5 Facts Fans Probably Didn’t Know About “Old Man” By Neil Young
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - OCTOBER 26: Singer Neil Young performs at the 16th annunal Bridge School benefit concert October 26, 2002 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
“Old Man” is one of Neil Young‘s iconic songs. We listed down five facts you probably didn’t know about it, take a look below.
1. The old man behind the song
A story of a young man’s life in comparison to an old man’s and shows that the old man was once like this young man. Young wrote the song about Louis Avila, the caretaker of the ranch Broken Arrow Ranch that Young bought in 1970 for $350,000. Reportedly, Avila was giving Young a tour of the place and asked him how a young man like him could afford a place like this. Young, aged 25, replied,
“Just lucky, Louie, just real lucky.”
2. The backup vocals
Linda Ronstadt and James Taylor sang the backing vocals on “Old Man” and another Harvest track, “Heart of Gold.” Ronstadt recalled to Mojo:
“I can’t remember why Neil wanted me to sing with him – I guess he just figured I was there and could do it – but we went in there and they were doing ‘Heart of Gold’ and ‘Old Man’ and I thought they were such beautiful songs. I loved them.
And I knew how to do harmonies. I’d listened to the Buffalo Springfield harmonies and I knew how to get that 7th they always used. I don’t think we started until midnight and it was dawn when we came out, and it was snowing – we came out to this beautiful snow storm in the rising sun. It was really exciting. I just thought I’ve been part of something really wonderful.”
3. Old Man hit
This was the first song recorded for the Harvest album. Elliot Mazer owner of the Quadrafonic Studios in Nashville, supplied not just the studio, but also the musicians. The session took place on Saturday, February 6, 1971 with a group of Music City studio pros: Ben Keith on pedal steel guitar, Tim Drummond on bass and Kenny Buttrey on drums. “Old Man” became the second-biggest hit for Neil Young as a solo artist, reaching #31 on the Hot 100.
4. Old Man as a soundtrack
This song was used as a soundtrack in many films over the years, including Due Date, Lords of Dogtown, and Wonder Boys.
5. Dylan’s cover
It’s not a secret that Young looks up to Bob Dylan, so Young must’ve been happy knowing that Dylan covered this song throughout his 2002 tour.