One Song Story: Neil Young - "Heart of Gold" (1972)
Neil Young is a famous Canadian performer with dozens of amazing albums! Over more than half a century of his career, he has released many great songs that are well known even to the modern generation of music lovers (largely thanks to films). By the way, Neil rose to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 only once ... Probably, everyone already understood what song he was talking about. It was "Heart of Gold" that helped Young conquer the Olympus of fame back in 1972 ...
Neil wrote this touching piece back in 1971. Perhaps some listeners remember how he performed "Heart of Gold" and "A Man Need a Maid" together as one long and harmonious composition ... But later the musician decided to split them into two separate, full-fledged songs.
At that very time, Neil seriously injured his back ... The resulting injury became an obstacle between him and the electric guitar, which you had to stand to play. For this reason, Young picked up an acoustic instrument and ... did not lose! The gentlest melody “Heart of Gold” was born…
The song was recorded at Quadraphonic Sound Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, along with session musicians. Young was invited to participate in the Johnny Cash TV show. As a result, he acquired new, very useful connections. On the show, Neil met Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor, who were on the recording of "Heart of Gold" as backing vocalists.
Linda later said:
“James was incredibly tall! We sat on the couches, and to be on the same level with him, I got up on my knees! We worked all night... We were brutally tired! When we left the studio, we were greeted by dawn ... "
The meaning of the song
As for the meaning of "Heart of Gold", to the great regret of the fans, Neil Young did not spread what or who his composition was written about ...
Critics were divided into two camps: some accused the musician of a cliché, others, on the contrary, noted that the Golden Heart is very touching and captivates with its sincere warmth ...
At first, Young performed his hit live (during a concert at Massey Hall), and only in 1972 released a single from the Harvest album. The composition became the leader not only on the Billboard Hot 100, but also on the Canada Top Singles! It was a big break in the career of the Canadian performer. In fact - "Heart of Gold" lifted Young to the Olympus of glory!
Neil himself recalled:
“This song became my lucky ticket to fame… True, I soon turned off the intended path and ended up in a hole. Far from the most pleasant trip, I tell you ... "
By the way: Young never denied the superiority of Heart of Gold. And the musician even called the record Harvest his best record!
However… not everyone was thrilled with Young's new masterpiece. So, for example, Bob Dylan admitted that at first "Heart of Gold" drove him crazy:
“As soon as this song appeared on the radio, I hated it! I liked Neil Young, but this is his "Heart of Gold" ... This song reminded me the hell of myself! It stayed at the top of the chart for a long time, and every time it came out, I thought, “Damn it! I might as well sing it…”