British Columbia

Neil Young's Harvest Moon given new life in B.C. jazz star's latest album

Maureen Washington has released her ninth studio album — a compilation of fan favourites and her own personal picks.

Victoria's Maureen Washington lays it all on the line in her new album, which remembers her husband

Maureen Washington's Harvest Moon is an ode to both the Neil Young classic, and her husband. (Jennifer Power)

In Neil Young's quirky music video for his award-winning song, Harvest Moon, the Canadian singer performs onstage while watching a younger version of himself dance with an old sweetheart inside a crowded tavern.

"I'm still in love with you, I want to see you dance again," he sings.

The words ring especially true for Victoria jazz singer Maureen Washington, who has now released her own version of the song in her new album, aptly titled Harvest Moon.

"The song means everything to me — every single word," she told host Margaret Gallagher on CBC's Hot Air.

"When I can't speak, the words speak for me." 

Victoria jazz singer Maureen Washington releases her ninth album, titled Harvest Moon. (Dean Kalyan)

Washington lives out the very scene depicted in Young's classic video time and time again.

She performs the tune at nearly all of her shows, and each time it stirs strong memories of her husband, who passed away last September after a long battle with cancer.

"In the last year of his life, every time the band and I played Harvest Moon, I'd always have him come up and dance with me during the instrumental."

Washington's rendition of the song is powerful. Its progressive composition is anchored by piano, violin and flugelhorn, building up to a climactic finale where the singer unleashes her mellifluous interpretation of Young's blues.

A cover of the classic Niel Young track, featured on the B.C. jazz star's latest album, Harvest Moon 5:31

Washington decided to record some of the dances she shared with her husband during the song on an iPhone. She put the clips together in a short reel that lets her relive some of those moments.

"It's just absolutely beautiful, and such a great memory for me."

She still continues to perform Harvest Moon on stage, but the she says it's not easy. She can't fight her emotions, and sometimes the band will have to extend the instrumental while she lets the tears flow.

"I let myself remember what [our dances] felt like, and when I'm onstage that person is still a part of me, and that's still a part of my story. And so, I let that desperation come out ... I let myself fall apart."

There's no shortage of passion and emotion at a Maureen Washington show, and the artist takes pride in it.

"I've learned to sing while I cry — I've worked real hard at it."

Washington performs regularly throughout Victoria, and has shows scheduled in Prince George and Quesnel early next year.

To listen to Washington's full interview, and hear more of her songs, click on the audio labelled: Neil Young's 'Harvest Moon' given new life in B.C. jazz star's latest album


With files from CBC's Hot Air