Record Machine: Harvest by Neil Young

In certain circles, what I’m about to admit may amount to sacrilege: I’m not that familiar with Neil Young. It’s time to rectify this gap in my musical knowledge.

Neil Young - Harvest

Listening to Neil Young’s Harvest, I get why so many are obsessed with his music. Even the often underwhelmed Noel Gallagher enthuses over him… Well, in a particularly Noel-like way:

He’s always been very respectful to Oasis, and to me when I’ve met him. I’ve seen him with Crazy Horse, with acoustic gigs, and he always comes from a place of truth. He’s invented a car that runs on fucking grass or something. The world can be split into two camps: people that like Neil Young and people that don’t. And the people that don’t are fucking idiots. Mind you, I wish that he’d spend more than a week making an album. Far be it for me to tell Neil Young what to do, but Greendale in particular sounds horrible.

He’s more annoying than I am!

MOJO Magazine, September 2011

Aside from my inexplicable need to relate all things to Noel, Harvest is indeed a great album. I am particularly digging his songs with the London Symphony Orchestra, since I love it when rock and folk musicians pair up with a big production like that.

We are leaving. We are gone.
Come with us to all alone.
Never worry, Never moan.
We will leave you all alone.

(A massive song all about being alone? Gee, I have no idea why Noel Gallagher is so enamored with him… )

The album’s opener, “Out on the Weekend,” reminds me of The Dreams’ music, what with the harmonica, loneliness, and country-leaning.

See the lonely boy out on the weekend
Trying to make it pay.
Can’t relate to joy, He tries to speak and
Can’t begin to say.

I’m also fond of “The Needle and The Damage Done,” and it’s one of the few songs on the album with which I was already familiar. Recorded live at UCLA’s Royce Hall, this plaintive song about addiction is excellent:

I’ve seen the needle and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone.
But every junkie’s like a setting sun.

What I discover when I listen to Neil Young is that, in a way, I have been listening to him all this time, in that he has influenced so many of the musicians that I love. Though his voice is unlike any other, his lyrics and song arrangement have spread throughout rock history. He is the headwater flowing into the greater whole. I’ll keep listening.

Neil Young - Harvest (lyric sheet)Side One

Out on the Weekend
A Man Needs a Maid
Heart of Gold
Are You Ready for The Country

Side Two

Old Man
There’s a World
The Needle and The Damage Done
Words/Between The Line of Age

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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