14 February 2013

14th Feb - Neil Young's Harvest

Artist – Album: Neil Young - Harvest
Released:  14th February 1972    
Sounds Like: Will you be my Valentine?

Over the years I have developed a healthy cynicism over today, February 14th, Valentine’s day. If you’re in a relationship it puts unnecessary pressure on to make some big romantic gesture and, with everybody else also celebrating on the very same day (well organised cupid), you get drawn into one-upmanship with other couple friends or failing to find a restaurant that isn’t already fully booked. And God help you if you’re not in a relationship. Being in public places you feel oddly conspicuous, like the world and his wife has, well, a wife. You might go down the ignorance route, drawing the curtains, banging on a couple of DVDs and shutting yourself off from the world. Or you might succumb to the schmaltzy Hallmark romanticism and perform some ill-fated act of ridiculousness, like craft for your ex a homemade Valentines card out of Kit Kat wrappers (which I was guilty of this time round). It ain’t good.

I don’t think Neil Young circa Harvest shared this cynicism. Sure, there is the confusing and symphonic ‘A Man Needs a Maid’, a song that’s not as sexist as it sounds but isn’t exactly lovelorn either. But elsewhere (think ‘Out on the Weekend’, ‘Heart of Gold’ and ‘Old Man’) Young sounds like a man on the lookout for Miss Right, charmed by the idea of a new relationship. He does dabble in other themes too, note the tragic ‘The Needle and the Damage Done’, but the overall mood is one of longing for a new romance.

All this is ensconced in melodic loveliness. Whether taking a country approach as in ‘Heart of Gold’ or the more garage rock sound of ‘Alabama’, Young possesses an invaluable ability to keep songs both simple and interesting, and they provide the perfect blanket to swathe his tender, doe eyed lyrics. Within a couple more years though, Young turned out to be a much greater cynic than I'll ever be.

Albumaday... rating: 9/10

1.       Out on the Weekend – 4:34
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 – 3:23
6.       Old Man – 3:24
7.       There’s a World – 2:59
8.       Alabama – 4:02
9.       The Needle and the Damage Done – 2:03
10.   Words (Between the Lines of Age) – 6:40

Listen to ‘A Man Needs a Maid’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bORW_YEmHwY

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