Every song ever recorded by the Canadian singer-songwriter will be made available at the Neil Young Archives – along with info, videos, press clippings and memorabilia
Neil Young has announced that on Dec. 1 he will launch a digital archive where fans can access “every single, recorded track or album I have produced” from his current work stretching back to the artist’s first single from 1963. On that same date, he will release his new album, The Visitor.
The archive will be available free of charge, at least initially. As Young said in a recent Facebook post, the archive will be “a place you can visit and experience every song I have ever released in the highest quality your machine will allow. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. In the beginning, everything is free.”
The archive, he said, is a “living document.” That is, more information will be added as it arises, making it a dynamic resource unusual for anyone of Young’s stature. He said he created the site “for myself as much as for everyone else.”
In an earlier digital note pinned to the homepage of his website, Neil Young states, “Welcome to NYA, the home of my music. I must admit I built this for myself as much as everyone else. I am very interested in collecting and organization, as well as mechanical things and old school record keeping.”
This will come as no surprise to fans of the rocker/singer-songwriter. Young has long embraced digital aspects of new technology while at the same time loving the mechanics behind actual physical products.
He is well known for his love of model trains (he owns 20% of Lionel, LLC) and old cars, and his development of Pono, the digital media player and high-resolution music download service.
Not only will NYA (Neil Young Archives) provide users with access to all of the artist’s music via an interactive timeline, but will also include extensive material around each album, such as information about the recording of each individual song, accompanying photos and video content, press reviews, and memorabilia. The timeline will also include information about Neil’s many unreleased albums – some which are finished, others still in production or left untouched for decades.
Always the audiophile, Young explains that the music on NYA will be available via XStream Music, a high resolution streaming service which adapts seamlessly to the user’s available bandwidth, “delivering the best audio quality possible, directly from the original high resolution masters.” In other words, the music is not compressed, as it is in CD or MP3 formats. Young announced XStream Music in April as a continuation of his search for a top-quality digital sound that began with his development of Pono.
The announcement of NYA back in August represents the latest effort made by Young to control, curate and capitalize on the vast archive of his music, both released and unreleased.
It created a buzz among fans who have long obsessed over Young’s infamous archive of unreleased or “lost” albums. One such album, the solo acoustic Hitchhiker, recorded in one evening in 1976, was officially released (in the traditional vinyl, CD, MP3) format on September 8.
More than any artist, with the possible exception of Prince, Neil Young has a large cache of unreleased work. In a September 2017 cover story, Uncut magazine music journalist Tyler Wilcox hunted down some of Young’s most talked about “lost” albums – including Homegrown, Oceanside-Countryside, Island In the Sun, Meadow Dusk, Toast and Times Square. He quotes Young as saying of his unreleased work, “Quite often I’ll record things that don’t fit with what I’m doing, so I just hold onto them for a while.”