For a long time, there was a legend that circled around the moment Neil Young introduced his now-iconic album Harvest to his bandmate in Crosby, Stills, and Young, the brilliant musician Graham Nash. It was a legend that seemed too good to be true.
The story involves Nash and Young listening to the record in the most ludicrous setting we could think of; in a small boat in the middle of a lake. It’s a legend which in 2016 Young finally confirmed.
Graham Nash has often talked about the moment he met with Young to listen to Harvest, the seminal album of Young’s career. We imagine you don’t forget moments like that anyway but the curious way Young showed the guitarist and vocalist has gone down in the annals of rock and roll history.
The story goes that Neil Young asked Nash if he wanted to listen to his solo record, an album which included the wonderful track ‘Heart of Gold’, and Nash dutifully got up ready to go into the studio, like the good friend he was. Young hadn’t something a little different in mind.
Graham Nash picks up the story on NPR’s Fresh Air in 2013: “He said, ‘Get into the rowboat. I said, ‘Get into the rowboat?’ He said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to go out into the middle of the lake.'” Casually the pair row out into the middle of the lake with Nash expecting Young to pull out a walkman or cassette player to play the album and perhaps kick back in a more relaxed setting.
“Oh, no,” confirms Nash on NPR. “He has his entire house as the left speaker and his entire barn as the right speaker. And I heard Harvest coming out of these two incredibly large loud speakers—louder than hell. It was unbelievable.” The real kicker of the story was yet to come.
Not doing things by halves Young had roped in some professional help too, “Elliot Mazer, who produced Neil, produced Harvest, came down to the shore of the lake and he shouted out to Neil, ‘How was that, Neil?'”
“I swear to God, Neil Young shouted back, ‘More barn!'”
It’s a legend that has been swirling around Neil Young ever since but grew bigger when it appeared as an anecdote in the 1991 Crosby, Stills & Nash LP CSN. It even saw the moment immortalised by a Neil Young fan Brad Brandeau who made a shirt encapsulating the experience.
In 2016, promoting his then-new record Earth, Young spoke with HuffPost who were keen to confirm it. Young offered some wonderful news in that respect, “Well it’s funny, it’s just a little thing that happened one day and it keeps growing and getting crazier,” Young mused.
Normally this is the moment when the legend gets refuted, but luckily, “I had the left speaker, big speakers set up in my house with the windows open. And I had the PA system — that we used to rehearse and record with in the barn where I recorded ‘Alabama’ and ‘Words’ and a couple other things — over there playing the right-hand channel. So, we were sitting in between them on a little lake and that’s what we were doing.”
An already glorious scene of creative and eccentric splendour, HuffPost push on the anecdote’s punchline. His response to whether he uttered the words “More Barn!”? A laugh and a classic response, “Yeah, I think it was a little house heavy.”
Listen to Harvest below and keep your eye out for your nearest boat and lake for the authentic Neil Young experience.