Neil Young Confirms 2-Song Collaboration with Jack White, Continues His Anti-Digital Trend
Though much speculation brewed in January around Neil Young's rumored album with Jack White — including, even, some outright denial from Young himself — it turns out that White will indeed be featured, but only on two tracks. Still, we already knew that A Letter Home, which consists of covers of Young's favorite old-timey songs, was recorded at White's Nashville studio Third Man; news of their further collaboration is less of a shock than it is a welcome "of course." Because when it comes to their musical ambitions, Young and White seem all but perfect for one another.
Indeed, even before the notoriously garage-y White Stripes split in 2011, White was already beginning to show his preference for a more stripped-down country-blues sound (see: Icky Thump). Plus, in 2008's guitar-centric documentary It Might Get Loud, he memorably starts off the film by building a one-stringed proto-guitar with just a board and some nails, proving himself to be nothing if not hardcore, ye-olde retro.
Young, meanwhile, is currently on a rampage against all things digital — especially CDs and MP3s — with his proposed Pono Music Service, consisting of an online store that would sell hi-res audio files and a special triangular player that could properly interpret them. Yesterday, Young held an event for Pono at SXSW, and according to SPIN, in describing the changeover of the industry from analog to digital, he said:
"There was really something wrong, and it was that we were selling shit. And people were still buying it because they liked music — but they were buying wallpaper, they were buying background sounds, they were buying Xeroxes of the Mona Lisa."
Perhaps in search of this less Xerox-y sound, for Record Store Day last year, Young hightailed it to White's studio to use his 1947 Voice-o-Graph booth to record a cover of "The Needle of Death" by Scottish folk musician Bert Jansch — which, Billboard speculates, may well have sparked the idea for the full cover album. After all, the description of A Letter Home on Third Man's site reads:
"An unheard collection of rediscovered songs from the past recorded on ancient electro-mechanical technology captures and unleashes the essence of something that could have been gone forever."
Sounds right up both their hyper-nostalgic alleys.