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Songs You Love By Singers You Hate #1: Heart of Gold by Neil Young

Neil Young. Flaming asshole and commie moron, right? Right. Hit it, Neil:

In a 2013 radio interview, Graham Nash recalled visiting Neil Young in 1972:

“The man is totally committed to the muse of music. And he’ll do anything for good music. And sometimes it’s very strange. I was at Neil’s ranch one day just south of San Francisco, and he has a beautiful lake with red-wing blackbirds. And he asked me if I wanted to hear his new album, Harvest. And I said sure, let’s go into the studio and listen.

“Oh, no. That’s not what Neil had in mind. He said get into the rowboat.

“I said get into the rowboat? He said, yeah, we’re going to go out into the middle of the lake. Now, I think he’s got a little cassette player with him or a little, you know, early digital format player. So I’m thinking I’m going to wear headphones and listen in the relative peace in the middle of Neil’s lake.

“Oh, no. He has his entire house as the left speaker and his entire barn as the right speaker. And I heard Harvest coming out of these two incredibly large loud speakers louder than hell. It was unbelievable. Elliot Mazer, who produced Neil, produced Harvest, came down to the shore of the lake and he shouted out to Neil: How was that, Neil?

“And I swear to God, Neil Young shouted back: More barn!

Asked in 2016 whether this story was true, Young said, “Yeah, I think it was a little house-heavy.”

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mike Austin July 21, 2022, 3:02 AM

    In all my 69 years I have never heard a Neil Young song. I see no reason to listen now.

    • Tom Hyland July 21, 2022, 6:59 AM

      I can’t help but not believe you. And tell us again how old are you?

      • Mike Austin July 21, 2022, 8:21 AM

        Tom, you just cannot bring yourself to believe that someone might—just might—have lived a cultural life as different from yours as almost can be. That makes you rather small-minded. And just for you:

        1. I have not watched television in 45 years.
        2. I lived overseas for almost half of my professional life.
        3. I have never eaten a PBJ sandwich.
        4. I have never ordered a steak.
        5. I do not own any vehicle, and have not for almost a decade.
        6. I am half-Chihuahua Indian; that is, Mexican.
        7. Should I mention being shot at, kidnapped, attacked by wild animals, shipwrecked, chased by Indians and armies through the jungles of Central and South America, opening Mayan tombs, and having searched for gold mines and lost cities?

        Whether you believe any of that matters not at all.

        • ThisIsNotNutella July 21, 2022, 2:11 PM

          How’s that bike ride going?

          • Mike Austin July 22, 2022, 2:17 AM

            My knees lasted 560 miles. It was the most physically difficult and mentally demanding thing I have ever done.


            • ThisIsNotNutella July 22, 2022, 5:58 AM

              That was a huge effort against those headwinds in that insane heat.

              Have you ever done a dynamic bike fit? Retul for example. An experienced fitter who is also a qualified physiotherapist might be the ticket. My knees are not great and I won’t cycle up a steep hill if I’m not clipped in on a bike I was fitted to wearing shoes which the fitter also positioned the cleats on.

              • Mike Austin July 22, 2022, 1:07 PM

                I have the measurements for all my 3 bikes down pat. Been at this awhile. It’s the knees and, once they are tamed, I can head out again. But not just yet.

            • Vanderleun July 22, 2022, 8:11 AM

              Damn. Still, get back and get fixed. As we learn in the Holy Book of Clint Eastwood (Sardonic off),

              “Man’s gotta know his limitations.”

              • Mike Austin July 22, 2022, 1:09 PM

                That Eastwood line was on my mind more than once while cycling in 105 degree heat uphill into a 20 mph wind.

            • jiminalaska July 22, 2022, 10:50 AM

              I feel for ya, passing one’s prime time’s a b___. I was just remarking elsewhere, felling, bucking, splitting a few cords of firewood seems harder and takes longer this year. Ah, at least I can look back and remember the halcyon days when I was a spry 82. 😉

    • Vanderleun July 21, 2022, 7:42 AM

      How’s about a Crosby Stills Nash and Young song?

      • Mike Austin July 21, 2022, 7:55 AM

        Yes. Several in fact.

        • Hyland July 21, 2022, 8:27 AM

          Uh, Mike? You’ve heard Neil Young. Stop it, will you? A whole lot of CSNY tunes were written by Neil.

          • Mike Austin July 21, 2022, 8:44 AM

            I did not say that I had never heard a song that Young wrote or helped write. Apparently Young has a number of solo albums, none of which I have heard. This subject came up before at American Digest, and was referencing Young’s solo works. So was I.

      • jwm July 21, 2022, 1:42 PM

        CSNY, or a root canal sans Novocaine.
        Give me a few minutes to decide…


        • Vanderleun July 21, 2022, 3:42 PM

          OK…. time’s up.

          • jwm July 21, 2022, 4:03 PM

            …on my way to the dentist.


            • Vanderleun July 21, 2022, 4:24 PM

              Be sure to ask for the “extra” nitrous.

    • ghostsniper July 21, 2022, 7:56 AM

      You ain’t a guitar player unless you can play “Needle and the Damage Done”.

      • Mike Austin July 21, 2022, 1:01 PM

        Nope. “Hideaway” by Freddie King. Clapton’s version when he was with Mayall is as well excellent.

  • Anonymous July 21, 2022, 4:42 AM

    More barn….LESS MORON.

    • Vanderleun July 21, 2022, 7:41 AM


  • Bill in Tennessee July 21, 2022, 4:57 AM

    “Neil Young. Flaming asshole and commie moron, right?”

    Well not only THAT, but he always was a piss-poor singer, IMHO. That nasal whining voice belting out unlistenable lyrics, bah. And to add insult to injury, the perfectly good, homogenized sound of Crosby, Stills, & Nash was absolutely RUINED when he joined the group, and I could never listen to another one of their recordings. Thanks, Neil, ya’ low talent hack.

  • Denny July 21, 2022, 6:01 AM

    I’m surprised Saint Neil hasn’t reinvented himself as
    Constance or Emily Young by now.

  • John in Ohio July 21, 2022, 6:37 AM

    Johnny Cash does a cover of Heart of Gold that’s fantastic….

  • Carlos the Jackal July 21, 2022, 6:57 AM

    His neighbors musta wanted him dead.

  • tim July 21, 2022, 7:12 AM

    Saw him at Buffalo Auditorium @ 1991, fecking great concert but think I lost some hearing that night as there was plenty of barn.

    Great new category

    • Paul July 21, 2022, 3:56 PM

      Holy cow, I was at that concert as well! Neil Young and Crazy Horse. And yes, it was verrrrry loud. Freshman at University at Buffalo…

  • Jim in Oxford July 21, 2022, 7:37 AM

    It can still bring pleasure to listen to music we have always enjoyed, that is certain, however —

    Sorry, but at one time in my listening-life, Neil Young was someone I found I liked — but only during the short time he was a member of Buffalo Springfield. His “I Am a Child” was, and still is, a wonderful little song, but that is because of the contributions of the rest of the very talented band members. My college roommate idolized NY, but only after he went solo. I dunno, everyone has their sounds they enjoy, but Neil seemed to grow more shrill the older (and wealthier) he got.

    What’s the lesson in all this? Can we go on being the same way, doing the same things we did when we were in our teens and twenties?

    Maybe all of these people should have given it up a long time ago? I suppose it’s just too much work to turn your back on all the money and fame.

    • ghostsniper July 21, 2022, 8:03 AM

      Jim in Oxford axed: “…but Neil seemed to grow more shrill the older (and wealthier) he got. What’s the lesson in all this?”

      You answered your own question, Jim, but didn’t realize it.
      Said another way, “Having enough money allows anyone to be the asshole they always were but couldn’t afford to be.” It’s called “Fuck you” money.

  • KCK July 21, 2022, 7:58 AM

    I used to work long redeyed hours at the venerable REI on Capitol Hill – yes, the very 4 or 5 blocks that you know as CHAZ – and one evening I got off shift and walked out the south side to see a queue forming up at the side door of a grunge bar. I queried the queue as to what was transpiring. ‘This is the line to see Neil Young perform tonight; it’s invitation only.” I’ll be damned, I thought. I spent hours and hours on end, reading the Harvest album cover, and listening to the LP on repeat (manual repeat) with my Junior high buddy in his room. “Uhhh Mai-ai-ai-aaaaayyyd; a man needs a maid…” A junior high proto-man certainly did need a maid (wink, wink).

    I’ll never forgive Neil Young for his hubris. Who deserved a private concert more than I? All those hours spent harvesting Neil’s music. Betrayed. Punked. Grunged. I thought it also rather weird that he was trying to LARP as a Grunger. Don’t get me started on Grunge. Kurt Cobain…GRRrrrRRR.

  • Foo July 21, 2022, 8:08 AM

    Sad to see what a bitter self-hater Young has become, desperately projecting on those who dont meet his standards.

    Reminds me of the character Eastwood played in Gran Torino but without the epiphany and forgiveness.

  • Univ of Saigon 68 July 21, 2022, 8:53 AM

    Just goes to show, you can be a jerk, or a dick, or an idiot, but I can still appreciate your talent. I’m supposed to love Ted Nugent and hate Barbara Streisand because of their politics, but it’s just the opposite. Give me Babs on Siriously Sinatra any day. I just don’t want to hear her spouting off about whatever.

    • ghostsniper July 21, 2022, 6:09 PM

      I can thank Gerard, himself and directly, for causing an epiphany in me a year or so ago that caused me to rethink some things that had been gnashing at my premises for a very long time. I was in my teens when I first heard Elton John’s “Your Song” and liked it so much that I learned how to play the bulk of it on a friends keyboard. Several of his songs strike me similarly. It was years later that I started hearing the “rumors” about EJ being a fag. This bothered me, and bothers me still, but I now have a different take thanks to Gerard and his using Noel Coward as a reference.

      I guess, at the root, I always believed as Gerard did but I let other things (rumors) cloud my vision. Gerard’s words swept the clouds away so I could see clearly.

      I don’t personally know Elton John, Neil Young, or Noel Coward, so everything I thought I “knew” about them was a rumor – stuff I had learned 3rd or 4th hand, or more. No direct facts, from the horses mouth as it were. In this regard, they were no different from the other people whose art I have enjoyed all of my life but did not know personally. Why should I discriminate based on the words of others, or even the supposed actions, of the artists.

      Cover your eyes for a second.

      I have never actually seen EJ getting fukked in the ass. I’ve only heard the rumors. I have seen him dress and behave like a sissy and if I was to fault him for anything that is what it would be. He seems to be a sissy. That is not enough to make be boycott his art.

      Same with Neil Young and Noel Coward and a host of other people. I appreciate their art and their personal life is of no concern to me as long as they don’t force me to deal with it in any way. Thanks Gerard!

  • Sid V July 21, 2022, 2:09 PM

    Pretty much a commie, but yes, one of the greatest songs of all time – and this is an awesome rendition – just raw and pure – PERFECTION. “Old Man”, which he also performs on this same BBC special, is equally great.

    ……CSNY overrated though (sorry – my unpopular opinion 🙂

  • Jack July 21, 2022, 2:35 PM

    Coming of age in the 60s opened those of us who lived it, on into the 70’s and early 80’s, to some incredibly remarkable talent that was unlike anything before it and most certainly unlike anything that succeeded it. Speaking only for myself, I seldom listen to music before or after those years because to me that stuff just doesn’t move me.

    Young and other musicians of those years may have represented what we believed about nearly everything at the time to one extent or another, particularly if we were liberal minded or angrily anti-VN War or didn’t like Nixon, etc., but as we assumed responsibility for our lives and settled down to the high and hard duty of marriage and of raising a family, any angst we might have nursed was smoothed out.

    Young and a few others have not only never grown up or out of that rut, they have somehow managed to embrace their old demons much more tightly and now they just double down. To me they are more like lonely old rebels who have no real cause but continue to insist their opinions and their musical expressions of those opinions are somehow relevant.

    GVL once told me something to the effect of ‘don’t judge the song by the singer’ and he was right. I still love their music but I wouldn’t give you $0.10 worth of cat litter for their opinions.

    • ghostsniper July 21, 2022, 6:14 PM

      Jack sed: “GVL once told me something to the effect of ‘don’t judge the song by the singer’ and he was right. I still love their music but I wouldn’t give you $0.10 worth of cat litter for their opinions.”
      There ya go, right there!

  • Dirk July 21, 2022, 6:34 PM

    Anybody know which brand speakers were blasting from either?

    • Jim in Oxford July 21, 2022, 11:58 PM

      The brand that turns up to 11.