Heart of Gold

Album: Harvest (1972)
Charted: 10 1
  • I want to live
    I want to give
    I've been a miner for a heart of gold.
    It's these expressions I never give
    that keep me searching for a heart of gold
    and I'm getting old.

    I've been to Hollywood
    I've been to Redwood
    I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
    I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line,
    that keeps me searching for a heart of gold
    and I'm getting old.

Comments: 29

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenYoung always sounded like Bruce Dern with a stuffed nose to me whenever I heard this song.
  • Jef from Passaic, Nj"A Horse with No Name" by the band America replaced Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" at the #1 spot on the U.S. pop chart. That song's resemblance to some of Young's work aroused some controversy. "I know that virtually everyone, on first hearing, assumed it was Neil", Dewey Bunnell from America says. "I never fully shied away from the fact that I was inspired by him. I think it's in the structure of the song as much as in the tone of his voice. It did hurt a little, because we got some pretty bad backlash. I've always attributed it more to people protecting their own heroes more than attacking me."
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaNot all Tourette's involves spastic swearing - most just involves occasional facial twitches.
  • Ashwin from Vacoas, MauritiusI interpreted the song as Neil young being lonely and searching for love. He is lonely ( i want to live i want to give),wants to love and fears he might not find love( and i'm getting old). I might be wrong but that's how i'm actually feeling...
  • Danny from Fairmont, WvNeil Young is one the the best Artists of all time.
  • Perry Gaffney from Gainesville, GaNeil Young had tourette syndrome....He over came it OBVIOUSLY
  • Dominic from Phoenix, Azneil young is a god when it comes to music!
  • Andy from Columbus, OhIn response to Ekristheh, I've never heard that Neil had epilepsy before, but if its true thats a shame. My dad used to play this song and "Harvest", I think, really loud a lot. I pictured Young as some blond, mustachioed,Stetson wearing cowboy until I heard Cinnamon Girl on the radio a few years back, then I really got into his stuff. All I've ever really listened to is Decade, though. Also, in deepest respect, what are you guys smokin'!?! I've always heard it as "I've been in my mine, it's such a fine mine." As in gold mine, perhaps?
  • David from Huntington Beach, CaThe reason this song even works as being more then a "hit" is the fact that Neil is so genuine. The composition isn't difficult or anything but it catches your ears. The lyrics aren't jaw dropping, but they are sung so compassionately that you know the singer is actually feeling the emotions he is singing about. Great song.
  • Nikhil from Mumbai, Indiawhat an amazing song!God bless neil
  • Marc from Perth, AustraliaIt's interesting to read above that James Taylor sang backup for this song. Another great artist whose work has some of his subjects wrestling with despair.
  • Marc from Perth, AustraliaOne of my favourite songs.

    I've never read how Neil Young defined the meaning of this song but to me it's clearly about Neil's search for his capacity to feel compassion and his grappling with the looming despair of never finding it. I interpret the first verse to be an introspective search for compassion within himself (for the kingdom within perhaps). He begins with an aspiration - He wants to live and give. He admits, however that he has not realised his aspiration yet, but intends to continue the search (although he's "getting old"). The second verse alludes to the inevitable search-outside-himself that takes him far away from home (and perhaps his mission is driving him crazy? - I've been in my mind, its such a fine line). The final verse refers to a second party (you keep me searching for a heart of gold) who, for whatever reason, tries his patience but ultimately this vexation only further drives him to continue the search.

    In the end (the "story-so-far") the subject is still in the hunt to realise his opening aspirations (i.e. he has not despaired) but he suspects that time (and I'm getting old - also a metaphor for the corrosion of cynicism, perhaps) may defeat him.

    I have been intrigued by Neil Young's early 70s live rendition of this song for a long time. To me it evokes the atmosphere of a man at the edge of despair but not quite ready to give up on himself. I have juxtaposed the song's ambience with one of Kurt Cobain's unplugged doleful, desperate renditions (for example, "Where did you sleep last night?") and they appear to manifest an eerie symmetry. One the one hand there's Neil's subject, still holding out hope for the existence of internal compassion; On the other there's Kurt who's descended beneath despair and cast himself into the abyss of nihilism. Whatever the specifics are for their motivations behind their respective interpretations, these two great artists appear to be driven by a deep awareness of/fear for the dark side of human nature gaining the ascendancy and thus defining one's ultimate character.
  • Alan from Singapore, SingaporeBoney M did a cover of this song as well.
  • Emmie from Long Island, NyThis is my favorite song to play on guitar so far. Of course, I'm still a beginner, but I love this. I'd only heard this song before on a VH1 show, but I didn't remember too much of it. When my guitar teacher taught me it last Friday, I haven't stopped listening to it.
  • Lee S from Hopkins, MiAn interesting version of this song is sung by Timothy Hutton and John Lone in the movie "Iceman".
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United States"I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line" is less likely a reference to cocaine than to Young's persistent epilepsy. Because he can tell when he is going to have a seizure, he can often keep them from happening just through willpower; but because he often has pleasant subjective experiences during one (according to what he said in the McDonough book), he had, for a while, a tendency to let go and allow it to happen. It is a very tempting, seductive thing in some ways, and he must often have found himself "on the fine line". However, it is not usually productive to attempt to interpret Young's lyrics. By his own report, even he does not always know what they mean, or if they even had an exact meaning or if they were meant simply to create ambience. By
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoI wonder if this was the first #1 hit since early Beatles songs to feature a harmonica so prominently? And has it happened since? Funny that he sang about getting old in his mid twenties! Brought on the tears to see him sing it in his recent movie of the same name...
  • Brandon from Saskatoon, Canadai love the harmonica riffs in this song
  • Petter from Ã?ngelholm, SwedenJohnny Cash covered it on Unearthed II: Trouble in Mind (the Unearthed box set with Cash is well worth the money: aside of the "Best of Cash on American" there are four discs with a lot of nice songs recorded by Cash the 90's to his death, for example a amazing, epic cover of Neil Young's Pocahontas, a cover of Bob Marley's Redemption Song where Joe Strummer of The Clash is a guest artist, some of Cash's own songs, and some rock, folk and country classics).
  • Mike from Warwick, RiI remember hearing this song on AM radio when I was 5 or 6 riding in my Mom's maverick. Makes me smile every time I hear it - still one of my all time favorites.
  • Sam from Provo, Utim just begging to play harmonica and i love the harp line. it gives me chills every time!
  • Kendall from Thomasville, GaI love the first two lines I wanna live, I wanna give you can tell exactly what kind of person the artist was, this song is filled with so much emotion, it ranks as one of my all time favorites! It makes me sad everytime I listen to it though...
  • Doug from Pittsburgh, PaOn Harvest Neil Young performed with a band he called The Stray Gators (he names his bands whatever he wants to) and he reassembled that band in the 90s for Harvest Moon.

    I think what he means when he says "I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line that keeps me searcher for my heart of gold" it he's just weary and he can see that he won't hold on much longer, it's a fine line between continuing and breaking down.
  • Brett from Watertown, SdIt could be talking about a line of cocaine but who knows forsure. Great song, i love the harmonica part
  • Brian from Old Lyme, CtI always heard that line as "I've been in my mind, it's such a fine wine", maybe referring to how memories get better with age. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong.
  • Brendon from Paxton, IlMatchbox 20 has covered this song in concert with the bassist on lead vocals, and Rob Thomas on harmonica.
  • Brady from Fort Stockton, TxAll right. I love this song, and i'm glad somebody mentioned the Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy.
  • Shana from Pembroke, CanadaThis is an great song...it seems depressing to me though, I'm not too sure about its meaning. I remember my dad listening to it when i was little and its cool to listen to it now, it brings back good memories.
  • Kathy from Jasper, Al This is one of my all time favorites. However, I have always wondered what he meant when he says "I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line."
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