YOUNG: No, no, never saw him. I watched him from afar, and I thought he was he was just a character. You get that feeling from him that everything that happened to him, he was still who he was. He seemed like a wild guy but a good guy, and somebody that funny things happened to.
TIME: Whoís the best musician youíve ever seen? Whoís the standard for what you do?
YOUNG: Bob Dylan, Iíll never be Bob Dylan. Heís the master. If Iíd like to be anyone, itís him. And heís a great writer, true to his music and done what he feels is the right thing to do for years and years and years. Heís great. Heís the one I look to. Iím always interested in what heís doing now, or did last, or did a long time ago that I didnít find out about. The guy has written some of the greatest poetry and put it to music in a way that it touched me, and other people have done that, but not so consistently or as intensely. Like me, he waits around and keeps going, and he knows that he doesnít have the muse all the time, but he knows that itíll come back and itíll visit him and heíll have his moment.
TIME: Jonathan Demme filmed the first performance of Prairie Wind for a movie to be released in theaters next year. How did that come about?
YOUNG: Jonathan called when I had just finished the first 8 or 9 songs and said, ĎI have a year off, Iím not doing anything, are you doing anything? Should we do something?í So I said we just finished this record, or its almost finished, Iíll send you the lyrics, see what you think. And he really had a great reaction to it. He just said ĎI want to make a picture, I want to make a picture,íÖ eventually what we settled on as a theme was Nashville. I love Nashville so much and recorded the album there, and I know Iíve done a lot of different kinds of music and some people find it hard to understand how I can supposedly be the godfather and the grunge and still be into Hank Williams, but to me itís all music and I donít care about labels.
Iíve always had a great respect for old time musicians and the Grand Ole Opry and the tradition, itís just such a great forum, and not just American, but Canadian, too. We had guys like Hank Snow, and he was singing songs like The Good Ole Hockey Game, before the NHL failed and started to change the rules of the game because they screwed up the strike last year, and now theyíve changed the whole way hockey is. Itís a complete joke. The only reason I go to hockey games is because I get to go with Ben. But now that theyíve changed the rules, Iím wondering how Iím going to explain to Ben that I donít want to go to the hockey games anymore. I know my dad would be going nuts. These people changed the rules just for TV money, and itís a joke. They have no respect for the game. Anyway, thatís a different subject. The movie. Jonathan and I decided to go to Nashville. So he went there and became very familiar with the Grand Ole Opry and studied the old productions and the backdrops and all the stuff and the way it was. So we decided to do the premiere of Prairie Wind at the Ryman auditorium where the Grand Ole Opry used to be, and do it in the style of the Opry, or at least a show of that era. Not too over the top or campy, but legitimate. So thatís what we did. So we had some clothes made that were of the period and went in and performed the whole thing chronologically, just like the songs were written and recorded. Then after that I performed selections from my whole discography, starting early and chronologically going through each song one by one until the 90s, and he recorded it and filmed beautifully, and I tried to tell stories about the songs, and tell the stories that the music tells.
TIME: Is it odd to sing a song you wrote at 19 or 20? Do you still recognize the guy in there?
YOUNG: Not very clearly. But I know his songs so well that Iím an interpreter of them. And I do have some remembrance of how they came to be. But itís pretty foggy.
TIME: Are you an American or Canadian citizen?
Iím a Canadian. Iíd like to vote in the U.S. election because I feel like Iíve got just as much right to vote in them as anybody else. Iíve lived here for so long, paid taxes for so long and my kids have to register for selective service. I guess I could be a dual citizen, but if I ever had to give up my Canadian citizenship to become American I wouldnít do it, because I wouldnít want to hurt Canada. I love Canada. As I get older, more and more I start singing about Canada. My wifeís a California girl, so she loves to be near the ocean, and I love to be near her. So Iím probably going to be here longterm. But a part of me, I donít know, maybe Iíll get a cabin up in Canada so when Iím older I can sit on the gold coast up in B.C. and look around. Or be up in the Rockies up there around Banff or something. I wouldnít mind going back, being part of it again.