The Autumnal Equinox, Neil Young and “Harvest Moon”

Since discovering that all full moons have a name, given to them by the Native Americans who kept track of the months by the lunar calendar, I have written about each one as they appear in our skies. To accompany the post I always include one of the numerous songs that have been written about the moon and its many foibles.

Well, there could really only be one featured song for this month – Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. Having said that, the Harvest Moon can occur in either September or October, as it’s the name given to the full moon that lands closest to the autumnal equinox. This year we reached the equinox, that pivot point in the year after which we can expect more hours of darkness than light in our days, on Sunday the 23rd Sept. Had it not landed that way, it would have been called the Corn Moon, but no great songs as far as I am aware about corn (unless you know differently), so I’m mighty glad it’s worked out this way.

220px-Harvest_Moon_singleFor the Native Americans, this was the month when corn was supposed to be harvested. Also, due to a highly scientific quirk relating to orbital distances and other complex laws of physics, at the peak of the harvest farmers can work late into the night, as this moon rises at nearly the same time every evening giving them all that extra light. Fortunately I have no harvesting to be done, because for the second month in a row, there seems to be total cloud cover around the time of the full moon. I am still hoping for a miracle tomorrow night but not counting my chickens. (Wonder if the Native Americans also did that by the light of this brilliant Harvest Moon.)

But back to Neil’s wonderful song. I do have a couple of Neil Young anecdotes in my back pocket, but I don’t think this is the time or place to share them. Instead I just want to listen to the beautiful sound of his voice, those soft brush strokes, and the steel guitars.

Harvest Moon by Neil Young:

Something that surprised me when doing a modicum of research for this post was that the album “Harvest Moon” was released in 1992. I always associate Neil Young with a much earlier time, and although I recognised this song, I had never thought of it as being attached to the 1990s. That said, the year 1992 was an incredibly busy one for me, as in a five month period I got engaged, sold my flat, bought a house, organised a wedding and got myself betrothed…, so I probably wasn’t keeping up with any new album releases.

Listening to the song Harvest Moon, it is however perfect for a couple like us who have now been married for nearly 26 years. It was written as a tribute to Neil’s wife Pegi, and seems to celebrate longevity in relationships. Had we not lived in the North of Scotland, I think I might have suggested to Mr WIAA that we go dancin’ where the music’s playin’ tonight, but sadly it’s really cold out there, so a mug of cocoa and a boxset it’ll have to be instead. Easy to take each other forgranted once you’ve been together a long, long… time, but listening to this song reminds me that…, well, we really shouldn’t. Enough said.

…. there’s a full moon risin’
Let’s go dancin’ in the light
We know where the music’s playin’
Let’s go out and feel the night

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon

harvest-moon-plane2

The moon seems to be a big deal to Neil Young as it turns up in 28 of his songs. He uses it to guide him and is apparently more likely to take on a project if it coincides with a full moon. In a 2005 interview he explained: “Before there was organized religion, there was the moon. The Indians knew about the moon. Pagans followed the moon. I’ve followed it for as long as I can remember, and that’s just my religion. I’m not a practicing anything, I don’t have a book that I have to read. It can be dangerous working in a full moon atmosphere, because if there are things that are going to go wrong, they can really go wrong. But that’s great, especially for rock ‘n’ roll.”

I must admit, this moon series has been my favourite so far, and I would agree with a lot of what Neil says there. I really hope we do get to see the full moon on Tuesday night as I’m starting to get withdrawal symptoms, having missed out on last month’s lunar eclipse entirely and this month I seem to be dogged by cloud cover. If we do, I’m sure my friend with the all singing, all dancing camera will capture it perfectly, so a “Postscript” may well get tagged onto the bottom. Watch this space as they say.

Until next time….

Harvest Moon Lyrics
(Song by Neil Young)

Come a little bit closer
Hear what I have to say
Just like children sleepin’
We could dream this night away.

But there’s a full moon risin’
Let’s go dancin’ in the light
We know where the music’s playin’
Let’s go out and feel the night.

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

When we were strangers
I watched you from afar
When we were lovers
I loved you with all my heart.

But now it’s gettin’ late
And the moon is climbin’ high
I want to celebrate
See it shinin’ in your eye.

Because I’m still in love with you
I want to see you dance again
Because I’m still in love with you
On this harvest moon.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

17 thoughts on “The Autumnal Equinox, Neil Young and “Harvest Moon””

    1. This truly is a beautiful song and I’ve enjoyed listening to it many times over the last week. Just perfect for this time of the year and perfect for an “old married couple” like us who are probably veering into the autumn of their years. I get sad at the end of summer – Can you tell!?

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A lovely song. I was lucky enough to see Neil Young at Aberdeen AECC (a horrible venue) back in June 2009. One of the greatest live gigs I’ve ever seen in my life and I’ve seen Neil live a few times. When he started to sing Harvest Moon there were some drunken idiots yelling out song requests, but he managed to shut them up without any trouble by asking them to just listen to the song. Like Van Morrison, Neil’s albums and live shows can sometimes be exasperating, but that night he was in great form with every song a gem. Most were full on rock’n roll songs (Nobody does on full on rock’n roll like Neil!) including his mighty anthem “Rockin’ in the Free World” and the stunning finale – a cover of The Beatles “A Day In The Life”. But a few songs from the end came “Harvest Moon” and it was just beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And this is why Lynchie, you really need your own blog – What a great story. Having said that I know it’s a big commitment and as you say you’ve “been there, done that” so in the meantime, like Rol and the others, happy for you to offer up these great stories on this blog.

      Beautiful is definitely the word for this song. A word bandied about too often probably, but in this case just perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve thought of writing a blog, but I doubt I have the discipline anymore. As a journalist, I was extremely lucky to be able to review gigs and interview some famous and not-so-famous rock stars over 30 years and for the first couple of years of my career I wrote a weekly double page spread in the couthy Scots weekly “People’s Journal” which was amazing as I got to go and see local acts in pubs and clubs all over the North and East of Scotland as well as reviewing the big name acts at Aberdeen Music Hall, Beach Ballroom, Cowdray Hall (Hawkwind with the author Michael Moorcock was amazing!) Aberdeen Uni AND Aberdeen College of Education (which had much better acts than the Uni did way back then) and elsewhere.
        In those days almost every pub in Britain featured live music. One example. There was an acoustic trio called Pleasance in Aberdeen back then which featured a vocalist called Jim Diamond who later went on to have 2 UK number one hits (and a top five single). He had an incredible voice and could cover the sweetest of songs such as CSNY’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and the most raucous of rock and roll songs. Pleasance also went out as a rock band called Gully Foyle – once supporting Deep Purple in Europe, but as an acoustic trio they were an absolute joy to listen to.

        In the early 70’s, I got to interview, among many others, Elton John (I sort of knew his then guitarist, Davey Johnstone), Plant and Page of Led Zeppelin, the incredible Marsha Hunt – who sat on my knee wearing a silk hot pant suit – and many many more. In 1982 I got to have a brief chat with Mick and Keef when the Stones played Aberdeen Capitol. I also have the only photo ever taken of Mick Jagger standing in an Aberdeen street wearing a very nice patterned jumper!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks for this very full explanation as to how the heck you know so much about the artists we all write about – You’ve mentioned some of this before, but not quite as fully. As someone who lived in the Granite City for about a decade, and who was a student there, I was quite possibly at some of the concerts you went to cover. I remember the excitement when we heard the Rolling Stones were coming to play the Capitol Theatre – I wonder which street Mick was standing in wearing that jumper. Not Union Street I imagine, but possibly Langstane Place?

          Anyway lots of great memories I imagine (Marsha Hunt in her hot pants!) and great that visitors to this post will be able to read your comment too. Keep ’em comin’ as we’re all happy to have you share them.

          Like

    1. We do indeed.

      Hope you’re enjoying Skye despite the rain. I’ve just come back from town in the car and got a great view of the Harvest Moon between the clouds. Box ticked on that one.

      Like

  2. I’m not sure if this is apocryphal or not, nor indeed whether it’s a Neil Young story (it may well be Van Morrison), but stay with me. Neil Young walks on stage and says he’ll play his new album first (which hadn’t even been released) and then he’ll play some songs you’ve heard before.

    He then proceeds to play his new album. In full. Then, he says ”And now the songs you’ve heard before.” Whereupon he plays the whole of the new album again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good to see you again here – and you know how I love our moons. Great comments too – yes, a blog from Lynchie would be such an interesting read, and loving John’s tale (sounds like the sort of thing Neil would do.)
    The end of Summer, indeed there is a certain sadness to it, and such symbolism too. But Autumn comes along with its fiery colours and its berries and fruits and is such a sensual season – still plenty to enjoy I hope!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there – Yes as my mum is still in hospital things are suddenly a lot less stressful and busy. Who knows how I’ll cope if she’s sent home, but will cross that bridge an’ all that….

      I love this moon series as it has really made me take the time to find out so much more about something I kind of took forgranted before, yet such a thing of beauty. Just back from town and saw the Harvest Moon peeping through between the clouds – Got super-excited as thought I would miss out on seeing this one entirely. Can’t imagine I would have been able to carry out a harvest with only it for illumination but those Native Americans were tough.

      Sad that summer is well and truly at an end but as you say, lots of great colours to look forward to. In my first year of blogging the autumnal colours were particulary spectacular so we’ll see what this year brings.

      I’m seeing something from you pop up on the sidebars but no longer there – A change of heart perhaps? I’m sure it will appear soon.

      Like

      1. Thanks Alyson – re. the post, it was a draft I was only playing around with and then mistakenly published – first I thought, oh I may as well leave it up, but then thought, oh no I won’t!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep, I’ve been known to do that too and then can’t stop it popping up on the sidebar and the email being sent. Usually my Eurovision posts, as I decide to just go for it, then get cold feet!

          I’m sure your Random Access post will be fabulous though.

          Like

  4. The two Harvest albums from ’72 and ’92 might be my favorite Neil Young LPs. I like his mellower music the most.
    Interesting you write Harvest Moon celebrates longevity in relationships, as I remember discovering the song in the film Away From Her (2006) (about a married couple who have been together for many years). Here’s the clip with the song ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WohTB5-1Hmo )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing the clip Chris – I love Julie Christie and should seek out that film. Perfect song choice.

      Bit of a jolt however, as although I still feel 21 on the inside, to the outside world Mr WIAA and I probably look more like the couple in the film (in age terms of course as I have never been, nor ever will be, a Julie Christie!).

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Liked by 1 person

I'd Love To Hear From You And I Always Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s