Speakin' Out

Album: Tonight's the Night (1975)

Songfacts®:

  • In this song, Neil Young sings:

    I'm hoping for your love to carry me through
    You're holding my baby and I'm holding you


    At the time, he was in a relationship with Carrie Snodgress, an actress known for her role in the movie Diary of a Mad Housewife. In 1972 they had a son named Zeke. Young rarely reveals the lyrical inspirations for his songs, but this one seems to be about his difficulty committing to Snodgress (the couple never married).
  • Tonight's the Night is a very peculiar album, recorded on the fly with no edits. The musicians Young used on most of the songs - including this one - were part of a group he dubbed "The Santa Monica Flyers." On "Speakin' Out" these were the musicians:

    Young - piano
    Ben Keith - pedal steel guitar
    Nils Lofgren - electric guitar
    Billy Talbot - bass
    Ralph Molina - drums

    Lofgren got a rather spontaneous solo when Young directed him in the middle of the take, saying, "Take it, Nils." In our interview with Lofgren, he said, "They didn't let us rehearse too much, and we didn't really have parts. It was a very freeform, just 'trust your instincts and go' kind of thing. It was just a great, rough record to make, and still one of the great live records in the studio ever, because in addition to it being live, we were playing songs we barely knew. There was a tension there you don't normally find, even in a live recording."
  • In early 1992, Young went on a series of solo tours. He began by playing songs that would appear on Harvest Moon which hadn't been released. The sets changed over time and he eventually began playing rarely heard and still hard-to-find solo-piano versions of several songs, including "Speakin' Out."

    In Shakey by Jimmy McDonough, Young explains that he was feeling out of touch with his audience when he started the tours. He found himself frustrated that the fans still wanted him to do his old hits and shred on songs like "Rockin' In The Free World." His renditions of slow piano versions of songs like "Speakin' Out" were done partly in reaction to those expectations.

    "People didn't have that much of a concept of what I was gonna do in 1970, they were just innarested," Young says. "Now they think they know what I'm gonna do, and if I don't do it, they're upset. So I have to overcome that when I play."
  • The song was recorded on August 26, 1973, along with a few other songs from the album, including the "title track."

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