Heart of Gold – Neil Young

THIS DAY IN MUSIC………………………………..on March 18th of 1972 Neil Young enjoyed his only solo, US number one hit with “Heart Of Gold”. Backing vocals were provided by James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. The song reached #10 on the UK chart. Young wrote this in 1971 after he suffered a back injury that made it difficult for him to play the electric guitar, so on the Harvest tracks he played acoustic. Despite the injury, Young was in good spirits (possibly thanks to the painkillers), which is reflected in this song. The next few years were more challenging for Young, as he suffered a series of setbacks: his son Zeke was born with cerebral palsy, his friend Danny Whitten died, and he split with his girlfriend, Carrie Snodgress. His next three albums, which became known as “The Ditch Trilogy,” expressed these dark times in stark contrast to “Heart of Gold.” With a straightforward metaphor and complete lack of pathos, this not a typical Neil Young song. It finds him mining for a “heart of gold,” which depending on your perspective, is either a touching and heartfelt sentiment, or a mawkish platitude. Rolling Stone took the churlish view, complaining that the album evoked “superstardom’s weariest clichés.” The listening public and Young’s fans were far more accepting, however, and the song became his biggest hit.This song was recorded at the first sessions for the Harvest album, which took place on Saturday, February 6, 1971 and were set up the night before. By far, this was the biggest hit for Young as a solo artist. A very influential musician, he was never too concerned about making hit records.In the liner notes to his Decade collection, Young said: “This song put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch.This statement reflected Young’s aversion to fame, and was not meant to demean the song. In a later interview with NME, he clarified: “I think Harvest is probably the finest record I’ve made.”