- Album name: Harvest
- Artist name: Neil Young
- Year: 1972
- Number of discs: one
- Label: Reprise Records
- Collection: Brenner / Gessner
- Distinguishing characteristics: “G” written on top left of album, indicating that my father owned it
- Buy it on Amazon: $12.98
Level of familiarity before listening
I’ve listened to “Harvest” more times than I can possibly count: like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, Jimmy Buffett and a few others, my parents played Neil Young a lot when I was young, as they were both big fans.
My mother also once described “Harvest” as the soundtrack to her college life (1970-74), though curiously her copy of this record seems to have disappeared along with a lot of other favorites, leaving only my father’s copy in the collection.
My memory is that I bought my own CD copy of “Harvest” in fall 2000 from a magical and wonderful website called UrbanFetch.com, when they were having their going-out-of-business sale. I just rifled through a box of CDs and found it in there, along with “Harvest Moon” and “After the Gold Rush,” so it seems at least plausible.
What I expected
Neil Young’s very own and very special version of country rock.
What it was actually like
Heart of Gold has always been a favorite of mine, and I think it was the first Neil Young song that I loved, and that I would listen to on my own. Also, as I may have mentioned when listening to a Linda Ronstadt record, it was the first song that I liked that I associated with Linda Ronstadt!
Old Man is also a standout on “Harvest,” but it’s so weird that he wrote it when he was 24, and is now 76. And it may be slightly weird that I listened to it all the time when I was under 10, bought it when I was 19, and now I’m 41 – so between the young Neil Young and the old man who was the subject of the song, and between the young Neil Young and the old Neil Young who’s still around half a century later.
And on the subject of hearing things differently as we age, there was a long time when The Needle and the Damage Done was just some words and some music to me, some lyrics attached to a song that didn’t necessarily have to mean anything, but it definitely means so much more now (and why isn’t this song longer?).
I’ve never been a big fan of A Man Needs a Maid or There’s a World – the whole symphony orchestra accompaniment just seems really unnecessary, and if Neil Young wanted to get a more layered, textured wall-of-sound sort of feel to these songs, I don’t see why he didn’t get just more guitars and harmonicas. Also, these songs just put me to sleep!
5/5: love it