Let me preface this record and musician by illuminating my connection with him in high school as premeditated, severe distate at the very least. You see I connected—as an aspiring teenage metal aficionado—Neil Young with all the pot-steeped stoners whom I did NOT want to associate with. As thus, Young was someone I didn’t get “in” to, until I grew up (a lot) and my music sensibilties matured alongside.
It is very fitting that Harvest is the first album that I have started with in this journal of records I have, and the reason I listen to them. This record specifically was one I had been searching for, for some time. Sure, it had been re-mastered, re-pressed and re-issued recently but I had been holding on to the hopes that I might find a copy from back in the day.
Enter my friend Michael. He is a lover of music and cares about the listening experience just like I. He and I crossed paths volunteering at a music venue in the city here that we both cared deeply about. Our friendship was fortified in the music we liked, and how we loved talking about it.
Michael knew that I had gotten back into records and was sharing that experience on pretty much every social platform that I exist in or to anyone who would listen. He had a very large collection of records, and since he had made the move to digital and therefore much more portable collection, he had records that were sitting—and while loved—not getting the frequent spins they deserved. In Michael’s mind, I was the perfect person to start sharing that collection with. He knew I would give them the attention they deserved.
So Michael bundled up a colection of fifteen to twenty records that meant a lot to him, and that he also knew would mean a lot to me—some of them I was shocked he was willing to part with. Even more impressive was the only repayment he wanted was for me to share with him my feelings and thoughts about each album upon my initial spin.
It was fitting that was his request because for some time I had been mulling over the notion of how I could properly document the collection of vinyl I already had, and why each record was important to me. This need to document the records Michael shared with me married itself to my original quandary and they landed right here—at a domain I had held for some time and done zero with.
So… Michael’s request gave me just the nudge I needed to get this thing going. I promise the records I talk about henceforth won’t have this lenghty of a preamble but, this—being the first one—needed the expalantion of how and why I arrived here. It sets the tone for what is to come.
My first listen of Harvest came after one of my daughter’s biggest temper tantrums we had experienced in her seven years on this planet. It was a bedtime that was fraught with tears, shouting and threats to take away just about everything she owned. When she finally was quiet in sleep, I came downstairs, filled a glass with whatever adult beverage we had in the house, pulled the album out of the record sleeve, put it down on the turntable and released the cuing level which gently lowered the tone arm and needle onto the wax.
I have had Harvest in my iTunes library for some time. In fact, it was my first album forray into the Neil Young canon when I decided to drop my idiotic notions that I couldn’t like a band based on the people I associated liking them. I had so many friends whose musical tastes I share (and trust) citing Neil Young in their favourite of favourites, I decided it was high time I get acquainted. And from my first listen, I learned what a dummy I was—what an amazing record from start to finish.
So back to the aftermath of that torrential tantrum, the adult beverage, and first spin of Harvest…
Music has this way of transporting you from where you are right now and taking you somewhere else. And that—I think—is absolutely what makes it indenture itself with us the most. That is exactly what happened with this record. Although I was very familiar with the music on this album and already very much a fan of it, in that post battle with my daughter state, this very much felt like a first listen.
From that initial drum and harmonica intro of Out On The Weekend, I was instantly transported to a gravel country road in a rusty, old pickup and a late summer evening—the kind where you had nowhere to go and nothing to do. Less the pickup truck, pretty much the punctuation to some of the best summer days as a teenager in a small, rural town.
You know, I can’t even remeber if I ever had heard Neil Young as a teenager before deciding that I did not under any circumstances like his music, but, I can remember precisely why I made that claim. It had nothing to do with his actual music, and a lot to do with me being a dumb, judgemental teen who believed that the tribe you ran with defined the things that you like. And man am I ever happy I eventually grew up and learned how to define what I liked on my own.
As the album continued I quickly forgot how her tantrum even started or what was even said. I started thinking more about my friend Michael and the amazing thing he had done for me and my family. And how it reminded me—intensely so—the transformative nature of art.
And that is what this place in the cloud is all about. Not about telling you what songs on an album are great, or why it is important in the realm of music. It is to tell you about an album I have, and my connection with it. In that, I hope you find the same connection with music and the people it connects—like it did for Michael and I.