The “lost” album by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young was supposed to be the follow-up to their amazingly successful 1970 album Deja Vu. Of course, after that album and tour, the four members split to record successful solo albums. Then in the late Spring of 1973, on the Hawaiian island of Maui, they started work on a new CSN&Y album to be called Human Highway.
“Human Highway” is a song written by Neil Young that the group recorded during sessions in May & June of 1973. In all, the group recorded about half-an-album’s worth of songs, but those four strong personalities couldn’t stay together to finish what they started. Instead, their label released the greatest hits collection, So Far.
In 1974, CSN&Y reunited for a major tour.
Although the tour was successful, the group still had many conflicts. It took them 40 years to release the live recordings, CSNY 1974.
It’s a 3 CD and 1 DVD set, and has a 186 page book. It also includes some songs that were part of their plans for Human Highway. In fact, CSN&Y went back into the studio in 1974 and 1976 to try to finish the album. Both times ended in conflict, and no album.
So, let’s track down the recordings that could have made up Human Highway. The first source is the 1991 CSN 4-CD box set.
This is my all-time favorite box set. It not only includes most of the major recordings by the group, but many of their best solo songs, and unreleased & alternate group versions. We find the following unreleased recordings played by all four members of CSN&Y… “Homeward Through The Haze” & “The Lee Shore” (both by Crosby), “See The Changes” (by Stills), and “Taken At All” (by Nash). All of these, except “The Lee Shore” were specifically recorded for Human Highway. I’m including “The Lee Shore”, because this studio version was unreleased, they played it on their 1974 tour, and it would have fit nicely on the album. It’s a full-band recording that’s more uptempo and rhythmic than the live versions.
The unreleased group versions of “Human Highway” (by Young) and “Prison Song” (by Nash) were both downloaded from bootlegs fans posted on the internet. “Prison Song” was horrendously bass heavy, but I ran it through an equalizer and it came out nicely for our recreated album. I posted a copy of the song on YouTube under the user name radiospast.
“As I Come of Age” (by Stills), “Wind On The Water” & “And So It Goes” (both by Nash) and “Through My Sails” & “Long May You Run” (both by Young) were originally written for Human Highway. The songs ended up on solo albums…but the recordings all include multiple members of the band, which are noted on the album tracks below.
The final track…”Hawaiian Sunrise” (by Young) is from the above mentioned CSNY 1974 set. Even though the recordings are supposed to be live, “Hawaiian Sunrise” really sounds like it’s a studio recording. I did an easy edit to eliminate the applause at the end, and it fits right in with the rest of the album.
There are many other songs from 1973-1976 that could be candidates to be included on Human Highway. In the following version, 11 of the 12 songs were originally written and recorded for the band’s follow-up album. Plus, 9 of them have all four artists participating. Here are the proposed sides of Human Highway.
- See The Changes…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (box set)
- Human Highway…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (bootleg)
- Taken At All…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (box set)
- Long May You Run…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (“Decade”)
- And So It Goes…Crosby Nash & Young (“Wild Tales”)
- Critical Mass/Wind On The Water…Crosby & Nash (“Wind On The Water”)
- As I Come Of Age…Crosby Stills & Nash (“Stills”)
- Homeward Through The Haze…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (box set)
- Prison Song…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (bootleg)
- Through My Sails…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (“Zuma”)
- The Lee Shore…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (box set)
- Hawaiian Sunrise…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (“CSNY 1974”)
The album includes 4 songs by Neil Young, 4 by Graham Nash, 2 by David Crosby (plus the beautiful “Critical Mass” intro to “Wind On The Water”), and Stephen Stills gets the prime first cut on each side. The songs were placed in an order based on musical flow, lyrical content, and the time allowed per vinyl side. Three songs on Side 1…”Human Highway”, “Taken At All” & “Long May You Run” go especially well together, and the last three songs on Side 2 flow perfectly for an album that has a photo of Maui on the cover. It’s a strong album, with all twelve songs being good.
The group would probably have wanted to include an up-tempo rocker or two, but they didn’t appear to have any ready for the album. Still’s “First Things First” came closest. The recording includes Crosby & Nash, and could possibly have been substituted for “And So It Goes”. It also would have given David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash three song-writing credits each on the album.
If you’re a fan of CSN&Y’s solo work, you’ll see that all of these songs except “Hawaiian Sunrise” made it onto other albums. So even if you don’t have the exact versions of the above songs, you could make this album’s playlist by using the cuts from their solo albums. It’s worth it, even though (with the possible exception of “See The Changes”) these are the best versions of the songs.
Over the years, fans have speculated about which songs would have been on Human Highway. Another possible version of the lost album is on the website Albums That Never Were. Just Google the site name along with Human Highway to find the article. That version has nine of the twelve songs I’ve chosen, so we’re getting close to “finding” the lost album.
David Crosby told Rolling Stone magazine he thought Human Highway could have been CSN&Y’s best album.
(Extra: I was asked about the edit on “Hawaiian Sunrise”. In GarageBand, I took a copy of the chorus with the middle guitar part, and put it in place of the ending chorus…then did a normal fade-out of the guitar part like many studio recordings. Of course it would also be okay to have the final track on the album end with applause.)
Update: Neil Young is (finally!) releasing his Archives II box set on November 20th, 2020. The song lists for the ten CD’s are on his NYA site. It will be interesting to see if any of the versions will be from the CSN&Y Human Highway sessions. By the way, the box set is expected to only be available on his site. More details should be given when ordering starts on October 16th. Discs 6 & 9 look the most interesting. *song unreleased #version unreleased