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Saturday, December 10, 2022

ANALYSIS: What Harvest Time Reveals About Neil Young | Rock and Roll Globe

Neil Young's Harvest Time Film

Here is a highly recommended analysis of the just released documentary presenting a fuller look at the landmark album  "What Harvest Time Reveals About Neil Young | Rock and Roll Globe" by Pat Daly:

Neil Young acolytes, notably loyal and reliably obsessive, took the Decade blurb and constructed a parable that is now part of the gospel according to Neil freaks. The three records that followed Harvest – Time Fades Away, Tonight’s The Night, and On the Beach – are now enshrined as “The Ditch Trilogy.”  

The one slight problem here is that Harvest is every bit as ditchy as the records that followed, maybe ditchier. 

It starts with what could be the bleakest, most depressive utterance of Neil Young’s career, which is saying something. “Out On the Weekend” surveys the inner life of its lonely protagonist, who is getting ready to abandon his present circumstances, and just “pack it in.” He “can’t relate to joy.” It is foreign to him. He’d explain it, but his depression has rendered him incapable of speech. “He can’t begin to say.”

Surely the middle of the road beckons as the record goes on, and the ride is uphill from here, right? Well, kind of. The two songs that give Harvest its mainstream reputation – “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man” – are testaments to want, yearning, and more loneliness. 

The former is about the search for love, by all accounts futile to date, and time is running out on our 24-year-old artiste. Inability to articulate persists. “It’s these expressions I never give, that keep me searching for a heart of gold – but I’m getting old.” 

The picture painted in “Old Man” is not much rosier. Love has not been kind to our lonely boy, and he sorely needs someone to love him the whole day through. His lyric does not exude optimism. “Love lost, such a cost. Give me things that won’t get lost.”

These three numbers – can I propose we refer to them henceforth as The Loneliness Trilogy? – constitute less than a third of the album. The rest of the album surely must contain the soothing “Sweet Baby James”-ish folk pop that explain its mellow reputation and enduring popularity. 

A few quick notes on this highly recommended analysis. First, we rustie grains don't really like the label "obsessive" and prefer "passionate" instead. Second, here at TW, we have been a major proponent of the “The Ditch Trilogy” theory.  In fact, this  “The Ditch Trilogy” theory has been expanded to a  quadrilogy, or possibly even a quintology.

Neil Young's "Ditch Quadrilogy":
"Time Fades Away", "Tonight’s the Night", "On the Beach" & "ZUMA"


Last point, on this analysis is the stream of consciousness composition of “Out on the Weekend” which rivals anything from the much ballyhooed Peter Jackson documentary "The Beatles: Get Back" scenes. The ever so elusive "The Muse" is seen in full force display on her majestic, creative, channeling journey. So, get back to that John & Paul, literally and figuratively.


Neil Young Gets Back “Out on the Weekend”

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At 12/10/2022 12:46:00 PM, Blogger Tomatron said...

What a thrilling read. Outside of grains’ contributions around these parts, this is the most on the money NY analysis I’ve read. On point.

At 12/10/2022 01:14:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

As a non-native speaker of English I appreciate these close reading attempts at high lighting phrases beyond the riff-carried refrains. Reading Tomatron's and the R&R Globe's lines of thought are very enlightening. Thank you.
Loneliness, of course, is a recurring motive in Neil Young's song catalogue and obviously can be found as a prime or ground colour in many songs.

At 12/10/2022 02:50:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

First Tomatron and now this: actual analysis and thinking. I read the whole thing and it coincides with what I have always thought: Harvest is not easy listening and it is the antithesis of "pleasant" or "fluff." It is a dark and lonely record.

What a relief after reading JUST ANOTHER worthless article on Harvest in "The Atlantic" (written by an English Professor with a stick up his ass). This one takes the cake. I'm not going to copy the link because I don't want any of my friends here to toss their lunch (it is that bad). Figures, english professor! They somehow never quite get it!!! (ha ha ha)

At 12/10/2022 04:57:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

The Loner Alone, a Lonesome List

Bad Fog Of Loneliness
Campaigner (“I am a lonely visitor”)
Everybody’s Alone
Four Strong Winds (“Four strong winds that blow lonely…”)
Give Me Strength (“The lonely man I make myself to be”)
Hard Luck Stories (“Now she’s gone and you’re alone…”)
Harvest (…and was some black face in a lonely place…)
Hello, Lonely Woman
Hold Back the Tears (Single life really has its fine points…”)
Like An Inca (There’s a bridge I have to cross alone…”)
Lotta Love (“Cause my heart needs relating not solitude”)
Mellow My Mind (”lonesome whistle on a railroad track”)
Misfits (“On the Needles Highway there is a lone red rider…”)
Oh, Lonesome Me
Out on the Weekend (“See the lonely boy out on the weekend”)
Roll Another Number (“though I long to see that lonesome hippie smile”)
Sample and Hold (“But not the lonely one…”)
Sunny Inside (From now on I ain’t scared of lonely nights...”)
Tell Me Why (”I am lonely but you can free me)
The Loner
The Losing End (When You’re On) (“Before I wandered off alone”)
There Goes My Babe
The Wayward Wind (“In a lonely shack by the railroad track…”)
Too Lonely
When You Dance I Can Really Love (While the lonely mingle with circumstance”)
When Your Lonely Heart Breaks
Will to Love (“But I won’t turn back with this lonely tide)
Wonderin’ (I am wondering if I’ll be alone”)

Sure I missed out on a few songlines

to be cont'd

At 12/10/2022 09:22:00 PM, Blogger Still young said...

Gotta add Interstate
Children are laughing
in the sun
I count the voices
one by one But I'm not there
to share the fun
I'm on the interstate
I can hear
a soft voice calling Callng me to bring my guitar home

At 12/11/2022 01:05:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Thanks Dionys for the great long lonely list- what a crowded group!

All the comments are good, the review is rock solid.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 12/11/2022 10:50:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

"It's so hard for me staying here all alone.."

Down By The River!!!

At 12/12/2022 12:22:00 PM, Blogger Nobody knows... said...

About Loneliness and Harvest Time, not sure that Old man was mentioned: (live alone in a paradise) and (but I'm all alone at last)
Thanks all for the valuable analysis, opinions and comments.

At 12/13/2022 10:03:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ All - great additions. Added @


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