Neil Young: Words of Wisdom

August 26, 2021 2 min read

Neil Young: Words of Wisdom

Neil Young has released 40 solo studio albums. 

I just want to let that sink in for a minute.

To call Mr. Young prolific would be an understatement. What’s even more impressive is that many of those albums are stone cold classics.

Given his impressive career trajectory, it’s hardly surprising that Neil’s had a few words of wisdom to share along the way; on creativity, on elder statesman status and on the workings of the music industry. We’ve collected some of our favourites below:

On the state of the music industry:

“Piracy is the new radio.”

“I dislike what has happened to the quality of the sound of music; there is little depth or feeling left, and people can't get what they need from listening to music anymore, so it is dying.”

“Back then people closed their eyes and listened to music. Today there's a lot of images that go with the music. A lot of music is crap and it's all commercial and the images are all trying to sell the record.”

On the limits of labels:

“All that stuff about heavy metal and hard rock, I don't subscribe to any of that. It's all just music. I mean, the heavy metal from the '70s sounds nothing like the stuff from the '80s, and that sounds nothing like the stuff from the '90s. Who's to say what is and isn't a certain type of music?”

“I don't like to be labeled, to be anything. I've made the mistake before myself of labeling my music, but it's counter-productive.”

On his approach to music:

“A job is never truly finished. It just reaches a stage where it can be left on its own for a while”

“Being a musician enables a person to bend the notes and express things that are inside you, no matter what.”

“Having no knowledge is sometimes exactly what is needed to find a solution, so I qualified”

“I have so many opinions about everything it just comes out during my music. It's a battle for me. I try not to be preachy. That's a real danger.”

“Studios are passe for me. I'd rather play in a garage, in a truck, or a rehearsal hall, a club, or a basement.”

On elder statesman status:


“When you're young, you don't have any experience - you're charged up, but you're out of control. And if you're old and you're not charged up, then all you have is memories. But if you're charged and stimulated by what's going on around you, and you also have experience, you know what to appreciate and what to pass by.”

“When the punk thing came along and I heard my friends saying, I hate these people with the pins in their ears. I said, Thank God, something got their attention.”

“As soon as you start talking about mystique, you have none.”

“You know, the future's a huge, gigantic place. I have no idea what's going on out there, I'm just going to walk into it and see what happens.”

What is your favourite Neil Young moment? Have you ever seen him live? And how does he influence you guitar playing? As always, share your stories in the comments!



Also in Fingerboard Stories

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day On Guitar
Celebrating St. Patrick's Day On Guitar

March 15, 2024 3 min read

For example, let's say you want to play the song "The Irish Rover" on guitar. The song uses a lot of open chords and has a distinctive rhythm that can be difficult to replicate in different keys. But by using a capo, you can easily change the key of the song to fit your voice or the sound you're trying to achieve.
When A Musician Visits Nashville
When A Musician Visits Nashville

January 26, 2024 5 min read

To walk into his store is a sight to behold. The walls are lined with instruments from various eras, from legacy brands like Fender and Gibson to instruments from uncommon makers such as Paoletti and Mervin Davis. The staff are also not shy about letting anyone try anything. Want to play the $20,000 1950s Stratocaster? Go ahead!
If You Have To Ask...
If You Have To Ask...

January 12, 2024 4 min read

Louis Armstrong once famously said, “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.” Some will say that talking about music is like dancing about architecture. Jazz has undergone several phases over the years, from big band to bebop to fusion to fuzak (though the less said about that one, the better). Many common elements exist in these styles that help define them as jazz.