Neil Young Tells Apple Music About New Album 'Barn'

Article Contributed by Apple | Published on Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Neil Young joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 for a conversation at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studio in Malibu about his new album with Crazy Horse out this Friday, 'Barn’. He tells Apple Music he’s thankful to still be making music and discusses planning to record the album around a full moon, the magic of his songwriting process, his guitar sound, and the importance of recording in the right environments. He also explains why going through his archives has been “a real life saver”,  shares why he likes President Biden, and details why he’s willing to give up certain freedoms for the benefit of future generations.

Neil Young Tells Apple Music He’s Thankful To Still Be Making Music…

I feel good to be where I am in the world and doing what I'm doing. I'm very thankful to be still making music. And to be alive and still moving. And I feel great about it. And the reason why I think, and people get to be my age of three quarters of a century, you get to this point and people, if they don't have anything to do, they get kind of depressed. But with me, I just got so much to do. I have all these things that I need to organize and still keeps happening.

Neil Young Tells Apple Music About New Album ‘Barn’ with Crazy Horse…

I know that I'm very thankful for having made it. And I think it was a gift and everything in it works, and it's not often that happens. I mean, it works for me. I don't know if it works for anybody else. But for me it, it works. Everything felt right. So I feel great about it.

Neil Young Tells Apple Music About Planning To Record The Album Around A Full Moon…

Well, I told them about 10 months before that I thought that by June... And I looked at the calendar and I could see what part of the month that I wanted to be there and where the full moon was. So we just chose that time. So we'd be there setting up as the moon was coming. And then when we got set up, we started play and then it got bigger and bigger and bigger until we recorded everything. So that was cool. It was really cool.

Neil Young Tells Apple Music About Recording In The Barn…

Well, it's a barn from the 1870s, and it was falling down and going back into the ground. It had a broken back, all the logs in the middle were broken and going into the ground. There was much less height to it than it used to have because it was actually disintegrating. So we took it and got a real master barn builder from a local guy and we rebuilt. Made it just like it was in the old drawings of it and old photographs because it used to be a stage stop. So you'd see these pictures with the carriages and the horses and the ladies with their big dresses with the metal ring and everything. I don't know what that's called, but the old style people stopping there to stay the night and then get back in the carriage and keep on going.

Neil Young Tells Apple Music About The Importance of Recording In The Right Environments…

I always been like that. Geography's important. Not just the room, but where is the room? Where am I? I really care about that. Because every time you move to a new place, everything changes. In the music, you feel some places are good for some things. If it's not happening, I just leave because it's nobody's fault, but I don't want to be part of it. There's some places I just don't want to be after a while with regards to music. It just doesn't feel right. And some places that are great.

Neil Young Tells Apple Music About His Songwriting Process...

Neil Young: I don't even know. It just happens. I just never not do it. If it's happening, it's happening. Everything else stops. That's the most important thing. So if you want to do that, if you want to write songs, when the song comes to you, you got to stop everything else. No matter what you're doing, you just leave and you just go somewhere and pick up on what it was you got.

Zane: Is it hard for some people throughout your life to understand that application?

Neil Young: They hardly even notice.

Zane: How?

Neil Young: Well, because I just disappear. I don't know. I'm not there.

Zane: This ability to play ghost is really coming out throughout your life.

Neil Young: Well, it's just a natural thing. It's no big deal. It's just if you got something to do and you've got to do it, you just do it. I just blend away.

Neil Young: Tells Apple Music About Being Willing To Give Up Certain Freedoms For Future Generations, Why He Likes President Biden, and The Importance of Tackling Climate Change

Zane: how many freedoms are you willing to relinquish in order to ensure survival for our children? And I sort of wonder where that sits with you…

Neil Young: All, every freedom. Every one I'm willing to let go of, if I could make it better for my grandchildren. That's the way we should be looking at this. That's why I like Biden, that's why I like what he's doing. He's addressing it, and he is not distracted by all of the petty little things that are happening day to day that people get hung up on so that the newsies can all talk to each other and go bantering back and forth between the channels. All of that's useless, it means nothing compared to the big picture. They just ignore the big picture, which is... It's too bad. But I wouldn't hold on to anything to… There's nothing more important than making sure that the earth is as good as it can be for our grandchildren. That's got to be the first thing, that's got to be the most important thing for everybody, for the human race.

Zane: It's so obvious and so basic, it doesn't make any sense for us to think any other way, and yet we still get distracted. I love hearing you talk about having faith in a leader, because I think what we're experiencing now is this kind of real doubt about the system in general. I think kids growing up going, "I don't even know what this system represents to me right now. Just seems like a lot of old people yelling and screaming for their own purpose.” And so you've sort of experienced this on and off through varying states of democracy and idiocracy, and I sort of wonder what your prevailing feeling is now with someone like Biden, who you actually support in charge. What your feeling is about the idea of government and leadership in general, because what does it mean if we're putting all our faith in one individual who's ultimately being led by other divisive forces?

Neil Young: Well, if you want to look at it like that the one individual that we put our faith in is being led by other divisive forces, then it's a loser situation, but I don't look at it that way. I have faith in this human being. Everything that the human being has done shows that the human being basically feels like I do that, that we're up against the wall, we got to do things. They may be unpopular in the short term, they may seem to be fiscally irresponsible, because how much debt can you handle? And then a thing like rising inflation comes along, which is it's just something to talk about. Yeah things are getting more expensive, but they would have gotten more expensive anyway. We just had a pandemic, we just had all this stuff, the shipping has stopped. This has nothing to do with Joe Biden. It's not his fault that there was a pandemic and everything has come to a grinding halt around the planet. His thing is a little more focused, which is what's causing the problem that is a threat to us? And he's taking that on and he's not bothered with the other stuff. I think he's doing a great job, I support him a hundred percent. Because you got to get behind something, and I like what he's doing, so I feel good about that. People are dwelling on what's wrong. They should dwell on what do we need to do, not whose fault is it.

Neil Young Tells Apple Music About The Joy of Going Through His Archives…

I'm so glad that I was there and that I knew these people and I miss them, but there's nothing I can do about it. I'm still here. And I'm picking up the pieces of the things that we did and trying to make them and put them on the shelf in their place so that if somebody walks in, it's not just a pile of crap that they can't figure out what it is. Because the worst thing would be to have other people trying to do this and figure out what it was if I wasn't around. I don't want that, so that's why it's important for me to do this. And it's only for the music and it's not so much for me as it is for the music and for all the people who made the music, because all the credits for everybody who did everything is all there and people's families in the future. I look at it and I go, well maybe the grandchildren will hear this and they'll go, this is what daddy was doing with Neil and listen to this. And my son is helping me with the archives. Zeke is working on the team now for three, four years. And it's all cool. It's a lot of fun. The archives is a real life saver for me. It gives me something to do that's rewarding and puts a smile on my face. And I find these things.

Neil Young Tells Apple Music About His Guitar Sound and Longtime Guitar Tech Larry Cragg...

Well, it's the sound , it's what's happening. When I play my sound, it's just me with an instrument that was set up by Larry Cragg, who's a genius. Through amplifiers that were set up by Larry Cragg, and Sal Trentino, who is another genius who is not with us anymore, but truly a genius. He was a tube guru, and between Larry and Sal, we would get the deluxe out and we have a pile of tubes that are contenders for the deluxe. There'd be like 600 tubes.And we just go through them, try a couple of six L sixes, try another couple. Okay, these are pretty good, Mark put them in the higher will, categorize all the tubes, go through all the tubes, which ones to sound the best.Pretty soon you've got three sets of tubes that sound like God, out of 80 tubes. So Larry and Sal were great at that. And when I did Barn, Larry was back with me.There's so much involved and so many people to make the sound. That the sound is really the life of all the music and all the people that I've known.

Neil Young Tells Apple Music About His Legacy and Catalog…

I really try not to think about that too much. Because it doesn't help me. What helps me, is immersing myself in what I'm doing. And what happens with what I'm doing is ancillary. All this stuff that doesn't mean anything. What means something to me is what are we working on now, what's next? What are we going to find and restore and bring back to the point where it's vivid, instead of just murky and... because it's in the past and we captured it. So we can go in there with our stuff and get it and bring it back.