Psychedelic Lunch

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.

Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Neil was born in Toronto but moved to Winnipeg as a teenager when his parents divorced. His mother was a panelist on a Canadian quiz show and his father was a sports writer for the Toronto Sun.

In 1982, Geffen Records signed Young and gave him complete creative control. Young made some experimental albums that flopped, and Geffen sued him, claiming he was intentionally making commercially unsuccessful albums. He settled the suit and went back to his old label, Reprise, in 1988.

He formed the influential band Buffalo Springfield with Stephen Stills in 1966. When Buffalo Springfield was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997, Young boycotted the presentation because he felt the event was too commercial. Seats at the dinner cost $1,200 each.

He worked as a solo artist while touring and recording with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.

In 1979, he released a concert movie called Rust Never Sleeps. Young directed it using the name Bernard Shakey.

New York magazine The Village Voice named him ’70s Artist Of The Decade.

At age 5, he contracted polio. The disease damaged the left side of his body and may have contributed to seizures he would experience for years to come.

When he formed his first band, The Squires, and traveled to gigs, they did so in Neil’s hearse, which he named Mortimer. He loved that hearse.

His son Ben was born with cerebral palsy, as was his second son Zeke (born with a milder case). This led Neil’s involvement with The Bridge School, which serves special-needs children. Neil holds a benefit concert for the school every year.

Young is the first artist to record two MTV Unpluggeds. He was so upset about the quality of the first one he showed up again three months later to record another one. R.E.M. also recorded two.

Young has indulged in marijuana and cocaine, but very rarely. In the movie The Last Waltz, you can see a huge ball of coke in Neil’s nose; for the 2002 theatrical and DVD release, MGM digitally erased the ball. Young has never touched heroin or acid, and has never been in rehab.

He is a part owner of the Lionel train company. And holds patents on model railroad controls he uses with his son Ben.

One of his first bands was The Mynah Birds, which featured Rick James on lead vocals. They signed with Motown, but the deal (and the band) fell apart when James was busted for dodging the draft.

In 1995, Pearl Jam recorded an album with Young called Mirror Ball. Because of record company restrictions, the name Pearl Jam could not appear anywhere on the album, but each member is named individually.

A 17-year-old Neil Young made his stage debut at a country club in Winnipeg, Canada on January 31, 1963.

Neil Young’s father Scott was a journalist and sportswriter who worked for a Toronto news agency during the 1940s, and was later a star columnist at Canada’s most prestigious daily, The Globe and Mail. Neil wrote of his dad in his 2012 memoir Waging Heavy Peace, “It turns out he taught me everything I need to know. He said ‘Just write every day, and you’ll be surprised what comes out.'”

Neil Young has been married three times. He wed his first wife, restaurant owner Susan Acevedo, in December 1968 and they had a son, Zeke, together. She filed for divorce in October 1970.

Young met Pegi Morton in 1974 while she was working as a waitress at the Bella Vista restaurant in Woodside, California near Young’s ranch, a story he tells in the Harvest Moon song “Unknown Legend.” They married in 1978 and have two children together, Ben and Amber. Young filed for divorce in 2014 after 36 years of marriage.

Young has been in a relationship with the actress Daryl Hannah since 2014. They tied the knot in a low-key wedding in Atascadero, California on August 25, 2018, surrounded by close friends and loved ones.

Both Ben and Zeke are diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which inspired Neil and Pegi to start a non-profit called the Bridge School.

Neil Young has lived in California since 1966; he was finally given US citizenship 54 years later after taking the oath on January 22, 2020. Young applied for citizenship in November 2019, but didn’t get it right away because he admitted using marijuana. The “Rockin’ In The Free World” singer said his application was flagged under an immigration policy alert that uses drug use as a barometer for “good moral character.”

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams


In the wake of his first performance with Crosby, Stills & Nash (at Woodstock…no pressure there! Lol) and the recording of the CSNY debut album, Deja Vu, Neil Young took the time to record a little masterpiece of his own, titled After The Gold Rush (1970).

Using musicians from his Crazy Horse band, his buddy Stephen Stills on background vocals, and Nils Lofgren (eventually a long term member of Bruce Springsteen’s fabled E Street Band), Young captured a captivating country, folk, rock hybrid. Some of my all time favorite Neil songs are on this album, such as Tell Me Why, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Don’t Let It Bring You Down, After The Gold Rush, Southern Man, I Believe In You, and the Don Gibson penned tearjerker Oh, Lonesome Me.

I remember a high school friend just going on and on about Neil Young’s greatness, and about this album in particular. Scott Miller, wherever you may be, I have to give you credit, my friend…you were absolutely right!

“Influences And Recollections Of A Musical Mind”

1979 was the year that Neil Young became a bit of an obsession in my musical taste. A big reason for this was his album (and concert film of the same name) Rust Never Sleeps. Recorded live with Crazy Horse and altered with overdubs and then suppressing nearly all of the crowd noise, Rust Never Sleeps highlighted Neil’s acoustic folk side and his rampaging electric rock style with the hard rocking Crazy Horse. Later in the same year, Live Rust came out as a companion piece to the film and was a double album of purely live performances. Highlights for me include Thrasher, Ride My Llama, the bizarre Sedan Delivery, and the incredible Powderfinger from Rust Never Sleeps. My picks from Live Rust are a haunting Like A Hurricane, a menacing Cortez The Killer, and the beautiful Sugar Mountain to kick off the acoustic side. Special mention for the bookends of Hey, Hey My, My (Out Of The Blue) and My, My Hey, Hey (Into The Black), the acoustic/electric combo that is included on both records. If you’re looking to discover Neil in all his live glory, these 2 records are an exceptional place to start.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

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