Expectations don’t often live up to reality. Fortunately, that’s not true of Hitchhiker, Neil Young’s most recent archival release. Like two of his other “great lost” records, Homegrown and Chrome Dreams, it has become the subject of great speculation and more than a little impossible-to-live up to rock ‘n’ roll mythology. Young’s hardcore fans have been talking about Hitchhiker for decades, and Young himself has done quite a lot to build the hype and mystery surrounding it in interviews over the years.
Hitchhiker marks a pivotal moment in Neil Young's ongoing series of archival releases: Instead of a live classic-songs set, this is a buried-treasure mother lode – 10 newly unearthed studio recordings, cut in one acoustic session, on August 11th, 1976. Young wasn't exactly swept up in the country's bicentennial spirit at the time; now grouped together rather than spread out over later records, the violence-drenched "Powderfinger," "Captain Kennedy" and "Pocahontas" feel like pointed rejoinders to the whitewashed history offered up during America's 200th birthday. .