020 release of the studio version, Young played the song live quite a bit. Silver Rarities put out a CD containing one such performance from a July 3, 1993, show in Genk, Belgium. This was most likely not an authorized recording, as Silver Rarities' CEO Robert Langley eventually pled guilty to copyright and trademark violations for illegally publishing recordings of live Led Zeppelin shows.
  • Levon Helm of The Band played drums on the song. Ben Keith played pedal steel guitar, and Tim Drummond played bass.
  • This is the first track on Homegrown. Running only 3:33, it's still the third longest song on the album (behind "Vacancy" and "We Don't Smoke it No More").
  • The band launched into the song before producer Tim Mulligan was ready. Mulligan jumped for the record switch and hit it just after the song began, which is why "Separate Ways" opens up in the middle of a chord grinding away.

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