NPR Fresh Air Interview with Neil Young
Neil Young at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park on Saturday Sept. 29, 2012 in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
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An excellent Fresh Air Interview with Neil Young by Terri Gross on NPR. Neil discusses music, family, and medical conditions.
On performing 1971's Live at Massey Hall concert in Toronto
"First of all, the concert was a great time, because I was like coming home. The last time I'd been in Toronto before that, I was basically living on the street, and I had a flat that I was living in that cost like $12 a week. I had a little hotplate — cooked beans and stuff in my room. I'd really tried to get gigs as a folksinger and didn't do too well at that, so it was my formative time. So I wasn't a big success the last time I was there before this visit, so going back there and playing at Massey Hall and having a couple sold-out shows in one day — it was a real rush. So there was a great feeling. And plus, being Canadian and having reached a certain level of success in the States — it was a big deal, and I was in my early 20s. So when I showed up there, it was like all the Canadian kids that were there — they felt like, 'If this could happen to this guy, this could happen to me. It could happen to anybody.' Sort of a celebration of Canadian spirit."
On writing music and guitar distortion
"I try not to think while I'm doing it. Hopefully, I'm completely gone somewhere and I'm just making a sound, and I just like to hear the sound. So it's all about having a good time and making a sound, but you really have to have a reason for making the sound. So that's why I write songs and the songs have got the message. But after a while, you forget about the message — you just get the sound going, and then the two things go together, and then if you're lucky, you write another song. There has to be something to say that gives validity to what I'm playing, so that you can't just play for the rest of time."