arts & entertainment
ANDRE CSILLAG / REX FEATURES
Neil Young (left and above), alone and
with longtime sparring partner “Old
Black,” a 1958 Gibson Les Paul guitar that
he says is integral to his signature sound.
Neil Young riffs on his music and his muse
By Will Fifield
NY: Writing this book, there seemed to be no
end to the information flowing through me.
There is always more waiting to come out. I’m
even considering starting a second book,
titled Cars and Dogs, because there is so much
more to say than I could ever say in one book.
There is a lot of room there for me to wander,
which I am very fond of doing.
The Costco Connection: How do you
Neil Young: When I write a song, it starts with
a feeling. I can hear something in my head or
feel it in my heart. It may be that I just picked
up the guitar and mindlessly started playing.
That’s the way a lot of songs begin. When you
do that, you are not thinking. Thinking is the
worst thing for writing a song. So you just start
playing and something new comes out. Where
does it come from? Who cares? Just keep it
and go with it.
That’s what I do. I never judge it. I believe
it. It came as a gift when I picked up my musical instrument and it came through me playing with the instrument. The chords and
melody just appeared. Now is not the time for
interrogation or analysis. Now
is the time to get to know
the song, not change it
before you even know it. It is
like a wild animal, a living
thing. Be careful not to scare
it away. That’s my method, or
one of my methods, at least.
CC: Was there a learning curve to writing a
book, as opposed to writing songs?
NY: When I was young, my father [Scott
Young, 1918–2005, a journalist, sportswriter
and author of 45 books, including Neil and
Me, a memoir about his son] sat down every
day and wrote on his typewriter. It was a big
old Underwood with a ribbon, a truly amazing machine that my dad loved. My mother
used to edit for him, cleaning up his spelling
and grammar, I suppose. Now, here I am with
my computer, 60 years later, finally following
in my dad’s footsteps. I am well prepared. It
turns out he taught me everything I need to
know, and it’s just now that I have gotten
around to using my training. He said, “Just
write every day, and you’ll be surprised
what comes out.”
CC: Are there things still left on your
“bucket list”? Still things you’d like to
try but haven’t had time to get to?
CONTINUED ON PAGE 53
CC: How was your approach to
writing Waging Heavy Peace