Harvest Neil Young (Reprise) 'Old man look at my life, I'm a lot like you were' are the opening lyrics to the single Old Man from Neil Young's Harvest album. It wasn't to be the most famous song off the album - that honour would go to the surprise No1 hit Heart of Gold - but the sparse, acoustic number was most emblematic of Young's life during that time. At the age of 25, he was coming off the success of Ohio, his rallying cry against the Kent State massacre; the break-up of his group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; and the parting of ways with his backing group Crazy Horse. He was also in a new relationship with actress Carrie Snodgrass, which would result in the birth of his first child Zeke, who suffered from cerebral palsy. Add the heroin use of Crazy Horse band member Danny Whitton (who would eventually overdose) plus the general uncertainty of the times and it all resulted in Young releasing what is universally recognised as one of his landmark albums. Everything about Harvest signals that summer is over and we're about to head into a season where the leaves slowly turn brown, followed by crackling fires, the winter and a reflection on all that man has reaped over the year. The experience starts with the dull, beige cover dominated by a setting sun that is fuzzy to the touch. In keeping with Young's hippie ideals, he wanted it to be biodegradable but was overruled by his record company. They finally agreed on oatmeal paper. The recording sessions were conducted in three parts. Two songs were recorded live with the London Symphony Orchestra, including the controversial A Man Needs a Maid, which was criticised by feminists but reflected Young's idealistic view of love at the time. Much of the rest of the album was recorded with a group of veteran Nashville musicians known as the Stray Gators. Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor sang backup on the ultra-quick takes which produced both Old Man and Heart of Gold. 'We wound up on our knees around this microphone,' Ronstadt told Jimmy McDonough, who wrote the Neil Young biography, Shakey. 'I was just shrieking this high harmony, singing a part that was just higher than God.' The electric sessions, including those that produced Southern Man sequel Alabama, were recorded at Young's new 800-hectare hideaway in California known as Broken Arrow. Speakers were installed in the barn on the left and in the house on the right, and during the recording sessions Young was said to have yelled to the soundmen: 'More barn!' 'Harvest was just easy,' Young told McDonough later. 'I was in love when I first made Harvest. With Carrie. So that was it. I was an in-love and on-top-of-the-world-type guy. All those relationship songs, it's 'I want to, but I can't.'' The slow-burning harmonica and countrified pace of the songs occasionally punctuated by Young's distorted electric guitar and mournful keyboards almost became a template for the singer's signature sound. To this day, Heart of Gold remains his only No1 hit and no matter how hard he tried to move away, Harvest became a cornerstone of Young's career - to the point that he revisited it in a 1992 sequel, Harvest Moon.