Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Neil Young touts new tour documentary

By RYAN PEARSON, AP Entertainment Writer
2 hours, 12 minutes ago

PARK CITY, Utah - With his two bandmates and their autocratic leader gathered around a dining table, David Crosby is telling a George Bush joke.

"Don't you think it'd be a good idea," he says, chuckling, "if we had a law that said you can't have control of nuclear weapons unless you can pronounce the word nuclear? I'm just asking."

Neil Young stares intensely at his jovial bandmate and — strangely for a guy who wrote a song called "Let's Impeach the President" — reprimands him.

"That comment is a polarizing comment," Young says harshly. "It doesn't have to do with the grass roots of the country in the Midwest. It takes people and separates them."

Despite assorted health scares and surgeries that come with passing 60 (and decades of rocker excess), things are as they always were with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

In a half-hour conversation, Graham Nash mostly sits quietly and listens. Stephen Stills, just a few weeks after having prostate cancer, laughs loudly and interjects with jokes. As in their music, Crosby and Young guide the discussion, alternating perspectives and sometimes clashing.

The four gathered at the recent Sundance Film Festival to promote a new movie, "CSNY Deja Vu," that tracks their 2006 tour playing songs from Young's "Living With War" album. (It also recently played at the Berlin Film Festival.)

Young directed the documentary under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey. And as he does in jousting with Crosby, he seems to thrive on the rancor that resulted from the tour.

Fans entered arenas around the country apparently expecting "Our House" and "Teach Your Children." Instead, they got protest songs: "Lookin' For a Leader," "Living With War," and the aforementioned tune with a chorus that goes, "Let's impeach the president for lying ... abusing all the power that we gave him."

Fans are shown storming out mid-song, ripping up their tickets and threatening to punch Young's face in. This was post-Dixie Chicks, but before public opinion widely turned against the Iraq war. One of Young's stage props was a human-sized microphone that he leaned out over front rows.

"This movie is about when people started talking again, when people started taking the country back, when people started saying well, it is patriotic to have an opinion," Young said. "That's what the time of that movie is. ... We were riding a wave along with everyone else. It was bigger than anybody."

Young put together the "Living with War" album rapidly, and the result was a raw, ragged sound full of passion and anger. He felt he had to make it because no mainstream artists had spoken out against the war. It's an assertion that his bandmates were quick to correct.

"Imagine if one of these young pop stars had suddenly had an epiphany and started doing this," Young said. "That would've really been good. But that didn't happen."

Nash cut in, saying, "What about that great video (`Mosh') from Eminem?"

Young ignored his bandmate. He continued, "I was hoping something like that would happen. Because it wouldn't just be me, somebody from the '60s."

Crosby cut in, saying, "It does happen. It just doesn't happen enough. That girl Pink. That little pop girl Pink. That song 'Dear Mr. President,' that's a good song."

Young ignored him, too.

"Nobody except the pop mainstream has guaranteed airplay," Young said. "There are people that could've turned it around and forgotten about 'Shake Your Booty' for a few minutes. But nobody was moved to, and the people that were moved to were people that nobody would play."

After recording, Young got Crosby and Nash into a car and played his new album for them. They agreed instantly to tour with him. Stills found out later, and said he went along more reluctantly .

"I would've told them we'd get booed out of the building," Stills said. "We happened to catch the country in the first stages of the argument. And they'd have it on the way out of the building. The kids arguing with the parents."

Nash nodded, adding, "I would like to have taped maybe 1,000 car rides home from our concert."

"That's why we need the reverse radio," Young offered. "The radio that when it's off, it's recording. I got that idea from the Bush administration."

"A ninja team out in the parking lot sticking those in," Crosby said.

Young: "No, they'd just install them at GM."

Crosby and Nash, touring together, continue to open their sets with the Nash's 1971 anti-war song "Military Madness." But Young has moved on. He released a new CD last fall, "Chrome Dreams II," focused on love and relationships and with nary a mention of Iraq.

"The way I like to do it is if you're going to sing about war, sing the whole album about war. Just stay on that and drive it into peoples' heads. And that's what we did. But you can't do that over and over again or it's like television. It just completely bores you and numbs you."

Which brings us back to the band leader's takedown of Crosby's crack about Bush.

"A lot of people have problems pronouncing words and spelling things correctly. It doesn't mean that they're not intelligent," Young tells Crosby. "You've got to give the guy credit. Do I agree with him? No. Do I think he's stupid? No. Do I think he's a leader? Yes. He led. He took this country where he wanted to take it. And he steadfastly stuck with it all the way."


Post a Comment

<< Home