Neil Young Releases Never-Before-Seen 1971 'Cowgirl in the Sand' Performance

Neil Young has dug into his archives and unearthed an acoustic performance of “Cowgirl in the Sand,” filmed January 21st, 1971 at Stratford, Connecticut’s Shakespeare Theater. The never-before-seen footage is available Monday on the Neil Young Archives.

The gig took place just three days after his historic homecoming show at Toronto’s Massey Hall, a performance that was released as an official live album back in 2007. “Over the years I always remembered Massey Hall as being the best performance of that tour,” Young recently wrote. “I [recently] found that I liked the Stratford show even better than Massey Hall, even though Massey Hall was the emotional high point of my life.”

There’s only an audio document of Massey Hall, but the Stratford gig was filmed by Dutch photographer Wim van der Linden. It is one of Young’s earliest concerts captured on film. Young played two gigs at the theater that night, but this “Cowgirl in the Sand” rendition comes from the early one. “This is a song I wrote about a dream I had,” Young says before playing it. “It was snowing outside. It was the kind of show that sticks on your nose.”

Later this year, Young plans on releasing a 50th-anniversary deluxe edition of After the Gold Rush. The package may include the complete Shakespeare Theater concert.

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Young planned on tour America this year with Crazy Horse until the coronavirus shut down the entire concert industry. During the downtime, he’s created three stunning Fireside Session digital concerts that he’s shared on the Neil Young Archives. Directed by his wife, actress Daryl Hannah, they spotlight wonderful deep cuts from his vast catalog like “On the Beach,” “Little Wing,” “Already One” and “See the Sky About to Rain.”

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