The controversial country rock singer Neil Young was interviewed on CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight” Tuesday evening (video link to follow). During the segment, Young talked about his new album which is largely devoted to anti-Bush and anti-war themes.
When CNN’s Sibila Vargas asked Young if impeachment, as discussed in his new song "Let's Impeach the President," was called for, Young responded:
“Yes, yes, I think it is. I think it`s called for, and so do a lot of other people. As a matter of fact, when I played in there for 100 people, they all stood up and gave me a standing ovation. There wasn`t one person that wasn`t standing. And we were looking for that kind of backing.”
As his answer ensued, Young made clear what this “backing” was:
“That`s what happened when I did it with 100 people singing with me at Capitol Records, one of our great, old American record companies, in their great studio, with 100 studio musicians, the best singers in L.A. All of them there, as union members, a union session that lasted 12 hours to sing all of these songs. After that song, they all stood up, and they cheered, and they just went wild. And you can hear it on the record.”
Hmmm. 100 union singers from Los Angeles being anti-Bush was what Young saw as a good show of support for his impeachment views. That’s like being pleased to find Yankee fans in the Bronx.
Regardless, what follows is a full transcript of this rather interesting and candid interview with Young, along with a video link courtesy of YouTube.com.
A.J. HAMMER: But first, tonight a stunning about-face by Neil Young. As SHOWBIZ TONIGHT first told you yesterday, it seemed the country rock icon supported the president in the past, but now Neil Young is bashing Bush on a new album and calling for his impeachment. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Sibila Vargas joins us live from Burbank with an exclusive interview with Neil Young.
Sibila, what did you find out?
SIBILA VARGAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have the man with me here right now. He just came out of Reprise Records. This is your record company, your label. This music, right, is already causing a stir, actually. You`ve got one song that`s called "Let`s Impeach the President." What is this song about?
NEIL YOUNG, MUSICIAN: Well, it`s a song that pretty well follows the title just with a bunch of reasons. And it`s a long song.
VARGAS: Are you concerned that some might think that you`re unpatriotic?
YOUNG: Oh, no, I`m not concerned about that in the least. I feel like I`m exercising my right of free speech, which is what our boys are fighting for the Iraqi people to have. And I think, if we take it away from the people here in the United States, that we`re taking a step really in the wrong direction.
That`s what is great about this country and about all free countries, is freedom of speech and the ability to express yourself; that makes us different from everybody else. And so I`m not worried about that.
VARGAS: What do you think about cynics who say that, OK, the climate has changed. There are not that many people that are pro-Bush anymore, or his popularity is not as strong. Perhaps you`re using this as a way to sell more records?
YOUNG: You know, I don`t know about the selling more records. I don`t know how many records it`s going to sell. That`s not really a concern of mine.
I just want to communicate. That`s why I`ve been making records for 40 years, and some of them sell a lot, some of them don`t sell any. So this isn`t about selling records. This is about exchanging ideas. It`s about getting a message out. It`s about empowering people by giving them a voice.
I know not everyone believes what I say is what they think, but, like I said before, you know, red and blue is not black and white. We`re altogether; it`s a record about unification.
VARGAS: Surely, though, I mean, you say it`s a record about unification, but with a title like "Let`s Impeach the President"...
YOUNG: That`s not the title of the record.
VARGAS: Not the record, but the song.
YOUNG: Yes, right.
VARGAS: "Let`s Impeach the President," that is pretty strong, strong words.
YOUNG: Yes, yes, I think it is. I think it`s called for, and so do a lot of other people. As a matter of fact, when I played in there for 100 people, they all stood up and gave me a standing ovation. There wasn`t one person that wasn`t standing. And we were looking for that kind of backing.
That`s what happened when I did it with 100 people singing with me at Capitol Records, one of our great, old American record companies, in their great studio, with 100 studio musicians, the best singers in L.A. All of them there, as union members, a union session that lasted 12 hours to sing all of these songs. After that song, they all stood up, and they cheered, and they just went wild. And you can hear it on the record.
VARGAS: Yes, and I hear that -- I spoke to a few people just seconds ago, and they were telling me how it was emotional, very emotional experience. It`s an emotional ride.
YOUNG: Well, it is. Living with war and having a conscience is what we`re doing. If you have a conscience, you can`t go through your day without realizing what`s going on, and questioning it, and going, "Is this right?" You know, we have to be cognizant of the fact that we can make mistakes; that`s how you -- that`s part of freedom.
YOUNG: We don`t all have to believe in what our president believes to be patriotic. And we also -- you know, this talk about a 9/11 mentality. No one, George Bush or anyone else, owns the 9/11 mentality.
It belongs to the United States of America; it belongs to every one who was sitting there with their family watching TV, watching those buildings get hit by those jets; it belongs to George Bush and his family; it belongs to John Kerry and his family; it belongs to me and my family, my American family.
So I have a post-9/11 mentality. It`s just not the same as George Bush`s.
VARGAS: I know that you`re also a Canadian, so people are going to talk about, well, you`re Canadian. I mean, does that give you less of a platform to say these things?
YOUNG: Maybe. I`m proud to be a Canadian. I`m proud to be living in the United States. I`m proud to be paying taxes here for 40 years. I`m proud of my three American children, my lovely American wife, my American family, and all of the people who have supported me here for 40 years.
It just so happens that I came down here because I`m an artist, and I came down here because, in Los Angeles, I could get things happening and so I could make it so people could hear me. That`s why I came down here. This is a great country, and I believe in this.
But I think there`s a conscience in the country, and I don`t think it`s being spoken. Only part of it is being spoken. It`s a full thing. Everybody needs to get into it; everybody needs a chance to say what they think.
VARGAS: Well, thank you so much for your time.
YOUNG: Thank you.
VARGAS: Tell me, when do you feel that this album will be released?
YOUNG: Well, they`re talking about that inside right now, and I know that it`s going to be very fast. It`s already at the manufacturing plant. We`re going to use the Internet, in many ways, to roll it out: first, the lyrics; then, music; and then, after we`ve got it out there and downloadable around the planet, we`re going to start releasing the discs as soon as they can be manufactured.
It`s a unique situation to be in, and we can take advantage of all the technology we have to communicate with. And it`s a different age. So I`m glad to be here.
VARGAS: Are you concerned, though, with any backlash that you might be...
YOUNG: I`m not in the least bit concerned. I expect it. I respect other people`s opinions. That`s part of what makes the United States and Canada and all free countries great, is the fact that you can differ with your friend and you can still sit down at the same table and break bread with your friend.
VARGAS: Well, thank you so much.
YOUNG: All right. Thank you very much.
VARGAS: I appreciate your time. Thanks a lot.
A.J., back to you.