LOS ANGELES — Neil Young has reunited with Crazy Horse for their first album together in nearly nine years, “Americana,” in which the band offers its take on 11 songs drawn from the American folk music tradition.
The new collection, slated for release June 5, includes Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land,” Stephen Foster’s “Oh Susannah,” the British national anthem “God Save the Queen,” and folk songs from the 19th century and earlier including “Tom Dooley,” “Clementine,” “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” and “Wayfarin’ Stranger.”
In his notes with the album, Young says he and longtime collaborators Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot and Poncho Sampedro have tapped the notion of “the folk process” in which traditional songs were sometimes modified to make them more digestible by rock music fans in the early days of what came to be known as folk-rock.
The Young-Crazy Horse version of “This Land Is Your Land,” for instance, omits the widely known verses popularized through grade-school renditions of the song and opts instead for the lyrics omitted from Guthrie’s own recording.
“This folk song was written by Woody Guthrie in the 1940s,” Young writes, “to a preexisting melody as a response to ‘God Bless America,’ which Guthrie was tired of hearing. The lyrics Guthrie sang varied over time, but the lyrics sung in Americana version were in the original manuscript of the song.”
Young’s definition of folk music is broad enough to encompass the Silhouettes’ 1958 doo-wop hit “Get A Job” — “It is a genuine folk song with all the true characteristics,” Young states — and a couple of the arrangements, “High Flyin’ Bird” and “Tom Dooley,” are credited to the Squires, the rock band Young played in while he was still in high school in Toronto.