Sustainable Pace

November 25th, 2019

Neil Young - Harvest (1972)

After Kurt Cobain had died in 1994 I slowly began to be disenchanted with contemporary music. When I was 19, my best friend Karsten introduced me to "Harvest" by Neil Young. We were both just figuring out how to play the guitar ourselves, and were happy with structurally simple songs, and Neil Young came to the rescue.

We must have played nearly every song on that album (although we never seemed to get the timing on "Words" right). A favourite was "Heart of Gold" - I remember us hanging out next to the river Rhine and noodling this song, when a group of truck drivers joined us and listened in. They were quite drunk and so their judgment on our musical abilities was thoroughly impaired, but they enjoyed our performance so much, they wanted to have us play at to their local pub. We humbly turned down, but I think "Heart of Gold" was my first public musical performance as such.

This album was quite a contrast to the music I was listening to in the Nineties, it's basically straight country/folk rock. Neil Young's vocals are mellow and vulnerable ("The Needle and the Damage Done" still gives me goosebumps every time), the lyrics downbeat and introspective, the instrumentation minimalistic (well, not counting "A Man Needs A Maid" and "There's A World" of course), the sound relaxed and smooth (especially thanks to the wonderful pedal steel guitars).

I also remember Karsten coming up with a (then mind-blowing) recording of "Alabama" on his 4-track tape machine...I'll have to ask him if he still has it!