Harmonica Heroes: Neil Young – “Heart Of Gold”

Neil Young evolved during the folk scene, where, after a voice, there were two essentials, a harmonica, and an acoustic guitar.

Young’s only No. 1 album was his 1972 release, Harvest. His only No.1 single was the amazingny sq “Heart of Gold”, which also features one of rock’s best-known harmonica solos.

Young wrote “Heart of Gold” in 1971 after suffering a back injury that made it difficult for him to play the electric guitar. Because of this, during the Harvest album he reverted back to the acoustic guitar.

Sounding very much like Bob Dylan, and by the way, Young had made no secret that he idolized the folk legend, “Heart of Gold” upset Dylan. Upon hearing the song, Dylan thought that Young had gone too far. In fact, in the book Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Dylan complained, “I used to hate it when it came on the radio. I always liked Neil Young, but it bothered me every time I listened to ‘Heart of Gold’. I’d say, that’s me. If it sounds like me, it should as well be me.”

Here’s a fact you may not know, James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt sang backup on the track; they appear at the end of the song. Neil Young was in Nashville to record a performance for The Johnny Cash Show, and Taylor and Ronstadt were in town to appear on the same show. Young convinced them to sing on the track, and they recorded their parts on Sunday, February 8th, the day after the rest of the song was completed.

Check out “Heart of Gold” below:

Photos: Getty

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