Tonight’s the Night is oft thought of as Neil Young‘s death album, and the deepest, darkest depths of the so-called Ditch Trilogy. Stark cover, mostly black. Stark songs pulling no punches about various dead friends, and in the case of Tired Eyes, a friend who left death in his wake, got caught up in an ugly drug deal, ended up in prison for a long time. The damage done.
“The title track of Neil Young’s sixth studio album is completely concerned with heroin and the damage done, souls consumed, lives ended way too soon. It says 1975 on the cover (and it was actually recorded a couple of years earlier) but I didn’t find it until at least ten years after the fact, yet grimly perfect timing nevertheless, such is junkiedom — it never goes out of style. Which isn’t to say Tonight’s the Night is all one sustained dirge – the album that is. But that said, it never forgets what it’s about, always more shadow than light, always more nasty than nice.” (Philip Random)
In which Neil Young gets deadly serious in the wake of various deaths in and around the band (Crazy Horse) and weighs in with a public service announcement on the topic of smoking a little marijuana and going for a long drive if the times get too troubling. Because there’s nothing like a rear view mirror to put things further behind you than they really are. Which is kind of the opposite of Roll Another Number, which was already two years old before anybody ever heard it, the album in question having been held back for being just too grim.