Neil Young’s Harvest is one of those untouchable albums. Its already stood the test of the time having aged for more than 40 years now. Still, it stands triumphantly as a monumental album that would ultimately play a role in ushering in a new era of rock n’ roll.
Harvest was released at a time when music was thought of and consumed much differently than how we know it today. There were no mp3s, no file sharing, and certainly no Internet: just music on vinyl records. Still, whether you remember hearing this album decades ago, or you just heard it this week, Harvest is an experience you’re not likely to forget Young himself has said he has mixed feelings towards the album, but Harvest is an undeniably good one and arguably serves as Young’s most accessible work even though Neil wrote it early on in his career.
Harvest contains the two tracks by Young that mostly everyone knows; Heart of Gold and Old Man. Although these songs have been played relentlessly through the decades they still sound exciting largely due to their raw emotional vulnerability. Ultimately, that’s what makes Harvest such a stunning album. For the most part, the musical arrangements are simple with the album’s best songs containing little more than Young’s guitar, harmonica, and unmistakable voice. Album opener Out on the Weekend remains an anthem for those who prefer solitude the world round. This moves into the album’s title track, which serves as a triumphant yet heartbreakingly authentic song.
Although Young would go on to become an international folk superstar with this album, he’s always stayed true to his Canadian roots. While many people tend to associate the excruciatingly generic rhythms of Nickelback with Canada as a whole, it wouldn’t be too bold to call Harvest the quintessential Canadian album. Harvest fits in amongst our Rocky Mountains and disparate sprawls of rural life like no other. With his fourth album, Young fit in an incredible amount of prowess, emotion, and experimentation within the album’s 13 tracks. A delicate rawness is met with Needle and the Damage Done as Young provides an ode to the junkie generation of the 1970s that the singer would know all too well. This heart-tugging ballad directly precedes album closer Words (Between the Lines of Age) which acts as a cascading and eruptive rock highlight.
The album is a versatile one, but it’s ultimately an inescapably vulnerable one. This album will make you feel things you’ve never felt before and equal credit can be given to the music and the lyrics for that. This is one of those albums that everyone should hear at least once, and should respect. Although Young is still going strong at the ripe age of 69, Harvest will serve as his monumental work for many fans and will remain that way for as long as music and artistry still holds relevance in the world.
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