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Neil Young — Old Man
Album: Harvest
Avg rating:
8.5

Your rating:
Total ratings: 3145









Released: 1972
Length: 3:16
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Old man, look at my life
I'm a lot like you were
Old man, look at my life
I'm a lot like you were

Old man, look at my life
Twenty-four and there's so much more
Live alone in a paradise
That makes me think of two

Love lost, such a cost
Give me things that don't get lost
Like a coin that won't get tossed
Rolling home to you

Old man, take a look at my life. I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that's true

Lullabies, look in your eyes
Run around the same old town
Doesn't mean that much to me
To mean that much to you

I've been first and last
Look at how the time goes past
But I'm all alone at last
Rolling home to you

Old man, take a look at my life. I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes and you can tell that's true

Old man, look at my life
I'm a lot like you were
Old man look at my life
I'm a lot like you were
Comments (343)add comment
 Typesbad wrote:
Just when I start to think that I consider the music of my youth as better simply because it was indeed, the music of my youth, something like this comes on knocks me on the head, and states with conviction:  "No, it really was better"
 

The wisdom that comes with age. It won't be said by this current generation unless the shit just keeps coming.
"have one look in my eyes" 

God , how we need love !
Probably my favorite Neil Young song.  Even more favorite when my son (guitar) and I (bass) play it together.  We learned it a few years ago.  This year he's 24.  I love connecting with him musically, and this song really does that.
Curmudgeons of the world come unite. What a man. 1982 Trans tour, Wembley UK left me with 24 hours of tinnitus. 
 
 steve2 wrote:
I am probably the only person in the world who cannot stand Neil Young.  He makes my ears hurt. I have tried over and over even bought this on MFSL Vinyl. Just can't do it....
 
I don't envy you.
It's just "perfect"  
I sang this song as a young man in 1972, and as an old man, today.
Look at my life...
In A Flash - Here we are later 48 Years later - was alot like him. 
Going on 50 years ago now. This brings back memories, good and bad. They were simpler times, but harder times. you had to have been there. the economy positively sucked by '73.gas lines, the war still going, men were still dying, but we had our music.
Timeless Beauty
I find this song one of the best I’ve ever heard
Just when I start to think that I consider the music of my youth as better simply because it was indeed, the music of my youth, something like this comes on knocks me on the head, and states with conviction:  "No, it really was better"
 steve2 wrote:
I am probably the only person in the world who cannot stand Neil Young.  He makes my ears hurt. I have tried over and over even bought this on MFSL Vinyl. Just can't do it....
 

Nope, you're not the only one.
 steve2 wrote:
I am probably the only person in the world who cannot stand Neil Young.  He makes my ears hurt. I have tried over and over even bought this on MFSL Vinyl. Just can't do it....
 
Kudos to you, steve2....and I'm happy you tried, and maybe that willingness will serve you well in other ventures in life....I for one LOVE this song (more so than other Neil tunes) b/c the theme and sentiment are wonderful.  It's a 9 for me...and Long Live RP!!
I am probably the only person in the world who cannot stand Neil Young.  He makes my ears hurt. I have tried over and over even bought this on MFSL Vinyl. Just can't do it....
Bought this album when it first came out and listened to it a lot before I realized I didn't like it all that much. But this track gets a bonus tick for the banjo and the whole album gets a bonus for the recording quality and engineering.
God, how did he write and perform this when he was so young? What a song.
 Dmanella wrote:
James Taylor playing banjo on the track.
 
The banjo is the icing on the cake. Don't say that very often...
Maybe the first song I ever loved and still up near the top. It's just beautiful.
I'm pretty sure this has entered my Top 25 songs of all time.  If it can still give you chills after 100 listens, you know it's an incredible, lyrical piece.  
Just love Neil Young's music but of all his great works, this remains towards the top. 
I also love that Neil Young has never sold out, never produced that dribble that most musicians fall into - true artist and one of our finest lyricists. 
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/1f/a7/c7/1fa7c7ad0e51ced2bb8300f39b2f55f2.jpg https://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/03/22/article-2118647-0BFD4EA1000005DC-317_233x380.jpg
"I'm a lot like you were."
This makes me feel old, heard it first in my early 20's, 20 years after it's release. Learned to play it on the guitar at the time. Timeless.
 It was a long time ago when I turned 24 and was singing the lyric "Old man take a look at my life."  I am now the old man. 
 FrankRizzo wrote:

I've always enjoyed the subtle banjo licks in this tune.

 
I think Taylor and Linda Rodstandt (sp) are doing backing vocals...
 Dmanella wrote:
James Taylor playing banjo on the track.
 
I've always enjoyed the subtle banjo licks in this tune.
 Steely_D wrote:

Hard to know if I love the songwriting/lyrics/performance - or the production and tone that reminds me fondly of some good times when this was released.

and, does it matter? 

 
only in the way it effects you, how you remember and deal with those memories

to me it's like what a touchstone should be - surfacing feelings long forgotten and for me - bringing a smile to me face.

Thanks mr. young for being here at the right time
James Taylor playing banjo on the track.
DEEEEEEE-pressing!  


 CoYoT51 wrote:
Still {#Notworthy}

 
The soundtrack of my life! 9.


kind of cool all the associations this song still conjures up. It's kind of walking barefoot through dewey grass on your way home after an absolute bender with some friends in a hay barn somewhere when you should have been home doing your homework, preparing for LIFE, when all you really wanted to do was go out and live it. So you did.
Still {#Notworthy}
 xtalman wrote:

That was surprisingly good.  Fallon does have talent though at times he acts like a complete and utter fangirl.

 
I just finished reading Neil Young's book "Waging Heavy Peace" and I have to say it was really interesting.  
 On_The_Beach wrote:
Neil, er, Jimmy, plays with Neil (last night) . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6otmy3DAK8

 
That was surprisingly good.  Fallon does have talent though at times he acts like a complete and utter fangirl.
Neil, er, Jimmy, plays with Neil (last night) . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6otmy3DAK8
The quirky, bent way he plays the guitar, the quirky, bent way that he sings; the absolute mastery of the unified expressions of music...
Very, very nice!
hope Linda is doin ok, i worry
my kids love this too     (proud father)
My 15 year old daughter just told me that this is one of her all time favourite songs. Must have done something right educating her about music. Therefore just raised my rating from 9 to 10, a rating I've given only once before.
RH 
 DaMoGan wrote:

Yes.

1972 and this still just does it for me.

 
Hard to know if I love the songwriting/lyrics/performance - or the production and tone that reminds me fondly of some good times when this was released.

and, does it matter? 
It's a great story behind this song - it is autobiographical, you know. Neil tells the story nearly every time he plays it live. The 'old man' was a real person.

To quote Neil:
"About that time when I wrote "Heart Of Gold", and I was touring, I had also -- just, you know, being a rich hippie for the first time -- I had purchased a ranch, and I still live there today. And there was a couple living on it that were the caretakers, an old gentleman named Louis Avila and his wife Clara. And there was this old blue Jeep there, and Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep. He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there's this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, "Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?" And I said, "Well, just lucky, Louie, just real lucky." And he said, "Well, that's the darndest thing I ever heard." And I wrote this song for him." 
h8rhater
Posted: Jan 24, 2014 - 12:38
 

 gigikent wrote:
oh my, this one got away without a 1... until now (from my side at least).

  
Wow... your list of 1s is a compendium of classic material from great, time tested, artists.  

You must be from bizzarro world where up is down, left is right, good is bad, and sense is senseless.


{#Arrowu} Does this mean that gigikent prefers to dine at Reggie's over eating at Monk's? {#Cheesygrin}


 BobbyCat wrote:
Gosh, so many memories from that era {#Stop} {#Yes}

 
Yes, both good and bad!
The banjo and steel guitar take this from an 8 to a 10.
Gosh, so many memories from that era {#Stop} {#Yes}
 Peter_Bradshaw wrote:
{#Heartkiss} ..... just love Mr Young - this song is a worthy "Outstanding"
 
True, I gotta admit this song is pretty damn good.  Gonna bump to 10
{#Heartkiss} ..... just love Mr Young - this song is a worthy "Outstanding"
 gigikent wrote:
oh my, this one got away without a 1... until now (from my side at least).

 
No need to worry, the rest of us will be sure to place it where it should be - 8, 9 or 10.
 gigikent wrote:
oh my, this one got away without a 1... until now (from my side at least).

 
Wow... your list of 1s is a compendium of classic material from great, time tested, artists. 

You must be from bizzarro world where up is down, left is right, good is bad, and sense is senseless.
Yes, indeed, this one here can still command allegiance to the moment, attention to the Art on display, the message at hand...BLESSING!
 Stratocaster wrote:

Not sure about Linda Ronstadt, but James Taylor is playing the banjo on this one.
Not being a banjo player, but being one hell of a guitar fingerpicker, he tuned the banjo the same as a guitar and played it like a guitar.
Really, the song wouldn't be the same without it. 

 

According to wikipedia it is indeed Linda Ronstadt singing backup.
oh my, this one got away without a 1... until now (from my side at least).

... he's lending his voice up here in the new year in support of the First Nations and their opposition to the oilsands development with 4 concerts and proceeds going to help the Aboriginals fight thereof. Sing it Neil.


 oldsaxon wrote:

 
Oh buggery bollocks, I wish you had not said that, it's now true for me too. 

Sigh. . .  

Imagine how Neil feels these days...



 
Hey oldsaxon...elsewhere here on RP you have praised the North Korean government and claimed that life there is great...Would u mind commenting on the fact that not one person from that country can listen to this station?  Or that millions die in death camps there?  Is that your version of social justice?

Yes.

1972 and this still just does it for me.

Sure enough.


..comment..
Well, it's nice that some of you younger folk like a song that was dedicated to us old men. Thanks!!!
Neil is next to God.
 kojiroh wrote:
I've been looping this song for a whole two days now, and I just can't get enough of it. It's just not this song that's great either, it's the whole Harvest album. I had never really appreciated Young's work up until now, and I can say that I feel a little bit ashamed because of it.

As a compensation, let me bump this up to 10 from 9, it's the least I can do besides buy the album.

 
I am happy for you.  In 1979, right after I left home for college I got turned on to this album.  I still recall, vividly, the first weekend I listened all day long.  What I remember is bong hits at sun rise.   Still, when I listen to Neil I feel like getting high.
Always sounds so fine to hear those first ringing notes leap out of the speakers any old time of year, any time, any day or night... The picking, the bass line, the steel guitar, the strumming, the lyrics, the unique style; truly one of the most sublime and timeless songs ever... 
Great music!
{#Notworthy}
Reminds me of my old stoney days driving pharmaceuticalsto old people residents home
oldfart48 - what is it with you running around the ratings threads calling every one from Neil Young to Tom Petty "bubblegummi"? Is that your new trendy term du jour? If you had any actual musical common sense, you'd reserve that moniker for stuff like Abba and Britney Spears.

Also, don't use a word unless you know how to spell it correctly, i.e., 'pretentious'. It makes you look ignorant.






one of squeal.s best, still pretencious and bubblegummi, but listenable....by the way the money made life harder for a lot of music.......
 jmsmy wrote:
must be really strange to be a millionaire at 24

 

The first million is always the hardest.  That's why I am skipping that and working on the second million.
must be really strange to be a millionaire at 24
Neil Young Old Man live in '71

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVC2cszdTao
I've been looping this song for a whole two days now, and I just can't get enough of it. It's just not this song that's great either, it's the whole Harvest album. I had never really appreciated Young's work up until now, and I can say that I feel a little bit ashamed because of it.

As a compensation, let me bump this up to 10 from 9, it's the least I can do besides buy the album.
Limited like Dylan, Randy Newman, etc; creators of a whole song -- integrating theme, voice, time, space, and not just words and instrumentation.  Let's hope for more limited folks like these.
 dew34 wrote:

It's not his guitar playing or his vocal limitations that set Neil Young apart from everyone else. He has vision, empathy and great passion for the songs that he writes and performs. All together an incredible talent and a major Play(er) to be sure, and one has endured for forty years and will continue as long as there is air in his lungs and skin on his fingers.

 
That and being a bit bonkers.
 dew34 wrote:
It's not his guitar playing or his vocal limitations that set Neil Young apart from everyone else. He has vision, empathy and great passion for the songs that he writes and performs. All together an incredible talent and a major Play(er) to be sure, and one has endured for forty years and will continue as long as there is air in his lungs and skin on his fingers.
 
What dew34 said!  {#Cheers}
After these slides song "Old Man" felt very sad ...    {#Skull}
 MiracleDrug wrote:
one of the handful of this guy's songs that aren't KILLED by his limited vocal abilities... {#Exclaim}
 
It's not his guitar playing or his vocal limitations that set Neil Young apart from everyone else. He has vision, empathy and great passion for the songs that he writes and performs. All together an incredible talent and a major Play(er) to be sure, and one has endured for forty years and will continue as long as there is air in his lungs and skin on his fingers.
 johnjconn wrote:

Massey Hall in 71 live recording is a great album.
Neil's voice is so young (no pun intended) in that recording.
It was recorded right when Harvest was being released, so no one clapped for all the hits on it. 

 
Yes -- especially Cowgirl in the Sand. Even better acoustic. Believe it or don't.

Thanks a bunch! Hmm ... an odd question. I was, actually.

westslope wrote:

michaelgmitchell:   Thanks for sharing! Your daughter has a fine voice. Tell me:  You were never a sports journalist, right?  ;-) 


Overplayed - good song but I need a break from hearing it so often
Yeah, me, too.......... but 10....10....10
i'm very stingy with 10's, but...
That caricature two posts down is quite possibly the best I have ever seen.
 tulfan wrote:
I read that James Taylor and Linda Rodstandt (sp) were singing backup on this one
 
Not sure about Linda Ronstadt, but James Taylor is playing the banjo on this one.
Not being a banjo player, but being one hell of a guitar fingerpicker, he tuned the banjo the same as a guitar and played it like a guitar.
Really, the song wouldn't be the same without it. 

michaelgmitchell:   Thanks for sharing!

Your daughter has a fine voice.  

 

Tell me:  You were never a sports journalist, right?  ;-)  


About as awesome as a song can get; one that may be destined to be sung by those hundreds of years from now, like a Folk Hymn...
I recall that even as a kid, 10 or 11 when it came out and was all over the airwaves, the rhymes and progressions were simple enough, and yet essential and instantly timelessly CLASSIC.  
I still feel the same!
Headed to see Neil and Crazy Horse THIS SUNDAY AT RED ROCKS AND CAN HARDLY WAIT! 
64 and there's not much more.....ha - I could NOT resist changing the lyrics to what he'd be singing now!
Outstandingly great song.
A nice fellow on the forums suggested I throw out this YTube moment I was lucky to share with my daughter a couple of Christmas evenings ago. One take. Tried to do Mr. Young's tune some justice.
/M.

 
A campfire staple on the old gee-tar.  I love that my kids sing along and know all the words.
The older I get the better Neil Young gets.
I read that James Taylor and Linda Rodstandt (sp) were singing backup on this one
Forty years ago!
Whenever I sit down with my guitar and someone says "play a song for me"....I always start with this one.  Been a favourite of mine for 40 years.

 unclehud wrote:

When I first heard this, Neil was singing to some old man.  Today, he's singing to me.

  
Oh buggery bollocks, I wish you had not said that, it's now true for me too. 

Sigh. . .  

Imagine how Neil feels these days...


 StoneyG wrote:
This is great, but his solo performance from Toronto's Massey Hall in '71 is better, in my most humblest of opinions.
 


Absolutely. That is flawless layered guitar in that clip. Going to youtube now to watch
 unclehud wrote:

When I first heard this, Neil was singing to some old man.  Today, he's singing to me.

 
Oh buggery bollocks, I wish you had not said that, it's now true for me too. 

Sigh. . .  
 unclehud wrote:

When I first heard this, Neil was singing to some old man.  Today, he's singing to me.


 

You and me both, brother.
This is great, but his solo performance from Toronto's Massey Hall in '71 is better, in my most humblest of opinions.

When I listen to this today, I hear my 24 year old self talking to me from my past.  We both love this song.


When I first heard this, Neil was singing to some old man.  Today, he's singing to me.


 ozzie1313 wrote:
you need another dose of whatever your miracle drug is; Neil is an excellent vocalist, evocative as hell.
 

yeah okay...

this guy makes Bob Dylan seem like Pavarotti... {#Wave}
you need another dose of whatever your miracle drug is; Neil is an excellent vocalist, evocative as hell.

One of the most beautiful songs ever written.


one of the handful of this guy's songs that aren't KILLED by his limited vocal abilities... {#Exclaim}


Neil Young - Old Man
Neil Young plays Old Man live in Coburg, August 2008. Featuring Larry on banjo.

"Doesn't mean that much to me to mean that much do you..."   Genius    jwhardin740

 Quite sure that's the late great Ben Keith on peddle steel here. Fabulous.    MarshallBennett64

pure greatness! wow, neil sounds like it is 71 again here- nice guitar work- oh and the banjo dude is very good-  jabb69




 

Neil Young - "Old Man" Live in London (1971)


Old man look at my life,

I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.

Old man look at my life,
Twenty four
and there's so much more
Live alone in a paradise
That makes me think of two.

Love lost, such a cost,
Give me things
that don't get lost.
Like a coin that won't get tossed
Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life
I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me
the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes
and you can tell that's true.

Lullabies, look in your eyes,
Run around the same old town.
Doesn't mean that much to me
To mean that much to you.

I've been first and last
Look at how the time goes past.
But I'm all alone at last.
Rolling home to you.

Old man take a look at my life
I'm a lot like you
I need someone to love me
the whole day through
Ah, one look in my eyes
and you can tell that's true.

Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.
Old man look at my life,
I'm a lot like you were.

in album Harvest (1972) and Decade (Compilation) (1977)

special participation Mr. James Taylor played six-string banjo (tuned like a guitar) and sang on the song, and Ms. Linda Ronstadt also contributed vocals.

** 10 **



 
 Peace_tode wrote:
I kinda like the banjo in this song.
 

Yes, that does stand out.  Neutral Milk Hotel used the same in a great song.
You should play the one from his Massey Hall '71 performance.  It's amaaaaaaazing.
 Peace_tode wrote:
I kinda like the banjo in this song.
 

Understatement of the year, the banjo is amazing!!{#Clap}
 jpwright wrote:
True story. I am a photographer who shoots live rock n roll and jazz.  It's 1985 and I'm driving a convertible with my fiance down the PCH 1 from San Francisco to have dinner with her friends.  It's before Map Quest so we are following unmarked dirt roads.  Off the majestic Pacific, we come to a simple hut with a pole across the road serving as a road block.  Out steps a smiling elderly lady who asks us who we've come to see.  We tell her and she says to take a right at the fork while raising the pole and waving us on.

While having drinks before dinner I say to our hosts that I feel like I've seen this terrain before. They said their neighbor is Neil Young and that he invites them to a hoe down every summer.  So I'm thinking of images of the farm and the barn on Harvest and Ol' Ways. It is called Broken Arrow Ranch and it I believe the same name for his recording company.

The "Live at Carnegie Hall" bootleg (1971 approx) , Young talks about this song, "Old Man" he recently wrote about this old man who works on his farm.  I can't help but think that the old woman who greeted us that day was his wife.
 
Great story. Thanks for sharing that.

I kinda like the banjo in this song.
True story. I am a photographer who shoots live rock n roll and jazz.  It's 1985 and I'm driving a convertible with my fiance down the PCH 1 from San Francisco to have dinner with her friends.  It's before Map Quest so we are following unmarked dirt roads.  Off the majestic Pacific, we come to a simple hut with a pole across the road serving as a road block.  Out steps a smiling elderly lady who asks us who we've come to see.  We tell her and she says to take a right at the fork while raising the pole and waving us on.

While having drinks before dinner I say to our hosts that I feel like I've seen this terrain before. They said their neighbor is Neil Young and that he invites them to a hoe down every summer.  So I'm thinking of images of the farm and the barn on Harvest and Ol' Ways. It is called Broken Arrow Ranch and it I believe the same name for his recording company.

The "Live at Carnegie Hall" bootleg (1971 approx) , Young talks about this song, "Old Man" he recently wrote about this old man who works on his farm.  I can't help but think that the old woman who greeted us that day was his wife.


It seems like he's speaking......well to me!
 p2h2d2 wrote:

Right on...alas
 
Well said; this song was poignant to me in high school (to which my heart gets unmercifully dragged within the first few chords)- even then I could grasp that we all look back, wishing we'd had more foresight in our later years... then again, I was an old kid in some ways. 

Like the earlier poster said, this song will never get old for me. 
 helgigermany wrote:

Yes, so you like it?

 
9

Nostalgic or not, this is one of his finest efforts..and there are many!!!
 johnjconn wrote:
In some strange way, this might be the most meaningful song in a young mans life.

ok , sappy , yeah, but think about it, Neils around 22 at the time he wrote this and he got it.

I wish my kids would have this perspective.

wish I was 22 again

 
Right on...alas

Probably like most, my 20's were a lot of heaven and a bit of hell.  Growing up has its challenges.
It must be 1983 and I'm in my dorm room playing Zonk!!!

I only wish it were true.
 Jeff09 wrote:
little nostalgic today, eh?
 
Yes, so you like it?