Due to popular demand (by that I mean 4 people) today I’m going to take a closer look at “Harvest Moon” by Neil Young. What is it about this song that people become so attached to it? I’ve known people who absolutely hate Neil Young, but absolutely love this song.
If there was ever a song that captured the mood of Autumn, “Harvest Moon” would be high on the list. The melody is gorgeous, and Young’s soulful vocals are wistful, laid-back, and sincere. While I’m sure Neil Young spent a lot of time on the song, it sounds like it was made up on the back of a horse-drawn carriage through a pumpkin patch as the sun sets in mid-October. Knees are over the side of the carriage, and a bottle of hard-cider is passed back and forth.
Harvest Moon was released in October 1992 – very fitting for the mood of the album – but Young began recording the album a year earlier in September 1991. Whether Young knew this or not, 1991 had the prestige of having a “Super Harvest Moon”. A regular harvest moon occurs when the moon is full closes to the Autumnal Equinox. A “Super Harvest Moon” occurs when the moon is full exactly on the night of the Autumnal Equinox. 2010 was also a “Super Harvest Moon” year - occuring on Septmber 23rd.
For many, the appearance of a Harvest Moon clearly suggests the transition from summer into fall. Sometimes, the moon can even appear red as a a Harvest Moon, much like the color the leaves will soon be turning. Musically, “Harvest Moon” is gentle just the crisp autumn air. But, it also catches the change that comes with a Harvest Moon and the Autumnal Equinox. It’s unclear whether bad-blood has occurred between Young and the woman whom he is speaking to. But one thing is clear – he’s letting it go. “Just like children sleeping, we could dream this night away,” He suggests, and whisks her off to the country-side to the Harvest Moon.
Once they flee to the country-side, Young is no longer the only person speaking. “We know where the music’s playin’ let’s go out and feel the night”. Clearly, his companion isn’t just coming with him – she’s a wiilling particpating at this point. And would could a be a deal-maker, “Because I’m still in love with you” – Young delivers the line such affection. The listener is left waiting for a response, but Young continues it up, “I want to see you dance again”. It’s clear that he just wants his companion to be happy, and when he follows up with “I’m still in love with you, on this harvest moon” – you know that he would he happy, even if just for a moment, under the Harvest Moon everything was where it was supposed to be.
Neil Young – “Harvest Moon”:
Pearl Jam covering “Harvest Moon”: