Watch Five Epic Neil Young and Crazy Horse Jams

Neil Young and Crazy Horse perform at Madison Square Garden, September 1978. Photo: Richard E. Aaron/Redferns

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Whenever Neil Young gets around to kicking up some dust with his longtime pals Crazy Horse, who have been his partners in crime since 1968, there are always a couple of things you can count on: 1) It’s going to get loud, and 2) There will be jams. Ever since their first album together, 1969’s iconic Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Neil and the Horse have been into stretching their songs out, flailing away at their fretboards until their fingers bleed or they decide the song is over. And when they launch into one of their extended workouts onstage, things can get even more expansive. Their new album, Psychedelic Pill, finds them embracing that aspect of their artistry in no uncertain terms; three of its songs exceed 15 minutes, and the longest, album-opener “Driftin’ Back,” clocks in at a breezy 27:35. If hearing Neil and company let it all hang out old-school style on their latest album engenders a desire for additional, equally epic jams from their live archives, well we just happen to have scoped out a few of the finest for you.

1. “Cowgirl in the Sand,” Fillmore East 1970

Take a trip back to the beginning of Neil and Crazy Horse’s jamming journey. At almost 15 minutes, this early example of the band’s adventures in extemporization extends the studio version by nearly 50 percent. Maybe they were inspired by sharing the bill with Miles Davis that night.

2. “Down By The River,” Farm Aid 1994

Here’s another classic from the Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, but seen through the other end of the temporal telescope. This tune is the original Crazy Horse jamfest, and in ’94 Neil had no qualms about leaning as far into it as his fingers would allow in an effort to aid America’s farmers.

3. “Like a Hurricane,” Rust Never Sleeps

This song from Neil’s crucial 1979 concert film feels especially relevant in the aftermath of Sandy’s stormy wrath, and the latter is about the only thing that could leave more wreckage in its path.

4. “Cortez the Killer” with Pearl Jam, 1995

In ’95, Neil convened with grunge gods Pearl Jam for the Mirrorball album, but set lists for their tour together that year obviously extended to eccentric ‘70s epics. In case you were wondering about Neil’s ability to jam when he’s on vacation from the Horse, this exploration of a gem from 1975’s cult classic Zuma should allay any doubt.

5. “Tonight’s the Night” Chicago, 10/11/12

This tension-packed take on the title track from Neil’s other ’75 cult-classic album shows not only that a Crazy Horse jam can encompass some subtleties, but also that time has not eroded the ensemble’s abilities a bit. Whether they absorbed some inspiration from the momentous numerical sequence of the show’s date is open to question.

Psychedelic Pill is out now on Warner Bros.

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