After a successful launch for his PonoMusic service and player this week from South By Southwest -- doubling its Kickstarter launch goal for player pre-orders in less than 24 hours -- Neil Young is readying for the release of some other new projects this year -- including a new album and his second book.
Young tells Billboard we can expect to hear "A Letter Home," the album he recorded at Jack White's Third Man studio in Nashville, "very soon," most likely this spring.
"It's not ready for prime time yet," Young says of the set, on which he covers songs by some of his favorite writers, with White joining him on two tracks. "It's not really a release yet, but it's a very unique record. It's like a time capsule. It doesn't sound like anything you've heard that was made recently. And some great songs, some beautiful music."
The idea for "A Letter Home" appeared to be hatched by a version of Bert Jansch's "The Needle of Death," which Young recorded for Record Store Day 2013 in White's 1947 Voice-o-Graph booth. "They're songs that I love, songs that changed my life, songs that made it so that I understood what someone else was saying to me, songs by greater writers."
Young predicts he'll have new original music to release, too, but he's not saying when.
"I have new songs that I'm working on, and I haven't stopped doing that," he says. "I do it when I feel like it and I'm collecting them. And sometimes I play them live before they come out as a record, and because of the way everything is people hear them before they come out, on the Internet. But I still feel like I'm gonna make records of them."
And if Young has his way, he'll also do something symphonic in the near future.
"I'd like to make a record with a full-blown orchestra, live -- a mono recording with one mic," he explains. "I want to do something like that where we really record what happened, with one point of view and the musicians moved closer and farther away, the way it was done in the past. To me that's a challenge and it's a sound that's unbelievable, and you can't get it any other way. So I'm into doing that."
Young is also in "the final editing stages" for his second book, "Special Deluxe," a follow-up to his 2012 memoir "Waging Heavy Peace." This book, Young says, will be out this year and "focuses on my life as regards to my transportation, as regards to my love for cars. So it's a history through automobiles, and it's a history of automobiles and it's a history of the environmental impact of automobiles. And it's a projection into the future of automobiles. It has it's own agenda that develops over the book."