In a recent Rolling Stone interview, the legendary rocker was asked what drives him to keep making new material when many of his peers have stopped.
“I just love music,” Young replied. “If you see the reactions that people are having to a song like ‘Welcome Back,’ that’s why we do this. It gets at people’s souls. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s me. It could just be that they found the music that they like, and they can find the music they like in any number of people. But, you know, just to read that about these songs that I’ve just done, and hear how happy people are to get them, it’s very gratifying.”
He continued: “That makes me want to keep going. I’m already planning another record. I just can’t figure out where to do it. But we’re working on that and we will figure it out. We’ll go back in the studio pretty soon.”
Young noted that, when assembling a new track, he tries to avoid performing it in full until the moment comes to record. “I don’t sit and play the guitar and sing the song,” he said. “I might sing one verse, or think it while I’m playing, maybe humming or something. Then I write all the words out and I try to never do it again until it’s being recorded with the band. Right before we do it, I’ll show the band the changes and I’ll let them play for a few minutes. Then I just start.”
Young believes this process adds a unique energy to his songs. “Since it’s the first time I’ve ever done it, it’s cool, because you’re discovering everything — whether it works, whether it doesn’t work,” he explained. “You can improvise your way along because you’ve got no track to follow. There’s no rule, there’s nothing. ‘Well, I did it great the last time like this, so I’m going to do it like that again.’ That’s that doesn’t happen in this method.”
Watch Neil Young and Crazy Horse Perform ‘Welcome Back’
Neil Young Albums Ranked
Neil Young is one of rock’s most brilliant, confounding, defiant and frustrating artists.