Neil Young – A Man Needs A Maid

Neil Young

There’s nothing topical about A Man Needs A Maid. In fact, it’s an old [[Neil Young]] song from his Harvest album in 1972. But since when did we have to focus exclusively on chart acts?

I fell in love with the Harvest album during the summer, it’s one of those timeless albums that just touches you deep down. Whether you’re analysing the lyrics or just feeling the music, Harvest is an amazing collection of songs. I could pick out a ton of favourites from it – Old Man, The Needle And The Damage Done, Heart Of Gold.

I’ve chosen A Man Needs A Maid for today because it’s a little bit bizarre, especially in our uber-politically correct age. Young could find himself lynched for the lyric:

I was thinking that
maybe I’d get a maid
Find a place nearby
for her to stay.
Just someone
to keep my house clean,
Fix my meals and go away.

As this post on Wolfgang’s Vault explains, Young’s narrative is of a man burned by a relationship and scared of getting involved again. In his negativity, he wants to shrug off all women and relegate them to a superficial ‘maid’ status. At the same time, the constant refrain of “When will I see you again?” hints at loneliness and longing.

Lyrics aside, the song starts off as a mournful piano ballad and builds to a powerful crescendo of strings and orchestration as Young’s voice seems to become ever more frantic and pleading. The end result is a heart-rending sad song that’s intelligently written and emotionally performed. Take a listen to the video below and see what I mean.

The best bit is, it’s just a taster of the brilliance of the Harvest album, one of my favourite musical finds this year.

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