Neil Young Interviews

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A collection of Neil Young interviews over the years. Jimmy McDonough's interview is particularly interesting and holds up well over time. Explore Neil's thoughts on his music and the world around him - politics, the environment, digital sound, and many other interesting topics.

Complete index of all interviews with Neil Young.

See interviews on "Prairie Wind"

See Neil Young Greendale Interviews.

  • From Australia's ABC 20/11/2003 interview with Neil Young by Richard Kingsmill:

  • From Daimnation!: Not Neil Young! on quote controversy over remarks about President George Bush:

  • Neil has come a long way with Greendale from his earlier thoughts on the Patriot Act shortly after 9-11-01. From Ballinger and Marsh "Neil Young Supports Shredding Constitution":

    Neil Young Interview - The Age, 2003

    More on Greendale album and concerts.

  • Interview with Neil Young on FRESH AIR (25 March 2004) by Terry Gross on making the film "Dead Man"


  • Hello Mr Soul - Pulse Magazine, April 2002. Neil discusses 9/11, performing John Lennon's "Imagine" for "America: A Tribute To Heroes" and "Are You Passionate?"
  • Neil Young: The Golden Years- Jaan Uhelszki conducts the interview in the hallway of Austin's Driskill Hotel after Neil locks himself out of his room
  • INTERVIEW WITH NEIL YOUNG on Silver and Gold
    March 17, 2000 at Austinís Driskill Hotel, KSGR Radio By Jody Denberg

  • USA Today - 8/98
  • Neil Young: A Believer in the Magic of Glitches - By JON PARELES New York Times - August 11, 1997

  • Year of the Horse - Interview in France's Les Inrockuptibles, July 1997

  • Zuerich Weltwoche , July 1996:

  • "MOJO" Magazine article, December '95
  • The SPIN magazine article - ~11/95

  • #648, January 21, 1993 interview by Alan Light:

    Neil's thoughts on Success of Harvest:

    Neil's thoughts on Iraq War #1:

    Neil's thoughts on Ronald Reagan:

    Neil's Thoughts on Life

  • LIKE A HURRICANE -"Guitare&Claviers" Avril 1992(Article translated from French by David Ostrosser)
  • Neil Young Spotlight on Much Music Canada's Music Station , ~6/91
  • Interview on MTV commenting on Ronald Reagan - 1990
  • Interview in Boston Globe 1990
  • Fucking Up with NEIL YOUNG by Jimmy McDonough, Village Voice Winter 1989

    The Times of London 5/23/03

    At what point during the writing of Greendale did he think that it would become a cohesive story? "It came song by song. I didn't really know what I was doing when I started. I just started writing the songs and after two songs I realised the same characters were in the two songs. So I just continued to explore it. I just wrote one song at a time. Kinda like an alcoholic. One day at a time. I thought if they stop coming with these characters then I'm finished. If they don't then I keep going."

    "They're all speaking for me," Young says. "When Sun Green is talking, I can get away with saying a lot of ideas that are young and naive. But when Grandpa Green is speaking, you have the clutter of time behind everything he says. So I can be all of these people and I don't have to deal with it myself. I'm liberated."

    So we know what the Greens think. But what are his own views on the war in Iraq?

    "I don't like war. That was my number one feeling," he says, choosing his words carefully. "I particularly don't like the celebration of war, which I think the administration is a little bit guilty of, and the American media -particularly Fox.

    Complete interview on Bad News Beat

    From The Guardian, 5/22/03:

    Oslo Interview - April 2003

    aspekte: Do you feel so much rage? Everyone, who saw your film to your new, American-critical songs, had the impression that this was your impression of the state of the nation.

    Young: You know, there is this thing there, called "Patriot Act", through which we abdicated a lot of our civil rights to defend the country against terrorism and all that. And that was primarily the promise. That's a big thing. A few people think this way about it, a few that way. Some people think it's a good thing, some count the days, 'til they think, it's a four year story. It has to be renewed after four years. Basically I think it's a divisive and polarizing phase. The country is strongly divided.

    aspekte: There are a lot of different things, that you address in your film what disturbs you most strongly?

    Young: Well, I worry about a few things. Hopefully we're starting to deal with the cultures as cultures. We have to understand, that people are different. I don't know, if we really understand, who we're dealing with over there. I think, to be rid of Saddam, was a good thing for the Iraqi people. But the manner, in which it took place I don't know, if there wasn't a better way to do it. But we didn't get a chance & But we lost patience. Our leaders also lost patience, in dealing with things differently. If I think about it, what they think and know I mean, I don't have the information that they do or don't have, to second guess them. These cultures have to be drawn out of their Culture of Doubt. They have to try and realize what happened. I try to do that, and I think, it's going to take a few more months before we can say what's going on. The way in which the USA and Great Britain delivered Iraq to the Iraqis, the way and means that this played out, that is, the endgame. That could be a good thing on one hand, a bad thing on the other. It's just happened. I really don't know. I just observe, like everybody else. Nobody likes war. Of course you have to support the troops. I mean, they're just kids, some just 19, 20 years old. You can't say: "These troops are evil." They aren't evil. They're doing for their country what's expected of them. But the politics you know, I don't understand it, I'm not of one mind with it. I don't know what I should say. I'm not happy, don't feel good about everything that happened. I'm curious as to what's going to happen next. Possibly some of our companies can help with the reconstruction, because we have the resources for this. But the Arabic states have to be integrated into the Iraqi reconstruction we can't do it from the outside. We need the help of the Arabic community, which understands its culture. The Americans try this and that. They arrive, invade, occupy. We could reverse all that if we would speak more directly with the Arabic states. Especially those with which we understand ourselves the best and those with which we already have a relationship. We need to try, that they take the responsibility to help themselves instead of us helping them. I think, if we give them that, if we can help them like that, we'll have a substantially bigger result.

    Complete interview on Bad News Beat

    USA Today - 8/98

    Subject: HH: Neil Interview (old)
    Date: Wed, 11 Mar 1998 19:56:11 GMT
    From: wd51rs@s.. (Randy Schechter)

    This weekend a friend gave me an article he had saved for me from this
    summer--the article was originally in the Aug 1-3 USA Weekend.
    It contains info about various subjects, some of which I have included below:

     Regarding trying to teach Crazy Horse new songs:

       "Theres a lot of frustration in trying to get music out when you're the
    only one who hears it, especially if you have something in your head that's
    not normal. You're trying to explain it to someone playing instruments you
    can't play."

      So Neil admits it---something in his head is not normal!


     Re: Lionel and the special equipment they have developed:

     "We get letters from parents who are blown away that their kids are playing
    with trains, just like any kid. All toys should be acessible to everybody. All
    kids love toys."

    On loud music:

     "Play music loud, so the air in the room moves the organs in your body. Thats
    part of the feeling of rock n roll. Its your ears, your body, your

     Embrace your valleys:
      (re: his songs)
     "Some shine, some don't. But the ones that don't shine are just as cool. As
    you go through life, you've got to see the valleys as well as the peaks. You
    appreciate your good stuff because of the other stuff."

     Be careful with knives:

         "I don't look at a knife the way I used to. I'm more aware of what it is.
    I think twice. This is a key finger. Its in every chord."
       (the article was accompanied by a picture of Neil, with a bandage on the
    index finger of his left hand)

     Make the change:

       "People don't normally change when things are going well. But I want to see
    what's next and keep moving. That keeps things fresh for me."

      Working on:

        An archive set that could fill 32 compact discs. He has 78 unreleased

    end blurb


    Neil Young Spotlight on Much Music Canada's Music Station

    Spotlight No. 1

     Video Clip: Blowin' in the Wind

     Factoids: Born in Toronto, Nov. 12, 1945

     Formed The Squires and later, The Mynah Birds with Rick James

     Joined Buffalo Springfield in 1967, left to record solo

     1st solo album release Jan 1969

    NY: The thing about my music is, there really is no point you know, and I'm really trying to drive that home, I think, with a lot of songs on this record because one verse doesn't relate to the next verse, and I don't think that one day really relates to the next day in life. You know it's like a totally different thing. I mean we're all the same people and we have the same friends and walking the same sidewalks and everything but...

    MM: (April 1988) Do you think that the reasons you started writing and singing and performing in the first place...

    NY: Totally not. I totally have no other talent and I would be totally out of work if I did anything else.

    MM: (laughs) Well maybe, but do you think they're the same reasons as when you started? Has somehow your motivation changed?

    NY: It's like a craft you know. It's what I do. Like I'm in a mold now, I'm kinda in a groove. Sometimes I do things people like and sometimes I don't. I'm just doing it because I love to do it, and I know how to do it, and it makes me feel good. I've trained all my life for this race and now I'm in it.

    Play video: Long May You Run, "Unplugged", 1993

    MM: When you write songs, to me it seems like there's not a whole lot of real crafting and editing involved. What you write just seems to come out. Do you edit your material a lot?

    NY: We don't build a record. I often use the...the best way for me to explain it is; instead of painting it, we're taking a picture of it. We're photographing it. So we're not building an image we're capturing an image.

    MM: When you want to do something that's different from what you've done before, say in this case "I think I want to make a blues album". How do you arrive at that decision?

    NY: Well, First of all, I don't think it's a really blues album. I think It's got a lot of blue things in it. It's a blue album, but it's not a blues album. I'm not pretending all of a sudden now I'm blues. I don't like to be labeled, to be anything. I've made the mistake before myself of labeling my music, it's this or that, but it's counter-productive. My music isn't anything but me. It has a lot of blue in it, and a lot of blue-notes, that's why we call it that. It has jazz in it, and it has rock'n'roll in it, and it has an urgency to it. But it's just my songs. They're all my songs I wrote during the period it was recorded. Basically all the songs are new . I wrote them for a big band that can handle the arrangements, I wrote the horn parts. I didn't write them; I came in and I went, Da da da da, do that and these guys are great, they'd do it right away. And then they make it better. And then they'd arrangement the harmony parts and then we'd work it out, and everybody knows what's going on. These guys are all better musicians than I am. They're all more technically adept at their instruments than I am.

    Play video: This Note's For You, "This Note's For You", 1988

    MM: (Sept. 1989) You've been a thorn in the side of the rock'n'roll industry particularly over the past few years.

    NY: I don't think I'm a thorn in the industry, I'm just another part of it.

    NY: It serves them all right. They deserve it, they've earned it They should have Molson's home for the homeless. Instead of all this crap they're spending on advertising. Everybody drinks the beer anyway. There all just blowing' their own horns. Why don't they spend money on helping people. And use that, it's great advertising. Build a big building and hire staff and doctors and people that wear uniforms with Molson's or Budweiser stickers on their white outfits and help people. Why don't they do that with their money instead? I'm starting to like that idea. How do you like that Molson? (Neil grins directly at the camera)

    NY: (Sept. 1991) I have so many opinions about everything it just comes out during my music. It's a battle for me. I try not to be preachy about what I'm saying. That's a real danger. As soon as you start preaching nobody wants to hear you because then you're a jerk. It's a battle for me and you can get there. I've slipped into that position many times. It's a danger of what I do. I don't want to do that. I just want to be a reflection of what's going on and let people draw their own conclusions.

    Play video: Keep on Rocking in the Free World, Freedom, 1989

    NY: I wrote that song out on the road. I really don't remember except I know I wrote it all on my bus. I thought of the first line, rocking in the free world, keep on rocking in the free world. I said, Oh God, that really says something but that's such a cliche, it's such a terrible..., it's such an obvious thing and then I knew I had to use it!

    NY: Freedom to me is more of a personal thing. The freedom that I'm writing about is really a personal thing. It's based on people. People on the street, homeless people, rich people with problems, all kinds of people. Freedom is an abstract offshoot. You can't describe freedom. How can you describe it? I tried and I failed.

    Play video: Weight of the World, "Landing on Water", 1986

    MM: When you play live, is it feeding some sort of vital need for you?

    NY: I live for playing live. That's what I do. All my records are live, since After the Gold Rush, with the exception of Trans and the vocals on Landing on Water. Everything I've done has been a live thing. It is what it is. I go in and sing the song and arrange it and mix it and that's it. It's no different that playing in clubs. I hate studios. Studios are passe for me. I'd rather play in a garage, in a truck, or a rehearsal hall, or a club, or a basement. Anywhere but a studio where you have to go down the hall and see other people playing, and you feel like you're in some kind of complex. You feel like you're a soup, you're cream of mushroom and they're tomato. I don't like that.

    MM: Cinnamon Girl has it changed? Does the song have a new life?

    NY: It's the same as it always was for me. It's the same thought. The song works for me now as well now as it did when I wrote it. It's got the same message. It's just now I'm 46 years old and I'm playing it. The thought is still there. My mom isn't there. So when I sing 'Ma send me money now' I know I'm not going to get it! I don't know if I'll find the cinnamon girl. I think I already did but I'm still singing, who knows. The beat's still there. The people are still there.

    Play video: Cinnamon Girl, "Weld", 1991 (Note: Ever notice that Neil plays The Beatles "Norwegian Wood" riff in the final seconds of this version?)

    MM: Do you like the oneness of the rock'n'roll show? The fact that if it's a good show you're coming together with your crowd.

    NY: Oh yeah, that's the whole thing. That's the essence of it. That's what rock'n'roll's all about. Weld. People just coming together.

    Complete index of all interviews with Neil Young.

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