When Neil Young was asked about his seminal fourth album on its 40th anniversary, he said: “I think Harvest was probably the finest record that I’ve made, but that’s really a restricting adjective for me. It’s really fine, but that’s it.” The album, released through the Reprise label on 14 February 1972, provided Young with two hits – Heart Of Gold and Old Man – and became the best-selling album in the US for the entire year.
Listen to ‘Harvest’ here.
Eight of Harvest’s ten tracks are acoustic, something that came out of necessity because Young, then just 25, was struggling with a debilitating back injury that would ultimately require complicated surgery. The album, which took nine months to complete, was recorded in spurts in Nashville, London and California, in between tours, hospital consultations and a romance that would produce Young’s first child.
“He’s really got an uncanny instinct to go for the throat”
When Young recorded his masterful live album at Toronto’s Massey Hall in January 1971, he road-tested, in stirring stripped-down versions, three of the songs that would appear on Harvest: Heart Of Gold, Old Man and The Needle And The Damage Done.