Today is happy birthday wishes go out to Neil Percival Young who turns 70 today.
Of course I knew about Crosby Stills Nash and Young from an early age… but my introduction to Neil was due entirely to my guitar playing friend John in the dormitories of McChord Air Force Base.
I thought I was a pretty good guitar player until I met John. He could listen to any song on the radio and immediately figure out how to play that chord progression. To boot, he had it wonderful high tenor singing voice which was perfect to emulate Neil Young.
John introduced me to the non CSNY catalog through the fantastic compilation called Decade:
Even though I have since picked up the Decade compilation a couple of different times (I have one house copy and one garage copy) I still have my cassettes I recorded from his version from 1985:
But for today is a celebration of Neil’s birthday I decided to pull out my near mint copy of the 1972 album Harvest:
My copy came from a second hand store. I picked it up in that sweet spot of record collecting… that era after the CD was released and the format was becoming dominant and when many audiophiles ditched there perfect vinyl collections in favor of replacement by CD.
My copy obviously came from an audiophile who bought it, copied it to cassette or reel to reel, and held the vinyl in his library. I used to do the exact same thing!
I’m sure many Neil-heads (as my buddy Mark calls dedicated fans) scoff at the notion of Harvest being Neil Young’s best record… but to me it is one of the most perfect albums of music ever recorded.
I love this record from the first track on side A right through Words on side B. I especially appreciate how Neil didn’t load any of the commercially successful songs up front, instead choosing to reveal the songs and the overall meaning of the album as a conversation with listener.
So thank you John for learning me about Neil Young and happy birthday Neil, I hope you live forever!