Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bob Dylan and Neil Young's Harvest

It is undeniable that Neil Young's "Harvest" was influenced by Bob Dylan. Even Bob himself said that listening to "Heart of Gold" on the radio was like listening to himself and even expressed hatred for it. That being said, the real question is how much was Harvest influenced by Bob's work?

First things first, the first song on the album (Out on the Weekend) has a line borrowed directly from Bob's pen. In 1969 Bob released Nashville Skyline along with his hit song "Lay Lady Lay". In "Lay Lady Lay" he tells the lady to "Lay across my big brass bed". Neil, in his song, used the following line "She got pictures on the wall, they make me look up From her big brass bed" a clear reference to Dylan. Now that is the obvious part of the puzzle and proof that Neil was indeed to some degree listening and imitating Bob Dylan.

Recently I was jus listening to the Band and came up with a sort of theory of the Origin of the song "Heart of Gold", one of Neil's most Dylan-esq songs. In Dylan's Song "Tears of Rage" he uses the line "And now the heart is filled with gold As if it was a purse" (one of my favorite lines ever) which is strangly similar to Neil's "Heart of Gold". Is this a coincidence? I think not. Im not saying that Neil heard the Basement tapes during that time , but most likely had heard his fellow Canadians (The Band) play it on their album Music From Big Pink. However its just a theory and I am not taking anything away from Neil Young as he is one of my Favorite musicians of all time. Let me know what you think and point out any more Evidence of Bob Dylan's influence on the album Harvest

11 comments:

  1. I like the name of your blog. I can't add to this theory, but I always thought Neil's Comes A Time sounds so much like Bob's Desire with the acoustic guitars and female duet partners.

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  2. DYLAN: "I used to hate it when it came on the radio. I always liked Neil Young but it bothered me every time I listened to "Heart Of Gold". I'd say, `Shit, that's me. If it sounds like me, it should as well be me.'
    I needed to lay back for awhile, forget about things, myself included, and I'd get so far away and turn on the radio and there I am. But it's not me. It seemed to me somebody else had taken my thing and had run away with it and, you know, I never got over it."

    I personally don't hear the slightest Dylan influence in the song. His phrasing is different from Dylan's, his harmonica playing is better than Dylan's, the lyrics are nothing like Dylan and the only album Harvest bears the slightest resemblance to is Nashville Skyline, which is one of my least favourite Dylan albums (and I am a huge Dylan fan).

    Good blog, though - just wanted to share my 2 cents!!

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    1. I agree, I could never understand it when anyone said Harvest or HofG sounded like Dylan..even when the man himself said it!

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  3. The biggest influence of Dylan on Harvest is Neil's use of musicians - it's pretty much all the same people Dylan used on John Wesley Harding and Nashiville Skyline - Kenney Buttrey on the drums for one. THe drum style is one of the key things that makes the records sound similar. That said, a lot of the tunes on Harvest don't really sound all that Dylaneque - Words and There's a World, for example. For more great insights check out my site Rock Turtleneck dot com. Thanks.

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  4. I suppose nearly everyone form that era is influenced by Dylan but Young has always been his own man. They're both great and I love 'em.

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  5. You can see influences everywhere when you dig deep enough: it's from the same time period, it's all from america, it has words, melody, chords. Actually it would have been more of a find when there are no simmilarities.

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  6. I remember Neil once said he purposely doesn't listen to Dylan because he is afraid he'll "borrow" something from him. This is quite understandable to me. So, maybe, at that point in his career is when he discovered what so many of us songwriters have found about ourselves concerning Dylan. But like another commented, you can enjoy both Neil and Bob and pretty much not think about the other. Neil is an original in my book.

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  7. I remember reading Young had an early copy of the Basement Tapes and used to lug it around with him and listen to it religiously, fwiw.

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  9. Isn't Dylan's 'heart full of gold like it was a purse' a reference to raw materialism? Whereas 'heart of gold' is an un-ironic use of the expression meaning purity

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  10. Dylan stole directly from Neil Young's "Helpless" with the song "Knocking on Heaven's Door". Neil just shrugged it off. Dylan has stolen lines and tunes from many people.

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