Here is the music for a classic song that I forgot just how good it is until a student of mine recently asked to learn it. “Heart of Gold” by Neil Young was first released in 1972 on his excellent “Harvest” Album when Young was only 26 years old. This song is simple but expresses a sentiment that is complex and universal: man’s search for the elusive Heart of Gold – something beautiful and enduring, the lengths we will go to find it, and the anxiousness caused by the knowledge that our time is limited. A little fun fact about this recording: the backup vocals are sung by none other than James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt who happened to be passing through Nashville at the time of the recording to appear on the Johnny Cash Show.
This is a great song to have in your arsenal as it has deep meaning and is easily recognizable to many people, especially the intro which I have added to the Sheet Music/Tab section of the site. It is not too difficult to play but I do have some advice to make it easier and sound more like the original song:
-This song is played with a pick.
-The entire first measure is an Em7 chord which you should fret using your index, middle and ring fingers (no pinky!) so that you can switch to the succeeding D chord without lifting your ring finger.
-All strums are down strokes except the second strum on the D chord which is an upstroke.
-Dampening the strings with the palm of your right hand during the rest in between the D and Em makes it sound more like the original song as well as makes it easier to switch chords smoothly.
-Use index and middle fingers to play the Em chord.
-Notice that during the last 4 notes of the intro, Young alternates open strings with fingers that are already part of the Em chord you just played so playing this part is just a matter of lifting and replacing your index and middle fingers which you can leave down in preparation to repeat the intro by starting on Em7.
Now that you know this catchy intro you will have everyone’s attention in the room before you start singing. Here are the chord/lyrics for the rest of the song; they are all pretty common (Em, C, D, G, Em7 and Am7).
I hope you enjoy learning/revisiting this great song! Perhaps in a future post I will show how to play the harmonica part on guitar.