The country sounds and autobiographical songs of Harvest and Comes a Time returned on this 1985 Geffen LP, with Neil joined by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Bela Fleck!
Neil Young's most dependable route has always been to head for the back roads. Country-flavored releases Harvest
(1972), Comes a Time
('78), Harvest Moon
('92), and Silver & Gold
('00) are among the most commercially popular titles in a fitful career, which makes Old Ways
something of a anomaly. Released in 1985 as the mid-title in a misbegotten five-LP stint with Geffen, it failed to exhibit the kind of roughhewn muscle of its more robust country cousins. With Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson making vocal contributions and a mix of longtime Young sidemen and Nashville cats laying down a bed of fiddles, steel guitar, and banjo, it would seem to be cruising right up Music City's main drag of the mid-'80s. But Young being Young, he goes around the bend with "Misfits," which summons an indelible image of space-station astronauts watching reruns of Muhammad Ali fights. It happens to be the most memorable number on Old Ways
, which perhaps explains why those new fans never showed up and the old ones found other things to do for awhile. --Steven Stolder