SLS

Song Lyric Sunday – A Duo of Neil Young Songs

The prompt from Jim:

This week we the theme of Old, New, Borrowed, Blue.


This week I selected a duo of songs from Neil Young, both containing the word ‘old’, both from the same album, both recorded during the same studio sessions, and both with Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor singing backup.

These two songs were the biggest hits for Neil Young. Both songs feature acoustic guitar. Young was recovering from a back injury and he could play the acoustic while sitting. The “Harvest” album held the number one spot on the charts for 2 weeks and would become the best selling album in the U.S. In 1972.

“Heart of Gold” is Young’s only number one hit in the U.S. It reached number one in 1972. “Old Man” was his second highest charting song in the U.S. reaching #31 on the charts. This article from Wikipedia gives background on the song “Old Man”.

From Wikipedia:

The song was written for the caretaker of the Northern California Broken Arrow Ranch, which Young purchased for $350,000 in 1970. The song compares a young man’s life to an old man’s and shows that the young man has, to some extent, the same needs as the old one. James Taylor played six-string banjo (tuned like a guitar) and sang on the song, and Linda Ronstadt also contributed vocals.[3]

In the film Heart of Gold, Young introduces the song as follows:

About that time when I wrote (“Heart of Gold”), and I was touring, I had also—just, you know, being a rich hippie for the first time—I had purchased a ranch, and I still live there today. And there was a couple living on it that were the caretakers, an old gentleman named Louis Avila and his wife Clara. And there was this old blue Jeep there, and Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep. He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there’s this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, “Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?” And I said, “Well, just lucky, Louis, just real lucky.” And he said, “Well, that’s the darnedest thing I ever heard.” And I wrote this song for him.

Heart of Gold
Lyrics from songfacts.com

I want to live
I want to give
I’ve been a miner
For a heart of gold
It’s these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching
For a heart of gold
And I’m getting old
Keep me searching
For a heart of gold
And I’m getting old

I’ve been to Hollywood
I’ve been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean
For a heart of gold
I’ve been in my mind
It’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching
For a heart of gold
And I’m getting old
Keeps me searching
For a heart of gold
And I’m getting old

Keep me searching
For a heart of gold
You keep me searching
And I’m growing old
Keep me searching
For a heart of gold
I’ve been a miner
For a heart of gold

Old Man
Lyrics from song facts.com

Old man, look at my life
I’m a lot like you were
Old man look at my life
I’m a lot like you were

Old man, look at my life
Twenty four and there’s so much more
Live alone in a paradise
That makes me think of two

Love lost, such a cost
Give me things that don’t get lost
Like a coin that won’t get tossed
Rolling home to you

Old man, take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you
I need someone to love me the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that’s true

Lullabies, look in your eyes
Run around the same old town
Doesn’t mean that much to me
To mean that much to you

I’ve been first and last
Look at how the time goes past
But I’m all alone at last
Rolling home to you

Old man, take a look at my life, I’m a lot like you
I need someone to love me the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that’s true

Old man, look at my life
I’m a lot like you were
Old man, look at my life
I’m a lot like you were


Song Lyric Sunday is hosted every Sunday by Jim Adams. If you would like to join in the fun, check out his blog for the rules and to take in all the other music posted by other bloggers.

21 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday – A Duo of Neil Young Songs”

  1. ‘Old’ is a perfect pprompt for me. One of my all-time favourte songs. Beautifully produced, and great lyrics. I listen to it at least once a week, sometimes more, and I never fail to watch the video version from the film ‘The Last Waltz’ at least once a month. This is the album version.

    The lyrics.
    Virgil Caine is the name
    And I served on the Danville train
    ‘Till Stoneman’s cavalry came
    And tore up the tracks again

    In the winter of ’65
    We were hungry, just barely alive
    By May the 10th, Richmond had fell
    It’s a time I remember, oh so well

    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And the bells were ringing
    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And the people were singing
    They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, na”

    Back with my wife in Tennessee
    When one day she called to me
    Said “Virgil, quick, come see,
    There goes the Robert E. Lee!”

    Now, I don’t mind chopping wood
    And I don’t care if the money’s no good
    You take what you need
    And you leave the rest
    But they should never
    Have taken the very best

    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And the bells were ringing
    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And all the people were singing
    They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, na”

    Like my father before me
    I will work the land
    And like my brother above me
    Who took a rebel stand

    He was just 18, proud and brave
    But a Yankee laid him in his grave
    I swear by the mud below my feet
    You can’t raise a Caine back up
    When he’s in defeat

    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And the bells were ringing
    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And all the people were singing
    They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, na”

    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And all the bells were ringing
    The night they drove old Dixie down
    And the people were singing
    They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, na”

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Like

      1. Despite the ‘sympathy’ of the song for the Confederacy, you simply cannot take away from the fact that it is a marvellous song, plaintively sung by the late Levon Helm. 🙂
        And he was the only American, the other band members, including Robbie Robertson who wrote the song, were Canadian.

        Liked by 1 person

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