Neil Young Says Music Is Taking Its Toll on Him
Neil Young once famously sang, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” in ‘My My, Hey Hey,’ but the 66-year-old rocker isn’t doing either one just yet – despite his admission that continuing his touring career is getting harder as he grows older.
In a new interview with New York Times magazine to promote his upcoming autobiography, ‘Waging Heavy Peace,’ Young admits that after years of reluctance to write a book about himself, he undertook the task for two reasons: because he needed the money, and because he needed something to do after he broke his toe last year. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to continue to mainly be a musician forever, because physically I think it’s going to take its toll on me — it’s already starting to show up here and there,” he acknowledges.
Young has suffered a host of physical maladies, including epilepsy, serious back problems and an aneurysm. That hasn’t yet prevented the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer from working, most recently with his on-again, off-again spiritual partners, Crazy Horse. “We’ve got two new albums, so we’re not an oldies act, and we’re relevant because we’re playing these new songs, so that gives us something to stand on,” he says.
The guitarist has often taken a hit-and-miss approach to his career, walking away from profitable partnerships for the sake of artistic exploration and blowing vast sums of money carelessly to satisfy seemingly random whims, but his manager, Elliot Roberts, says he simply doesn’t care. “He has no problem with failure as long as he is doing work he is happy with,” Roberts observes. “Whether it ends up as a win or loss on a consumer level is not as much of an interest to him as one might think.”
Among Young’s varied non-musical pursuits are an electric car (which he not only wants to develop, but he also hopes to make a movie about the car and then drive it to the White House) and a new technology called Pono, which provides high-quality digital audio in a readily downloadable format. Young has already gotten Warner Brothers to sign their catalog for Pono, and is negotiating with other companies before unveiling the new system publicly. But he isn’t ready to give up on writing and performing music; he will release a new album with Crazy Horse titled ‘Psychedelic Pill’ on Oct. 30.
“At 65, it seems that I may not be at the peak of my rock ’n’ roll powers,” the grizzled musician admits. “But that is not for sure.”