LIVE BLOG: Patti Smith Interviews Neil Young at BookExpo America in New York City
Photo by The New Yorker
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Live tweeting from the Neil Young lunch. Beginning soon! #BEA12 #bookexpo
"What I love about the book is there is no barrier between you and your reader. It felt like you were talking to me." Patti to Neil #BEA12— Penguin Books USA (@penguinusa) June 6, 2012
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 – USATODAY.com 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."
"We will embrace technology so long as we can maintain feeling. We don't want our work to be reduced to information." -Patti Smith #BEA12— Penguin Books USA (@penguinusa) June 6, 2012
Patti Smith: "What do you read?" Neil Young: "Right now I'm reading you. I'm reading Just Kids and I love it." #BEA12— nationalbook (@nationalbook) June 6, 2012
Neil Young's dad called him Windy because he always had so many ideas! Can't wait to read his memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, in October! #BEA12— NatGeo Books (@NatGeoBooks) June 6, 2012
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.