By the time Neil Young released “Harvest” he had already experienced a good amount of success with previous musical entities. In 1967 “For What It’s Worth” was a top ten hit for his band Buffalo Springfield. He joined Crosby, Stills and Nash to record the 1970 album “Déjà Vu” which spawned the hits “Woodstock” and “Teach Your Children.” Finally “Harvest” is released, his fourth studio album and it becomes a worldwide hit reaching #1 in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Norway and The Netherlands as well as making it to #4 in Germany and Denmark, #6 Japan, #12 in both Finland and Italy, #48 in New Zealand and #100 in France.
Many of the songs on the album were dark in theme he tackled lost love, drug addiction and loneliness. The album has an overall mood and an overall lyrical content. The mood is melancholic and personal and the songs mostly describe the longing for and fulfillment of new love. In the song “The Needle and the Damage Done” of a friend of his who died of heroin addiction. “Old Man” talks about loneliness and fleeting moments. Young is perhaps most explicit in his search for love on the controversial "A Man Needs a Maid," which is often condemned as sexist by people judging it on the basis of its title. In fact, the song contrasts the fears of committing to a relationship with simply living alone and hiring help, and it contains some of Young's most autobiographical writing.
There were two singles released from the album “Old Man,” the second single, made it to #31 US and #4 Canada. The first single release is the classic “Heart of Gold,” which has become Young’s biggest hit of his career. Young sings this song with a chilling yearning that digs deep into the soul. The song was a huge hit around the world making it to #1 in the US and Canada, #4 Norway, #6 Denmark, #8 The Netherlands, #10 UK, #28 Japan and #30 Belgium. James Taylor and a relatively unknown Linda Ronstadt sang backing vocals on the song.
James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt don't come in until the end of the song. Like Young, Taylor and Ronstadt were in town to appear on The Johnny Cash Show (Elliot Mazer, producer of “Heart of Gold,” had produced Ronstadt's 1970 Silk Purse album). Young convinced them to lend their voices to this track, and they came in on Sunday, February 8, 1971 and the next day the rest of the song was completed.
"Heart Of Gold"