Heart of Gold by Neil Young

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog: Harmonica Articles, How to Play the Harmonica

by: Kyle Vallone

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Like an old classic from one of my grandfather’s 78 rpm records, Heart of Gold by Neil Young, from his 1972 hit album Harvest, is one of the most expressive songs I ever heard. It is hard to imagine but this song is 38 years old.

Heart of Gold is a classic for harmonica players with the acoustic guitar and harmonica, and features the back-up vocals of James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. It was also ranked by Rolling Stone magazine as 297th on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

As a Harmonica player, Young’s combination of emotional lyrics and expressive 1st position guitar/harmonica playing is very powerful. This is a country-folk style of harmonica playing where the guitar player plays the rhythm of the song on the guitar and the melody on the harmonica in 1st position (same key as the song) and sings. This is very similar to Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie’s style of playing.


4 6 -5 5 -4 4 3

6 7 -6 6 -6 6 5

4 4 4 5 5 5 5 5

-5 5 4

4 6 6 -5 5 -4 4 3

7 8 -6 6 -6 6 -6 6 5

7,8 7,8 7,8 6,7 6,7

4,5 4,5 4,5

4 -4 4 -4 5 5 -4 4

The nice part about learning this song is that it has 3 very distinct harmonica parts that are relatively easy to play and don’t require any bending. This is a great song to jam at a campfire or with friends because it is so expressive and a lot of people know the song.

The harmonica, vocal and guitar are a perfect match of power and emotion. I would recommend that a harmonica player who wants to try and play this piece listen to all three harmonica parts separately in the order they are played. Then put them all together while playing them with the backing track.

Good luck and have fun!!

Comments (1)

  • archie l. salazar


    i wanna live , i wanna live, i’ve been a miner for a heart of gold…. then i heard that harmonica solo…. curious i tried to find out the tittle and who really sang that song. i started playing my dads CD’s until he asked me what am i looking for.i hummed and told that was NEIL YOUNG’s HEART OF GOLD.
    i think that harmonica made that song sounds really nice… old song relaxing .


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