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Neil TV -- Neil on Much Music, Nov 1, 1996

by various Rusties
posted to Rust on Sunday, November 2, 1996 (or soon after)
(Also see Zain's story and Powderfinger's story.)

The Four Horsemen Report

This is Zain, Mary, Dave Y., and Powderfinger at 10:35 p.m. (EST) reading Rust from the depths of the University of Toronto Library after a night of Neil at Much Mucus.

Mary here...

Responding to the Rust post by Jody:

Who was the female rustie outside that yelled "Hi Rusties"? (or something like that).
That was me!
Who was the rustie in the MoreBarn t-shirt that was behind the guy in the red shirt?
That was Zain!

Dave here...

First off, to set the record straight, it was Neil's decision not to play tonight. During commercial breaks, Neil walked over to the window area and ran thru When You Dance... with Billy and Poncho and Ralph and ran thru chord changes. At one point, Neil was acting like the coach, saying "This is where we screwed it up last time" ... walked them thru the chord changes... and they were working hard to get it together.

Mary, Trish and I were looking right at them, not 15 feet away thru the window. Interesting to hear part of this sent out to the sidewalk thru the outside speakers..... I didn't realize it was Neil at first, until Mary pointed it out... Neil was singing very quietly, probably like he does at home RIGHT IN FRONT OF US!!!

All thru the show Frank, Billy, and Ralph were sitting in our plain view. Poncho sat there strumming throughout the show. At one point he looked our way and I gave him a wave, he waved back, and with a big smile I gave him the finger! His face dropped, then he smiled and looked away. Glad I saw this in person. I can't see a restricted TV view doing it justice.

Powderfinger here...

By sheer luck I was able to get in and take in this whole living-room type scene from the back. The big plus of this setup was that Neil, not a stationary-type person, was able to move around: play with his train set, sit on the couch with Denise, walk over to the window and play for the ecstatic folks freezing outside (Mary M., Dave Y., and especially Trish -- here in spirit if not in body), or sit right on the floor in front of the audience with Zain and Darren Mc *all smiles*.

It was so great to hear Neil & The Horse rehearse When You Dance... *acoustically* (have they ever done it this way?), as if we were eavesdropping on an informal jam at Broken Arrow, and informal was the feel of this whole show despite its stage-managed portions. I'd have been very surprised to see a "regular" performance of a song, all the more so when for a station break they piped in some other Neil song while he was trying out When You Dance. Doh! Considering that, and other nuisances, Neil stayed relatively relaxed -- with one typically humorous answer after another. And for me, he had a very youthful air about him. In a word he looked and felt great. And so do we.   :)

Zain here...

I'm in such a weird mood right now I don't know what to write. I'll just mention a few things for the moment, and maybe write something longer in a few days (after I get back from the Ottawa show).

When we were first ushered into the studio, we were told that our questions had to be screened, so we were asked what questions we intended to ask. We were told we were not allowed to ask any questions about Neil's family or about CSN. I was really unprepared, but I said I'd like to know if Neil ever intended to release something along the lines of Bob Dylan's Bootleg Series, featuring oddities, rarites, and one-offs. I guess they didn't like my question because it wasn't one of the ones selected.

Those whose questions were okayed were seated in front. Darren and I were sort of placed at the side (but, hey, when you're standing a few feet from Neil, who can complain?). We stood there for the whole show. I was grinning like a fool for most of it. I had on my MORE BARN! shirt, which Neil definitely noticed. In my knapsack I had the MB banner, and asked both before and after the show if Neil could possibly sign it, but was told that Neil would not be signing anything (sorry Andy, I did my best, believe me).

Others have already written about some of the questions Neil was asked, so I'll save that for later. All I can say is that it just seemed unreal to be in the presense of Neil & the Horse. At one point, he was standing about 5 feet in front of me, and I just stood there in awe! I just couldn't get over the fact that I was so close to him... Even now, it all feels like a strange dream. After I have a few days to absorb it all, I'll try to write something more coherent.

Mary again...

I haven't been that f***ing cold since last year's Santa Claus parade (trivia: Toronto has the largest Santa Claus parade in the world). Anyway, only Zain and Darren had seats and although I was down there by 4:00 p.m., it didn't look like they'd let me in, so Dave, Trish and I grabbed pretty good spots against the glass. What a neat and surreal experience! When Neil first arrived, he walked right up to the glass and waved. Billy also took a minute after the show to acknowledge those freezing outside. We had a great view of The Horse throughout.

It's all over now, faster than MuchMusic would have liked, I suspect. No time for all our questions, or autographs, or handshakes. But tens of thousands of people listened to Neil acknowledge Rust, and scratched their heads over Zain's MORE BARN! shirt. A good day for Rust. Three cheers all 'round.

We're off to Ottawa tomorrow.....see you on the flip side, Rusties.

Joe Crane's Report

Rusties: There's good news and bad news. The good news is that the 1 hour and 15 minutes of Neil in the MuchMusic environment showed Neil in his element, answering questions with his usual quick wit, including a question about The Rust List.

The bad news is that although Crazy Horse was equipped and ready to play, Neil decided against it and no songs were forthcoming. At one point I could swear he was getiing ready to play, even alluding to the fact that this would be a practice for the Ottawa concert. Crazy Horse even started out playing ( I think) When You DAnce You Can Really Love, but Neil didn't join in. They did discuss what to do in this one part, but that was it. Poncho and Billy were both playing acoustic guitars, and Ralph was just sorta sitting there. It never got off the ground.

The question part was really good, the Rust question went something like this: You have an internet group called Rust with 1000 strong that discusses your music. My question is twofold. What are your feelings about the Rust List and have you or your group ever monitored the discussions. Neil replied that he really liked the idea of the list, and was glad it was there. He said he never looked at it though, he didn't want to be influenced by what everyone else thought. He just wasn't in to stuff like that.

There was, of course, questions about the archives, which he said would be out in July. Also about the missing albums he also said July. It got to be a joke. When someone asked him when he would be getting together with Clapton, someone in the audience yelled "July!"

During the outside crowd shots you could hear people yelling "Hi Rust!"

Neil had part of his train layout set up and in the first part of the show talked about it (and played with it).

After Neil left, the remaining 45 minutes was a segment called Neil's picks, which were videos by other groups that Neil selected.

During the breaks they also interviewed members of the diehards who waited outside during the whole program, most of who were dissappointed that they hadn't played.


A Gary Davis Mini-Report

The interview didn't go very well. Neil didn't seem confortable with all the disembodied questions being delivered electronically, and even though he and Crazy Horse were all there with guitars, they left without playing.


Geoff Nash's Report

Well .... I post with mixed feelings.

Neil was so laid back during this Neil TV thing that I thought it was gonna go on forever .... However, just as it appeared that The Horse was gonna put in an appearance and we were gonna get some music, the inverviewer announced that "she had to leave" .... Neil appeared a little bit confused and then started thanking everybody for having him and then just kind of wandered away from the set .... talked to the Horse for a while ... talked to the Lionel guy for a while and then left the studio.

My question to MuchMusic is: "What's the deal here?? You get the biggest event of the year and you assign a VJ who's gotta LEAVE IN AN HOUR??!" This was amateurism at it's finest! Neil and the Horse were ready to stay indefinitely! They brought their instruments! This sucks! Neil didn't end the interview .... the VJ did! Wow!! And I thought MTV sucked!

Blue Window
suffering from an acute case of Neilus Interruptus

Midnight Rider's Report

I disagree... Looked more like Neil didn't want to play. They broke for a commercial with "When we come back they'll play a set" (that's paraphrased, but Neil had walked back to the band). When they came back, Neil sauntered back out and said something to the effect of "we're not ready ... still practicing." So MM took more audience questions. They seemed to keep pausing to give Neil the opportunity to get back and play, but he didn't.

I got the feeling he felt the "vibes" weren't right. Maybe the couple of questions/comments on bootlegs and concert recordings made him wary of giving an impromptu performance for the tapers.

Neil was in the studio for about an hour or so; he seemed very nervous the first half of the show, but the second half seemed to be enjoying himself and having a pretty good time.

Topics covered: Lionel trains, archives ("July ... the first part"), Missing Six ("July ... I'm going to release my entire catalogue remastered on HDCD in order"), Rust ("I haven't checked'em out ... I wouldn't want to do that ... limit them in any way ... they're fine and that's great"), writing POC ("I bought two fax machines ... neither one worked and they were discontinued models so there's no service") ... and more!

Saw a MORE BARN! shirt in the audience and a couple of Rust-questions made it on.

Mahlon wrote:

He said he thought the rust community was great, as he waved his arms indicating the crowd present in the studio. I don't think it ever clicked with Neil that the question referred to an internet fan club.
I think he knew exactly what the question meant. That he mentioned not wanting to monitor "the Rust community" ("if I did that I'd be crazier than I already seem to be") indicates he knows we're here.

This can still be interpreted as a general comment about fandom, but given that we've contacted Neil's management, we've given organized (and fairly sizeable) support to the Bridge School and made limited contact with Pegi, there's no way he didn't know what the question meant. He may have chosen to ignore the implications.

Midnight Rider

A Jody Eaton Mini-Report

Neil looked great! For those who did not get to see the show, he was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Geronimo that said "My heroes have always killed Cowboys" I was sure we were going to get to hear When You Dance acoustic with the Horse, but they seem to have cut them off (as has already been mentioned).


Another Gary Davis Report

While you're all patting yourselves on the backs about how much Rust means to Neil (I don't think he really heard/understood the question), I don't see that anyone's posted his answer to how he feels about global tape trading.

He said (I'm paraphrasing) that he felt it restricted his freedom to try new material, because any little thing he tries out, that he might want never heard again, quickly makes its way around the world.

He also didn't like the fact that his "off nights" gets traded along with the good ones... for example, he didn't think the first night of the Canada tour was one of his best...


Inside NeilTV by Darren McIlwraith

First of all I just want to thank Zain one last time for getting me in there with him.

We entered the studio around 5:00 and waited for around 1/2 an hour until someone came in to screen questions. Zain got one in about bootlegs and the archives. Of course she stopped taking questions when I approached her to ask about plans for the Buffalo Springfield induction to the RnR HOF. Zain thought they didn't take his question because he had "bootleg" in it (although he related it to the archives) but that question ended up in e-mail format (or was it speakers corner) so I think that's why they didn't use it. So, around 5:45 we were ushered into the studio where the interview would take place. Zain and I were behind the front row of people sitting on the desk (I also had a stupid grin on my face every time I was in the picture).

The people in the front row were ones who's questions were "accepted" although I don't think they all got their chance. Surprisingly thought there was one spontaneous question i.e. not planned. The guy who asked the Randy Bachman question was out on the street earlier trying to get in (he wasn't on the list). Obviouslly he managed to get in (as did Mark) and eventually found his way up to the front with Zain and Myself. All of a sudden Denise Donlon walks our way with the microphone and he jumped right in with his question. You can't see me at this point as I'm right behind Zain but this guy was right beside me. I thought it was a pretty stupid question (ask something about Neil, man), the guy acted like he was best friends with Randy Bachman (just my opinion of course). Quite an opportunity blown, although I may have looked like a fool if I had tried to ask a question as my voice was blown from Hamilton the night before. Oh well.

It was Neil who decided not to play, not MuchMusic cutting the interview short. They were hoping he would play and were prepared to let the show go 2 hours until 8:00 pm. It was odd the way the show ended as Zain and I were not even sure it was over. During the last commercial break even the floor director was confused as to what was happening. With seconds left before they went back on she told Denise to thank Neil and the horse for coming and that would be it. When I watched this later Neil was surprised the camera was still on and said something like "oh, we're still on, I thought we were done".

During the one of the commericial breaks when Neil and the horse were practicing Neil started singing very quietly in a very high pitch. Zain wondered who was singing, I said it was Neil but he didn't think it was as it almost sounded like a woman. He had is back to us so we couldn't see his face but he was quietly whispering away "when you daaaa-nce, ooh ooh I can really love". I wasn't completely sure myself but it was Neil - like someone else said it was like looking in on them rehearsing at the ranch. Like he said in the interview they were practicing for Ottawa. Denise tried to get them to play without being too forward (probably a good approach). She asked him a couple of times if he was just going to carry that thing around (his guitar) and he just said "Yes".

I myself was disappointed about some of the questions they let through. Neil couldn't believe some of them either. "LOOK OUT MICHAEL JACKSON", as he said at one point.

  1. Who the hell cares who the "premier songstress" in Canada is, let alone who Neil thinks it is.
  2. Industrialized hemp helping farmers - somehow I think NOT.
I could go on but I won't.

I think he understood the question regarding Rust. I think he looked out to the window and waved to everyone to buy a little time. His response basically lumped all his fans together stating "aren't they great" looking out the window at the frozen masses on Queen St.

His comments later reflected back to it when discussing that the Information Age limits his ability to try out new songs in a live setting. He gave an example of Change Your Mind with Booker T when he played it for the first time live and was still working on the song. He says he cringes every time he hears it and wishes he could take it back. This confirms why he never plays anything completely new in concert anymore. (I know BA was played at OPL but that was pretty close to the release date). This was one of the best parts of the interview IMO as he talks about how he used to try out songs on the audience and how they would "evolve" after playing it live a few times.

For those of you who didn't see it, the question was also asked whether he monitored Rust and he amusingly responded that if he did "I'd be crazier than I already appear to be" (something along that line).

Like I said the ending was quite confused and they tried to usher people out quickly with security stating that he WOULD NOT be signing anything although one guy who was right beside the train set managed to get his guitar signed (he was quite a bit closer to everything than Zain and I were). On my way out Billy was also leaving and I was able to talk to him for a brief moment telling him that last night's show was GREAT, thanks a lot. He was cool and just said "glad you liked it, thanks". That was it, and security ushered me out to Queen St where there was still a crowed of about 20 people.

As you could tell Neil was quite "coy" throughout the interview using his "July" answer on 3 occasions. I can see why he may contradict himself once in a while. Trying to be funny while at the same time accurate with the same thing he said on July 21, 1992 about (insert topic here) must be quite difficult. At some points he seemed like he was more interested in giving a humourous answer rather than dealing with the question directly (which I think is probably natural after 30 years of doing this kind of thing).

For those of you disappointed with the interview I really don't think it was that bad. There were a number of very interesting segments like the one I mentioned above, his thoughts on the lost battle with the commercialization of music and others which I can't think of at the moment.

If anyone wants do discuss this more feel free to drop me a line (I could go on for days I think)

Darren (dmcilwraith@consumersgas.com)

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