Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music and musicians from the 60’s to today. Enjoy the trip!
The title track from the album of the same name, Harvest Moon is kind of an unofficial sequel to Young’s 1972’s album Harvest. The two albums share many of the same guest musicians. The album Harvest Moon went Gold in January of 1993, Platinum in February of 1993, and multi-platinum in 1997.
In keeping with the rural motif of this song, let us not forget that Neil Young has also been an outspoken advocate for environmental issues and small farmers, as demonstrated by his having co-founded Farm Aid, the benefit concert, in 1985.
Cover versions of this song include Cassandra Wilson on her 1995 album New Moon Daughter, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie at a 2007 stage show, and Pearl Jam in 2005 numerous times on their concert tour.
Neil Young’s credits on the song “Harvest Moon” include guitar, banjo-guitar, piano, pump organ, vibes, and of course his unmistakable vocals.
The moon is a big deal to Neil Young. It shows up in 28 of his songs, and he uses it to guide him. Industry folks know that he is more likely to take on a project if it coincides with a full moon. In a 2005 interview with Harp, he explained: “Before there was organized religion, there was the moon. The Indians knew about the moon. Pagans followed the moon. I’ve followed it for as long as I can remember, and that’s just my religion. I’m not a practicing anything, I don’t have a book that I have to read. It can be dangerous working in a full moon atmosphere, because if there are things that are going to go wrong, they can really go wrong. But that’s great, especially for rock ‘n’ roll.”
When he toured for the Harvest Moon album in 1993, Young used the Stax Records house band, Booker T & the MG’s, as his backing band. At Stax, the group played on many soul classics, including Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay,” which Young included in the setlist.
Their guitarist, Steve Cropper, recalled one night in particular on the tour. “We were playing the outdoor venue in Detroit, Michigan,” he said in an interview. “My tech said, ‘Look up there.’ I look up, and a big old full moon was coming up. A big harvest moon was coming up over that show. That blew our minds.”
The 2009 live album Dreamin’ Man consists of recordings from the Harvest Moon tour, and its tracklist is the same, albeit rearranged.
Neil Young, Album and title track, Harvest Moon; Released November 2,1992.