CSN&Y…Human Highway (The Lost Album)

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.

(Mock-up album cover using the planned cover photo.)

“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.  (Note:  The CSN&Y version of “Human Highway” is now available on Neil Young Archives II.)   “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.

Side One:

  1. See The Changes…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (box set)
  2. Human Highway…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (“Archives II”, 1976 version is best)
  3. Taken At All…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (box set)
  4. Long May You Run…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (“Decade”)
  5. And So It Goes…Crosby Nash & Young (“Wild Tales”)
  6. Critical Mass/Wind On The Water…Crosby & Nash (“Wind On The Water”)

Side Two:

  1. As I Come Of Age…Crosby Stills & Nash (“Stills”)
  2. Homeward Through The Haze…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (box set)
  3. Prison Song…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (bootleg/YouTube)
  4. Through My Sails…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (“Zuma”)
  5. The Lee Shore…Crosby Stills Nash & Young (box set)
  6. 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”.  After the release of Archives II, I re-edited the song by using the last bit of instrumental from the solo version in that box set to take the place of the applause.  That preserved the cold ending.  It also shows the CSNY 1974 version is almost certainly a studio cut, because the match is perfect.)

Update November 2020:  The question of whether the Crosby & Nash vocals were actually erased from the Human Highway sessions has been answered.  No.  The recordings of his songs that occurred during the time of “Long May You Run” are on Neil Young Archives II.  The tracks with all of CSN&Y are… “Ocean Girl”, “Midnight On The Bay”, and “Human Highway”.  The “Hawaiian Sunrise” in the Archives box is a solo version, and probably the basic track for the CSNY 1974 recording.  (You can stream Archives II on the Neil Young Archives website.)

Update:  Neil Young released his Archives II box set on November 20th, 2020.  The song lists for the ten CD’s are on his Neil Young Archives site, and more detailed lists are on Wikipedia.   The Deluxe box set is only available on his site…for $250.  All 3,000 copies of the box set have sold, but more will be available on March 5th, 2021.  Another version with the same 10 discs will also be released on that same date.  It will have a smaller box, and a booklet instead of a hard-cover book.  The list price is $160.  It will be sold by retail outlets, including Amazon.  The whole Archives II is available to stream on the NYA website.  There is a $1.99 monthly fee.  There are also some singles from the set available on iTunes.

Here’s my review of Neil Young Archives II:


6 Replies to “CSN&Y…Human Highway (The Lost Album)”

  1. Very cool, except Stills would never have settled for only 2 of his songs on the final LP. Would love to have this album on my shelf next to “Deja Vu.” Excellent work and a very credible justification!

  2. Having now heard your recreation of “Human Highway,” I have to say it would have been a fantastic addition to the CSN&Y catalogue and really would have gone a long way to keep them at the top if they’d been able to release an LP of such quality every couple of years. I think they’d be remembered along the same lines as the Beatles and Rolling Stones had they been able to work together more often: imagine an LP every other year (allowing time for solo and duo endeavors) using the best material from each member of the quartet: probably 2-4 songs per writer most of the time. The best 2-4 songs each by David Crosy, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Graham Nash would make an amazing set. So many missed opportunities with these guys, but I suppose we should be glad we got anything at all. All in all, I think your “Human Highway” stands shoulder to shoulder with “Deja Vu” and the CS&N debut LP.

    Editor: Thank you for the positive comments on the recreation of the album. I agree with you that the group’s place in history could have been even more impressive if they could have spent more time working on their songs together.

  3. Thank you for this thoughtful and comprehensive analysis of an album I wish had been released. One question: isn’t “Horses Through a Rainstorm” another song on the CSNY boxed set which was supposed to be on “Human Highway?”

    Editor: Although you’re right that it’s another song from the box set that is done by all four members, the box set booklet says it’s an outtake from their 1969 Deja Vu sessions. Thank you for the comment.

  4. What about the Black Coral on Stills’ Carry On box set? That was also part of the HH album, then they wiped C&N’s material and put it out as S/Y B.

    Editor: Yes, Black Coral would certainly be a possibility for the album.

  5. This is an interesting take on the lost album. Thank you for this. With the pending release of Neil’s Archives, Vol II fast approaching, I am curious to see what I might be able to put together myself for this lost LP. However, I think that there may end up being two separate LPs, or perhaps an LP and an EP. The LP would consist of the 1973-74 recordings, and an EP would consist of the 1976 recordings. Food for thought, and I will certainly pursue this idea.

    1. Replying to my own here, but worthwhile thoughts. So, the 1973 sessions have amounted to 2 songs by the group that have surfaced, See The Changes and Human Highway (from the first disc of the recent Neil Young Archives Vol II). The lack of any additional material or documentation, I would place these two songs in the timeline as a new single by the group. 1974 also suffered in that little to no studio material was recorded other than Homeward Through The Haze and Through My Sails. With that in mind, another late 1974 single. There is enough from 1976 to compile an album, I think. Using Long May You Run and swapping the CSNY versions of Black Coral, Midnight On The Bay, Ocean Girl, and the title track, we could sub Taken At All and Human Highway (the version on Archives Vol II disc 9 is from these sessions), and we have a Stills/Young dominated CSNY album. We could swap out a couple of songs for some more Crosby and Nash, but as of now we don’t have anything from that period that has come to light of their songs with S/Y vocals.

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