Well, after thinking about it for 48 hours, I have a gameplan with how to go about this Neil Young quandary.
I want to expand my library beyond the tracks on Decade by picking up his first four albums. Neil Young, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, After the Goldrush, and Harvest all boast nice remastering and inexpensive prices. So I'm going with that, not just for economic reasons, but for sanity reasons.
As much as I love the tracks I've heard already from Neil, I'm not somebody who grew up devouring his early albums. I never heard "Heart of Gold" on any radio station I listened to as a kid. Granted, I listened only to a soft rock station and the Top 40 station, and my parents didn't (and still don't) have any of his records. Hell, if it weren't the one-two of Harvest Moon and seeing him perform "Rocking in the Free World" with Pearl Jam on the MTV Music Video Awards, I would have never heard of him until years later.
Since I've never devoured all the textures and nuances of his first four albums, I couldn't say I could jump right into the Archives Vol. 1, even though many of the songs from that time are on it. I'm just not ready . . . yet.
Helping with collecting tracks from the Decade set is a recent borrowing of the Buffalo Springfield box set from a friend. Since the set is sadly out of print, I'm quite happy to pick and choose what I want. Ah, to hear "Expecting to Fly" and "Broken Arrow" in full audio glory.
I haven't marked off ever wanting to hear the stray tracks, live tracks, and unreleased tracks from Archives, but I think I should go through a more formal introduction first.