The Song of the Day needs a rocker every so often to keep up the energy level, and it’s never had any Neil Young ever, so let’s solve both problems with Come On Baby Let’s Go Downtown, co-written with the late Danny Whitten. A triumphant rock holler carried on arching guitar lines, it’s a centerpiece of Tonight’s the Night, which is a triumph and a tragedy.
Tonight’s the Night was recorded and released in 1975, but Downtown was recorded live, with Whitten on guitar, in 1970. Whitten fell into the narcotics tarpit and died the same night Neil fired him from the band, as did longtime roadie Bruce Berry, in the months before the record’s release. Their names and spirits inform the record, and Neil is on the record as feeling that, in the rear-view, it’s one of his best. I’ve always agreed, and especially love the title track; but today I feel like rocking out a bit.