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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"Never, Ever Listen To Your Fan Base" says Neil Young

"You never, ever listen to your fan base.

The last thing you should do is follow your fan base. That's all they are - a fan base. There's no ownership. I don't have to deal with them...

They get angry about the very things that they seem to value, that make them fans in the first place."

~~ Neil Young

So there you have it.

A rather insightful confirmation of what many of us have suspected for some time now.

In an interview in the U.K.'s Sunday Times by Rob Liddle, Neil Young explains his contrariness, among other things.

How else can we explain the Exhibit A at the root of this quote??

Thank god we had hoped all along that Buffalo Springfield would never, ever re-unite. Or Crazy Horse re-unite, for that matter.

And hopefully, Archives Volume #2 is never, ever released, as well.

NYA Delayed Again and Again and Again...

Well, at least Neil doesn't hate his audience...

(Thanks Paul!)


At 10/05/2010 08:19:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

a fuckin men shakey. you do what you do the way you do it, and we'll like it or not like it. but don't EVER listen to our bullshit.

At 10/05/2010 08:42:00 PM, Blogger Melanie Young said...

Maybe I'm the only fan out there who'll admit it, but this is actually one of the reasons I love him and a few other select artists, like Dylan. You never know what to expect, and I find that exciting. IMO, it's what's kept them interesting and artistically viable all these years.

Too bad this article is only available by paid subscription. I'd love to read all of it.

At 10/05/2010 09:23:00 PM, Blogger Worthless Recluse said...

Have been morbidly curious about this article, as Liddle is a controversial figure, and a rather nasty individual in my opinion.

In view of Neil's comment, I urge fans of Greendale to be even more vocal in their appreciation of that album!

At 10/05/2010 09:41:00 PM, Blogger Shane said...

Hope takes the same approach!

At 10/05/2010 10:18:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Agreed, it's worked thus far. Don't listen to us, you'll do just fine.

I agree with Melanie, this is one of the reasons I love the guy.

So whatever you do Neil, don't go on tour with Crazy Horse. It's not what we want. We'll be disappointed if you do.

At 10/05/2010 10:58:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Dear Neil

Please take my advice,.. please take my....please take my advice.....

.....dont' listen to me.

Your Fan,

At 10/05/2010 11:24:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

Let’s annoy Neil Young by ranking all of his albums and giving them...(~UK/Liddle article intro)..

it takes all kind of reactions believe it..

I lent LeNoise to my BANDMATE/neighbor sunday, we just got 4 differnt RITFW live takes processed (broke strings all 4 times and not on purpose) and he sends me an email today saying this album is LeNoying.

I need to see a doc... or a prescription pad. I need a made.

LE NOYING........??!?

At 10/06/2010 12:42:00 AM, Blogger asg said...

NOW do ya think Neil went on Facebook to ask US what songs he should play?

he does what HE wants, not what *I* want or what YOU want...if that actually does hurt yer feelings, I almost feel sorry for ya...WE buy the albums, the tickets to the shows, the t-shirts, etc. which ultimately (maybe) puts food on his Like the best artists he answers to his Muse--not his fans, his manager, his record company, his I said before, he's #1 in my book, not necesarily because of the Music...

At 10/06/2010 12:48:00 AM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

I agree with everyone, that this attitude alone is reason enough to treasure Neil, and one of the most important reasons why he has remained so vital. I feel honored to be ignored by you, Neil.

A Friend Of Yours

At 10/06/2010 02:42:00 AM, Blogger doc said...

YEAH NEIL!....ignore me.... ignore me too!!
lol doc

At 10/06/2010 08:11:00 AM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Don't release Toast!!

Let's start a new petition: "Don't release Toast OR tour with Crazy Horse!"

At 10/06/2010 09:02:00 AM, Blogger asg said...

Neil is "eccentric" to put it mildly, I don't ANY kind of psychology will work on him...but good luck in any case...and be careful what ya DON'T wish for...

At 10/06/2010 11:34:00 AM, Blogger Pinto(or Flounder) said...

On the other hand - I posted a quote from Stephen King here a few months ago - can't find it now, but he said, in so many words, that you have to listen to your audience - that if they're all saying you're full of shit, they probably have a point.

I wonder, for all the people saying, "Right on, Neil. Screw what anybody says, do what you want" how they reconcile that in their own lives - if your circle of devoted friends are all telling you you're wrong, do you tell them to go to hell?

And how do you reconcile that Neil's best work was done in conjunction with the guy, (Briggs, obviously) who had the balls to tell him when he was wrong? Or that, in working with another strong producer, he's produced his best work in years?

It's a little disingenuous for a guy in his sixties, who's primary audience is in their fifties and sixties, to refer to them as his "fan base" the same way Justin Bieber would.

Forty years of dedicated listening have entitled scholars of his work, many of whom converse regularly on this site, to make observations that are worthy of the great man's attention. His failure to do so may account for things like "Johnny Magic." (Apologies to anyone who's listened to it more than once.)

I just sayin', ya know, there's more to the picture...

At 10/06/2010 11:49:00 AM, Blogger The Zuma Band said...

Didn't NY once say to David Briggs, "If we agreed all the time, there wouldn't be any need for one of us, and it wouldn't be me"

At 10/06/2010 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10/06/2010 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

That's why NY is still going strong; he doesn't give a fuck what fans and critics think about his music. I started to feel that HE didn't care about his music (on record) after a bleak 00's, but then he hit us with Le Noise...this time the praise is well founded. He hasn't sounded this vital since SWA. Never count Shakey out.

At 10/06/2010 12:34:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Pinto(or Flounder) : Good to see you, my friend.

I think this maybe getting flipped around here on what Neil is saying.

I think he's referring to what many fans want: play classics like HoG, play acoustic, play electric w/ CH, no synth/TRANS, no country stuff, etc.

Also, he's implying that when folks think FITR lyrics (for example) are weak, he doesn't care.

Or NYA MP3's. Or NYA only on Blu-Ray. He definitely listened (or WB just did what had to be done)

And how about those HM requests?

At 10/06/2010 02:06:00 PM, Blogger Jack M said...

If Neil listened to most of his fans every album would sound like Harvest.He does what he feels. Thats what makes him very interesting

At 10/06/2010 03:22:00 PM, Blogger Dmitri Karamazov said...

I just want Neil to keep on being Neil. Heck, I loved Trans (I have the worn out vinyl to prove it) and frequently spin Everybody's Rockin' and Life.

I love it all

To paraphase Jack Nicholson:
he's effing Neil Young!

Neil is an artist. I don't worry about him!

At 10/06/2010 08:35:00 PM, Blogger BIGCHIEF said...

How do you like that? Talk about an under-statement! Then again, that has always been the challenge of being a fan of the most eclectic artist on the planet,no, universe. I liken following his career as a fan simular to 'shagging' a car. Remember that? Hanging on to someones rear bumper as they pull you around on a snow covered street, while more often than not, their doing their best to shake you off. For forty or so odd years we've been hanging on to the rear bumper of his hearse as he twists and turns through the streets of his career knowing full well that at any time he could shake us off for good, yet he seems to be amused in knowing that he'll always have a full bumper regardless of the road he chooses. Just when the going gets too smooth, he makes an abrupt turn down a dirt road, loaded with potholes. Hanging on for dear life, you don't want to let go, for you don't know what awaits you around the bend or over the next hill. Maybe a familiar, comfortable road. Maybe not. Wait a minute, a street sign ... LeNoise Blvd.? This is a new one on me, better hang on tight! Not listening to his 'fan base' is probably the main reason that Neil survived as long as he has. Most artists by nature gravitate to the first sign of a successful formula, hence, Harvest#60. Had he consulted me, it would had been 'The Ditch Infinity' rather than trilogy. American Stars-N-Bars took me by suprise as I was waiting for Zuma-2. A pleasant suprise, I might add. In short, the moral of this story is that I will be content with my place on the bumper and leave the driving to Neil!

At 10/06/2010 10:07:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

ya know..having been a Neiler all my musical appreciative life..I don't think anyone will ever really get into Neil's head space..and thats what I luv about the man...unpredictible, spontaneous and mysterious..just when ya think ya might have his philosphies and ideals worked out..he'll throw in a curve ball just to put you off the scent...
long may you shun Neil!...long may you shun!!

luv doc

At 10/07/2010 12:41:00 AM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Pinto, nice to see you back ...

I picked up Shakey over the weekend and was flipping through a few page and in one of them Neil said something (I unfortunately can't find it now) to the effect of - the second set (or show) is always better when you've churned your audience ... which led me to believe he's not only indifferent he probably thinks shakin out some fans along the way is a good thing...

As for myself, I have to admit I often wish he'd do what I want rather than what he wants .... I'd wish for another '07 like theatre tour, some spontaneous shows at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz, ect... but my experience is that the thing he's into at the moment is the thing you really want to hear because he'll bring it to life like nobody else ... not always but almost always.

When I first heard CDII the album i wasn't completely blown away but the live versions were totally epic ... The believer, spirit road, dirty old man, and of course no hidden path were freakin awesome ... better I would argue than a hearing a DBTR or something similar in an off night (to the extent that exists) ... bottom line with Neil - show me the way and I'll follow you today.


At 10/07/2010 06:58:00 AM, Blogger Steve Lucas said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10/07/2010 07:01:00 AM, Blogger Steve Lucas said...

I've just got hold of the Rod Liddle article (sorry Mr Murdoch, I'm too stingey to contribute to your paywall)and I enjoyed it. Apparently he was "guffawing" and "humorously exasperated" when expressing the sentiments re: his fan base that were attributed to him, which slightly changes their complexion I think

As with many of these sorts of articles though it turns out to be much more about the ego of journalist than the interviewees responses (see also the Kermode interview on YouTube or for that matter pretty much the whole of the Shakey biography) and Neil isnt actually quoted that much.

Interesting comment at the end though about Time Fades Away being released in the archives "one of these days". Can't come soon enough...

At 10/07/2010 09:47:00 AM, Blogger Pinto(or Flounder) said...

I think Thrasher's post summed it up pretty well - there are levels of feedback that Neil may or may not react to as he feels they warrant -

Like on one level - "You should go back to using Crazy Horse" - clearly none of us has any idea of the personal/professional dynamics of Neil's relationship with those guys and therefore, our opinion/feedback is, however well-intentioned, meaningless.

On another level, there's "Gee, Neil, would you please allow free downloads if we buy the Archives?" I think it was very well established, both through actual practice and through Archives Guy's generous participation on this site, that Neil did listen and respond to his "fanbase."

On yet another, deeper level, there's the "Hey, Neil - maybe this "find a topic and quickly write a bunch of "songs" and rush into the studio and record them" approach isn't working so well.

Now there is no way in hell Neil Young is going to come out and say that his fans convinced him to change his way of writing/recording, but the clear evidence is that he went out and found a strong producer and wrote a bunch of songs that, I think, were significantly better than he'd written in quite some time and we all get the benefit in the form of "Le Noise." Whether those of us who expressed some disappointment in "Fork in the Road", etc. had anything to do with it will never be proven. But we said what we said and now we have "Le Noise" and I certainly don't think it did any harm to express loving negative opinions.

And it is really, really nice to be back in the opinion arena on Thrasher's Wheat talking about a great Neil Young album. Hallelujah (Had to look up the spelling and it still looks funny. What the hell's that 'j' doing in there?"

At 10/07/2010 12:03:00 PM, Blogger Tweck9 said...

Dammit, Neil made Le Noise because I loved Fork in the Road so much.

Now, for the next ten or so years I'm going to be begging for the next FITR, and he's gonna be all like, "The one fan of Fork in the Road just wants me to make FITR 2, and he keeps yelling about it, 'come on, Neil, I want another electric car album!!!', but I can't do that man, that's stagnation, I gotta keep evolving... you know, Cough up the Bucks put me in the middle of his road, and I don't like being in the middle of anyone's road, so I headed for the ditch, where there's lots of reverb and all kinds of clangy, metallic sounds, and well, it's not as 'safe', but you meet a lot of innarestin' people there..."

At 10/07/2010 12:17:00 PM, Blogger Pinto(or Flounder) said...

Very, very funny.

I'm sure you're right.

At 10/07/2010 03:27:00 PM, Blogger doc said...

yeah,very good matty!!

ditch doc

At 10/08/2010 12:40:00 PM, Blogger said...

The problem with us, as fans, is that all we know is what has already been done...we don't know the future. If all I ever wanted to hear again was Bluenotes, I would have missed the Godfather of Grunge era...if all I wanted was another Pearl Jam effort, I would not have gotten Harvest Moon. Now, I love the ditch...but Neil, forget I ever said that...or don't. It's up to you!

At 10/13/2010 08:00:00 PM, Blogger D.I. Kertis said...

I don't buy Pinto's "circle of friends" argument. If any of us actually knew Neil personally, or were on regular friendly terms with him, it might apply. As it is, he did, and does, take his friends' ideas into consideration, the late David Briggs being a prime example. And I'm sure he listens to Pegi a lot. More recently, we have Niko Bolas and Daniel Lanois, whose influence is *clearly* felt on the album Neil released three weeks ago! I don't think now is the time to make the argument that Neil never allows outside minds into his creative process.

They don't dominate it, though. I think that's a key distinction. Le Noise proves that Neil will bring in new influences when he feels the need, that he isn't completely isolated from everyone. But it's equally clear that he's still in control (as much as one is ever in control of one's muse, anyhow.) I think Le Noise is filled--overflowing almost, though not as much as the exquisite CDII--with Neil's uniqueness, not least of all in the fact that it's, a couple of tracks withstanding, a solo *electric* album. When's the last time you heard one of those?

In sum, no I don't expect Neil to put that much weight in the word of a bunch of people he doesn't know, and has absolutely no personal relationship with. I certainly wouldn't expect this to be his primary means of decision-making, especially when the fans don't even seem to agree with each much of the time. Which is great. Perspective is what makes the world interesting. It keeps things colorful. The human condition in its entirety is what feeds an artist--provides him with input, the exterior inspiration I've found is crucial in bringing about the most powerful impetus to create.

And really--if you can't do what you want in *your* art, when can you? Yes, artists should be willing to listen to the ideas of those around (which doesn't include the 17,000 people who think they know him way better than they do), but others should also be willing to respect his artistic domain if he chooses not to act on the feedback and suggestions.

Art is one of those things that, if you want your own, you have to make it yourself.

At 10/13/2010 08:02:00 PM, Blogger D.I. Kertis said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7/10/2011 07:57:00 PM, Blogger sallyx said...

Don't believe you Neil.... maybe you protest too much or maybe you're just an egotistical shit.... Sorry mate loved your music for years until the Hop Farm. It's not just about the music it's about the soul, spirit and empathy. Go spout your shit to someone who still cares, hope your money keeps you warm at night.

At 7/13/2011 09:30:00 PM, Blogger CindyK said...

Ahh i'm sure he listens to his fans wishes. Just to a certain extent and likes everyong to know he can't be controled by us, or anyone. I love his attitude 100%
I'll die wishing I could spend time with him even just one day!


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