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 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.
The set has 3 CD’s, 1 DVD, and 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.
The box set includes most of the major recordings by the group, and many of their best solo songs. Most importantly, it has unreleased & alternate versions by the whole group. Among those are 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 the group’s follow-up album. 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 available from bootlegs fans posted on the internet. (Note: The CSN&Y version of “Human Highway” is now available on Neil Young Archives II.) You can hear all of the songs below.
“Prison Song” was horrendously bass heavy, but I ran it through an equalizer and it came out sounding much better. I posted a copy of the song on YouTube under the user name radiospast. You can also listen to it below. The group version is the best version of “Prison Song”.
“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 edit to eliminate the applause at the end (by replacing the last note with the one from the NY Archives II solo version), 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. We’re pretending that they saved them for that album. All but 3 of the songs have all four artists participating. Here are the proposed sides of Human Highway. Note: The audio is right on this site, clicking won’t take you somewhere else.
See The Changes…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (CSN Box Set)
Human Highway…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (Archives II, ’76 version)
Taken At All / Long May You Run (Medley)…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (CSN Box Set/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 (CSN Box Set)
Prison Song…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (bootleg/YouTube)
Through My Sails…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (Zuma)
The Lee Shore…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (CSN Box Set)
Hawaiian Sunrise…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (CSNY 1974)
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. It’s not my original idea to make a medley of those last two, but this is my mix. 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.
There’s a Stephen Stills song that could have made the album in place of “The Lee Shore” (since it’s the only song not specifically recorded for this album). “Black Coral” was recorded for the album, and the CSNY version is on the Stephen Stills box set.
All of these songs eventually made it onto their solo/group albums; however, with the possible exception of “See The Changes”, these are the best versions.
David Crosby told Rolling Stone magazine he thought Human Highway could have been CSN&Y’s best album.
Bonus: Here’s the timeline of recordings CSN&Y did for their follow-up album.
May- June 1973 “Human Highway”, “Pardon My Heart”, “And So It Goes”, “Prison Song”, “See The Changes”, “Through My Sails”, & possibly “As I Come Of Age” (Stills copyrighted it after these sessions).
Dec 1974 “Wind On The Water” & “Homeward Through The Haze”.
March-May 1976 “Human Highway”, “Taken At All”, “Long May You Run”, “Midnight On The Bay”, “Ocean Girl”, “Black Coral”, “Time After Time”, “Fontainebleau”, “Traces”, “Separate Ways”, & possibly “Hawaiian Sunrise”. Others worked on…“Treetop Flyer”, “No One Seems To Know”, “Let It Shine” “Guardian Angel”, “Make Love To You”, & “Little Blind Fish”.
If the band had been able to finish Human Highway in 1976, only using songs still available to them at that time, it might have looked like this.
- See The Changes…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (CSN Box Set)
- Human Highway…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (Archives II)
- Taken At All…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (CSN Box Set)
- Long May You Run…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (Decade)
- Stateline Blues…Stephen Stills (Illegal Stills)
- Out Of The Darkness…Crosby & Nash (Whistling Down The Wire)
- Treetop Flyer…Stephen Stills (from 1976 CSNY session)
- Time After Time…Crosby & Nash (Whistling Down The Wire)
- Midnight On The Bay…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (Archives II)
- Black Coral…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (Stills Box Set)
- Little Blind Fish…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (1976 session)
- Hawaiian Sunrise…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (CSNY 1974)
This version came really close to existing, because the group recorded enough songs for a complete album. It’s too bad Crosby & Nash didn’t commit to this album instead of their own album. CSN&Y would probably have finished “Treetop Flyer” and “Little Blind Fish” at their 1976 sessions.
Human Highway would likely have been a #1 album & a multi-million seller, easily surpassing the popularity of the albums the two-halves-of-the-group did release in 1976…Long May You Run and Whistling Down The Wire. Interestingly, the two albums “tied” with each other. Both only made it to #26 on the Billboard album chart, and each sold about half-a-million copies in the U.S.
Extra: What if CSN&Y had stayed together? Here’s a link to that article: https://ontherecords.net/2021/03/csny-what-if-they-had-stayed-together/
Extra 2: Here’s the link to a proposal for a Human Highway box set: https://ontherecords.net/2021/05/csny-human-highway-sessions-box-set/
Update March, 2021: Archives II was added to streaming services 3/5/2021. The CSN&Y recordings of Neil Young’s songs that occurred during the time of the “Long May You Run” sessions are…“Ocean Girl”, “Midnight On The Bay”, and “Human Highway”. That proves the Crosby & Nash vocals were never actually erased.
Here’s my review of Neil Young Archives II: