The Woman Neil Young Left Behind
When Pegi Young declared to me - in her brutally honest form - that she was “no picnic” during her marriage to
Neil Young, I fell in love with her. I really didn’t care whether or not her recent album, Raw, was worth listening to. That is for you to decide.
Pegi impressed me with her unabashed candor about her life with Neil Young, her divorce from him, her role in creating that divorce and his as well -- all of which led into a conversation centered upon today. She was equally open with this as well, including how her creative juices are helping her heal as well as where she is headed.
Yes, I could hear the heartache in her voice when she spoke to me, just as you will hear in Raw. But I also heard a woman with the courage and determination to “get back up” and live for herself for once. There was even a tinge of excitement and a whole lot of fearlessness in her voice. The person Neil Young left in his wake is a woman every woman can admire and learn from, beginning with her interview below:
What is your personal mantra?
“Don’t be afraid to fail.”
If you are not failing, you are not stretching the limits of your abilities. Failure does not mean stop. It is a powerful lesson, to push you forward better. I believe that you should do something everyday that scares you. I also believe that you are never to old to live your dreams.
You were once Neil Young’s wife. Who are you today?
Neil Young’s ex-wife. Ha! He is also my ex-husband. I am Amber, Ben, and Zeek’s mother and a grandmother to Ronan. And I a discovering who “Pegi” is now through my music. My life have been an interesting journey of nonconformity and self- discovery. The big question today is “Who am I?” The one thing I know is that I have lots more living to do. It’s not over yet, whether or not I am married.
Looking back, was Neil Young everything you ever wanted from a husband?
Being a nonconformist, I wasn’t really invested in the concept of marriage. When he asked me to marry him, I was sorta lukewarm on the idea. When we got married, however, I realized there was more to it. Neil is highly creative. That, alone, comes with challenges. I was no picnic, either, though. We were both very much in love with each other. In fact, we were never apart for more than 2-3 weeks at a time. It was a pact we had. And I never became bored taking on the support role to his success.
Will you marry again and if so, what will you do differently?
I’m not planning to marry again. I would like to avoid that at all cost.
In your recent song “Trying To Live My Life Without You”, you share the steps you took to move beyond your former life married to Neil Young. What surprisingly is the best part of not being married? What’s the worst?
The best - I am enjoying not having demands or expectations placed on me and vice-versa. It’s freeing.
The worst - Missing the companionship and having my best friend with me.
Would you still write and record it if not one album was sold? Why?
Yes, and I would say my record sales have not been wildly impressive. I’m not looking for fame and fortune but it would be gratifying to know that people are listening to my record in the backdrop of their lives. The creation of Raw was extremely “healing” for me. When I do my next record, it won’t be a repeat of Raw because I am at a different place.
What’s the “takeaway” for the audience from Raw?
How to deal with loss by taking them on my journey.
The final song on Raw - “Heart of the Matter” - talks about forgiveness. Have you forgiven your ex-husband, Neil Young, for his part in the break-up of your marriage?
I’ve forgiven myself for my part that led to the end of the marriage. That is the most important thing. There is never just one thing that leads to the end of a marriage. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities that I had during our marriage and the time that we shared. By and large, I think our marriage was a very good one.
What one piece of advice would you give all women who either want to or are involved in a marriage?
You are never too old to live your dreams.
Share a social cause or cause-based organization close to your heart.
I am the cofounder of The Bridge School. We have a global impact, even though we are a small school.
When all is said and done, how would you like to be remembered?
I’d like to be remembered for the good I tried to do in my life and for the world. I’m just a human being who tried to be a good person, despite my failings.
I believe Pegi Young should name her next album, "Pegi Young Reborn”. I can see it happening -- possibly, three years from now. And it will be highly enjoyable to speak with her again. No doubt, we will be having another extremely engaging but very different conversation for sure. I also fully expect her to add in this album’s compilation Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. Yeah, baby!
Many thanks to Pegi Young and Missing Piece Group for making this interview possible