Kiefer’s Music Mondays: Neil Young’s ‘Harvest’

One of the most celebrated and endlessly influential albums in rock history.

After the dissipation of supergroup-quartet Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young in 1970, following a 23-show tour rife with drug and alcohol fueled feuds, 25-year-old Canadian rocker Neil Young would go on to write one of the most tender, heartfelt albums of all time: Harvest.

An early “country rock” classic, I would argue that this album also had a massive impact on the sound of modern indie-folk, just as Neil’s more blaring albums helped inspire grunge. In any case, the unfathomable critical and commercial success of this album changed alternative rock forever.

Songs like “Heart of Gold” (which reached #1 on U.S. charts), “Old Man” (inescapable in karaoke bars across America), “Alabama” (which featured Crosby and Stills, and heavily inspired Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”), “The Needle and the Damage Done” (a morose ode to the many musicians lost to heroin addiction) and “Are You Ready For The Country” (which brought about a huge turnout of Southern Rock music in the 70s) all contribute to the album’s vast and profound legacy.

Backed by harmonica, steel and slide guitars, and even banjo of the Stray Gators—not to mention the gosh darn London Symphony Orchestra on “A Man Needs a Maid” and “There’s a World”—it fuses the best of rock, folk and country to exemplify Americana at its finest. It also became the best-selling album of 1972.

Opening the flood gates for a never-ending wave of folky soft-rock musicians like James Taylor and Linda Rondstadt (who both appear on the record), Harvest is one of the most celebrated and endlessly influential albums ever be created.

Listen to: “Out On The Weekend,” “Heart of Gold,” “Old Man”