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Pegi Young Premieres 'Too Little Too Late' Video, Talks Learning 'To Live In New World Order' After Divorce

Too Little Too Late - Pegi Young & The Survivors
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Pegi Young & The Survivors in the video for "Too Little Too Late."

Pegi Young is well aware that her new album, Raw, will be combed for references, both direct and subtle, to the end of her 36-year marriage to Neil Young. But she's adamant that the 12-song set, which comes out Friday (Feb. 17), is not just 43 minutes of railing against her ex.

"I think people can read into this record and think one side should get all the blame, and that's not my intention at all," Young -- whose video for her original song "Too Little Too Late" premieres exclusively below -- tells Billboard. "I'm not blameless, and there were some issues that were going through the marriage. There's always two sides. What I really don't want is for people to read into this record as some sort of indictment of the woman been done wrong. It's not that clear-cut. It never is."

That said, she laughs when asked if it was good to get some things off her chest -- though Young reveals several other songs were left off of Raw and there was even "a band debate" about whether to include the blistering opening track  "Why'd You Have To Ruin My Life."

"That was written pretty early on, when I was [in] my anger phase…but also really hurt, and that song takes you on that journey," Young recalls. "It's pretty pointed, but it was representative of where I was at at that time. There was a lot of emotion swirling around inside this little heart of mine. But there's a lot of other songs on the record, like 'Too Little Too Late,' and there's songs that didn't go on the record where I think it's clear there's blame to go around."

Raw, which was recorded at Young's ranch in northern California, Los Angeles and Nashville, mixes originals about rolling in the deep with a selection of appropriate covers, including Don Henley's "Heart of the Matter," Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'," Randy VanWarmer's "Just When I Needed You Most" and Otis Clay's "Tryin' To Live My Life Without You," which was a Billboard Hot 100 No. 5 hit for Bob Seger in 1981. The latter, according to Young, was a bit of an emotional turning point for the project.

"I would say ('Tryin' To Live My Life Without You') came around midway in the overall recovery process," Young recalls. "I had to get out of bed, first, to start this record; I did suffer some pretty significant depression initially. We'd been doing some of the songs, and my keyboard player Spooner (Oldham), after a while he says, 'Y'know, Pegi, you're doin' a lot of po' po' pitiful me songs...' I just love him. I said, 'Y'know what? You're so right. I've got to get off my pity pot here and turn a corner' and adjust to learn to live in this new world order, in my early 60s.

"There's that process of discovery of, 'Well, who am I now that I'm not doing what I did for so many years?' That's been my process, but it's also a universal experience, whether it's a late in life divorce or a divorce at any stage of the game or a death or any significant loss. You've got to learn how to function in the new world order -- and that's what I'm doing."

Young says she and her ex-husband "don't communicate very often," though they both remain committed to the Bridge School that Pegi Young started in 1986 for children with severe special needs, and to the annual concerts that provide most of the operation's funding. "I think we got joint custody of Bridge School," she says. "Bridge School's bigger than the both of us." And she was gratified by the outspoken support from David Crosby, though his criticisms of Neil Young seemed to be part of the reason Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are in dry dock at the moment.

"My dear friend David -- Y'know, he said what he said when he said it. I don't know that he expected what came in the aftermath and... things have been spinning out of control a little bit," she says. "But, y'know, music transcends. Like Neil and Stephen (Stills); They've had all kinds of spats and this and that over the years 'cause they've known each other since they were kids, but the music takes you above and beyond those issues. So I hope that's what happens in this case 'cause those guys made some great music, and I'd hate to see the whole thing implode."

Young will be hitting the road to support Raw during the spring. A SXSW performance is planned, and she hopes to build dates around those. "My band is just itching to go out and play," she says. This also marks the 10-year anniversary of her self-titled debut album and a recording career of her own that Young didn't anticipate when she was singing backup for her husband over the years.

"I came into my own, you might say, in terms of putting out my first record quite late in life," Young says. "And yet there's some authors and photographers and even probably recording artists that didn't really hit their stride until their mid-50s. Some people write a lot more and put out a lot more product than I do, but I'm pleased with what I've been able to do in the last decade, and I don't see this as my last record by any stretch. In some ways it's like a new beginning, even."

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