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Friday, January 29, 2021

Neil Young's Uncut, Never-Before-Seen Interview | 'Inventing David Geffen' | PBS American Masters Archive

 Neil Young - November 29, 2011
Inventing David Geffen PBS | American Masters


In a rather significant announcement, PBS American Masters Archive Releases 1,000+ Hours of Uncut, Never-Before-Seen Interviews: Patti Smith, David Bowie, Neil Young & More. (Thanks Richard T.!)


In December 2012, PBS | American Masters broadcast the documentary film "Inventing David Geffen. American Masters: Inventing David Geffen is "an unflinching portrait of Geffen, who narrates his unorthodox rise from working class Brooklyn boy to billionaire entertainment power broker in extensive interviews." 

Interviewees include Neil Young. Elliot Roberts. Gary Burden. 

David Geffen, Elliot Roberts, & Neil Young
Frame from  'Inventing David Geffen': American Masters


From the unaired interview on Geffen's impact on culture:

Neil Young: Well, that's because the cultural impact has to do with the music and David's impact had to do with the art of making the deals.  

So the cultural impact of a dealmaker is a different thing.  

And it's not nearly as romantic and as easy to get your wrap your arms around as the cultural impact of music.

As you may recall, David Geffen in the 1980's filed a $3 million lawsuit against Neil Young for violating his contract by recording ‘unrepresentative’ albums. In other words, Neil Young wasn’t making Neil Young music."The truth is I fought with him because I wanted him to do better work,'' Mr. Geffen explained afterward. ''I was taking too much of a fatherly role in his life.'' 

Only David Geffen could describe a lawsuit against one of his trophy clients as an excess of paternalism. Described by friends, peers and adversaries as “passionate,” “neurotic” and “giftedly non-diplomatic", Geffen has been a highly polarizing figure in the Entertainment industry. 

From Documentary Press Tour:

Geffen, who is on tape suggesting "ego" isn't a "pejorative" term in his mind, insists he never saw himself as the smartest person in the room at any point during his career, revealing that he did poorly in school -- “I thought I was dumb,” he said -- and was fired from a number of early jobs coming out of high school. In fact, he said the only reason he had the confidence to go after a gig as a William Morris agent is because he believed it rewarded a different skill set, and one that he had: the ability to “bullshit on the phone.” (Other Geffen facts: He’s never carried a cell phone, has never texted anyone and doesn’t own an ATM card.)

Geffen’s far-reaching influence — as agent and manager, record industry mogul, Hollywood and Broadway producer, and billionaire philanthropist — has helped shape American popular culture for the past four decades. 

More on How Neil Young Became the First Artist to Get Sued for Not Being Himself.

 Also, see Reassessing Neil Young's Album "Life" on Geffen Records.

Number of Neil Young records on Geffen Label scratched out on prison wall
(Click photo to enlarge) 
More on the "Geffen Prison" @ Reassessing Neil Young's Album "Life" on Geffen Records.

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At 1/29/2021 07:00:00 PM, Blogger tomatron said...

Relevant to this story: 1982 album Johnny’s Island now being compiled from Hawaiii sessions!! -From Neil’s comments on the Berlin video coming up in Hearse Theater

At 1/29/2021 07:02:00 PM, Blogger tomatron said...

Yup it’s almost time for reading glasses. Too many eyes in Hawai’i?!

At 1/30/2021 11:57:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I can't help myself, I have to comment. David Geffen is a weasel. Is there anything more revolting in the music world than someone trying to act like Neil Young's father? Time won out on this one. Guys like Briggs and Elliot Roberts were tried and true human beings with a wealth of integrity. Geffen= radical ambition. These people are all over the place and are driven by ambition without perspective.

At 1/30/2021 05:39:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks Richard T and Thrashers Wheat for sharing a link to this archive.
I'm not necessarily a fan of David Geffen, but interested in some of the people interviewed and other archives. Coincidentally I worked on the interview with Charlie Calello and I'm interested to hear it again.

At 1/31/2021 11:17:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

@ Abner : You can add Ahmet Ertegun to that list of tried and true human beings in the music industry. He always allowed the artists the freedom to develop and he was absolutely loyal to his artists.

Peace 🙏

At 1/31/2021 02:28:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I was maybe too harsh on Geffen, breaking my own rules about civility. And thanks Dan, I always forget about Ahmet. Geffen trying to help Neil save his career has an initial feel of plausibility, but then to see Geffen interviewed his arrogance comes through. There is a thin line maybe between the great artists, their producers, managers, editors etc.., and opportunistic slime balls. Suing the artist is kind of a long way from fatherly or brotherly advice, help. I remember people telling me that Neil was done, that he had nothing left. And then there came that inconceivably great EP, El Dorado. Yeah, washed up? Right. It is fun being right every so often.

At 2/01/2022 12:49:00 PM, Blogger willforestwater said...

I don't think I've listened to Life since the 80s. And I maybe listened to it once then. Never owned it.

But this article made me go back and listen again. It's out there today on YouTube if you care to listen.

I still think it's absolutely horrible, drenched in 80th synths, those terrible 80s drum effects, and amazingly bad choices for vocal FX that made it unlistenable for me back in the day.

But even back then I though that with different production some of the tunes could be redeemed. Like the way 'A Treasure' revealed the beauty of the songs on the sugary and overproduced Old Ways, maybe some decent versions of these songs exist.

Hopefully the Archives will reveal a different side to Life, maybe with demos or alternative takes.


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