Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Neil Young abandoned plans for a live album and recorded this deep dark folk masterpiece in the studio with a group of session musicians, achieving his greatest commercial success, much to his chagrin. While in Nashville for the taping of a performance on the 'Johnny Cash Show', Young was approached by producer Elliot Mazer who wanted him to record at his Quadrofonic Sound Studios. Young agreed over dinner; and Mazer rounded up drummer Kenny Buttrey, bassist Tim Drummond, and steel-guitarist Ben Keith for an impromptu session that night where they laid down tracks for several songs. After doing the show the next day, Young invited Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor to join him in the studio, where they did vocals and Taylor played Young's banjo guitar. More sessions took place at Broken Arrow Studio No. 2 at Young's ranch in Woodside, California with Jack Nitzsche on piano and lap steel. Young dubbed his new band the Stray Gators; and they toured with him during the next year. Nitzsche recorded a couple of songs for the album with the London Symphony Orchestra at Barking Town Hall. The live version of 'Needle and the Damage Done' was recorded at UCLA. Other session musicians were brought in to fill out the sound, and David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash contributed vocals. 'Harvest' became Young's only album to reach number one, topping charts in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US, where it was the biggest selling album of 1972.


"Dream up, dream up,
let me fill your cup
With the promise of a man."

"Heart of Gold" became Young's only number one single. He says, "This song put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there."

"I want to live,
I want to give
I've been a miner
For a heart of gold.
It's these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching
For a heart of gold
And I'm getting old."

"Lullabies, look in your eyes,
Run around the same old town.
Doesn't mean that much to me
To mean that much to you.
I've been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.
But I'm all alone at last.

"The Needle and the Damage Done" was written about people Young knew that were troubled with heroin addiction, especially Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse.

"I caught you knockin' at my cellar door
I love you, baby, can I have some more
Ooh, ooh, the damage done.
I hit the city and I lost my band
I watched the needle take another man
Gone, gone, the damage done.
I sing the song because I love the man
I know that some of you don't understand
Milk-blood to keep from running out.
I've seen the needle and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie's like a settin' sun."

full album:

All tracks written by Neil Young.

Side one
1. "Out on the Weekend" 4:35
2. "Harvest" 3:11
3. "A Man Needs a Maid" 4:05
4. "Heart of Gold" 3:07
5. "Are You Ready for the Country?" 3:33
Side two
1. "Old Man" 3:24
2. "There's a World" 2:59
3. "Alabama" 4:02
4. "The Needle and the Damage Done" 2:03
5. "Words (Between the Lines of Age)" 6:40

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