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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Mo Ostin Discusses Neil Young & David Geffen' | PBS American Masters Archive

Mo Ostin - October 7, 2009
Inventing David Geffen PBS | American Masters


As noted recently, 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. 

 

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

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, David Crosby, Henry Diltz, Gary Burden, Mo Ostin and many others.

From the unaired interview with Mo "The Sleaze" Ostin, Warner Bros Executive, (listen to song "Surfer Joe And Moe the Sleaze") on working with Geffen and his clients, Neil Young and his manager Elliot Roberts. (Ed. note, unedited raw transcript @ ~2:43:00)

Mo Ostin:  [Geffen] sued Neil [Young] because he thought that Neil wasn't making commercial records.

[Geffen] was so intense and so passionate about having successful records. That he might have become myopic, you know? And Neil turned in a record that [Geffen] thought was not commercial. And he was paying him [Young] a huge advance. And [Geffen] thought "I shouldn't be paying that kind of advance for the records he's delivering."

And he told Neil to make another record. I don't know whether Neil made an effort at that or not. But Neil continued to record.

I guess he didn't feel Neil was making the change. And so he stopped funding the record. And sued him.

Interviewer: How do you think that a move like that affected his image in the music business?

Mo Ostin: You know, Neil was revered. And musically respected, not only on the critical level, but by all of his musical peers. [The lawsuit] could not have sat well with them.

Interviewer I mean, how do you think what David did affected his image? I'm dumbfounded he'd do that.

Mo Ostin: I guess he didn't think about it. I mean, I guess he was just so involved. Having realized that he had been losing money. He hated the idea of losing money, including other people's money. He never wanted to lose money.

And there was these jokes going on about the Titanic, who had a better band, you know, that kind of stuff.

And so, you know, I think he just was doing everything he possibly could to rectify and right the ship

...

Interviewer: A number of people have told us that there's one thing that David Geffen probably regrets most is suing Neil Young.

Mo Ostin: Yeah. And I believe that they made up.

That's also what's great about him [Geffen] is the fact that he owns up to his mistakes.


 
 Neil Young - November 29, 2011
'Inventing David Geffen'PBS | American Masters
 
 
Elliot Roberts - July 22, 2009
'Inventing David Geffen' PBS | American Masters
(Also, see Elliot Roberts Uncut, Never-Before-Seen Interview | 'Inventing David Geffen' | PBS American Masters Archive)
 

Labels: , , ,


6 Comments:

At 2/18/2021 09:00:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

a full picture is emerging. I am not sure where all that intensity comes from and I am not sure I want to know. The story is fascinating. thanks for posting Thrasher.

 
At 2/18/2021 09:51:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Glad you're finding the Geffen outtakes of interest.

It really is a treasure trove for future researchers of the critical era.

And someone like Ostin stating that suing Neil Young was one thing that David Geffen probably regrets most on his career is quite an observation. Especially considering the number of regrettable moves Geffen made back in the day.

And how Elliot was the balancing equation really says something noble about Elliot and his style and approach.

 
At 2/18/2021 11:18:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Yes, great point. I knew nothing about the aftermath. Interesting question concerns the cause of his regret. Ostin states that Geffen hated to lose money, especially other people's money. It is hard to interpret this whole episode. I think it might be an important story for American culture generally.

 
At 2/18/2021 04:51:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

I was thinking about it this way: Neil Young, a brilliant human being and musical artist, goes a bit off the rails for a period of time (although still makes some great music) and it initiates this particular causal pathway- it seems to me another accomplishment. Following his muse is actually the same thing as screwing with the system. I really appreciate these posts.

 
At 2/21/2021 04:22:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

I feel the recordings Neil made during the Geffen years were, (to me at least) wonderful albums. They seem to be aging quite well too. I tend to enjoy those times when Neil “goes off the rails for a period of time”. He tends to put everything he has in whatever he’s doing at any given time, and I admire his determination to create what suits him in the moment. I absolutely love Reactor, Trans, Everybody’s Rockin’ Old Ways, Landing on Water, and Life. Those last two took some time before I understood where Neil was coming from, but today they make perfect sense to me. And that period also produced A Treasure, which is amazing.

If it’s been awhile since you listed to any of these records, then take the time to revisit them, you might be surprised.

Peace 🙏

 
At 2/22/2021 01:10:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Dan, I could not agree more. I find Trans to be full of great melodies. Reactor is strangely brilliant.

 

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