(Continued, Page 3) The Billboard Q&A: Neil Young
Continued interview with Neil Young.Wow. That should have been on CNN, unedited. But it would have been chopped up into four different segments.
Yeah [laughs], and they would play it over and over again. And somebody would come on and say, "What bullshit! That's ridiculous. You can't tell me we don't need oil. That's just not realistic." No, you need oil, I don't need it. That's why you feel that way [laughs].
What are you hoping to gain from the release of the film, and the DVD that will follow it?
Discussion. Debate. Open forums. And it does do that to people. You'll see what happens when this film comes out on the Internet. You'll see people talking. It'll be interesting. It'll open up a thing, and that's what it does. That's what the music did. That's what happens. It happens in the audiences. I saw families fighting within the families, the kids wanting to stay and the parents going, "No, we've got to get out of here. This is no good." The parents dragging the kid out, and the kid looking back. And we're not talking a 10-year-old, here. We're talking college kids being driven out by just straight-laced fathers, the classic father image of strength. Not much compassion, but a lot of strength.
Is there a certain amount of disappointment you have in your own generation? Was that one of the reasons for doing the Freedom of Speech tour?
Actually, I'm encouraged by my own generation, because they still remember enough. They're the ones that are trying to move forward. The youngsters today, the ones in school, the college kids, they're not threatened like my generation was when they were in college. They're not threatened with going to war, the imminent draft, that they're going, that they're going to be in the lottery, that they're gonna go, and maybe die. Kids today are thinking, "Will I work for Google? Am I going to be lucky enough to work for Google? Or whom I'm going to be working for? Am I gonna get a dotcom job? Maybe I'll be working in an environmental company. Maybe I'll get some cool job. Maybe I want to be a designer, maybe fashion. What am I gonna be doing with my life?"
They're not going, "I don't want to go to Vietnam. I don't want to go to Afghanistan. I don't want to go Pakistan." There's no threat so there's protest. So our generation, my generation, still remembers what we went through, and they still have the fire. They're making a lot of noise about Bush. When I see them out in the crowd, I'm not disappointed. I'm proud of them, because they're still there. Because they remember what it's like.
The only difference is that this president and this vice president were smart enough to realize that Nixon's fuck up was the draft. What undid that whole thing was the draft. So they didn't have a draft, and they disguised it as a lean and mean army, and they reinforced it with mercenaries and Blackwater, but they didn't talk about that. So they kept 100,000 guys going back and forth, some five and six times, ruining their lives. Many of them are never going to live a good life again because of this, if they live. And their families are broken. Everything's broken. But they let that happen, so that they would not lose their jobs, and their influence, and their power. That's the difference. That's why this generation is not challenging this administration, because this administration has not challenged this generation, like in the old days, like they did. They didn't tell this generation it had to go to war. They told this generation to go to college, go to school and do whatever you want to do. Only 140,000 people that we enlisted at shopping centers are gonna go.
In the movie, you talk about not singing the song "Ohio" for years, because you didn't want to capitalize...
I thought that right at the beginning. That's what bothered me about the song in the first place, and that's why I rarely sang it. But in this tour, it took on a context of being part of history, so we played it again. But I did many tours with CSNY where I would hardly ever do that song. If you saw us do it, you saw us on a rare occasion. Crosby loves to do the song. He just wants to do it every night. And I just can't do it. It's too personal, it's too real. It's about people who actually died that we feel were our audience. They could have been in the first row at our shows. These were students. That's who we played for. That's why I didn't want the cameras at Woodstock, because they were in between us and our crowd. This is the way it started. It started with a total connection. There was no faade, there was no style, there was no posing. It was a real deal happening. And it had so much energy that people are still living off of it today. They're still building off of it.
A family member sent me an email recently entitled "How Long Does the American Empire Have?," which noted that each of the world's great dynasties have crumbled eventually. Are we nearing an end to the American dynasty?
No, I don't think so. I think potentially we're going to lead the world through innovation. We're going to solve the problem of consumption that we created. That's what the whole thing is about. That's the goal. Not everybody knows it. But that's what's happening, in the back rooms, in the labs and the garages, in the physics clubs, and the science labs around the country and around the world. That's the real thing. That's what's really happening. All this other shit is just window dressing.
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