Shine on, ‘Harvest Moon’: Neil Young’s acclaimed 1992 album turns 30 Wednesday

Neil Young started the ’90s by rocking out on the album Ragged Glory, and subsequent 1991 live albums Arc and Weld. But when 1992 rolled around, Young, who was suffering from tinnitus, decided to mellow out a bit. The result was Harvest Moon, which marks its 30th anniversary Wednesday.

Like Young’s classic ’70s albums Harvest and Comes a Time, Harvest Moon featured acoustic guitar, piano and banjo, rather than screaming electric guitar. Neil was accompanied on Harvest Moon by backing band The Stray Gators, which also had played on Harvest, but with a slightly different lineup. On Harvest Moon, three of the group’s original members — pedal steel guitarist Ben Keith, bassist Tim Drummond and drummer Kenny Buttrey — were joined by famed songwriter and session keyboardist Spooner Oldham.

Also returning were Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor on backing vocals. The two, along with Crosby, Stills & Nash, had sung backups on Harvest, as well. In addition, Nicolette Larson and Neil’s sister, Astrid Young, lent their backing-vocal talents to Harvest Moon.

Featuring memorable songs like “Unknown Legend,” “From Hank to Hendrix,” “War of Man” and the title track, Harvest Moon was a huge success, reaching the top 10 in both the United Kindgom and Young’s home country of Canada; in the U.S., it made the top 20. It’s been RIAA-certified double Platinum for sales of 2 million copies.

Harvest Moon was also named Album of the Year at Canada’s Juno Awards, and outsold both Ragged Glory and its predecessor, 1989’s Freedom. A concert album from the Harvest Moon tour called Dreamin’ Man Live ’92 was released in 2009 as part of Young’s ongoing Archives series.

Here’s the album’s full track list:

“Unknown Legend”
“From Hank to Hendrix”
“You and Me”
“Harvest Moon”
“War of Man”
“One of These Days”
“Such a Woman”
“Old King”
“Dreamin’ Man”
“Natural Beauty”

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