It’s been a busy year for Neil Young. After releasing Americana with his long time band Crazy Horse in June, he and “The Horse” are getting ready to release Psychedelic Pill October 30. But next week, he’ll release his long-awaited memoirs, Waging Heavy Peace. And while he generally avoids interviews, he recently spoke to the New York Times about the book. Here are some highlights:
Young tells writer David Carr that he’s stopped smoking pot and drinking, and has been straight for a year. Carr writes: “He decided to do it sober after talking with his doctor about a brain that had endured many youthful pharmaceutical adventures, in addition to epilepsy and an aneurysm. For someone who smoked pot the way others smoke cigarettes, the change has not been without its challenges.” Carr offers this excerpt from the book: “The straighter I am, the more alert I am, the less I know myself and the harder it is to recognize myself. I need a little grounding in something and I am looking for it everywhere.”
The 66-year-old legend told Carr that he may retire at some point: “I don’t think I’m going to be able to continue to mainly be a musician forever, because physically I think it’s going to take its toll on me – it’s already starting to show up here and there.”
Bob Dylan didn’t comment for the piece, but Carr reported that “Dylan, in a note his manager passed to me, says it’s clear why Young has not tumbled into musical dotage.” Dylan’s quote: “An artist like Neil always has the upper hand. It’s the pop world that has to make adjustments. All the conventions of the pop world are only temporary and carry no weight. It’s basically two different things that have nothing to do with each other.”
Willie Nelson, who co-headlines Farm Aid with Young this weekend, said: “You never know what you are going to get in a Neil Young concert because he never knows exactly what he is going to do. That way everyone is surprised.”
Addressing insults that have been slung his way regarding the lack of sophistication of his music, particularly with Crazy Horse, Young writes in the book: “The songs the Horse likes to consume are always heartfelt and do not need to have anything fancy associated with them. The Horse is very suspicious of tricks.”
Expect no tricks this weekend when Young and Crazy Horse co-headline Farm Aid in Hershey, Pennsylvania, along with Nelson, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews; country superstar Kenny Chesney, surf rocker Jack Johnson, outlaw country renegade Jamey Johnson and roots rockers Grace Potter & The Nocturnals are also on the bill. The following weekend, Neil Young & Crazy Horse headline the Global Festival in Central Park, where he’ll play alongside the Foo Fighters, the Black Keys and Band Of Horses.
Then, on October 21 and 22, Young headlines his annual Bridge School Benefit concert, which will also feature Guns N’ Roses and Steve Martin. A cause that is close to his heart, Young has taken the unusual (for him) move of autographing copies of Waging Heavy Peace to help raise funds for the school. The catch: you need to donate $1500 to get one (but, on the plus side, it will be personalized to you!). Young’s wife, Pegi Young is a co-founder of The Bridge School, and recently spoke to CBS Local about it. To learn more about The Bridge School, go to its website.
– Brian Ives, CBS Local