Beck has released his version of Neil Young’s “Old Man,” following a preview clip that was aired last night (25) in an NBC Sports commercial, previewing next weekend’s NFL game between Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. Beck’s version, now available to stream or download as a stand-alone digital single, was featured in tribute to Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady, the oldest NFL quarterback to start a game, at the age of 45.
“Old Man” stands tall in Young’s songbook as a much-loved highlight of his 1972 album Harvest. It has previously attracted more than 60 recorded cover versions across a range of genres and artists, including those by Wilson Phillips (2004), Natalie Cole (2006), Deana Carter (2007), and Blitzen Trapper (2015). The latter band covered it on their Live Harvest album, released for Record Store Day that year. Bob Dylan also performed the song live in concert in 2002.
“Beck comes from an alt-rock generation where everyone idolized Neil Young,” writes Tom Breihan for Stereogum, “and Beck himself is no exception.” Beck previously covered the Canadian figurehead in 2018, when Jenny Lewis joined him at a Red Rocks Amphitheater concert in Denver to sing “Harvest Moon.”
Writes Sam Kemp in Far Out: “In this new cover, Beck has made an effort to retain much of the track’s original warmth. His arrangments are sparse, his acoustic guitar throwing out the same jangly chime that makes Young’s version so undulating. With tight harmonies in all the right places, Beck’s ‘Old Man’ is a celebration rather than a reimagining.”
In Rolling Stone, Jon Blistein describes the new take on “Old Man” as “quite delightful. Beck goes the faithful-to-the-original route, using just his acoustic guitar and adding his own personal touch by layering his vocals into big, rich harmonies during the chorus.”