NEIL YOUNG IS IN FIGHTING MOOD in the new issue of MOJO magazine, which celebrates his dissident spirit over 50-odd years of unique music-making and uncompromising non-career moves. His latest cause is the integrity of audio, which he insists will find a spiritual home on his Archives web site, now fully-operational, which will enable fans to stream Neil Young music at super-high ‘master’ quality.
Not surprisingly, Young is not a fan of the current idea of what’s an acceptable standard of sound-quality on the majority streaming platforms.
“I’m not accepting the status quo of what’s happened in music,” he tells MOJO’s Keith Cameron. “When people listen to Spotify, they only hear less than five per cent, about three-and-something per cent of what the original music was. The rest of it is filled with garbage. It’s like having only the surface of the sound. Music is my life and I can’t stand by and listen to the crap that people are paying for today and be part of that. That’s why I already dropped out of streaming once and I’ll probably do it again.”
Young talks MOJO through his Archives site’s latest innovations, including an online newspaper called the NYA Times-Contrarian, and some of the audio-visual projects that we can expect to debut soon. Young tells us to expect a Shakey Pictures Movie Night, where exciting unseen film of some key projects will be unveiled.
“I think the first movie night we have will be the Alchemy [2012 Neil Young & Crazy Horse tour] version of Hurricane,” says Young. “It’s a half-hour version, and it’s also during one of the largest weather events… well, definitely the biggest weather event that I’ve ever played in. It is ridiculous-looking. And sounding.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Young acknowledges the particular place in his work occupied by Crazy Horse (“I think Crazy Horse probably gets to a more cosmic place”) while giving due credit to his current on-stage partners, Promise Of The Real, which includes Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah.
Elsewhere, some of Young’s most significant collaborators – including Graham Nash, Niko Bolas, Lukas Nelson, Frank ‘Poncho’ Sampedro, Nils Lofgren and ex-wife Pegi – relive some of Young’s most fascinating projects, zeroing in on the singer’s strength to stand up for what he believes in.
Nash recalls the circumstances around CSNY’s decision to record Young’s song Ohio, which mourned the four students shot and killed at Kent State University in 1969, before remembering a 2006 live performance of another Young song, Let’s Impeach The President, at Madison Square Garden, New York, which had later-to-be President Donald Trump grooving in his seat.
“He was right in the centre of Row 8, sitting next to Salman Rushdie, for God’s sake!” Nash tells MOJO. “You can’t make this shit up!”
For more of Keith Cameron’s deep dive into Neil Young’s rebel ways, get hold of MOJO 293, in UK stores now.
Also in the new issue: an in-depth eulogy to The Fall’s Mark E Smith; Roxy Music revisit their stunning debut album; Jimmy Page on plans for Led Zeppelin’s golden jubilee; Jack White explains his audacious new album. Plus: David Byrne; Jonathan Wilson; The Damned’s Dave Vanian; LA Witch; XTC; Tom Waits and Laurie Anderson.
Plus! Enjoy MOJO’s free CD, REVOLUTION BLUES: ie. 15 tracks of rebel rock, protest funk and f-you folk, featuring Billy Bragg, Fela Kuti, Curtis Mayfield, MC5, Gil Scott-Heron, Sleater-Kinney and more.