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Pegi (Mrs. Neil) Young gets her act together


This article was published November 15, 2012 at 3:55 a.m.


Pegi Young

— Singer-songwriter Pegi Young had her own musical ideas before her marriage to Neil Young, but it took her a while to decide to step forward.

She didn’t exactly start off with a small step, however: Her first live public performance came in 1994, when she sang in the background at the Academy Awards, while her husband played piano on the nominated song “Philadelphia,” from the Jonathan Demmedirected film of the same name.

It’s not that she has lacked stimulating things to do. The Youngs famously started the Bridge School in 1986 to help children with severe physical and speech impediments, such as their son Ben, who was born with cerebral palsy. Since then, the Bridge School benefits have helped the school to thrive and raised awareness of the special needs of such students. Ben Young is now an organic egg farmer in Northern California.

She is still president of the school’s board of directors and her husband still hosts the Bridge School benefits.

Pegi Young finally got around to making her selftitled first album in 2007. She wrote six of the songs. Her nonoriginals included “When the Wild Life Betrays Me” by Will Jennings, Jimmy Buffett and Michael Utley (of Blytheville), along with “Sometimes Like a River” by Toni Brown of Joy of Cooking and “I’m Not Through Loving You Yet” by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham (a legendary Southern keyboardist who is in her band).

She followed her debut three years later with Foul Deeds, and after only 17 months, she released her latest recording.

Young is now on tour, promoting this third album, Bracing for Impact, along with her band, the Survivors, which include Oldham, bassist Rick Rosas, guitarist Kevin Holly and drummer Phil Jones. The 11 songs on the album include eight originals written by Young, plus “Doghouse” by her husband and “I Don’t Want to Talk About It” by the late Danny Whitten, who was in the original Crazy Horse lineup that recorded the song in 1971.

Neil Young describes how he met his wife (who had just moved from a teepee to a cabin in the woods) in December 1974 in his new autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream: “Pegi, 22 years old, was a beautiful girl. I loved the way she smiled so brightly, and her blue eyes really caught my attention. I already knew there was something different about her and that I was feeling things that I hadn’t felt before.”

She and Young married in 1978.

In 2011, she told USA Today her reasons for launching her own musical career later in life than most do: “I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I didn’t want to be on my deathbed going, ‘Darn, I wish I’d made a record.’ I have something to say.”

Pegi Young

& the Survivors

9 p.m. Sunday, Stickyz Rock ’n’ Roll Chicken Shack, 107 River Market Ave., Little Rock

Admission: $10

(501) 372-7707

Weekend, Pages 40 on 11/15/2012

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