‘Harvest’ from ‘Borrowed Tunes: A Tribute to Neil Young(Sony 1994)

Welcome to the latest instalment of our Essential series. Today we turn the spotlight once again on a rarer release – sadly out of print, but oh so very good.

In 1994, producer Mike Roth put together a two CD tribute album to Neil Young called, ‘Borrowed Tunes‘ featuring an incredible line-up of Canadian talent.  All profits from the album  – over $250,000 – were donated to Neil’s charity foundation, ‘The Bridge School‘, which develops and uses advanced technologies to aid in the instruction of children with severe speech and physical impairments.  Disc one, ‘Into the Black‘ contained covers of more electric Neil songs and disc two, ‘Out of the Blue‘ was all acoustic (both discs were also available separately).  To this disc, the Jeff Healey Band contributed a wonderful acoustic cover of the Neil Young classic, ‘Harvest’.

“This song was my idea.  We had been looking for some Neil Young tunes for ‘Cover To Cover’…”  – Jeff Healey – JHBN 1995

…and indeed, the Cover To Cover sessions yielded two Neil Young songs, ‘The Loner’ and ‘Like A Hurricane’, but ultimately they were shelved (though Jeff would eventually record a version of ‘Like a Hurricane’ some thirteen years later for use on his Ruf Records/Stony Plain release, ‘Mess Of Blues’…).

When Amanda Marshall (who was being managed by Jeff and the JHB at the time) was signed to perform on the album, Jeff quickly asked Sony if he could contribute a song as well.  He was a long-time fan of Neil’s work and was very happy to be a part of this worthy cause.

“I did all of the track myself, straight through to the mix.  I later brought in Tom and Joe and laid their tracks down on top.  I’m really quite proud of it.” – Jeff Healey – JHBN 1995

I clearly remember how pleased Jeff was with the work he did on ‘Harvest’.  He was especially happy with the vocal harmonies…  He loved having control of the studio (it was recorded at the band-owned Forte Studios) and enjoyed the freedom to experiment.

Cutting this track also afforded Jeff the rare opportunity to indulge in another of his early musical passions, country. (one day we’ll tell you the story of how Jeff met Johnny Cash when he was all of nine years old)  He’d been recording country tunes on reel-to-reel and cassette, playing around with overdubbing his own vocal harmonies and guitar parts, since he was a very young boy… The harmonies on Jeff’s version of ‘Harvest’ are truly wonderful; full without sounding overpowering or overwrought;  his acoustic guitar solo, perfect – simple, yet exactly right for the song.

For the love that shines through this track alone, ‘Harvest’ would rate as ‘essential’ Jeff Healey, but Jeff’s outstanding, understated performance seals the deal. Laid back, confident, seemingly effortless…

Have a listen to this excerpt:




See y’all soon!