The Rebellious Neil Young

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How much has the friction between you and Stills been beneficial over the years?
I think people really have that friction business out of hand. Stephen and I just play really good together. People can't comprehend that we both can play lead guitar in the band and not fight over it. We have total respect for musicianship and we both bring out the perfectionist in each other. We're both very intense, but that's part of our relationship. We both enjoy that. It's part of doing what we do. In that respect being at loggerheads has worked to our advantage. Stephen Stills and I have made some incredible music with each other. Especially in the Springfield. We were young. We had a lot of energy.

Why did you leave the band?
I just couldn't handle it toward the end. My nerves couldn't handle the trip. It wasn't me scheming on a solo career, it wasn't anything but my nerves. Everything started to go too fucking fast, I can tell that now. I was going crazy, you know, joining and quitting and joining again. I began to feel like I didn't have to answer or obey anyone. I needed more space. That was a big problem in my head. So I'd quit, then I'd come back 'cause it sounded so good. It was a constant problem. I just wasn't mature enough to deal with it. I was very young. We were getting the shaft from every angle and it seemed like we were trying to make it so bad and were getting nowhere. The following we had in the beginning, and those people know who they are, was a real special thing. It gave all of us, I think, the strength to do what we've done. With the intensity that we've been able to do it. Those few people who were there in the very beginning.

Last Springfield question. Are there, in fact, several albums of unreleased material?
I've got all of that. I've got those tapes.

Why have you sat on them for so long? What are you waiting for?
I'll wait until I hear from some of the other guys. See if anybody else has any tapes. I don't know if Richie or Dicky Davis [Springfield road manager] has anything. I've got good stuff. Great songs. "My Kind of Love," "My Angel," "Down to the Wire," "Baby Don't Scold Me." We'll see what happens.

What was your life like after the Springfield?
It was all right. I needed to get out to the sticks for a while and just relax. I headed for Topanga Canyon and got myself together. I bought a big house that overlooked the whole canyon. I eventually got out of that house because I couldn't handle all the people who kept coming up all the time. Sure was a comfortable fucking place... that was '69, about when I started living with my first wife, Susan. Beautiful woman.

Was your first solo album a love song for her?
No. Very few of my albums are love songs to anyone. Music is so big, man, it just takes up a lot of room. I've dedicated my life to my music so far. And every time I've let it slip and gotten somewhere else, it's showed. Music lasts...a lot longer than relationships do. My first album was very much a first album. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And I did, thanks to the wonder of modern machinery. That first album was overdub city. It's still one of my favorites though. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is probably my best. It's my favorite one. I've always loved Crazy Horse from the first time I heard the Rockets album on White Whale. The original band we had in '69 and '70--Molina, Talbot, Whitten and me. That was wonderful. And it's back that way again now. Everything I've ever done with Crazy Horse has been incredible. Just for the feeling, if nothing else.

Why did you join CSNY, then? You were already working steadily with Crazy Horse.
Stephen. I love playing with the other guys, but playing with Stephen is special. David is an excellent rhythm guitarist and Graham sings so great...shit, I don't have to tell anybody those guys are phenomenal. I knew it would be fun. I didn't have to be out front. I could lay back. It didn't have to be me all the time. They were a big group and it was easy for me. I could still work double time with Crazy Horse. With CSNY, I was basically just an instrumentalist that sang a couple of songs with them. It was easy. And the music was great. CSNY, I think, has always been a lot bigger thing to everybody else than it is to us. People always refer to me as Neil Young of CSNY, right? It's not my main trip. It's something that I do every once in a while. I've constantly been working on my own trip all along. And now that Crazy Horse is back in shape, I'm even more self-involved.

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Song Stories

“Love Is the Answer”

Utopia | 1977

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