Rock 'n' roll legend Neil Young recalled his glory days of rock 'n' roll in the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s with the help of a 19-year-old journalist on Monday, an interview that revealed the deep inner spiritual journey that Young has taken, at least as far as he can remember it with the help of notes, journals, recordings and documentary film footage and the huge contribution of the journalist, a reporter for the student paper at SUNY Buffalo. "It all started ... where did it start?" Young asked journalist Lauren Brackman, a fan of the proto-grunge rocker since she was 12.
"It started in Canada, right?" Brackman suggested. "You used to drive around in a hearse."
"Right!" recalls Young. "I had this hearse."
With Brackman's help, Young then remembered that he drove his hearse to Los Angeles in hopes of making it in the music business back in 1965. He wasn't having much luck, but then he was spotted one day by an old friend he knew from the folk club circuit.
"And that was ..." Young hesitated.
"Stephen Stills?" Brackman offered.
"Right!" Young exclaimed. "He saw this hearse on the road as we were stuck in traffic and Stephen said ..."
"That's got to be Neil?"
"Right! And that's how we formed ..."
"The Buffalo Springfield?"
"Yeah. Wow, those days were wild."
Brackman then helped Young remember how he had actually entered the country without a green card and was actually performing illegally in the United States for many years.
"But I got all that settled," Young said. "I'm legal now."
"Yes," said Brackman. "As of 1970."
However, Young's friend Bruce Palmer, the Buffalo Springfield's bassist, made only erstwhile contributions to the band after facing a series of legal setbacks with drugs that eventually led to his deportation. Several times he was replaced in recording sessions, Brackman reminded Young.
"Yeah, that was too bad," Young said.
After she helped Young remember the Buffalo Springfield, she jogged his memory about his career in Canada with the Rick James-fronted band the Mynah Birds. The band broke up after James was arrested for being AWOL from the U.S. Navy, Brackman reminded Young who nodded.
Brackman also recalled Young's solo career, including such classic albums as Harvest. After that, Brackman politely elicited memories about his participation in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Young's years as a rock 'n' roll outcast, sometimes embracing the spotlight but other times spurning it with such erratic records as the synthesizer farce Trans. Later on, Brackman reminded Young, he became a godfather to the nascent grunge movement and reignited his career with the album Freedom in 1989.
"Wow," he said. "It's hard to sum up 40 to 50 years of insanity. You can't just put it all into words. Or pictures. Or memories."
While trying to steal a few new nuggets of information from the aging rocker, Brackman eventually gave up and pretty much just went back and used the research.