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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

1969 Neil Young Interview: Alone at the Microphone | CBC Archives

A rather fascinating -- and quite rare -- radio interview with Neil Young broadcast on Feb. 11, 1969 from CBC Archives:
When Canadian musician Neil Young drove his second-hand hearse down to Los Angeles in 1966, he was bent on success as a solo artist. Almost three years later, after taking a career detour with the band Buffalo Springfield, Young is back on the road to fame in his own name. In this illuminating 1969 interview with CBC Radio's Robert Fulford, Young discusses the bitter end of Buffalo Springfield, the 'dirty' music industry in L.A., groupies and his recording process as a solo musician.
In the February 1969 interview, the 23-year-old Neil said this about the music business:
"It's too dirty, you know? It just doesn't have anything to do with art.

Really, art is probably the smallest thing involved in the music business ... it's gotten to be like the motion-picture industry."
The last time we featured this interview, everyone seemed to have enjoyed Neil explainong why he ended being the most hated man in LA being shunned from the Grammys all those years. It was all those rich parents of "former groupies" getting even.

Neil Young confesses this about groupies:
"They're mostly girls who, uh, are on allowances from their parents.

Rich parents. Or, uh, who, uh you know, sell dope or something for a living. You know. Some kind of thing that doesn't require much, uh, many brains to do."

"It's sort of like being a gold fish you're, uh, haha, it's not very, uh, it's not much a purpose to it.

I'm not putting down goldfish..."
Neil Young - 1967
Back in 2009, 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!

Buffalo Springfield

Also, see MINI-DOCUMENTARY: Neil Young and The Winnipeg Days | CBC Archives.

More on the old folky days and Buffalo Springfield.

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At 11/21/2018 10:15:00 AM, Blogger Acoustic FeedBack said...

I had never heard this before. This is great stuff. What else you sittin' on?

At 11/21/2018 10:29:00 AM, Blogger Peacelover Doc said...

Neil was pretty wise as a youngster

At 11/21/2018 11:30:00 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Interesting to link to the Sugar Mountain "set list" website to see his solo career live started in Oct. of 1968. When he mentioned the Springfield ended in May of 1968 I got curious about the live shows he did afterward solo. The "Live At The Canterbury House" first run was, I guess, his 9th date as a solo performer which is sort of background to the first part of the interview. Do wish we could compare the two Canterbury House runs given the difference in the material and maybe that will happen with the archives when it goes paid.

The Canterbury House usually booked performers for three nights and two shows each night which I'm sure had to do with the meeting the rock bottom price for the performer to play such a small facility.

This interview appears to have taken place after the six date solo run at the Riverboat in Toronto and was the day before the "possible" debut live of Crazy Horse at the Bitter End in New York on the 12th.

Did step in a can of worms when I went to Ann Arbor to check out the archives of the Canterbury House. It was rather heady to be a "researcher" and talk to the archivists there but must say the Neil Young folder was lacking. Others folders had flyers, original contracts, phone call notes and everything. The folders for Joni Mitchell, Doc Watson, John Fahey, Norman Blake, Little Feat and what not were kind of bursting with information and original written material about the shows including national and local review.

The Bentley Historical Archive was not too happy they didn't get all the archives from
the Canterbury House when I was there.

Sadly, someone pulled many of the tapes of the Canterbury House before they got to the U Of M archive at the Bentley Historical Archive near the V.A. in Ann Arbor but they were digitized by the Michigan Music Project who is shopping them for release. If someone interviews Elliott anytime soon it would be interesting to get his side of what is going on with the Canterbury Tapes of Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Can't remember but there are maybe twelve live shows by Joni over the course of two different three night stands there so plenty of time to get really comfortable in that setting.

Did speak on the phone with the recording engineer who digitized the Canterbury House tapes briefly as he was at an airport returning from Europe but he did go on a bit on how good they sounded. As good or better than the Canterbury House recording that has been released.

Have shared this before here but if anyone is doing research this is a good tip!

Bentley Historical Archive link:

Michigan History Project link:

Here is an interview with Scott Young, Neil's father, who I guess you could say was an acquaintance of mine when I was writing about music in Michigan. We'd sit together at shows in the press seats (5th row on the aisle usually) and we sent some letters back and forth over the years. A couple of the Neil Young shows we attended together ended up in "Neil & Me" in which I got a mention.

At 11/21/2018 12:28:00 PM, Blogger Knowledge Nomad said...

Off topic for this post, but if you've ever wondered what it would sound like if Black Sabbath or Motorhead covered Neil, this version of Ty Segall doing the The Loner sounds about right:

At 11/21/2018 05:16:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Acoustic FeedBack - glad you liked it. it is a real gem. amazing Neil was only 23 years old, too.

Oh, we're sittin' on tons of stuff that's never been published on TW. We've just never really had a chance to deal w/ the TW Archives. That TW intern program never really worked out. ;)

btw, this interview was a repeat from 2009.

how about that wheat?!

@ Peacelover Doc - wasn't he though.

btw, definitely come back here tomorrow for a TW memory just for you!

@ Jim - thanks so much for all of your hard work and research. much apprecaited. we'll make a TW Comment of the moment as soon as we can.

Your work needs visibility and recognition by Lookout folks.

@ Knowledge Nomad - thanks, but...

do we really need to hear ? Hey, we're always into a good cover song, so we'll check out.

KInd of like that guy who did the rap version of "Heart of Gold". acquired taste, as they say.

At 11/23/2018 07:35:00 PM, Blogger SONY said...

And there you have it, straight from the Horses' mouth.
Very revealing, and insightful, and well before much of
the future angst of rock and roll was to come..


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