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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

LIVE BLOG: Patti Smith Interviews Neil Young at BookExpo America in New York City

Patti Smith & Neil Young
Photo by The New Yorker


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Live tweeting from the Neil Young lunch. Beginning soon! #BEA12 #bookexpo

From BEA 2012: Neil Young and Patti Smith Perform for Booksellers by Claire Kirch:
But like every rock concert, things got started a little later than advertised: Smith and Young came on stage at 12:20 and bonded for the next hour in front of a packed hall of more than 1,100 booksellers and other fans, as they discussed their music, their books, dreams; the impact of technology upon their art; life itself, and even their love of trains.

It was no surprise that Smith and Young would immediately launch into a discussion about his music, beginning with Young’s latest album, Americana, which was released yesterday.

“We’ll move on,” Smith at one point assured her audience, after questioning Young about his original intent in writing the song, “Jesus Chariot.” “But I just can’t resist talking about the record.”

As the conversation segued into a discussion of his memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, scheduled for release by Blue Rider Press in October, Young described it as more of a diary than a memoir. “I would write what I was thinking,” he told Smith, who agreed with him, adding, “There’s no barrier between the reader and you. I really felt you were talking to me. You were, right?”

Smith also praised Waging Heavy Peace for its nonlinear narrative structure, telling Young, “It’s not chronological, but memory is not chronological.”
The conversation veered back to music, with a discussion of one of Crosby, Still, Nash & Young’s most seminal songs, “Ohio,” written and composed by Young in 1970. Asked by Smith about the backstory to the song, Young disclosed that “Ohio” was written far from the Midwest, while he was staying with fellow singer David Crosby at a cabin in northern California. The song was sparked in response to a Life magazine cover, the iconic photo of the young woman kneeling over the prone body of a young man shot at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard.

“When were you aware of the impact that the song made?” Smith asked, referring to the Viet Nam protesters of that era who took up “Ohio” as their anthem. The question prompted Young to reveal his discomfort that he had profited financially from the upheaval, declaring, “You didn’t want to become that which you were separating yourself from.” Smith, who recalled working at a New York City bookstore at the time the song was released, praised him for “translating that picture,” and for “making us more aware of what was going on in our world.”

Although she wasn’t always successful, Smith did try at various points to turn the conversation back to books, in between her questions about Young’s music and his songwriting process. Her question to Young on his reading preferences revealed that he is reading Smith’s memoir about her relationship to Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids. “I’m the highway and landscapes. You are cities,” Young said, praising her book as effusively as she had previously praised his. “We’re on similar paths, but in different geographic places. Our [books] represent that.”

From Neil Young's book is more a diary than a memoir, he says – by Bob Minzesheimer:
Young said he and David Crosby (then part of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) were visiting friends in the Redwoods in Northern California where he saw a magazine cover — either Time or Newsweek— and "the photo of the girl bent over a dead student. It was unbelievable. I still get chills just thinking about it."
He picked up a guitar and a song came to him. "It took about a minute."
His lyrics begin: "Tin solders and Nixon coming … Four dead in Ohio."
Young said Crosby said " 'OK. Let's go.' And we got in a car and drove to a recording plant in L.A. The next day, we recorded it."
But later, Young told Smith, "I didn't want to do it anymore. I didn't want to take advantage. I didn't want to make money from something like that. It gets complicated on a consciousness level."

Patti Smith & Neil Young
Date: ?

Today, Patti Smith will host a lunchtime interview of Neil Young at BookExpo America in New York City and discuss his upcoming book 'Waging Heavy Peace'.

In the video above, Patti Smith discusses recording a cover of Neil Young's "After the Gold Rush" for her new album Banga.
"The last song on the record, I performed live with my son, Jackson, and my daughter, Jesse," says Smith. "I wanted the album to end like dawn breaking, and I thought of the type of song that I wanted to write. But then I was in a café and I happened to hear Neil Young's 'After the Gold Rush,' and I thought, 'Neil's already written it.'"

More on “Waging Heavy Peace”: Neil Young's Upcoming Book.

More on Patti Smith and Neil Young.

Labels: , , ,


At 6/06/2012 09:35:00 AM, Blogger Dan1 said...

For some reason hearing other people sing Neil's songs according to their original interpretations highlights to me the incredible power and beauty of his songs ... true Patti Smith here sings the song beautifully but its the song itself that blows me away ...

At 6/06/2012 10:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't know if this has been posted anywhere but Neil did a brief interview with Reuters:


At 6/06/2012 12:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Needle and the Damage Done currently playing at Neil Young lunch. What's your favorite Neil song?

At 6/06/2012 12:30:00 PM, Blogger Arthur said...

Besides wishing I had a father like Scott Young, I'd like to be what Patti Smith is drinking.

At 6/06/2012 02:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We will embrace technology so long as we can maintain feeling. We don't want our work to be reduced to information." -Patti Smith

At 6/06/2012 03:19:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Great interview today. Good chemistry btw Patti and Neil ... Neil seemed to imply during the talk that he started writing the book and it got him thinking about old folk songs he sang with the squires and also got him thinking about THe Horse implying that the book is what led him toward Americana and also to regroup with The Horse ... very cool, overall an event well worth attending, it seemed that Neil was wearing the same poncho as he was wearing in his Americana film ...

At 6/06/2012 03:27:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

I've been fortunate to see Patti perform with both of her children. Jesse played beautiful piano accompaniment while her mom sang Only A Dream at last year's Carnegie Hall tribute. That was the highest highlight of a show which had many of them.

Back in the mid 90's, I saw Patti four times during the first year she came out of retirement. One of these was at the old WBCN River Rave. During her performance there, she brought Jackson on stage to play guitar as she performed one of his favorite songs...Smoke On The Water! He was only thirteen at the time, if I recall correctly, and did a great job. Patti sang her heart out and there wasn't the slightest bit of irony in her version.

As much as I admire Patti and Neil for their music and artistry, I have even more respect for the job they've done as parents. And the fact that they do both jobs with such pleasure and ease...well that's just the way they are.

Can't wait for the tour!!! Check the link below from Patti's site for a great picture of her and Neil back in the day; boy does he look happy.

At 6/06/2012 03:45:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

Thanks for the report, Dan. Sounds like a great time; glad that you could make it.

Wondering if any mention made of Ray Bradbury's passing during this event or during the BookExpo? He was one of the true literary giants, that's for sure.

At 6/06/2012 06:17:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

This is a great article! It is awesome to hear two legends sit down and talk with each other. Patti Smith's new record is incredible! She does a sweet cover of "After the Gold Rush"

At 6/06/2012 07:20:00 PM, Blogger Greg McGarvey said...

Mr. Wheat,

If my biggest artistic inspirations were all in the same car, Neil would be driving and Patti would probably be in the passenger seat. Robyn Hitchcock and Michael Stipe would be taking weird photos in the backseat, and all would agree to play The Fabulous Style Of The Everly Brothers on the car stereo. They'd all sing along and only Michael would be close to being in key, but it would be beautiful.

Anyway, what an amazing moment when two of my artistic heroes connect. And thanks for helping to capture the moment.

At 6/06/2012 08:50:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

Mr. Henry,
I was only at the lunchtime event with Neil and Patti and there was no mention of Ray Bradbury's passing.

At 6/06/2012 09:19:00 PM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

"Young described it as more of a diary than a memoir. “I would write what I was thinking,” he told Smith, who agreed with him, adding, “There’s no barrier between the reader and you. I really felt you were talking to me...”

Smith also praised Waging Heavy Peace for its nonlinear narrative structure, telling Young, “It’s not chronological, but memory is not chronological.”

A Friend Of Yours

At 6/07/2012 12:19:00 AM, Blogger Greg Mantho said...

Neil, on Waging Heavy Peace, from Fresh Air interview: "It's not really a memoir, it's kind of a memoir, it's more like a diary..."

A Friend Of Yours

At 6/07/2012 03:26:00 AM, Blogger BecauseSoundMatters said...

Neil, on CH, from Fresh Air interview: "Crazy Horse is not known for doing complicated arrangements..."

At 6/07/2012 04:41:00 AM, Blogger peter d. said...

Would like to say that, as much as I was enthralled by the concept of Americana from the first news snippet we heard about it, I am very much looking forward to this book! It will be very satisfying, as it will be very Neil - all discussions that took place here cannot change the fact that here's a man with a vision that's as real as it can get.

A true blessing to live in his era.

At 6/07/2012 05:43:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“If you want to write a song, ask a guitar,” Young said. “Guitars have songs in them. Guitars have souls. Cars are the same way. Cars have souls. That’s why I love junkyards.”

At 6/07/2012 10:59:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The New Yorker:

Nice picture in full color of Patti an Neil.

At 6/07/2012 04:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What idiot things to say. Cars having souls. Memory is not chronologic. It's was like watching two mentally ill people having a conversation about their psychosis.

At 6/07/2012 05:39:00 PM, Anonymous Sharon said...

Thrasher! The photo of Patti and Neil is from 1979, taken in New York by Kate Simon :)

At 6/07/2012 06:41:00 PM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

And your comment, Anon? "It's was" meaningless, nasty and random...please go away. Have you ever actually dealt with anyone suffering psychosis? No, didn't think so. Is everything a clever joke to you? Yes, I thought so.

"There's a fine line between clever and stupid."
--David St. Hubbins

At 6/08/2012 11:43:00 AM, Blogger Mr Henry said...

RIP Bob Welch

Saw you with Fleetwood Mac almost 40 years ago now and I'm still singing some of those songs and hope I always will.

The Autumn Defense closed their set at Solid Sound last year with Sentimental Lady and it was great to see all the young folk transfixed by a timeless melody. Thanks Bob....

turn ourselves inside out
and a sum of us
will flicker
just a bit of dust, hardly noticed
but it fills the air with a substance.
The immortal dream...
--Patti Smith

At 6/09/2012 09:28:00 AM, Blogger BIGCHIEF said...

You know, I always said if you want an Asshole at your party, invite an 'Anon' ....

At 6/10/2012 02:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil and Patti are my two favorite artists, so glad they will do some shows. Anyone know of audio or video of the interview? Don't see any on cspan, utube or google search. Thanks and please provide a link if you know.

At 6/11/2012 09:26:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


Anons don't leave the basements. lol

At 6/11/2012 09:48:00 AM, Blogger Dan1 said...

I walk back my comments above a little bit, having re-listened to the Patti Smith version of 'Goldrush' on You Tube I'm pretty blown away ... the song itself is indeed astounding but her rendition is also hauntingly beautiful, I have never heard her before and don't know much other than she interviewed Neil but have to say I think her version is very moving as is her explanation above about how she came to use 'Goldrush' as the last song on her album ... also love the humility of saying she wanted a certain effect to close her album and then she heard Neil's Goldrush in a cafe and realized "Neil had already written the song" she wanted to complete her album ...


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