Pegi Young (The Interview)

I’m sure there are many of you out there who know part of Pegi Young’s story. Sure, she’s the wife of Neil Young, and you won’t find many tours of his where she’s not singing with him or opening for him.

She also co-founded the Bridge School in 1986, giving children like her son, Ben, who has cerebral palsy, a place to develop skills and talents in order to achieve a high quality of life as adults.

Pegi Young, whether you like her music or not, is a person whose achievements prove her heart of gold.

Her new album, Foul Deeds, is her latest accomplishment, one that she co-produced and recorded with the late Ben Keith, Anthony Crawford, Rick Rosas, and Phil Jones. Spooner Oldham, Karl Himmel, and yes, Neil Young himself, also play on three of the album’s tracks.

Foul Deeds features many originals written by Young, but also finds her covering Lucinda Williams, Will Jennings, Devendra Banhart, and B. Boatman. You can listen to Young’s cover of Banhart’s “Body Breaks” here.

We’re proud to announce that we have a copy of Young’s Foul Deeds to give away! Simply e-mail [email protected] by August 30th to enter. We’ll announce the winner on August 31st.

Luckily, we were able to catch up with Pegi over e-mail, where she talked to us about Foul Deeds and the Bridge School, among other topics. Enjoy!

1. Foul Deeds is your second album. How was the recording process different this time around? Did you deliberately do anything different?

The band stretched out instrumentally a bit more. We had been touring a lot with Neil and the guys had been playing some different instruments, so for instance, Ben ended playing B3 and piano, in addition to steel and dobro, and Anthony played mostly all electric guitar. My voice was probably stronger as we had been singing a lot. We always record to tape.

2. Where do you go when you want to write a song?

Inside my head.

3. If there is one thing you would like the listener to know before he or she spins Foul Deeds, it would be…

Keep away from sharp objects (Ha-ha).

4. You chose to cover one of my favorite Lucinda Williams songs, “Side of the Road,” for Foul Deeds. It’s such an introspective song, and fits well with your album. What does that song mean to you?

It’s just such a great story about craving a moment to be with yourself, to be in the world as an
individual, but only a moment. It’s pretty plaintive. I love her writing.

5. In 2007, you opened quite a few shows for you husband, Neil Young. What were some of your favorite memories from that tour?

Strong memories of standing on the side of the stage, ready to go on, with shaking knees and chattering teeth. I heard that someone once said that the longest walk is from the dressing room to the stage, and that sure was my experience. Once we got going we had a blast.

6. Each year, you organize benefit concerts for the Bridge School, a school you co-founded. Musically or non-musically, what have been some of your favorite moments during those shows over the years?

The rapport that is established between the artists and the kids. The shift in perception; the growing awareness that within these people and their severely disabled bodies, they have such a lot of depth and personality. That’s huge.

7. If you could choose one musician to write a song with, who would it be and why?

Hmmm. Good question. Spooner Oldham is genius. Back when we were making Prairie Wind with Neil, one night Spooner handed me a little scrap of paper with a little lyric, the beginnings of a song, on it. It would be fun AND awesome to finish that one together.

8. “Traveling” is my favorite song that you wrote for Foul Deeds, and it’s been such a constant in your life. What have you learned from all the traveling you have done over the years?

Keep moving! Traveling opens your eyes to other peoples and cultures and experiences. Great for writing songs, too. Nothing like it.

9. If you could help your husband choose a setlist for one of his shows, what five tunes would absolutely have to be included?

Oh man! Impossible question. I will say that “Birds” is, and always has been, one of my all time favorite songs of his. Now if you asked me which songs I would like to sing on…

10. Finally, please tell us, how is your son, Ben, doing?

Great. He’s a warrior and our spiritual leader, all rolled into one.

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