Why Bob Dylan ‘Hated’ Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ and Never Got Over It
Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” is a classic song, however, Bob Dylan took issue with it. In fact, he said he “never got over” his dislike of the song. Here’s a look at why he hated Young’s song — and how the world reacted to it.
Why Bob Dylan hated ‘Heart of Gold’ even though he liked Neil Young
“Heart of Gold” is a folk rock song with unpolished vocals. With that it mind, one could argue “Heart of Gold” sounds like Dylan’s music. In fact, Dylan made the comparison himself.
“The only time it bothered me that someone sounded like me was when I was living in Phoenix, Arizona, in about ’72 and the big song at the time was ‘Heart of Gold,’” Dylan told Spin in 1985. “I used to hate it when it came on the radio. I always liked Neil Young, but it bothered me every time I listened to ‘Heart of Gold.’ …I’d say, ‘Sh*t, that’s me. If it sounds like me, it should as well be me.’”
Afterward, Dylan went into more detail about hearing “Heart of Gold.” “There I was, stuck on the desert someplace, having to cool out for a while,” he said. “I needed to lay back for a while, forget about things, myself included, and I’d get so far away and turn on the radio and there I am, but it’s not me. It seemed to me somebody else had taken my thing and had run away with it, you know, and I never got over it.”
Neil Young disliked ‘Heart of Gold’ for different reasons than Bob Dylan
Interestingly, Young took issue with “Heart of Gold” as well. According to Rolling Stone, he felt it sounded too”middle of the road” for his taste. He felt life was more interesting when he deviated from the mainstream.
How the public and music critics reacted to Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’
Dylan and Young disliked “Heart of Gold” — but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world did. “Heart of Gold” remains Young’s only song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. In fact, it’s his only song to reach the top 20 of the chart. It remains a staple of classic rock radio.
In addition, it received critical acclaim. Rolling Stone ranked it No. 303 on their list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. In 2011, Rolling Stone’s readers voted “Heart of Gold” Young’s third-best song. The only songs they rated higher were “The Needle and the Damage Done” and “Old Man.” Dylan hated the song, but that didn’t stop it from having a lasting impact.