The Neil Young vocal he could never sing the same again

Neil Young

In the world of rock & roll, flaws are never an excuse for indifference. It’s simple to criticize someone for having an off-key guitar or not keeping up with the group. However, these small errors are half the reason why people enjoy their favorite songs in the first place. While it’s all part of what makes a band human, Neil Young acknowledged that on “Natural Beauty,” he sang as close to flawlessly as possible.

Young didn’t need to play any new songs for the rest of his life if he didn’t have to by the time he started work on Harvest Moon. His career as an outdoor rock star resulted in some of the most well-known rock & roll of the 1970s. Punks around the world came to love him for his refusal to back down.

Neil Young, though, wasn’t one to sit back and take it all in. Granted, it could have been nice if one of his songs became extremely popular or touched a large number of people. However, that was only one period in his life. Moving on to the next stage of one’s life is a natural part of the journey of a musician, but Young appeared to resurface in the 1990s.

When grunge bands began emulating the same stripped-down style of rock & roll, Young was essentially their uncrowned king. He had always done things his way, and after decades in the industry, he continued to innovate. Records like Freedom and his joint album Mirror Ball with Pearl Jam demonstrated that he had not yet run out of ideas.

Harvest Moon is a distinct animal, though, from his other late-career renaissances. Hearing Young take a nearly gothic approach to country rock was something everyone probably expected to happen. However, they were never quite ready for it. This was true even though other rock stars like Bob Dylan were experiencing comebacks.

“Natural Beauty” was the only live track to make it onto the record. However, tracks like “From Hank to Hendrix” are more akin to the version of Young that everyone was familiar with. But then, why try to repeat the entire thing when you can do it this well in front of a stadium full of people?

Young told NME that he overdubbed and added various acoustic instruments to a live tape he was working on. He decided it would be best to just record the song unfinished. I nailed it when I performed “Natural Beauty” live in Portland, singing the entire song. Trying to do a better one would have been pointless. When I was able to perform tasks with a structure that I would never be able to do again, I knew I had mastered it.

There was no other way to deliver this kind of song given the lyrics. However, there may have been a few extra instruments added to the track to give it a little ambiance. The whole point of the piece is to preserve the beauty that everyone takes for granted in the world. If Neil Young had chosen to tidy everything up, the whole idea would have failed.

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