Feasting is something that one does at the end of harvest time, so I have approached this month’s articles with the perspective that through effort and hard work one has a good harvest, and a responsible and grateful feast. This month’s spotlighted artist is a political activist with a wise view that too much feasting will ultimately end up in our demise.
Talking about Neil Young, his history, his new record and political activism, is a brilliant way for us to enter 2014. Why not start off the year with great music, responsible enjoyment of our resources and feasting as though there is a tomorrow?
Neil Young’s fourth solo record was released in February of 1972. I was introduced to it in the summer of 1986. It was the perfect musical soundtrack to my days as a camp counsellor in Ontario’s Haliburton Hills.
In 1972, it was Neil’s first big hit record, featuring the London Symphony Orchestra, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Linda Ronstadt, and James Taylor. It has some of Neil’s most popular works: songs such as Birds, The Needle and The Damage Done, Old Man, A Man Needs Maid, Harvest and Heart Of Gold.
Despite being such a hugely popular album and one of Neil’s best records, Harvest was at first unfavourably received by the critics. Rolling Stone suggested that the record poorly copied his earlier works.
My music columns usually avoid critical assessment. After all, what do I really know about anything? What does Rolling Stone know? I have opinions and I am happy to share my joys with you and always encourage readers to listen to the voice of their heart.
To me, Harvest was indeed a great record, and over time it has become a staple on all-time top 100 lists. Twenty years and sixteen albums later, Neil revisited Harvest with a record called Harvest Moon. It featured many of the same musicians, themes, song structure and arrangements as Harvest. Rolling Stone gave it a four star rating.
Just recently, Neil came out with another classic recording called Live At The Cellar Door. It is a solo acoustic live set recorded in Washington DC in 1970. These recordings have been sitting in a vault for almost 44 years and it features some songs that would later be found on Harvest such as Birds and Old Man. If you are a Neil Young fan you will love this record. It is a young Neil, honest and sincere.
The most interesting thing to me about Neil Young is that, while he has become an Old Man as he sang about 40 years ago, he has not lost his hippie ethos. He knows about harvesting and respecting the land. He is very vocal about fracking, farming rights and CO2 emissions – so much so that even with the release of a new record you will not find it promoted anywhere on his website. Instead, what you will find on his homepage is a letter to China and a photo of our earth. Once you read the letter you can continue to the rest of the site which links to Solar City, The Price of Carbon and the Climate Reality Project. You will not find a link to promoting his music anywhere. Check out http://www.neilyoung.com and hopefully you will be inspired to reduce carbon emissions and conserve energy.
May Neil Young’s work inspire and remind you that harvest is very much about responsible use, feasting without taking and thinking about the potentiality of our future.
Since 1994, Rishi Gerald, founder and CEO of RishiVision and entrepreneurial coach, has empowered thousands of businesses. Rishi has an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurial studies and a BBA in accounting. He has spent nearly twenty years coaching, consulting, managing and supporting thousands of businesses from new startups to active global leaders.