When I was ten my mom bought me my first record player. That night I started digging through her stacks of vinyl that lay scattered around the living room. I wasn't discerning. I had no idea of what I was looking for. What was on top was what got played. And that's how Neil Young's Harvest came to be the first album I remember dropping my needle on.
The songs on that album were a glimpse into the loving, suffering, and complexity at the heart of the adult inner-life. I was fascinated and awakened. So it was a wonderful twist of fate when 25 years later I found myself on the phone with Karen Berger saying, emphatically, "yes!" to the Greendale project.
Neil Young's Greendale, a concept album about a young political activist and her family in a small northern California town, has been a rock opera, a movie directed by Neil himself, and an art book. It captures his feelings about the war, the news media, the environment, the role of family and small-town America and the inherent power of youth. It's sprawling, rocking, down home, sad and hopeful.
NEIL YOUNG'S GREENDALE, the graphic novel, is a lot of things at once too. It's my desire to tell stories about real people mixed with VERTIGO's habit of using the supernatural to explore the human condition and Neil's anger against political hubris and hypocrisy. All packaged together by an incomparable A-team of creators (Cliff Chiang, Dave Stewart and Todd Klein) and using the skeleton key of Neil's characters and events from the record and, even more so, the art book, to find its way.
But our book's also different from the album. With Neil's notes and approval at every stage of the process, we were able to avoid simply copying a work that already existed in several iterations. We wanted to find something new inside of it. And so our GREENDALE is more of an American fable than a rock ballad. But hopefully, when you read it, you'll still hear in your head the music that drives it and feel the loving, suffering, and complexity that Neil Young's work has communicated to generation after generation of music fans… just like me.
NEIL YOUNG'S GREENDALE is on sale this Wednesday!
If you haven’t seen it, the current issue of FILTER Magazine has a feature on GREENDALE artist Cliff Chiang with some incredible interior images from the book.