The song compares a young man's life to an old man's and shows that the young man has, to some extent, the same needs as the old one. James Taylor played six-string banjo tuned like a guitar and sang on the song, and Linda Ronstadt also contributed vocals. In the film Heart of Gol Young introduces the song as follows:. About that time when I wrote " Heart of Gold " , and I was touring, I had also-just, you know, being a rich hippie for the first time-I had purchased a ranch, and I still live there today. And there was a couple living on it that were the caretakers, an old gentleman named Louis Avila and his wife Clara. And there was this old blue Jeep there, and Louis took me for a ride in this blue Jeep. He gets me up there on the top side of the place, and there's this lake up there that fed all the pastures, and he says, "Well, tell me, how does a young man like yourself have enough money to buy a place like this?