Tonight I heard parts of Terry Gross’s interview with Neil Young. I’ve been listening to Young’s music since I was young myself. As an 11-year-old, in 1970, I’d bop around my room to those endless jams on “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.” As a 14-year-old I would cut phys. ed class and hang around outside the gym singing the lyrics to beloved obscurities like “Don’t Let It Bring You Down.” I finally heard Young play live in the late ’70s on the “Rust Never Sleeps” tour. But in all those years I’d never before heard an interview with him.
The show is a shambling, illuminating ramble through the mind of this amazing musician, who belongs right up there with Dylan and Reed as a sort of deathless chthonic spirit of popular music. Here is the exchange with which it begins:
GROSS: You’ve said that you like to destroy what you’ve created and then move on. Would you talk about why?
YOUNG: Did I say that?
YOUNG: When did I say that? I probably did. I certainly can’t say I didn’t.
GROSS: Maybe you’ve destroyed that statement and that statement isn’t true anymore.
YOUNG: I’m working, all the wheels are turning a million miles an hour, I’m trying to come up with a quick answer here. I really think that, you know, you’ve got to move on, whether you tear it down, whatever you built, whether you tear it down — it’s just, you know, I don’t want to destroy what I’ve done, but I want to destroy the feeling that I’m going to do it again. I don’t want people to think that just because I did this, that I’m going to do that, that I’m going to do it again, that they can say now I’m this, and that’s what I should do, and that’s where I fit. I hate fitting.
Misfitting becomes him well enough.