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Saturday, August 13, 2016

INTERVIEW: Neil Young: All Alone the Captain Stands - Flood Magazine

Neil Young: All Alone the Captain Stands
Photo by Michael Muller | Flood Magazine
(Click photo to enlarge)

An interview from Flood Magazine - Neil Young: All Alone the Captain Stands by Pat McGuire:
Q: In [your 2012 memoir] Waging Heavy Peace, you wrote a passage about walking with your dog and always sending a warning as you walk so as to avoid startling anything you might be approaching. How drastically have we ignored our planet’s warnings? Is that to some degree what EARTH is about?

NEIL: We don’t even pay attention to what’s going on. We’re so distracted, we don’t see. You can experience the whole [new record] as an ear movie. Close your eyes and listen to it with no stops for an hour and a half. The [message] is that with all the creatures, there’s a relief. There’s no politics with animals, they don’t have an agenda. There’s a war going on and the crickets are still singing. Where they’re allowed to sing, they sing. Every once in a while they get wiped out by what we’re doing, but if they’re not being wiped out, they’re being themselves. They’re not campaigning; they’re living.

Is there an implied chronology to the nature sounds on the record?

One thing leads to another. [The original] running order started with a war, and then there was silence, then nature, and then the record happened. But that just didn’t work for me. So the second running order was this one. It’s all one big song—everything relates to everything else. It was quite a monumental undertaking to put this together. [Neither the co-producer] John Hanlon, who I made the record with, [nor] I had ever worked on anything like it before. It got completely out of control.

Do you mean with making the field recordings?

Field recordings, editing, putting the transitions together, crossfading, going from one place to another, [figuring out] where you introduce the animals [and on] which song. A lot of the field recording I did myself around my home, because my home is surrounded by animals. A crow lives [there], I see the crow every morning, and he has his girlfriend

Did you tell them they’re guest stars on a Neil Young album?

Yeah! I talk to them all the time, and they talk back. They know me, and they’re not just there, they’re aware; if you pay attention to them, you can see that they’re just as there as you are. My girlfriend has a hummingbird that comes out in the morning and [hovers] right in front of her face and looks at her. It’s interesting; they’re forms of life, and to me it’s a very simple thing: I would like to make sure they have a place to live.
Full interview from Flood Magazine - Neil Young: All Alone the Captain Stands by Pat McGuire.

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At 8/13/2016 06:07:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Dear Neil, get a grip!

'Yeah! I talk to them all the time, and they talk back. They know me, and they’re not just there, they’re aware; if you pay attention to them, you can see that they’re just as there as you are. My girlfriend has a hummingbird that comes out in the morning and [hovers] right in front of her face and looks at her'

At 8/14/2016 09:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this interview might have been printed before in a UK newspaper back in June. Seems familiar anyway. Still very interesting and worth a read.

Anyway, now that the hysteria around the current tour has died down (temporarily), it's time to stop mucking about and get down to business. And yes, 2016 has been good so far. But my guess is you've all been so busy fantasising about that "rare song that was last played in 1912" that you've forgotten what truly great Neil Young actually sounds like. You've become the equivalent of unimaginative train-spotters, drooling over rare songs and set-lists without ever truly opening your ears.

Fortunately, a potent remedy is at hand. A shot of true greatness will quickly wake you up. So stop what you are doing right now and dig out your dust-covered CD copies of Greendale and Sleeps With Angels (the ones with the broken plastic cases). These are albums that easily sit within Young's top 10 creative works (I'm tempted to say: top 5. But that would only annoy people). Yes, they are not brand new and shiny. They don't have any novelty value. They are subtle and demand your complete attention. But they are absolutely worth another listen, from start to finish. They are musical gold. Magical. Works of genius. At the very least, they will enrich your day. And at best, they will change your life.

So that should sort you out, get you back on track. You're welcome. Send your payments to my usual address.

Incidentally, I've been listening to Earth a bit more, and I still think it's an exciting and powerful project. I must say, however, that the sound quality complaints by others are starting to gain some traction in my mind. And yes, I stick by my comments that this record isn't "flat sounding". There's a lot of dynamic range here. And you do need to crank it up.

But yesterday I made the big mistake of listening to Love And Only Love from Earth shortly after listening to the original Ragged Glory version, and I must begrudgingly admit the Earth version is probably the worst-sounding track ever released by Neil. The overblown, unsympathetic performance by POtR is part of the problem (I keep hearing how great this band was in 2015; very little evidence of it on this record), but the sound quality is truly horrible, like it was recorded through a wall of foam. Not quite sure what happened there. And yes, most of the album does sounds a bit better. But it seems that the more obsessed Neil becomes with sound quality, the worse his records actually sound.

"Try to make things better, sometimes you just end up making them a thousand times worse" as Dylan sang in 2001.

Anyway, just thought I'd stop by with a few thoughts. Best wishes to all.


At 8/14/2016 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Pocahontas said...

I'm with you Scots. Nothing after PP is of the same quality he is capable of. But as I say, he's getting older, he's distracted by his new lady, and if he never put out another album and I get to see him live a few more times- going to Outlaw Fest in Sept!-there will be nothing to complain about.

At 8/14/2016 10:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite it's faults, I think the 2011-2016 period has been a lot stronger than 2005-2010. There's more to get your teeth into; more substance and intensity. Less Dirty Old Man, Ever After and Hit The Road; more Ramada Inn, Walk Like A Giant, Big Box etc etc.

Not many real masterworks, perhaps, but genuine flashes of genius that show that even in older age, Neil is still capable of rising to the occassion and delivering. Something he didn't really do much on Fork In The Road, Le Noise, et al.

I think it's about time he got together with Frank Samedro again; apparently the only guy alive who truly understands how to to play rhythm guitar for Neil Young in a truly sympathetic way. And, like Briggs, Poncho is someone who so often pushes Neil into getting down to business and recording his best work, with no compromise. Neil Young is often "good" with other guitarists, but he is very rarely "great". And greatness is all I'm interested in, to be honest.


At 8/14/2016 11:48:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Everything that has followed P.P. has been weak, i.m.h.o.
Though I must give Neil Cred fer still being out there and putting on some truly great shows.
It is my belief his various side projects and lifestyle changes are pulling him further from hi "Muse", and his art is suffering.
And, of course, PONOSUCKS.COM

At 8/14/2016 03:41:00 PM, Blogger stresswitch said...

Okay, so, feeling inspired by @flyingscotzman's challenge above - "Anyway, now that the hysteria around the current tour has died down (temporarily), it's time to stop mucking about and get down to business" - but from a slightly different viewpoint, I thought this might be a fun way to pass the time...

So I'd like to ask the combined wisdom of the TW community - If you were going to put together the 2016 equivalent of Ron Yaxley/Tom Zumafan/Soldier Steve's "Live Earth 2015" compilation of the 13 tracks making up "Earth" - (see for info if need be) - but using your favourite versions of the songs as played during the European leg of the tour, which ones would you choose?

If I'm reading the Sugar Mountain grid correctly (, then 3 songs from the album didn't get played in Europe - Hippie Dream, Big Box and People Want To Hear About Love - so feel free to make up the difference from the 2015 shows :)

Any takers...?


At 8/14/2016 04:24:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Scotsman - thanks as always. Interesting to go back to RG. We try and studiously avoid the Crazy Horse vs POTR debate trap. end.

@ stresswitch - great idea! Maybe we'll do a posting on this and maybe someone will edit a mix tape?!

@d Ho - really? that's twice in same thread. please take your Pono hate elsewhere. namaste

At 8/14/2016 04:25:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Disregarding the above question, and Meaning absolutely NO dis respect in the means whilst I feel I need to add that AMERICANA was one of the MOST ambitious undertakings and nearly last stand of my favorite band on Earth. It does Not, i.m.h.o. (or NOT so) garner the respect and admiration from fans it so deserves. Just on boldness and courageousness and Uniqueness it scores MAJOR points. I distinctly remember looking forward to at least a couple of tunes on the tour to hearing....... NONE. after an opening at Redrocks that featured several. That venue was ALWAYS on my bucket list. Never more so than opening night one and followup night two for the horse, I fear will never gallop again. But I knew that, somehow, snagging two nights in the NY area. NO AMERICANA songs were played at either show. A shame fer sure. Listen, REALLY listen to this record. ALL present and accounted for. A last stand, unbeknownst or maybe NOT.

At 8/14/2016 04:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Hey Hey, My My (26/4/1991)
2. Crime In The City (26/4/1991)
3. Blowin' In The Wind (16/2/1991)
4. Love To Burn (22/2/1991)
5. Cinnamon Girl (27/2/1991)
6. Mansion On The Hill (27/2/1991)
7. F*!#in' Up (27/2/1991)
8. Cortez The Killer (19/2/1991)
9. Powerfinger (27/2/1991)
10. Love And Only Love (9/3/1991)
11. Rockin' In The Free World (23/2/1991)
12. Tonight's The Night (24/2/1991 or 11/4/1991)
13. Farmer John (17/2/1991)
14. Like A Hurricane (26/4/1991 or 16/2/1991 or 9/2/1991)

Hopefully I undestood the question correctly.


(If you want to hear some of the greatest rock music EVER made, then this compilation is an extraordinarily tasteful place to start. Every single one of these electrifying versions will send a shiver down your spine. Some of them will make you cry with joy. Neil Young at his absolute best).


At 8/14/2016 04:47:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I appreciate yer blind loyalness to MR. Young and all his various sidetracks. twice in the same thread? Nope. And I apologize in advance fer yer blinders, which prevent you from seeing clearly my intentions. I am, first and foremost, a fan. I am surprised you cannot see that I am but one, but as one, I can invoke the change needed to propel. OR I could sit idly by and accept things for the way they are and DO NOTHING. what greater good would that path serve? If I am pointing out shortcomings, in the hopes they are addressed AND corrected, well then, Mission Accomplished. sorry to have hitchhiked a ride. I thought you would "get it". guess I was wrong. do you own a ponoplayer? are you part of the forum? Neil is surrounded by "Yes" men, as I suspect most men of his stature are. I have quoted you, your site and links, many times in the past with proper credit given, always. If you wish I Not, please be clear and I'll be gone. not happily so, but gone nonetheless.

At 8/14/2016 04:50:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

We could all agree or disagree about the recent output, that debate could last until Archives 2 arrives. What I find interesting is that a major influence on Neil has been Ms Hannah and yet we seem to ignore her part in everything Neil has been singing, playing or saying recently. The photos of them together on the Riveria are frankly hilarious, and I know it really doesn't matter but we seem to ignore the changes in Neil's persona. What next a make over? You all know my views on the Neil's last ten years - where are the songs where are the lyrics?

Rust never sleeps or perhaps it does

At 8/14/2016 05:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Earth.

As a non-fan of 2015 concerts, I actually think Neil picked some good versions. Hippie Dream, Vampire Blues, most of the Monsanto songs, Mother Earth. Though I'm not sure if they would sound as good without the colourful and creative overdubs.

If was going to do a 2016 live album, I think I'd mainly pick versions from April, just as the band were starting to hit their peak. There's a spark to those spring shows that makes them noteworthy. That first version of Revolution Blues is still the best thing I've heard with them so far.

Some will no doubt look down on my comments today for stubbornly focusing too much on the past. In truth, all I'm doing is providing some much-needed balance. I'm probably one of the younger fans here. Back in 2008, I remember certain "rusties" saying how Crazy Horse were old news, time for them to retire etc. The Electric Band were more versatile, talented, superior etc. Then in 2012, when Crazy Horse returned, it was the other way round! Now he's with POtR and again, Crazy Horse are again being "put out of business" etc. Same old story.

People now just seem to love what is new and shiny, the current incarnation, at the expense of everything else. It's not the music that seems to be important, but the fact that it is happening NOW!

But of course, great music is great music, whether recorded in 1916 or 2016. I remember when there was still vibrant and varied enthusiasm about the Lost Dogs, The Bluenotes, the International Harvesters, the Ducks, the MGs, Pearl Jam etc. People excitedly talking about shows from 1995 or 1976 or 2002, telling me (when I was a new fan) what bootlegs to seek out. It was an exciting and diverse community to be part of. Younger fans now are missing out on this. All we hear about now is POtR, this magical band that can apparently walk on water. Everything else has apparently been rendered obsolete.

Of course this is ridiculous. So I'm trying to inspire people to again dig out there album and bootleg collections, to dig a
little deeper. Come back and tell us about that great audience tape from 1973 that you've just discovered, or whatever. Neil's made a hell of a lot of great music over the years. And most of it is completely timeless. Time to rediscover some of it, I think. And you might as well start with Sleeps With Angels.

(As this is not being posted at a busy time, I am naively assuming I can escape unscathed from the usual disproportionate outrage, nitpicking, "you are completely wrong", "you should be shot" etc etc).

Thanks all.


At 8/14/2016 06:19:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8/14/2016 06:22:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

@ Scotsman - Greendale is a weak album ok love the concept but the songs are weak - even worse was the film. I have a few bootlegs from 1973-74 crap sound but the songs are superb simple songs such as Love in Mind and Stringman have a resonance that recent songs don't have.
Sure I'm living in the past - but as Neil said 'It's all about the music....people get hurt but I have to stay with the muse'....the music is no loner there. I'll admit the set lists from the recent tour look and sound great - because some ole nuggets were mined.

At 8/14/2016 07:54:00 PM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

@Stresswitch - Just FYI, People Want To Hear About Love was played July 21 in Berlin

At 8/14/2016 07:58:00 PM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

@Don Ho - The only Americana song ever played live was Jesus' Chariot, three times in the first four shows of the 2012 Alchemy tour (Albuquerque, Red Rocks night two, Tahoe).

At 8/14/2016 09:04:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanxs @ Babbo. I see Sugarmountain is yer friend.....I stand corrected, was running on the memory of those first couple of shows that were youtubed. doesn't make me feel any better tho. Like EVERYONE else on the planet who bought tickets, I had a "free" Americana CD that I nearly wore out leading up to the shows. Spent the whole summer and got treated to TWO Identical Set Lists @ MSG & Barclay's, W/no Americana. (@ least Patti Smith changed her setlist up). Conversely, caught all of the "Greendale" shows in the Area and he played the WHOLE Album @ 3 different shows. OFW. Neil. being. Neil. Fer the record, I didn't fully appreciate Greendale @ the time. wasn't until he released the DVD version w/ the horse, "Live @ Greendale". had a similar effect with "Living with War". didn't love it, until "In the Beginning" was released.
"Fork in the Road" is where I drew the line. I figure if Neil's gonna put out the trash, so will I. Garbage and Gimmicks, count me out.
And PONOSUCKS.COM still, even worse w/ today's news!

At 8/14/2016 10:58:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

NEIL GET A GRIP ???!!! Maybe YOU need to slow down and notice nature...the kinds of animal encounters he mentions happen all the time. But maybe you're too busy chasing more money...

At 8/15/2016 12:24:00 AM, Blogger Arthur said...

"....People are angry, Neil. You should write a song about that...."

At 8/15/2016 01:15:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

@ Robert Bard - steady on I'm at one with nature it's been talking to me for years - Neil encounters nature the next album ? Mr Doolittle Soul & Neil hasn't accumulated a small fortune...cough up the bucks indeeed........

At 8/15/2016 12:32:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ d HO - "Methinks thou dost protest too much."

At 8/15/2016 06:47:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

@ Thrasher "but yea doths NOT think Yea hero (NEIL) doths protests too much"? GIVE YEA A BREAK!

At 8/17/2016 01:11:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Everything I've seen on YouTube from the last tour was fantastic to me, and I still love Sleeps With Angels and Greendale........that's OK, right?

And yes, 1991 was a helluva year for live Neil, I remember seeing my best Crazy Horse show that year. And I still love to listen to 1976 bootlegs, and 1974 at the Bottom Line, and 1970 with Danny Whitten.

It's just all good Neil eras, not sure why I would choose one over the other, it's ALL great.

Now if you want to talk crappy Neil, how bout that 1973 tour? Neil was miserable and sorry, but the Stray Gators was Neil's worst backing band by a mile. I'd take the Shocking Pinks in a heartbeat, at least Neil was having fun.

At 8/17/2016 01:11:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


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