Pegi Young has loved music all her life and started writing songs when she was in high school.
But outside of her occasional busking, her first major performance was in 1994 — at the nationally televised Academy Awards ceremony, singing backup for her husband Neil Young on his Oscar-nominated “Philadelphia.” “It was, ‘OK, let’s just plunge in ...’” she recalls now with a laugh. The plunge has only gotten deeper. She’s been singing regularly on Neil’s albums and tours ever since. And this year, she released her first-ever album, simply titled “Pegi Young” and recorded at the family’s northern
native who married Neil in 1978. They have two children — daughter Amber and son Ben, the latter of whom has California compound with her husband and many of the musicians that are part of his revolving cast of players.
“It was just sort of a timing thing in some respects,” says Pegi, 53, a California severe cerebral palsy, which inspired Pegi to start the Bridge School in 1986.
She at first thought about recording covers for her own album, “because I was too shy or insecure to break out my own stuff. I guess little by little my confidence was growing, and it seemed like all of a sudden, we were putting together a band and seriously going into the studio to make a record.
“I was as surprised as anybody else to hear how things came together.”
“Pegi Young” features songs from throughout her life. “White Line in the Sun,” for instance, was written when she was 20. “Key To Love” was written shortly thereafter, when she spent a year living in a teepee.
“It’s cool,” she says, “ ’cause they were written by this young girl and now they’re sung by this woman who’s lived and experienced things. It was like telling the story again but with totally different perspective.”
Neil Young initially wasn’t going to be part of the sessions and diplomatically stayed away — for a day.
“It was a classic case of avoidance; I never really asked, and he never really offered,” Pegi says with a laugh. “He stuck his head in at one point on the first day — I didn’t see him — and the next thing I knew the next morning, he was there in his little spot that the studio guys had wisely carved out for him. And he played on everything he did from then on out.”
Pegi acknowledges that her husband, one of rock’s most prolific artists, “is very used to running the show when he’s in the studio” but generally let her and producer Elliot Mazer direct the project.
“There might have been a time or two when I was, ‘Hey, wait a minute — whose project is this?’ ” Pegi recalls. “But everything he did was just such a huge add. He was just one more world-class musician sitting in on my session.”
Neil is also giving Pegi a chance to support the album. She’s not only part of his group on the current tour for his new “Chrome Dreams II” album; she’s opening the concerts with a set of her own songs.
She’s also looking forward to continuing her career as a solo artists. After recording nearly 30 songs for “Pegi Young,” she’s already got a good start, and there’s still plenty of material from her past that’s survived “periodic purges,” as well as greater motivation now to come up with new songs.
“I love it, and I can’t get enough of it,” she says. “I just feel completely like I’m doing something I enjoy immensely. It’s just like ... a gift. What a gift it is to be able to do this. It’s huge.”
Neil Young and Pegi Young perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov.10) at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are sold out. Call (313) 471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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