Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Neil Young documents anti-war tour in film

By DAVID BAUDER, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jul 23, 5:11 PM ET

NEW YORK - Not every musician will make a film that features a fan facing him from a concert audience with two arms raised, middle fingers extended — more than one fan, in fact.


Neil Young was singing protest songs on a "Freedom of Speech" tour with David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash at the time. Ignoring that kind of nonverbal speech would contradict the message, wouldn't it?

It was an easy call. Using the nom de plume Bernard Shakey, Young directs "CSNY: Deja Vu," a film that uses the tumult surrounding CSNY's 2006 concert tour as a backdrop for exploring divisions in the country over the Iraq war. It opens in theaters on Friday.

Before the tour, Young had released "Living With War," the blunt anti-war album where he was backed by a full chorus on songs like "Let's Impeach the President." There was little mistaking his intentions; one of the film's funniest moments shows Young almost physically knocked back when a CNN reporter mentioned the song and asked him, "What's that song about?"

Young invited journalist Mike Cerre along to speak to members of the audience.

"The interviews we got were more positive than negative," Young told The Associated Press. "But we tried to represent the people who didn't come by, trying to equalize the positive and negative."

It wasn't hard to find unhappy fans at a handful of shows, most obviously in Atlanta. Many streamed out, or stayed to offer hand signals. Some had inexplicably expected a greatest-hits show. Young said he was blown away watching families fight, the children wanting to stay while their parents were eager to leave.

He also had narrators read from concert reviews, positive and negative. One critic said, "I don't want to be told how to think by four aging hippies." Another said CSNY wasn't interested in free speech, "just the kind they believe in."

Plainly, he had struck a nerve. No one likes seeing angry fans, but Young had no interest in backing down.

"Just because I'm famous doesn't mean that I work for the audience," he said. "I'm not obligated to do anything. I'm an artist. I will do what I want to do. Whatever the consequences ... I certainly hope that it's a civilized reaction."

Through Cerre's contacts, "Deja Vu" tells stories of people band members met along the way. The characters include songwriter Josh Hisle, now a performing musician after two tours of duty with the Marines in Iraq; Gold Star mother and anti-war activist Karen Meredith; and Patrick Murphy, an Iraq veteran now a freshman congressman from Pennsylvania.

The title "Deja Vu" is also a hint that Young seeks to draw connections to CSNY's activism against the Vietnam War roughly 40 years ago.

Young has resisted playing one of his best-known songs, "Ohio," about the shooting of anti-Vietnam War demonstrators in Kent State, because he didn't want to seem like he was exploiting the victims' memories. The song was dusted off and given new context in the "Freedom of Speech" tour.

When he released his album, Young had said it was a shame that someone older had to write those songs, implicitly criticizing the generation fighting the Iraq war. He's since been set straight, finding a lot of music addressing the topic was being made; it just hadn't found an outlet. Young now features a lot of it on his Web site, which keeps a constantly refreshed chart on which songs are being played the most.

Young never wants to do such a tour again, and not just because he hopes for peace.

"It's too draining and terrifying," he said. "I was committed to it ... and I followed it all the way through to the end, but it's very dangerous and it's not fun. Singing those songs every day and meeting the soldiers and meeting people who were crying about their lost loved ones every day? We did that ... but I don't want to spend the rest of my life replaying that."

The artists received death threats, although this point isn't raised in the film.

"It's not very positive and it doesn't reflect well on society," he said. "That's where I drew the line. I just did not want to play that up."

There's one touching moment in "Deja Vu" when Young gathers his fellow band members around and thanks them for watching his back. They were all committed to the cause, although Stills was the one displaying the most obvious ambivalence.

Stills has been fundraising for Democratic candidates for years, but being put in a daily situation facing angry fans was tough on him. "Stephen is a wonderful guy," Young said. "He just doesn't like to be not liked."

Young said he believed in everything said and done during the tour, but "I've moved on to what's the solution." He believes oil fuels many of the world's conflicts and is helping to finance researchers all over the world hoping to find alternative fuel sources.

He considers the period during when the Iraq war was new and dissent was seen to be non-patriotic to be a blight on the nation's history. Even if he's moved on, he doesn't want moviegoers to forget it.

"I hope that when they leave that they talk about it for a while, and that when they wake up the next day they still have some images from it in their mind," he said. "The rest is up to them."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Lindsey Buckingham will release his latest solo album, called Gift Of Screws, on September 16th.

The album, which follows 2006's Under The Skin, is only Buckingham's fifth solo studio set away from Fleetwood Mac. Gift Of Screws was recorded in part while Buckingham was on the road supporting his last album, and was co-produced by Rob Cavallo, best known for his work with Green Day, Jewel, and the Dave Matthews Band.

Buckingham said in a press release, "I'd say this album distills several periods of time. It includes false starts to make albums, songs that go back a number of years that took a while to find a home, and brand-new songs. I wanted to bring it all together in one place. As an artist I'm still, for better or worse, clinging to my idealism and to my sense that there is still much to be said. This album is a culmination of that."

Lindsey Buckingham says recording as a solo act is entirely different than recording as part of Fleetwood Mac: "The way I work when I'm on my own, I mean, it's very much like a painting, as opposed to working with a group. Fleetwood Mac was a lot like making a movie in the studio, because it's more verbalizing, and there's more links in the chain to get from point A, to point B, to point C. Whereas, if I'm working on my own, in a fairly quiet situation, it's like a painter with a canvas where you may have a certain intent when you start out -- and you have a color here and you're filling it out and at some point the canvas will start to speak to you and take on a life of it's own and direct you in another direction. And that was a lot of what I was interested in doing."

Gift Of Screws was also the title of an album Buckingham made in the late 1990s that was rejected by Warner Brothers records as his fourth solo album. Over the years, tapes of the rejected album have made their way onto the bootleg circuit. Some of the songs from the first Gift Of Screws wound up on Fleetwood Mac's 2003 album Say You Will and on Buckingham's 2006 studio set Under The Skin.

Lindsey Buckingham U.S. tour dates (subject to change):
September 7 - Saratoga, CA - The Mountain Winery
September 9 - Seattle, WA - Moore Theatre
September 10 - Portland, OR - Newmark Theatre
September 12 - Stateline, NV - Harrah's Lake Tahoe
September 13 - San Francisco, CA - TBA
September 14 - Los Angeles, CA - Royce Hall Auditorium
September 16 - San Diego, CA - Humphrey's Concerts By The Bay
September 18 - Phoenix, AZ - Orpheum Theatre
September 19 - Anaheim, CA - Grove Of Anaheim
September 20 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint
September 22 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot
September 24 - Denver, CO - Ellie Caulkins Opera House
September 26 - Tulsa, OK - The Brady Theater
September 28 - Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theater
September 29 - Saint Louis, MO - The Pageant
October 1 - Cleveland, OH - House Of Blues
October 2 - Chicago, IL - House Of Blues
October 4 - Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theater
October 5 - Indianapolis, IN - Murat Egyptian Room
October 8 - Toronto, ONT - Music Hall Theatre
October 10 - Reading, PA - Sovereign Performing Arts Center
October 11 - Atlantic City, NJ - Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort
October 14 - Northampton, MA - Calvin Theater
October 15 - Ridgefield, CT - Ridgefield Playhouse
October 17 - Boston, MA - Berklee Performance Center
October 18 - Glenside, PA - Keswick Theatre
October 19 - New York, NY - Nokia Theatre Times Square

Earlier this year Buckingham released the CD/DVD Live At The Bass Performance Hall, which features such solo favorites as "Trouble," "Go Insane," and "Holiday Road," as well as Buckingham's Fleetwood Mac classics "Big Love," "Second Hand News," "Tusk," "Never Going Back Again," "I Know I'm Not Wrong," and "Go Your Own Way."