Neil Young And Daniel Lanois: Love And War

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

It’s clear you’re in touch with something the rest of us aren’t aware of, and recently you said on your website: “I still see the vista and hear the muse, I will continue.” Can you talk about that?

NY: I still do see the vista. I feel good. That’s my way of feeling good. That’s my way of knowing that I can still continue. There’s no reason to not continue because I can still see where I’m going. Can’t see it clearly but I know it’s out there.

Is there any time that you feel more creative than another?

NY: There’s no set time. But if I do pick the guitar up in the morning, the first time I pick it up if I haven’t played it in a while, whatever I play first is the secret. Now if I’m playing the same thing all the time it’s just, not really music. That is just a physical exercise. But there’s a difference between that and when you sit down and just start playing something and you don’t know why you’re doing it. When you do that, that’s time to pay attention. And I do. So that’s what I do. And then the lyrics, they just all come real fast and I just write them all down. Quite often my biggest struggle is remembering a song. You know, I’ll have the lyrics and I’ll have the song, but I don’t remember how the lyrics go with the song. You can write something at night, go to the studio and not remember it. Then just sit there for a while until it comes back. But you know, it’s a very vague thing. You can’t box it in, you can’t fence it in. If you trust yourself and you don’t try to box it in, you’ll get it. It’s like catching a wild animal. You can’t corner it, you can’t scare it. You can’t be concerned about it though, just ignore it. But you just consistently stay there with it and wait for it to come out.

Yeah, or not scaring yourself.

NY: Yeah, right.

You’ve said that after Greendale it took you two years to write anything.

NY: It was a while. I just feel like, hey, it’ll come. And when it comes I’ll be ready, and I’ll drop everything else I’m doing to do it.

Are you ever worried that another song might not show up?

NY: Well, it always has showed up, so, and I just respect it. I think if they [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 it happens, it happens. I’ll be there.

Is the person who makes the films any different than the guy who writes the songs?

NY: The songwriter thinks, but there’s more thinking goes into movies. I’m always making songs– it’s an instant gratification. The song is there. It’s really something that you can express, it’s a performance. You sing it and you play it, and the words come out, and an illusion is created of some sort. But a movie’s not anything like that. It’s much more organized. You have to have a plan. You have to have an idea that’s worth spending money on. You really have to think far down the road.

So what would you consider your job to be?

NY: One job that I have right now is that I want to play music. But the most important thing for me right now is creating, or trying to create an energy that can be used, that’ll change things. And my goals are very lofty. I may never reach my goals, but I want to try to reach them. I don’t think you can’t get there unless you aim, unless you try to go there. That’s important. So the goal of eliminating gas stations, roadside refueling, with some kind of fuels– people’s fuel–something that everybody has access to. And we’re smart enough to figure it out. We’ll figure it out.

Are you talking about your LinkVolt car that carries its own power source?

NY: Yes, It’s a Lincoln. Powered by electricity and biofuels and possibly by water. The mission is clearly to eliminate roadside refueling. And your car powers your house when you get home, and the car is the grid after it’s finished powering your house, and everything that you need, the car can do it. You put it in your basement and you could heat your house with it. You could power your house and the excess would go out into the grid. All of that way of thinking, distributed power sources instead of power plants with tentacles going out, have distributed power sources everywhere going in, where everything charges everything else. Everybody works out. Everybody’s house is charging the grid. Everybody’s car plugs in and charges the grid. It’s not to take energy from the grid, it’s put energy into the grid.


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