Neil Young and Crazy Horse release new album ‘Toast’ after being shelved for over 20 years

In their newest album, ‘Toast,’ Neil Young and the band Crazy Horse talk about heartbreak and betrayal, love and loss, and death and war. This album was originally shelved in 2001 for being “too sad,” but was released July 8, from Young’s vault. Seven tracks long, it’s worth the listen.


Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Feb 28, 2010; Vancouver, BC, CANADA; Neil Young performs for fans and athletes during the Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Ariana Lessard, Arts Reporter

The album “Toast,” a collaboration between legendary rockstar Neil Young and the band Crazy Horse, has gone unreleased since 2001 — until now.

It was originally shelved because Young found it “too sad.” Sad is a fair description of this complex seven-song album, although I don’t believe it’s excessive.

The song “Goin’ Home” opens with a description of Young visiting the hill where George Armstrong Custer took his final stand. It is one of two songs from the album that Apple Music reports as having the highest number of plays. It’s an epic description of the tale of The Battle of the Little Bighorn during the Sioux Wars, where Custer and most of his troops died.

For this reason, the chorus which repeats “I’m going home” every other verse is especially ominous and tragic. When I first listened to this song, I thought this song was a tribute to Custer because of the opening lyric, “On the hill where Custer was making his last stand, with the Indians all around and his gun in his hand.”

Since it opened from Custer’s perspective and was shortly followed by the repetition of “going home” which, contextually, seemed to reference his imminent death, I assumed the song would be sympathetic to Custer.

This was confusing, given the band Crazy Horse is named after the Sioux Tribe leader Crazy Horse who led the Sioux during the Sioux Wars — the same war and tribe that killed Custer.

Canadian-born Young has a long history of creating musical renditions of American history and culture, and even critiquing it, with his song “Indian Giver” in 2016 designed to help protest the Dakota Pipeline. It felt unlikely Young and Crazy Horse were honoring Custer.

It took several listens to catch and understand the lines, “Dropping in on you my friend, is just like old times, said the fool who signed the paper, to assorted slimes. It’s hard to get blood from a stone, but for you, I’ll give it a try to provide your accommodations, and leave you satisfied.”

The first line could first be interpreted as jest either on behalf of Crazy Horse or from Custer directed at Crazy Horse. Either way, it’s sympathetic to Native Americans. The second line sounds like a jest from Crazy Horse directed at Young.

What is brilliant about this song is that I cannot tell what side I’m supposed to be on, if any. It doesn’t comment on the events it’s depicting, and instead lists off the haunting details of the battle, as the band and Young imagine them. In short, it’s a bi-partisan war song about an epic rivalry that makes American history sound relevant. Lyrically, it is a masterpiece.

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I was unprepared for the emotional punch that is “How Ya Doin’?” It’s a slow song that sounds like something that could be played at the emotional low of a movie, like a protagonist walking alone in the rain after completely derailing their life.

This song is about falling out of love and a failed relationship, delivering a guitar solo, a piano solo, and pain — a great low-point song.

The evolution of the context of the lyric “I’d like to shake your hand, disappointment, looks like you win again” throughout the song was especially heartbreaking. When first stated at the beginning of the song, Young rejects this statement soon after, claiming “But this time will be the last.”

When repeated towards the very end of the song, Young changes his following lyric too, “So now it’s up to me to set your spirit free, so you can swing again on our gate,” which was far, far, sadder.

“Gateway of Love” was another song about heartbreak. Despite being a track shelved in 2001, and released in 2022, this song sounds older in a pleasant, timeless, way. It’s a quicker moving pace, and the title and chorus — “Gateway of love” — would trick you into thinking it’s a happy song; don’t worry, it’s not.

The lyrics, “But I’m just a dusty soul with nothing much to say, down here in the hay, bound to stay that way. I’ve got almost everything, except that little key, to the gateway of love,” is the thesis of the song. This is the second song that Apple Music reports with a high number of plays, and though it’s lyrically one of the less impressive songs off the album, it is fun.

To conclude, this album was very strong, although very sad. Ultimately, I’m glad Crazy Horse and Young decided to take this album off the shelf and give it to the public.