This Album Changed My Life: Shane Nicholson on ‘Harvest’ by Neil Young

25 March 2021 | 11:41 am | Mallory Arbour

Shane Nicholson takes us through how 'Harvest' by Neil Young was the album that changed his life and how it inspired his latest single, 'Harvest on Vinyl'.

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Shane Nicholson is happy to out himself as a fan, and a foolish man, in his new single. Titled Harvest On Vinyl, this is the first release from his upcoming new album. Woven into its country rock lope and classic guitar sound is the story of a 13-year-old boy who discovers Neil Young’s seminal 1972 album, Harvest, and plays the vinyl to death so that he knows every part of it – which is fitting considering his chosen This Album Changed My Life.

To date, Shane has recorded 10 studio albums, his most recent, Love and Blood LP (2017). He has received three ARIA awards – for his solo album Hell Breaks Loose in 2015 and for his hit collaborations with Kasey Chambers - Rattlin’ Bones and Wreck and Ruin. And, in total, he has won 11 CMAA Golden Guitar Awards, including the 2021 'Song of the Year' for The High Price of Surviving and two APRA awards.

To get to know Shane a little better, we’ve ask him tell us about how Harvest changed his life.

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Around the age of 12, I started to try and play the beaten up old acoustic guitar standing in the corner of our living room. Suddenly, I felt like I had a new connection to the music I’d been listening to as a kid (lots of folk, country, rockabilly, early rock ’n roll). Suddenly, I could make a sound that somewhat imitated the albums I was already in love with. And so began a lifelong obsession with songwriters, and songwriting itself. I now viewed music in a slightly different way. Like I could “get inside of it”. 

The first play of Harvest, a record I’d heard many times before whilst growing up, was almost a transformative experience. I sorta “followed” it along, not just “listened” to it. I felt the twists and turns. The chord changes. The beautiful mistakes and the soaring majesty.

Out on the Weekend sounded like a whole new song because I could now play an A chord well enough to strum the start of the verse. It occurred to me at that moment that somebody had “created” this. Something from nothing. Which was now something really special, that reached all the way from Broken Arrow ranch to a little kid in Brisbane, Australia. 

It was also my first “creeper” album, because it took me a little longer to fully “get” the grandiose There’s a World and the harsher sound of Alabama.  But it was also songs like Words (Between The Lines of Age) that almost seamlessly walked me into the Crazy Horse records, because I just HAD to hear more of that sound. 

When I think of albums that had an impact on me, there’s a lot of them. And for many different reasons. But there’s none that I can specifically point to and recall having actual life-altering moments with. Not like Harvest (and, to be fair, also Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin).

The fact that Neil Young followed up Harvest with the Ditch Trilogy, made me love him even more. 

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Image: via Facebook