Neil Young Interview Transcript: Companion Bonus Track on Prairie Wind - OCTOBER 2005
Neil Young - 2005
Photo by Chris Pizzello
If you bought the "Prairie Wind" CD with the DVD bonus, there is an Easter Egg on the DVD that many are unaware of.
If you go to the Bio section of the DVD, select Neil's bio, roll the mouse over the information, and a old style transistor radio will appear, click on it and listen.
If not, here is a transcript of interview with Neil Young by JODY DENBERG in OCTOBER 2005.
Interview TranscriptMore on Prairie Wind Companion CD.
Simply put, during almost 40 years of writing and making music, Neil Young has given the world some of its best songs, and some of its most intense concert performances. As a solo artist, as well as with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby Stills, Nash And Young, and Crazy Horse, Neil Young has always remained true to his muse. And now, Neil and his muse have given us a new album that's an instant classic, it's called Prairie Wind.
It brings together the best qualities in neil's acoustic music, and adds new colors, takes his lyrical themes about relationships and nature to different places. i'm jody denberg, and from nashville, tennessee, i welcome you to prairie wind companion, a one-hour program with neil young, featuring many of the songs from his new cd, prairie wind, howdy, neil.
NEIL YOUNG Hi.
JODY DENBERG : Most of Prairie Wind was recorded right here in Nashville, wasn't it?
NEIL YOUNG: It was all recorded here, yeah.
JODY DENBERG: Where did you record it at?
NEIL YOUNG: At, uh, the old Monument Studios, it's now called Master Link...
JODY DENBERG: Okay.
NEIL YOUNG: ...used to be a church and a confederate morgue in the Civil War, and, and, uh, you know, it was a hospital for a little while, but mostly, it was a church, and then it became Monument Recording Studios, and, where Orbison recorded everything, and now it's Master Link. It's starting to be surrounded by high rises and everything, and kind of like to see it come back to looking like the old church, and still be the recording studio that looked like the old church on the outside. So, I think it's a Nashville landmark.
JODY DENBERG: You first recorded in Nashville more than 30 years ago for the Harvest album. What motivated you to come back to record Prairie Wind?
NEIL YOUNG: You know Ben Keith said once, you just come and, and record here and everybody's here, and it always worked before, and, and I, uh, I didn't have any songs, I only had one song, really, I just had the Painter, and, uh, and a little bit of the melody to No Wonder. But I, eventually, I said, I'm going to come to New York to induct Chrissie Hind into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in March, and I'll, uh, I'll come by Nashville on the way back.
And we'll, uh, we'll do some recording, you know, we'll just see what happens. And, you know, everybody's here, all my friends are here, so it was easy to get all the old guys back together again, the ones that are still here.
JODY DENBERG: During the last two nights, you performed concerts featuring the Prairie Wind album at the Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Old Opry. You were mentioning the studio being a church, that is a church, where we were the last couple nights.
NEIL YOUNG: That's right. It's gotten to be a, now, a big old music church, it's like kind of, like, being inside an acoustic guitar, that place, so it's a wonderful, wonderful place, and, uh, and it has so much of a, of a hallowed, uh, kind of feeling to it, and the history, obviously, speaks for itself. So, we wanted to pay our respects to our roots, and to the great musicians that have gone before us, and to kind of re-establish the, uh, connection.
I mean, I, I've got nothing against Opry Land, but it's, uh, it's not the Grand Old Opry, to me. It's all there with the, uh, tootsies, and the other bar is right down there in the back alley, that you can go from a honky tonk right into, uh, right into the rhyme, and it's only, like, 100 feet from the bar stool to the stage, you know.
JODY DENBERG: The shows the last couple nights were filmed by, uh, Jonathan Demme, how did that come about?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, Jonathan's an old friend of mine, and a friend of, uh, Elliot's, my manager, and, uh, he called, he, he, you know, he's done, uh, some things with us before. I, I don't often do songs for movies, uh, but, you know, he called me up and asked me to try to see if I could come up with something for Philadelphia. And then I wrote a song, and, uh, for the movie, and, you know, I think it had a lot to do with the movie, and, uh, and it really fit in.
And, and I felt really proud of it. And Jonathan really liked it, and Tom Hanks really liked it. So, I, I felt really good about our relationship, working relationship.
JODY DENBERG: Last night, when you performed Prairie Wind live, the Fisk University Jubilee Singers, the Nashville String Machine were all, there was about 35 players, all told. So, is the film gonna replace you being able to take this out on the road?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, it depends on how I do it, um, I could play mostly songs with a, with a core of about ten people. But, if I was going to, uh, take this particular show that I did tonight on the road, there's only a few theaters that could handle it, because I couldn't do it, the way I did it, uh, I don't think the crowd would, uh, be able to handle the long breaks, while we set up. And, uh, we're looking at those theaters. There's New York, L.A., maybe Chicago, possibly, uh, Las Vegas, those are the only places where I could perform this.
JODY DENBERG: The first song on Prairie Wind is the Painter, the character's a woman. Was Joni Mitchell an inspiration for that in any way?
NEIL YOUNG: Actually, my daughter is a painter.
JODY DENBERG: Do you paint?
NEIL YOUNG: No, I'm a terrible artist. (laugh)
JODY DENBERG: That was Neil Young with the Painter, from his new album Prairie Wind, and this is Prairie Wind Companion, a conversation with Neil about his new album. In the Painter, you sing, it's a long road behind me, it's a long road ahead. Does it shake you up a little that you're about to turn 60 years old?
NEIL YOUNG: Oh, it shakes me up a little bit, but not much, yeah.
JODY DENBERG: In the Painter, you sing, if you follow every dream, you might get lost. Were there times in your career that you thought you followed a dream and got lost?
NEIL YOUNG: Oh all the time. I, I think I got lost every time. And I, you know, that's one of my trademarks. (laugh)
JODY DENBERG:You know, a few months ago we heard that you had a brain aneurism that resulted in you being hospitalized and having surgery. Exactly what happened and how are you feeling today?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, they took care of it and I feel good, I, I have to take some medicine for high blood pressure, and, uh, I don't like that, because it kind of puts a, a clamp on me, you know. So, I'm trying to figure out a way around that.
JODY DENBERG: Around the medicine?
NEIL YOUNG: Yeah. I'm trying to figure out a way to, to keep a grip on the, uh, on that problem without taking the medicine. I've reduced it from a lot of pills, down to a half a pill a day, already, you know, over the course of six months, but apparently, if I continued unchecked, that, there would be risk of another one, and, uh, there'd be, you know, they're dangerous. So, we don't want anymore of those.
JODY DENBERG: Mm. Were the Prairie Wind songs written before or after you got sick?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, I started it, um, knowing that I had this. I'd discovered this just before I left to go start, and, uh, you know, I had a symptom of something that was, that made me curious about what's going on. You know, so I, I had all these checks, and this doctor was a really diligent doctor, and he took me to five different doctors in about four hours. I mean, just led me around through all these places in New York to all these different guys.
These were really heavy doctors, and, uh, really good doctors. And I went to the head of this department, the head of that department, and all these things, really fast. Then they did an, uh, what, a, you know, an MRI thing on me, and then they saw this thing, and they discovered it. Uh, I made an appointment to see the, the fellow was, who does these kind of, uh, interventions.
And then I went to Nashville, and I had to come back in, you know, four or five days to, to meet the fellow, and talk about when we were going to do it. So, I just went to Nashville and started doing what I was doing before.
JODY DENBERG: The songs on Prairie Wind are in the order that you wrote them. And the next song we're going to hear is No Wonder, which is dreamy, but very intense. There's vision of a church that recurs throughout the song, and beautiful visions of amber waves of grain that bow in the prairie wind. But there's also, you know, time running out and crooked politicians. Is there something to be learned when wonder like that is side-by-side with things that don't have any wonder?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, that's, that's the song, you know, it's just the picture. (stammers) I don't know what the answer is. I, I just know that, uh, that's the, that's the picture.
JODY DENBERG: That was No Wonder from Neil Young's new album, Prairie Wind. Welcome back to Prairie Wind Companion, a conversation with Neil Young in Nashville Tennessee. The band really cooks at the end of No Wonder, the arrangements are so beautiful, the subtlety of it. Did you envision those arrangements or did the musicians also have a, a say in bringing them about?
NEIL YOUNG: We did it all together, you know. I choose the guys that can do it. All the guys that play with me, are, are, they're living right then. They're not there for anything else, other than making a mark, and, and doing, uh, doing everything they can to bring the song to life. We're all like brothers and sisters, and we all have the same family. We're all going in the same direction.
So, I, I don't have to think very much. I do lead them. But, u, they all go real easy. So, uh, you know, we made a DVD that goes with the record. The deluxe version of it, which you can get, you know, at the same time as you could just get the CD, is, is really much more rewarding, because it has the DVD, and you get to watch the entire record. So, you see every note being played.
You see every thing as it happened, as multi-screened, uh, you know, so you watch each musician play everything. And then, there's a documentary that's, uh, coming out, uh, in a couple of months, that shows, actually, the arrangements and everything being done. We had, and there's no dubbing, there's no lip-synching, there's none of that, uh, you know, I think the world has seen enough of that already.
So, we, we have the real thing, and the, and we had five hi-def cameras in the studio from the minute I walked in until when we finished the record. I recommend, if somebody's interested in getting this to get the set that has the DVD, so that you can really see it and hear it at the same time.
JODY DENBERG: On the song we just heard, no wonder, the chorus of singers is otherworldly, it's haunting, and it's unique in your work. I don't recall you employing singers in that fashion before.
NEIL YOUNG: Well, I've used a choir before. I used a choir in, uh, Touch The Night, I think was the name of the song, on 'Landing On Water', or some album, I can't remember. But, uh, it was a whole other thing. Uh, this song has got three different vocal groups, in, in each verse. So, you know, it starts off with the three guys singing with me, then it's Emmylou and Peggy and Diana, singing on the tick-tock part. Uh, and then the choir comes in on the, the church part. You know, it goes on a long journey.
JODY DENBERG: In the song, you sing of hearing your friend Willy Nelson sing on the radio, and you mention fields of fuel rolling on for miles. I'm imagining that's a reference to, uh, the potential for those fields to be used for bio-diesel, that you and Willy both used to power your buses on the road these days.
NEIL YOUNG: Yeah, yeah. We, we really got something going with that now. About a year ago, I, I called Willy and I said, you know, we could power Farm Aid with bio-diesel, with fuel grown by farmers, do you think we ought to do it, and he said, yeah, we ought to do that. Let's do it. So, we did it first on the West Coast, up in Seattle. And all the trucks were running on it. We had farmers bringing in the tankers.
And filling up the trucks, and then we ran the generators off of it, and we powered the lights and the sound system, and the whole venue off of vegetable oil. And, uh, you know, Rudolph Diesel, who invented the diesel engine, it, it originally ran on peanut oil, that's, diesel fuel is not a petrol fuel. It's, it's not from Saudi Arabia, or it's not from the sands. It's, it's, uh, diesel fuel originally was grown.
In, uh, Europe, they've been using bio-diesel for a long time. They use vegetable oil and cars like Mercedes Benz, and, and, uh, Volkswagen, and we don't have that in Fords and, and Chevys, they don't have that, uh, that technology yet. Which is really too bad. You folks out in radio land, ought to figure that one out for us. We have to come to grips with it, you know, uh.
There's very little that would have to be done to the whole infrastructure of this country, to let the farmers, uh, take care of a great percentage of our fuel needs.
JODY DENBERG: You mentioned Farm Aid. This year is the 20th anniversary of Farm Aid. Can you tell me a couple ways Farm Aid's made a difference, and what can still be done?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, what can still be done is, you know, we can just keep on going and keep on supporting the family farmer, and keep on talking about what we, what can be done. Other alternatives, like, you know, uh, there are other plants that can be grown, and can, and can be processed into fuel. It's a very clean way to go. Uh, the alternatives are, are scary. The future is big.
There's a, a sliding scale of availability in consumption. It could be five dollars a gallon by the time Bush is out of office. It could be ten dollars a gallon. You know, who knows? Uh, you know, and by the time the next, uh, uh, president comes along. So, ignoring it is not an answer. I mean, there was a candidate, I'm not politicizing, you know, so I'm not going to say which one it was.
But there was one candidate that did say, this is not a problem that you can drill your way out of. You're going to have to invent your way out of it. And that is the one thing, and the only thing said in the whole presidential campaign that I remember. That's the only thing worth remembering. The rest of it, uh, is, you know, just kind of entertainment or something, I don't know what it was.
JODY DENBERG: The next song on Prairie Wind, Falling Off The Face Of The Earth, uh, you look back on a relationship, the high parts of your voice, you hit a place in that song I don't think I've ever heard you go before. It's so tender and fragile, and straight from the heart. How do you get there when you're singing?
NEIL YOUNG: You just go, you just go, there's nothing to stop you. It's a wide open thing. You just go wherever you want to go. (stammers) Nobody can stop you, you, you, you know, music just takes you wherever you want to go.
JODY DENBERG: And the song was inspired by a phone message?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, that's what jarred it loose. Some of the words in there were from a phone message, uh, from a friend of mine, and, and, uh, some of the words are, you know, the other side of the phone message, another point of view, you know. And, uh, I just put it together, uh, like that. But it really, it's, uh, it all comes out to be more than just a phone message. It comes out to be a message.
JODY DENBERG: From Neil Young's brand new album, Prairie Wind, cast in the grand tradition of other acoustic bass, Neil albums, like Comes A Time and Harvest Moon, that was Falling Off The Face Of The Earth. We'll have more new songs, and we'll continue shooting the breeze with Neil Young, when Prairie Wind Companion resumes in a moment.
Welcome back to Prairie Wind Companion, a conversation with Neil Young about his new album Prairie Wind. Wanted to talk a little bit about some of the sounds on Prairie Wind. Uh, some songs, like, It's A Dream, have this beautiful string section, and you've used strings in the '60s with, uh, Jack Nitzsche, going all the way back to Expecting To Fly. The London Symphony Orchestra is on Harvest. But on Prairie Wind, they sound, they sound different.
NEIL YOUNG: When I wrote It's A Dream, uh, and came in the studio the next morning, and, and recorded it, then I said to Ben, uh, Ben Keith, I said, Ben, you know, this, this might be one for strings, what do you think? And he said, yeah, I think it is, and I said, let's call Chuck, and, uh, that's what I love about Nashville. We call our friend Chuck Cochran, who did the strings on Comes A Time.
He comes in, that couple of hours later, he walks in, we haven't seen him for, like, 15 years, how you doing? You know, listen to this, what do you think? Well, give me a CD, and (stammers) you know, I'll take it home. When do you want to do it? Well, how about tomorrow morning? Okay, well, I'll round up the, the musicians, and we'll, I'll get back to you and let you know if we can do it.
So, an hour later, we've got five Stradivarius' and, uh, seven other players, and, and, uh, they're all coming in at 11 o'clock in the morning, and we're gonna do it. Chuck shows up the next morning with the charts, puts them down, and at that point, I'd been taking this medicine, for the, uh, for the treatment that I had and everything. I was kind of groggy, uh, kind of, just feeling good about, you know, trying to get an equilibrium.
And, so, I was lying on the couch, in the studio with, uh, (stammers) you know, kind of, uh, curled up on this couch, behind in the play back, and, uh, they started putting these strings on, uh, and I'm hearing it, and I, I was just going, my god, this is a beautiful thing that these people have created here.
JODY DENBERG: What about the way you used the horns on the next couple songs we're going to listen to, Far From Home, and then, Prairie Wind. They're subtler, than say, the horns on, uh, the album you did in 1988, the Blue Notes, or This Notes For You.
NEIL YOUNG: (overlapping) Yeah. Well, this is Wayne Jackson, it's, you know, the Memphis Horns, he's the soul of the, um, you know, of the arrangements. He made these things up. He's the one who came up with the Sam and Dave horn parts and everything. You know, so he's great.
JODY DENBERG: Your harmonica interacts with the horns. Why is the harmonica one of your favorite ways to express yourself musically?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, it's pretty direct. I don't have to worry about much.
JODY DENBERG: And the song we're going to hear, Far From Home, where you have this interplay with the horns, it's a, an autobiographical song, and you told a little story at the show last night, the Prairie Wind show, about, uh, getting your ukulele, was that your first instrument?
NEIL YOUNG: Yeah. My daddy bought me a plastic Arthur Godfrey ukulele from the music store, where I used to go get these records. I think I'd just gotten Boppolina (sp?) by Ronnie Self, and, uh, (stammers) maybe, uh, Book Of Love by the Monotones, or something. I just picked these records up down at the store, these 45s. And I saw that ukulele there, and mentioned it to my dad. I said, what's, that's pretty cheap.
You know, maybe, that's pretty nice. You know, it had a picture of Arthur Godfrey on it, was a plastic little ukulele. So, then, a couple of days later, I, my dad showed up and he had it with him, and he said, here. Look at this thing. You know, I got it for you. You know, and I was going, wow, that's cool, you know. And then, he picked it up and started playing it. And I never heard him play before.
He never said he played. And then he sang this song to me, and I'm going, my god, look at that. You know, I was about, I don't know how old I was, eight or nine, or something. And he's sitting there playing this thing. The sounds are coming out, and he's laughing away and singing (stammers) silly sad song to me, and, and I was just, you know, blew my mind.
Neil Young with an autobiographical piece called Far From Home, from his new album, Prairie Wind. So the scenarios in Far From Home of you making music with your family and walking with your ambition down the Trans-Canada Highway, is that pretty much how it went down?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, you know, I took some liberties and put a lot of things together that happened at different times, you know, it's a song.
JODY DENBERG: Yeah. Even though you spent so many years living at your ranch in Northern California, do you still dream of going back to Canada someday?
NEIL YOUNG: Yeah, I do, uh, I do.
JODY DENBERG: Because you sing of family a lot on Prairie Wind, about growing up in Canada and the spaces there. Your boys Zeke and Ben have Cerebral Palsy and there's the annual Bridge School benefits that you put on with your wife Peggy. You've raised an incredible amount of awareness and funding to help disabled and non-oral children. How does the work that Peggy and you do affect change for the children?
NEIL YOUNG: Well we have this great school that she came up with and, uh, been doing these benefits and, uh, you know, it started a long time ago. We got Bruce Springsteen to come to the first one and kick it off, and since then it's just been on a role and we, we make, make a lot of money. It costs a lot of money to run the school. And the school is a model school for other schools. It's, it creates programs that other schools can use in teaching developmentally disabled, non-oral children how to communicate through the use of technology and other methods.
And we've made a difference in making that happen and, you know, I wish we had a huge endowment so that it would keep on going and everything if, if it ever comes to the point where I can't sustain it myself.
JODY DENBERG: We're talking about the children that go to the Bridge School. So much of Prairie Wind is about family relationships. You sang about your father on the last song we heard, Far From Home and on the title song Prairie Wind you look back, uh, you say trying to remember what daddy said before too much time took away his head. Your father Scott Young was a wonderful writer who passed away in June. Did he influence you to be a writer?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, you know, he, he was writing all the time. He, he would tell me, you know, I, you know, if you can't write, he said, you've got to sit down and write anyway. And whatever comes out, it's okay, don't worry about it. Just write. And some days when you don't think you've got anything on your mind, you'll, you'll be surprised what's on your mind. Just don't think about it. don't judge it. Don't worry about it. Just do it.
JODY DENBERG: Did he instill in you a love of the open plains and the environment?
NEIL YOUNG; Well, you know, both of my parents did that. You know, my granddaddy was, he was from, uh, South Carolina. You know, he moved up to Canada and, and, uh, he spoke with a heavy drawl and he was, he was a great old guy. And he used to go duck hunting with my mom and dad. And then he'd come back and my mom would cook the ducks and, you know, make them with the wild greens or with the wild rice.
And we'd have roast duck with wild rice and we'd, you know, they'd come back and maybe have 50 birds or something, and get us through the winter with the, you know, and a couple of times, maybe once, couple of times a month we'd have a big, you know, roast duck dinner and everything. It was really cool. And there were a lot of pictures of my dad in Sports Illustrated Magazine with my grandpa.
And, and, uh, you know, they did articles on duck hunting in Northern Manitoba. And, and, uh, you know, it really was like, you know, they'd go out there, uh, hunting for the birds and, and, uh, if you went at the right time, you actually couldn't see the sun. There were so many birds in the sky. I mean it just was black when they'd all take off at once. It was, got dark.
And that's how many birds there used to be. Now where are they? What's going on, you know? There's too many signs. Our leaders need to realize that there are big signs. Not, not the dollar signs. They need to take a look around and see what we're doing to the planet and what's going on, you know, I know that a lot of people are just shaking their heads, you know, this, uh, I might sound like a tree hugger or something.
But, uh, you, you can put a label on a person like me, an environmentally conscious person, and dismiss it. It's an easy thing to do. And a lot of people are taking the easy route. But there's a price to pay for that.
JODY DENBERG: Well it feels good when the Prairie Wind blows through our head listening to the song. Let's listen to it.
JODY DENBERG: Neil, family members of yours in another way are your guitars. You have a song about them on Prairie Wind called this old guitar with, uh, Emmylou Harris, some lovely harmonies. You were playing a Martin last night that belonged to Hank Williams at the Ryman. That was unbelievable. And you acquired it here in Nashville years ago?
NEIL YOUNG: Yeah. I bought it from, uh, uh, off a friend of mine Grant Boatwright (sp?) put me together with, uh, this fellow Tut Taylor (sp?) he had an old, uh, collection of guitars. And, uh, I went down there and there it was, and he took it out of the back and brought it out and I bought it. I couldn't believe that I could buy it. That I, you know, but I did. And now I have it. And, you know, I've got it for a while and I'm taking care of it.
JODY DENBERG: But you're generous with it. You've lent it to some of your friends?
NEIL YOUNG: You know, Bob Dylan was using my bus. He, he didn't have his own tour bus yet. And he was just getting into using buses, and, uh, so I let him use mine and, uh, when I gave it to him I, I told him that, uh, Hank was in the back and that if he wanted to use Hank, that Hank would be there for him. And so I don't know what he did with it, but he had it with him for a long time. And I don't know what he wrote or what he did, but I know, you know, something must have happened back there.
JODY DENBERG: You not only collect instruments, but, uh, you've collected vintage automobiles over the years. And I was at your website the other day, it said Shakey's Used Cars coming soon.
NEIL YOUNG: (laugh)
JODY DENBERG: So what's the deal? Are we going to be able to buy some of your, uh, older cars that you're ready?
NEIL YOUNG: Yeah, I'm going to unload all that stuff. I really don't, uh, you know, I've got a lot of material things, and I'm looking more for, uh, uh, you know, I'm a big collector and, and, uh, and I've collected a lot of things. And I love cars, you know, I, I really do. And they're fun. But I don't have to have them any more. I've had them already, so I'm selling a lot of them to other people who love them now. And, they, they get as, just as excited as, as I was when I got them. You know, so somewhere long the line I'm going to start unloading them.
JODY DENBERG: Shakey's Used Cars.
NEIL YOUNG: Shakey's Used Cars. It sounds very reputable, doesn't it?
JODY DENBERG: (laugh) It sounds a little Shakey to me. Are you still, uh, going to hold onto your model trains?
NEIL YOUNG: Uh, I some, hold onto some of them, you know, I've got a lot of old post-war Lionel stuff and, and I'm an owner of the company. And I do a lot of technology development for them, and, uh, and, uh, we're just coming out with a new control system now and everything. So that keeps me busy on the side.
JODY DENBERG: I've heard you've been pretty busy for a very long time working on an anthology of your work. It's going to be called Archives and you've said that's your next project. How are you envisioning that at this point?
NEIL YOUNG: It, there's I think four or five volumes. And Volume One is an eight-disk set from 1963 to 1973. You know, it has film of performances. It has my earliest recordings, um, released and unreleased recordings from 1963 on. It has, uh, uh, a performance series and now they may be sold separately, one or two of them, but, uh, there is a spot for them in the box, and you can just slip them in there.
So and, uh, it, it's coming out on CD and it's coming out on DVD. And I recommend the DVD because it has got much better sound and it has of course it has film. It has, it has an actual filing cabinet you can go into and, and get all of the documentation of all of these. The original lyric sheets, all the original stuff that goes with everything. It's kind of like a museum. That's a, it's a virtual, uh, museum filing, filing system.
And you just go through the, open up the door and file through it. Find a song, lift it out, read everything about it. You can read newspapers that were at that time, reviews of it when it came out, the original manuscript, pictures, all this stuff. If there's any film or video from those, from that era, chronologically, it's all chronological. Everything is in order. You can find anything you want.
And see how songs that were, uh, released on albums years later were actually recorded at a different time. And so it, it gives you another slant on the way things were. It tells you what albums these things came out on. It gives you the full picture of what happened from chronologically, rather than the records I produced.
JODY DENBERG: And the films, like, uh, Human Highway or Muddy Track, would they be a part of it?
NEIL YOUNG: They'll all be part of it.
JODY DENBERG: And of course the director, famous director Bernard Shakey, is involved with a lot of those films.
NEIL YOUNG: Yeah, he's working behind the scenes. (laugh)
JODY DENBERG: Now speaking of (laugh) speaking of Shakey, there was a pretty exhaustive Neil Young biographer a couple years back with your, with the name Shakey. Did you ever read it?
NEIL YOUNG: Yeah, I read it once.
JODY DENBERG: Were you all right with it?
NEIL YOUNG: I chose, uh, I chose that, uh, that writer because I, I, I liked, uh, his style. And I liked his, his brutal honesty. And I didn't want a watered down thing. But I think that he drifted from his course. I always say, whenever I sign that book I say, you know, remember, don't believe everything you read.
JODY DENBERG: (laugh) Unless it's the Greendale book. Then?
NEIL YOUNG: Uh, then you can believe it all, because it's, it's so vague.
JODY DENBERG: Before we wrap up on this day in 2005 in Nashville, Tennessee, I was going to throw a couple names at you and see what came to mind when I said, uh, Buffalo Springfield?
NEIL YOUNG: Well, I, I think Steven Stills.
JODY DENBERG : Crazy Horse?
NEIL YOUNG: Danny Whitten.
JODY DENBERG: Crosby Stills Nash And Young?
NEIL YOUNG: Crosby Stills And Nash.
JODY DENBERG: Neil, thank you so much for joining us for this Prairie Wind Companion. Prairie Wind seems a definitive snapshot of where you're at today as you approach 60 and it's a beautiful piece. But in the hundreds of songs you've written it's been rare that you've sung directly about God. What were the circumstances of you composing Prairie Wind's final song, When God Made Me?
NEIL YOUNG: First of all I didn't know what I was doing. There was a little room with a piano in it. And the piano is locked in the room. It'll never leave the room unless they destroy the room. It can't leave, 'cause the room was built around it. And the room is in a church. The studio is in a church. So the ceiling of this studio has got a few little vents in it. And if you stand on top of a ladder with a flashlight and look up through the holes, you can see the, the church windows.
And this old huge roof and everything, and it's closed off, because to get the right sound and everything they, they made a lower roof. But when you see that, it really gets you. And then I just started playing this hymn. And, and, you know, a Spooner Oldham is one of the most beautiful, uh, beautiful Gospel, you know, on the organ, it's just great. I mean he's just alive with it.
So, you know, I've learned a lot from him over the years, just listening to him. So all the passing chords and the blending of things together, the, but all hymns seem to have these little passages on the piano between them that sets up the next verse, kind of gets everybody in the key and kicks it around and gets ready to go. It's, so I found myself just playing this, and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Still don't.
One of the things that, that bothers me today is how religion seems to have been hijacked and politicized by the administration. The thing that bothers me the most is how one political party can say that the other political party is not faith-based. That, how can you say something like that? And I think it doesn't represent America. It only represents part of America. And I think that faith has a lot to do with family and loving God.
It doesn't matter whether you read the Koran or whether you're a Buddhist or whether you're, whatever you are, you're still trying to get in touch with the one thing that made us all, who we are, the great spirit. So I feel like that's been taken away from us. It's being used as a tool against some people. And, uh, and so that bothers me a lot. I don't like to go into church and hear the Star Spangled Banner.
That's a song about bombs bursting in air. Let's, let's have God Bless America if we're going to sing a song like that. I don't think that one is really needed either. But if you're going to have one, let's, let's have one that, that, that tries not to think about our country only. Let's start, let's have a song that tries to think about humanity and, you know.
So, you know, one of my friends went to church last week here in and, and had to stand there while we sang about, you know, bombs bursting in the air and that was the first thing. I don't believe that. I don't, and, and I think a lot of Americans and Canadians and just citizens of the planet don't necessarily go along with that. And that's why there's such an upheaval in the church and that, you know, attendance is off?
Some places it's up. But a lot of places it's not up. It's down. And it's because the church has been, you know, taken to all these different places. And really, it should be everywhere. It shouldn't be a tool.
JODY DENBERG: Neil Young asking the big questions on When God Made Me, the final song on his new album. The answers my friend are blowing in the Prairie Wind. Neil's new album that brings together his dreams, his love of family and friends, and his concern for the ecology in a way he's never done before. I'm Jody Denberg. Thanks to everyone at Lookout Management and Reprise Records. Thanks to you for being a Prairie Wind Companion and of course a special thanks to Neil Young for being a dreaming man.
NEIL YOUNG: Thank you.
More Neil Young interviews and Neil Young's "Prairie Wind" reviews. Also, Neil Young's true "Companion": "The wisest person I've ever met".