27/Aug/2014 - Last News Update: 19:02

Neil Young claims God Save the Queen as American folk song

Category: Entertainment

Published: 8th Jun 2012 12:08:57

After nine years apart, Neil Young has reunited with Crazy Horse for a new album of folk classics called Americana, which includes a version of God Save the Queen. And he tells BBC Radio 4's Front Row that he also has a double album of original material ready to go.

Neil Young admits that some may think God Save the Queen is an unusual choice for him to cover alongside American folk songs like Clementine and She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain.

"There was no plan with that song," he explains.

John Wilson talks to Neil Young Front Row on BBC Radio 4, Friday 8 June

"I just woke up one morning and in my mind I was hearing God Save the Queen."

As a Canadian he sang it at school every morning and says he felt it did fit with the Americana theme.

"I saw it as an important part of the record because of the American revolution - the declaration of freedom of the United States of America as a country. They were throwing off the reigns of the British Empire at that point."

He points out that pre-revolution it would have been sung by settlers, so it would have been part of the country's musical folk heritage.

In the version on Americana, Young has included a verse that has been dropped from the familiar version sung today. "It's the war-torn verse that doesn't get heard too much," he says.

"It was about the defence of the Queen and the greatness of the country - there's nothing to be ashamed of in that verse but it was dropped."

This reinstating of original lyrics is something that Young has done on all the other songs on the album, so they are very different to the versions that we know today.

"They are almost all dark but they're the same songs that kids sang in kindergarten. They have been sanitised over time," he explains.

Young researched all the original documents to find the original lyrics.

"It's very morbid, and there's a lot of depth and darkness and despair," he admits.

The album was recorded live, with few takes and a chemistry that Young says is unique to his work with Crazy Horse.

"There's nothing like that that I've experienced. It's in another class because of its roughness... the groove, the fun we have, how emotional we are about it.

And he says working with Crazy Horse also helps him to write. "It takes me to a different place, I'm able to express myself in a different way - [I'm] probably more free."

So how does he explain the nine-year gap since their last album together?

"I don't want to use Crazy Horse all the time because I don't want to abuse it, it's not something that you want to run into the ground."

Young was clearly inspired while making Americana as straight afterwards they recorded another album's worth of original Neil Young material.

"It will have to be a double CD because of its length," he admits. One track, he reveals, is 26 minutes long.

"There are a lot of excursions on this record that go off in different directions where we exploit the freedoms that we have," he explains.

Young is keen for people to hear Americana and his next album on vinyl. He is so concerned about the poor quality of sound on CDs and MP3s that he has set up a company that is building a prototype digital system that will create "an exact reproduction of whatever the artist created".

"A CD only has 15% of the data that we have on the original master - the MP3 has only 5% of what we have on the original," he explains and sees this as a "tremendous opportunity in the history of music".

Young emerged as part of counter-culture in the 1960s and his track Ohio, about four students shot while protesting, is credited by many as being the best ever protest song.

Six years ago he wrote an album to protest about the war in Iraq. He was waiting for someone of a younger generation to sing those protest songs - but no one did.

"Britney Spears didn't do it so I had to do it," he says with a laugh as he jokes about whether there is a young Bob Dylan on American Idol or the X Factor.

But asked where the equivalent is today of his track Ohio he is quick to point to social networking.

"It can topple governments - there is a big equivalent," he says.

"The only problem with the internet and social networking... is the music is not reflected in its full glory - it is like wallpaper.

"If I have my way, I can bring quality back to digital music so you can really hear it and feel it... so you want to listen to it over and over again...because there's so much in it that your body craves more."

On the album Living with War, Young suggested Barack Obama as the next president three years before he was elected, when he was seen as a rank outsider. Young today calls that a "fluke".

"I'd met the future president at the time and I'd heard him speak and he reflected what a lot of Americans felt - he was quite a powerful force and he still is."

Americana is Young's 34th studio album. His albums from the 70s are seen as timeless classics but he says he does not dwell on his past success.

"That was my time to shine - everybody has a time to be first and that was my time to be first.

"But it doesn't really matter - what matters is the next thing and you're really only as good as the last thing you do."

The full interview with Neil Young will be on Front Row on BBC Radio 4, Friday 8 June.

Source:
BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. Neil Young claims God Save the Queen as American folk song [Online] (Updated 8th Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1433506/Neil-Young-claims-God-Save-the-Queen-as-American-folk-song [Accessed 27th Aug 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Sting shows to support Sage Gateshead anniversary

    Sting has announced two concerts to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Sage Gateshead arts venue.
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Sting shows to support Sage Gateshead anniversary

    Sting has announced two concerts to help celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Sage Gateshead arts venue.
  • Can Australia's Qantas fix its financial troubles?

    Much loved but increasingly shunned by Australian travellers, Qantas is in deep trouble.
  • HP recalls more than six million power cords

    HP has ordered a worldwide recall of power cords that had been sold with its laptop computers and other accessories, including docking stations.
  • UK announces £10m in extra humanitarian aid for Iraq

    The UK is to give an extra £10m in humanitarian aid to Iraqis displaced by the conflict in the country.