Bob Young has never seen much reason to take up songwriting like his little brother Neil. But the upcoming election stirred up enough passion inside the 78-year-old former professional golfer that he picked up a guitar and wrote “Hey America” as a message of love and hope to a wounded nation.
He recorded it with a band he’s dubbed “The Peterboroughs” that includes Neil Young on harmonica and vocals, Mike Belitsky on drums, Travis Good on banjo, Ryan Weber on bass, and Melissa Pyne on fiddle and harmony vocals.
“I didn’t set out to become a songwriter and singer at 78 years of age,” Bob said in a statement. “It was and is an organic event. I was watching Donald Trump on TV a couple of years ago and wrote down a few lines. When I got home, I found I could play those lines on guitar. Gradually, it became what it is now. It took a while to be able to play and sing the song from start to finish. When I could finally accomplish that, it was a victory.”
“The recording process all happened at once,” he continues. “I had never done that either. It was a band performance that had spontaneity. In another session, some vocal harmony was added, and Neil played harmonica. My perspective is simultaneously that of a participant and spectator. I am watching myself do this. All you aging baby boomers out there, give it a shot. As Yogi Berra put it, ‘It ain’t over ’til it’s over, and even then it ain’t over.’ I agree. I have more songs, all from the same creative spark.”
The video was directed by Neil Young, actress Daryl Hannah, and CK Vollick. “The filming of ‘Hey America’ was done in the Covid-19 environment,” Neil Young said in a statement. “One shot where we’re all standing together, singing without masks was done in three separate shoots with the same background and assembled in post-production to look like three people singing together. Stay safe.”
In other Neil Young news, he shared a previously unreleased version of “Wonderin’” from the 1970 After the Gold Rush sessions. The song was played live throughout 1970 but wasn’t recorded until 1983’s Everybody’s Rockin’ where it took on a rockabilly vibe.
The original “Wonderin’” will appear on the 50th-anniversary edition of After the Gold Rush. According to a tweet from the Neil Young Archives, preorders for that set will begin on October 30th.
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