Neil Young – 1968 Working Lyric Manuscript for ‘If I Could Have Her Tonight’ from Debut Album, Reproduced in Archives Vol. 1 Book

Neil Young’s handwritten working lyric manuscript for “If I Could Have Her Tonight” from his 1968 self-titled debut album, given by Young to Graham Nash, and reproduced in the book from Young’s Archives Vol. 1 1963-1972.

The history of this extraordinary artifact is detailed in the accompanying letter of authenticity from longtime Neil Young associate Joel Bernstein:

This letter is to authenticate Neil Young’s handwritten working lyric manuscript for his song “If I Could Have Her Tonight.”  This manuscript is pictured on page 71 of the book accompanying Neil’s Archives Vol. 1 box set [see third photo, for reference only.]  Neil gave this manuscript to Graham Nash, from whom I obtained it. 

I photographed Neil Young for the first time at his first East Coast show with Crazy Horse, at the Bitter End in New York City, in February 1969. I went on to work with Neil extensively, as both his and CSNY’s tour photographer, and shooting him for eighteen of his album covers (including After The Gold Rush, Harvest, Time Fades Away, Tonight’s The Night, Decade and Rust Never Sleeps) plus numerous other official projects including publicity, advertising, songbooks, posters, et al. On various tours from 1973-1993, I also worked with Neil as his guitar technician; and served as his archivist for 20 years, researching and presenting him with every source for audio, artwork and text used in his massive box set Archives Vol. 1 1963-1972.  This is from my personal collection. Sincerely, Joel Bernstein.”

These working lyrics give a unique look into Young’s songwriting process.  Nearly identical to the finished song, Young first writes the chorus, then the verses, making changes, crossing things out, and editing as he goes.

The Songfacts website notes “If I Could Have her Tonight” is one of the most openly romantic, vulnerable songs on Neil Young’s debut solo album. It’s also one of the most unambiguous… it doesn’t seem to be concealing anything more than what’s plainly visible on the surface. Whereas “The Loner” bears the mystery of who its subject is, “The Last Trip to Tulsa” is just plain weird, and “The Old Laughing Lady” bears that subtle eeriness that infuses Young’s best work, “If I Could Have her Tonight” simply is what is.  The song finds Young longing for a woman’s contact. Perhaps the most interesting thing, lyrically, is the degree of insecurity that’s revealed: What if she came to me/Would she be kind? and If she stayed with me/Do you think that she’d like to do anything I would/Or would she leave me? are almost embarrassingly needful.

Neil Young owns most of his original lyric manuscripts, and we know of only two others that have been offered publicly (one by us.)

A museum-quality Neil Young collectible with exceptional provenance.  With Joel Bernstein’s letter of authenticity, and Recordmecca’s written lifetime guarantee of authenticity.



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