"Neil had a lot of things that were important to us -- not because they sold well," Roberts notes. "I think of it as we're introducing him to a younger audience, a new audience. We know there's our core audience that's 50-70 or so. That's always been the case, and it's nice to actually have. But it's like discovering Dylan -- you may like EDM, but at some point in your life you'll be into Dylan and you'll get it, whether you're 23, 24, 21 or 26. Discovering Neil or discovering those catalogs, that material. It's still fun for Neil to create. He doesn't mind going back or going forward."
The release of 1982's trippy Human Highway -- directed by Young (aka Bernard Shakey) with pal Dean Stockwell, and co-written with starring players Stockwell, Russ Tamblyn, Dennis Hopper and Devo -- was particularly long in coming and a holy grail for many Young fans. Roberts says it was spurred by a request for it from last year's Toronto International Film Festival, which also gave Young some impetus to return to the project for some revisions. "The main thing I was waiting for was to get masters of them that were really great," Young told Billboard earlier this year. "And I had a lot to learn, especially with Human Highway. So after many years of looking at movies and thinking about it, I recut it and I think I added some things to it and made it a lot better than the original was, although it's still very much the original." Human Highway's environmental concerns, meanwhile, still echo today, if in a slightly different fashion than the film's focus on the risks of nuclear power proliferation.
"Neil's been an advocate for the environment, quietly or unquietly, all his life, really, from [Buffalo] Springfield on," says Roberts, who was also part of the film cast (and has appeared in Made In Heaven and Almost Famous). "This was actually an environmental film. At the time atomic energy was a big topic. This a political statement of that time on the state of where we were on atomic energy and where the world was, with worldwide disasters happening at atomic plants and yet we were going forward with this energy. It was (Young's) way of doing a comedy spoof about what was on his mind. They really were bent on making a point and entertaining. It was such broad comedy for Neil, who at the time wasn't known for his broad comedy. For Neil to sort of be Jerry Lewis, in a sense, was great fun for him."
After finishing a European summer tour with Promise of the Real, Young will be back in action on Sept. 17 at the Farm Aid concert in Bristow, Va. His fall schedule also includes appearances at Desert Trip on Oct. 8 and 15 in Indio, Calif., and hosting the annual Bridge School Benefit concerts Oct. 22-23 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif.