Neil Young has announced a new album titled Storeytone, and he has shared an orchestral track from the planned November release.
The track, “Who’s Gonna Stand Up?,” is an environmentalist anthem that surfaced earlier this month as a live version with Crazy Horse. Now, Young is streaming a version backed by a 92-piece symphony and choir. He has also made available a solo acoustic version. You can listen to all three below, and check out the lyrics.
A few weeks ago, The Guardian noted that Young fans had spotted arrangements for an “upcoming Neil Young album, Storytone (out Nov 4)” listed among “recent projects” on the website of composer and arranger Chris Walden. On August 19, music contractor Gina Zimmitti posted a photo on Facebook of Walden and Young in the studio. “We don’t feel cheesy calling this one a ‘precious moment,’” She wrote. “First day recording Chris Walden’s fantastic arrangements for Neil Young.” Other posts showed Young’s car, mentioned Niko Bolas as a producer and referred to “awesomely loud big band arrangements” by Walden.
Bolas has worked with Young on albums including 2006′s Living with War, 1989′s Freedom (with “Rockin’ in the Free World”) and 1988′s This Note’s for You. His other credits range from Jonathan Richman‘s overlooked 2001 album Her Mystery Not of High Heels and Eye Shadow to Melissa Etheridge‘s 1988 self-titled debut album and Warren Zevon‘s 1987 Sentimental Hygiene. Walden, for his part, leads a jazz big band, has been the arranger for American Idol since 2007 and has collaborated with the likes of as Michael Bublé and Diana Krall.
The RCA Storytone, incidentally, hit the market in 1939 and could be considered the first practical electric piano (though a less-handy synth billed at auction as the “first electric keyboard” predates it by decades).
Young hinted earlier this year at the possibility of an orchestral record. “I’d like to make a record with a full-blown orchestra, live — a mono recording with one mic,” he told Billboard. “I want to do something like that where we really record what happened, with one point of view and the musicians moved closer and farther away, the way it was done in the past. To me that’s a challenge and it’s a sound that’s unbelievable, and you can’t get it any other way.”
An orchestral release would still be yet another aesthetic shift for Young, who earlier this year released A Letter Home, made with Jack White in a back-to-basics, vintage recording booth. He also recently offered investors shares in PonoMusic, his upcoming high-end audio player and format. Another possible influence on his music is his recent filing for divorce after 36 years. He’ll be taking the stage with White and many other luminaries at a Bob Dylan tribute concert in February.