NEW ALBUM: Pegi Young & The Survivors - 'Raw'
Photo by Jay Blakesberg
Pegi Young has a new album coming out in February 2017 titled 'Raw'.
In an interview in Rolling Stone by David Browne, Pegi discusses life after her divorce from Neil Young and the heartbreak which pervades her new album.
"Looking out, it's just a gorgeous day," Pegi Young says from her family ranch south of San Francisco. "It's beautiful here." If woodsy nature weren't inspiring enough, the arrival of a grandchild about 10 days before is also reason to celebrate. "Seeing him and holding him – oh, my gosh," Young says of her grandson. "It was euphoric. It was just amazing."Full interview in Rolling Stone by David Browne.
Young's recent life hasn't always been so joyful. Two years ago, word leaked out that her husband Neil was filing for divorce after 36 years of marriage. "We were having a rough patch," Pegi, 63, admits. "But I never would've thought in a million years we would be getting divorced. So, yeah, there was a bit of a shock value there."
Like many before her, Young decided to turn her range of feelings into songs. In 2007, Young, who had frequently sung backup in her husband's band, belatedly launched her own career with a self-titled album, followed by three more. But none are quite like Raw, which Young will release in February. Raw opens with a pointed jab at her ex, "Why" (as in "Why'd you have to ruin my life," its refrain). In songs she co-wrote with two members of her band, keyboard legend Spooner Oldham and guitarist Kelvin Holly, Young works her way through feelings of hurt ("Gave My Best to You," "Too Little Too Late," "Lonely"), acceptance ("You Won't Take My Laugh Away from Me") and, finally, exhaustion with her own turmoil ("Up to Here"). Interspersed are covers soaked in heartbreak: Otis Clay's "Trying to Live My Life Without You," Dolly Parton's "Do I Ever Cross Your Mind,"" Randy VanWarmer's 1978 Lite FM hit "Just When I Needed You Most" and the Nancy Sinatra–associated feminist anthem "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'."
"We looked at all the songs we had and I just put together this initial sequence and, you know, it was perfect," Young says. "It told a story. I kind of look at it as a soundtrack to the seven stages of grief. You've got anger, then shock and disbelief. As we go through the album, the later songs show my growth and ... I can't say total acceptance, but I think the last song, that wonderful Don Henley song ["The Heart of the Matter"], talks about forgiveness. That's really where it's at, you know?"
When the news broke, Young had just released her fourth album, Lonely in a Crowded Room, with her band the Survivors. Although songs on that album and some of its predecessors – "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers," "Gonna Walk Away," "Lie" – seemed to imply marital discord, Young denies that was the case at the time. "Things weren't entirely going well," she says. "People look at those songs and go, 'Oh, well, that was obviously a precursor to the divorce.' But it really wasn't."
That wasn't the case with the new songs she began writing post-divorce. "Those early songs seem like the angriest," she laughs now. "I had to figure out at 61 years of age: 'Holy moly! Who am I?' So much of my life has been dedicated to my family and to Neil. So I was a bit lost for a while. I was on my own for a long time before I married Neil, and now I'm on my own again. I've kind of gotten over the separation and divorce. I'm capable. I can do this."
Despite the heartbreak that accompanied her breakup, Young admits one aspect of her life with Neil has stayed with her: his candid approach to songwriting. "Having lived with him for so many years and learning from him by observance, he writes from his heart," she says. "So I just don't think there's any other way to go about it."
"Even though this is probably the most personal record I've ever done, I still think there's a universality to it," she says. "I'm certainly not the only person to have gone through a divorce. I'm not the only person who's had heartbreak. Heartbreak is pretty universal, sadly but truly. And I hope that other people that have gone through similar or different situations can relate to it."
"I guess I just want people to know there's hope, and not just hope but forgiveness, which is so key to our mental health," she says. "We go through things we may not've expected, what we thought was maybe our future. But even if we get the shock of our lifetime, life goes on. You figure out who you are again, and you just keep going on. I'm a living persona of that."
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