Pegi Young's New Album Is Emotionally 'Raw' NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro talks to singer-songwriter Pegi Young about her new album, Raw, about her divorce from Neil Young. She calls it the "soundtrack to the seven stages of grief."

Pegi Young's New Album Is Emotionally 'Raw'

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Pegi Young's new album is called "Raw." And it is.


PEGI YOUNG AND THE SURVIVORS: (Singing) Why'd you have to ruin my life? Why'd you have to be so mean? Why'd you have to tell me such lies? Why not be straight with me?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In 2014, her 36-year marriage to Neil Young ended in divorce. He'd struck up a new relationship with actress Daryl Hannah. Out of that, Pegi Young didn't shy away from any of her emotions. She's called her new album the soundtrack to the seven stages of grief.


PEGI YOUNG AND THE SURVIVORS: (Singing) You hurt me so bad. You were the best love I ever had.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Pegi Young joins us now to talk about that album from member station KQED in San Francisco. Welcome.

PEGI YOUNG: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Great to have you. So this project, as you've mentioned, came out of a very tumultuous time in your life. Did working on the album help you process everything that was going on?

YOUNG: Definitely. When things first were changing, I just found a lot of solace in writing and writing and writing. And then we just took this stack of lyrics that I had. And some of them were just bleh, you know?


YOUNG: I needed to express things that not necessarily, you know, ended up being songs. They were just thoughts and feelings and, you know, pretty all over the map (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. How do you take those feelings, as you say, all over the map and make them into something coherent that speaks to people?

YOUNG: Well, I hope you're hearing it. And I hope others that hear the record will, you know, be able to apply it to their lives in some ways. And that could be through divorce. It could be you know, late-in-life divorce. It could be death. It's - you know, loss and heartbreak are pretty universal.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: You have a song on the album called "Too Little Too Late." Let's listen.


PEGI YOUNG AND THE SURVIVORS: (Singing) We regretted the changes that brought us to now. I'd take it all back if I only knew how. You can drive on away with the weight of demand. And the road keeps on going until you find where you land.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: If you could just take us back to when you were making this album, you know, what was going through your head? How did you feel after such an important part of your life had ended?

YOUNG: Well, there's sort of two questions there. I enjoyed making the record because I love being with my bandmates. I love working in the studio. I love that act of creative expression. And this was an interesting change on this record, as well, in that I didn't play any instruments. I just sang because, after things became upended, I just couldn't play. I got pretty frozen there for a while. But I could write. So it was actually quite freeing to get in the studio and just sing and not have to, you know, think about learning the chords and remembering the chord changes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why do you think you couldn't play?

YOUNG: I couldn't do a lot of the things that, you know, I really enjoyed doing. I couldn't read a book. I couldn't even watch TV. I don't know. It was - I - you know, I went into a depression. So, you know, I'd just start by getting out of bed and then...


GARCIA-NAVARRO: ...You know, just gradually pull myself back together.


PEGI YOUNG AND THE SURVIVORS: (Singing) In the arms of another, keeping warm at night is a much better option than continuing to fight. Too little, too late - too little, too late.

YOUNG: Going on close to three years down the road now, I mean, I'm in such a different place. You know, the first song you played was clearly written out of, you know, anger. But, really, anger's a secondary emotion to hurt. And so, you know, were a lot of emotions swirling around in there (laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There always are.


PEGI YOUNG AND THE SURVIVORS: (Singing) Do I ever cross your mind? Darling, do you ever see some situations somewhere - somehow takes your memory?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What is the advice that you would give? What have you learned from this painful journey?

YOUNG: You just can't ever know what's going to happen (laughter). Life is full of surprises. Yeah. That's what I know. You know, you kind of envision a future. You know, I was looking at our third act and what that was going to be like. And, you know, you just never know what's going to happen next. But, hopefully, you've got the capacity to keep going.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Pegi Young. Her new album is "Raw." Thanks so much for being with us.

YOUNG: Thank you so much.


PEGI YOUNG AND THE SURVIVORS: (Singing) Trying to live my life without you, babe, is the hardest thing I'll ever do.

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