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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Rare 1969 CBC Radio Interview with Neil Young + The Story Behind the Interview

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Neil Young - 1967

Here is a very rare CBC 1969 Radio Interview with Neil Young that surfaced a few years ago from the CBC Archives. The fascinating radio interview by CBC Radio's Robert Fulford with Neil Young was broadcast on Feb. 11, 1969.



Some real profound insights into the "dirty" music business from a 24 year old, we would say. Neil Young frankly discusses career failure with The Buffalo Springfield, his recording process as a solo musician, and "mafia" label executives. Neil's crack about groupies and goldfish is enough to make one laugh out loud.

We followed up with CBC to get a little more background as to how this came to be and heard back from Elizabeth Bridge with the CBC Digital Archives project:
We've been wanting to put up something on Neil Young for about as long as our website has been around -- almost eight years now. But when our site was first launched, all our material was organized by topic, and (astonishing, but true) there just wasn't enough Neil in the CBC archives to build a whole topic on him.

About a year and a half ago we launched a redesign which enabled us, at last, to post one-off clips. As people pop up in the news, we are now able to quickly post a solo clip about them. Lately, among all the other things we produce, we've been focusing on posting some of the bigger celebrities who have appeared on CBC over the years.

When Neil Young's scheduled free appearance in Toronto this past weekend was cancelled (or, rather, was never booked in the first place), it prompted us to have a look once more. Typically we aim for TV clips first, but I can only guess that the CBC wasn't quite with-it enough, and that Neil went to LA so early in his career, that we just didn't have any TV of him early on. Keep in mind that we are mostly limited to using interviews and news pieces (i.e., no performances, because we'd have to license the song). So we turned to radio, and there was that 1969 clip. It was really the only interview of any substance available.

So to answer your question, we never really looked hard enough before. There isn't any story about an item misfiled in the vault or improperly catalogued; we just hadn't got around to it yet.

The image is another story. All our radio clips need images, so we found a non-CBC special from 1967 called Go!!! (filmed in New York, I think) featuring performances by Buffalo Springfield and a few other bands. We took a still while Neil was performing "Mr. Soul."

Interviewer Robert Fulford is a Canadian cultural critic and arts journalist. His show "This is Robert Fulford" ran on CBC Radio for a few years in the late '60s and early '70s.

Incidentally I went to Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, Neil's old school. His yearbook image in the school library's copy had long since been razored out by an enthusiastic fan by the time I got there.

I'm hoping he's able to show up for the reunion in 2012 when the school celebrates 100 years...

Elizabeth Bridge
Writer, CBC Digital Archives
Thanks Elizabeth for the story behind the interview. And sorry Neil didn't make it to the reunion.

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10 Comments:

At 2/13/2016 11:02:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

This interview, as I remember after hearing it when I was in Canada long ago, sealed the deal with Neil's music. Can you imagine?

 
At 2/13/2016 11:10:00 AM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

This is the Neil I remember which perplexes me how easily he can be manipulated.

 
At 2/13/2016 11:31:00 AM, Blogger growl said...

Very innaresting. Off topic: our Australian cousins can visit the Sydney Opera House in April to see "The Last Waltz Revisted". Performed by Australian rock artists, this is a re-run off the famed SF gig recently documented here. Could be fun.

 
At 2/13/2016 12:32:00 PM, Blogger TopangaDaze said...

Great interview. Neil was definitely wise beyond his years and knew where he wanted to go..

"buried by the neon"
"I have a little more endurance than most"
"convinced that nothing's going to stop me"

Great comments also about managers, mafia record execs and groupies.

Clearly Neil knew his early roadmap to success. Others were more talented, but he wasn't going to be denied.

As Kipling said so eloquently:

"If you can trust yourself when others doubt you;
But make allowance for their doubting too"

Believe in your mission and yourself, and there's really nothing that can stop you except yourself. Unfortunately for the vast majority of us, we mostly tend to stop ourselves (or never even get started).

@Mother Nature: Are you saying he was being manipulated back then, or are you saying
that he's now being manipulated and/or easy to manipulate?

As with his music, I feel he is simply complex. On balance, I consider him to be very naïve and gullible politically, environmentally and on a wide variety of complex subjects he delves into quickly.

He gets easily distracted and engrossed by the latest "cause" or interest, but he has a "moral" and "intellectual" compass guided by his heart that eventually brings him back around to true North.

Take my advice
don't listen to me

 
At 2/13/2016 01:20:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@MNOTR - your comment about "how easily he can be manipulated" is a bit puzzling.

We think that for many, it's Neil's independence that we find attractive. That he hasn't been a flavor of the moment kind of guy. Actually, we think it's the opposite that he can't be manipulated. That said, it would seem that no one is truly independent, which is unfortunate.

And if you think NY is manipulated, how about you & me in this Big New World??

@growl - off topic is OK. :)

@T Daze - nice Kipling quote. Likewise, we're coming from same place on MNOTR's comment.

 
At 2/13/2016 07:01:00 PM, Blogger sab1024 said...

So Neil wanted to be a "single" after the Springfield breakup. Interesting how the term, "singer/songwriter" hadn't been coined yet. That term was just around the corner as the solo acts of 70s emerged. What a time that was!

 
At 2/13/2016 11:19:00 PM, Blogger (D.) Ian Kertis said...

@Thrasher--

MNOTR's comment is a little perplexing to me as well. I've never seen Neil Young as someone who is easily led. If we're talking about his latest environmentalist/anti-corporate kick with Promise of the Real, I think the positions Neil is taking are consistent with things he's said for years. This is the man who conceived of LincVolt? Have we all forgotten Fork in the Road? Given the brouhaha I remember it causing on this very blog, that seems unlikely to me, but some folk seem to have forgotten that Neil is capable of slipping into one-track mind eco-crusader mode every so often. Not that there's anything wrong with that. If there's anything we need today, it's cleaner, greener energy.

At any event, this interview is a nice discovery, and Neil is absolutely right about the big sound on I've Been Waiting for You. Amazing that that's mostly him. I believe he disavowed the overdubbing approach soon after, preferring to sing and play everything (especially guitar) live in the studio, but his debut album has a unique place in the catalogue.

 
At 2/14/2016 10:40:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

@ (D.) Ian - Exactly. The efforts on LV, PONO, anti-GMO seem to be the opposite of being manipulated. Certainly his manager Elliot must've have advised Neil these were not exactly great moves. And certainly Neil's accountants rolled their eyeballs. And look @ LWW?! Let's impeach the President. That'll go ever real well. Afterall, look what a similar -- and far tamer criticism -- did for the Dixie Chicks careers.

Yes, the interview is quite revealing in calling out the corruption of the music industry in the '60's. One only need look at the state of music today and the Big Stars. Talk about being manipulated. The Grammy's are on tomorrow in full display of manipulation, corruption and mediocrity. Although we admit we'll be fascinated with Lady Gaga's tribute to the late, great David Bowie. Should be quite the spectacle.

 
At 2/14/2016 10:42:00 AM, Blogger Thrasher Wheat said...

ps - (D.) Ian - good to hear from you again, our friend.

 
At 2/14/2016 07:10:00 PM, Blogger (D.) Ian Kertis said...

@Thrasher--

Yeah, I like to check in on Neil News every now and again. You may call me simply "Ian", by the way. I habitually keep my first initial in print because the bureaucratic confusion caused by going by one's middle name can be annoying.

 

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