The idea of the deep cut has always been somewhat confusing. Sure, the term’s meaning is clear enough as a catch-all for any song that is lesser known within an artist’s oeuvre. But as a concept, the “deep cut” label often summons connotations of quirkiness and eccentricity, sometimes where there is none to be found.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse only make this business trickier, as their entire songbook can seem like one noisy whole without discernible parts. (Thank you, feedback.) I can’t confidently tell you why “Down by the River” is more renowned than “Danger Bird” –another dark, slow-burning showcase for Young’s lead guitar work — or why the inviting “Lotta Love” gets fewer spins than much of the more abrasive fare the Horse likes to kick at our faces. When trying to isolate the group’s best deep cuts, you realize that their discography subverts the very notion: Even their classics are B-sides in spirit.
These 10 choice tracks, then, are a whole lot more than just overlooked. They’re a collective testament to the singularity of this musical beast — a team of uninhibited collaborators whose work across five decades thrums with an unabating sense of freedom. We won’t be at all surprised if Colorado, their new album out this week, plays more like this list or a greatest hits collection. This band makes it harder than most to tell the difference.