Neil Young And Daniel Lanois: Love And War

Has doing something like this always concerned you? I mean you live in a very remote area, so has the idea of self-sufficiency has probably always been a concern for you.

NY: Yeah. I’ve always wanted something like this. In the back of my mind I’ve always thought that I was a builder and the music was just kind of a hobby. But I’ve never really been able to get a handle on that. I’ve built buildings and I love building buildings. I’ve built a wacky house and I’ve got studios and I design things. I’ve designed a house, and here and there did build things. I love working with carpenters and watch them build things. I love drawing things and seeing them come to life. But really, the real challenge is the energy. So to create a system that enables cars to move around and houses to be powered without using the coal powered plants and without using the oil, cleaning the energy, cleaning the planet and eliminating the need for a war.

You’re really lucky you’re getting to do what you love now. But the  music always seems to have been the vehicle for your dreams?

NY: That really seems to be happening, doesn’t it?  My mom always told me I was an architect. She said, ‘I know you’re going to be an architect. I know that’s what you are because when you were just a kid, all you would do was build things.’ I got my building blocks, got so many building blocks and I was building all these structures, and ways you get in and out, and then building big sand castles on the beach. Trying to figure out how to catch the water, and make the water stay. Then trying to make the water do things. How it would be replenished, keeping things that would never go away when the source would come and go, but the water. This was the kind of stuff that I was thinking about even when I was a little kid. Not much has changed. What I’m doing now at this point, it’s along those lines. I looked at everything like it has to do with energy. Breathing, you breathe in, you breathe out.

Do you have any rituals before you record?

NY: Just the timing.

JU: And Daniel, you were okay of just working during the full moon?

DL: Oh, yeah, yeah. I thought, okay, that sounds great. It was a way to narrow things down.

NY: Yeah. It’s very organized.

DL: Just one guy with a guitar, and under the full moon. Okay, let’s go.

NY: Pretty straight ahead. It really took away a lot of indecision or having to figure those kind of things out. Let’s you know when you gotta have people there to be able to work with on that, and it just really simplifies everything.

When did you first spot the pattern of the moons?

NY: Well, I saw a pattern a long time ago when I realized that I only recorded when I felt like it. I was used to being very free about that because everybody was there at my beck and call whenever I wanted to do anything. When I had Briggs and the Crazy Horse and we were working that way, things would go for a couple weeks and we wouldn’t even see each other. I mean we might play in some bar or something and do this or that, just spontaneously. Then I’d say, ‘I kind of feel like recording.’ And then I noticed a couple of, three or four, a lot of sessions, that the moon was full. And I also noticed that I would be recording and we would be doing great, and then suddenly it would go away. I started to pick up on what was making that happen, and what the moon cycle was, and so you can almost predict when you were going to lose the edge. So I started using that as my planning tool.

Are you ever worried another song might not show up?

NY: Well, it always has showed up, so I just respect it. I think if the songs come in big groups, I’ll try to get ‘em all. One shows up, I’ll try to get it. I won’t ignore any but I’m not going to go looking for it. I don’t have time to find them. So a song has to knock on the door and say, “Here I am.” But I got my eyes open, so if it happens, it happens. I’ll be there.

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