I'm going to announce right here, right now that my single best music purchase over the last two years is Neil Young's 1972 album Harvest. This is a bold statement given the quality of music I've added to my collection lately (e.g. Carole King's Tapestry, Cat Stevens's Tea for the Tillerman, and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks), but I'm going to stand by it.
Everything about the album is wonderful, especially the arrangements. In most cases, we have only an acoustic guitar and harmonica accompanying Young's voice. Sometimes a piano, and sometimes a few stringed orchestral instruments. The minimalist arrangements compel even me to focus on the lyrics, which are wonderfully gentle and melancholy.
Until this week, Harvest was the beginning and end of my Neil Young interest. I've heard some of his electric stuff but don't care for it. I prefer his stripped down, acoustic, classic singer-songwriter stuff from the early seventies. Young is a pretty eclectic artist, so there aren't a lot of titles that fit this particular mold. I always look, but usually leave music stores empty handed.
All of this changed on Monday when I was browsing the shelves in my local Best Buy while Oxywife and toddler were playing drums on the Rock Star display. As my eyes scanned the selections towards the end of the alphabet, I saw a picture of a young Neil Young sitting at a piano. Above the photo, a label read Neil Young Archives: Massey Hall 1971.
I bought it.
I love it.
And I can't will myself to take it out of the CD player.
As the title implies, this is a live concert from 1971. It's just Neil and his guitars, and a piano in the corner of the stage at which he twice sits to play. The songs, as he tells his audience, are mostly new compositions. Several would make it onto Harvest a year later.
While all the tracks are great, I've really been digging "Dance Dance Dance" over the last twenty-four hours or so. It's just so different from the other songs on Harvest and Massey Hall 1971. It's happy.
And since it's Friday, and the weekend is just a few hours away, happiness must begin. Watch the video and feel free to dance.
(BTW: This is not the 1971 performance. And what's with these poorly synced videos? I hate it when lips don't match the sound.)