At 72, Neil Young feels a sense of urgency.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member has a new, and joyfully perplexing, pseudo-Western film “Paradox” written and directed by actress and girlfriend Daryl Hannah coming out on Netflix next week. He’s releasing a movie soundtrack on the same day. And next month, he’s digging into his vast archives to put out “Roxy - Tonight’s the Night Live,” a collection of songs played live from the opening week of the famed Los Angeles club in 1973.
And if that’s not enough, Young continues to move ahead with his vision to make his online musical archives the definitive repository of everything - previously released or otherwise - that he’s ever recorded.
“I like to get it out there so I’m alive to see how people like it,” Young said in a telephone interview Thursday from Austin, Texas, where he is attending the South by Southwest music festival. “What the (expletive)? Why not?”
Young unveiled his new archival website in December, making all of his officially released recordings available to stream in the highest audio quality possible - a passion of his - for free.
In what has been a tantalizing tease for devoted Young fans, there were also inaccessible links to unreleased albums like “Homegrown” from 1974, “Chrome Dreams” from 1976 and “Toast” from 2001 along with various live recordings from throughout his 55-year career.
Young said he has 12 to 14 unreleased records he made between the late 1960s and 2012 that he wants to get out soon. The 1973 Roxy concert highlights is next in April and he said two more vault releases are planned for later this year.
“When I made these records, I made them so fast that I couldn’t put them all out,” he said. “I finished one and I’d go on to the next one. That’s just the way it was at that time. I was very productive and going through a lot. I put out what I was most interested in at the time.”
Young remains productive, with “Paradox” and its soundtrack coming out next week.
“Paradox” features Young as “The Man in the Black Hat,” Willie Nelson as “Red” and his sons Lukas and Micah Nelson - members of the band Promise of the Real - as “Jailtime” and the “Particle Kid.” It was premiering Thursday night at the South by Southwest Festival and will have a limited theatrical release in addition to being available on Netflix on March 23.
Billed as a “fantasy, a loud poem and a free-spirited tale of music and love,” the film begins sometime in the “future-past” with Willie Nelson proclaiming that “time is fluid.” It follows Young and a band of outlaws in the mountains as they scavenge for treasure that includes computer keyboards, cameras and cellphones.
It was filmed in Colorado while Young and his band were getting used to the 10,000-foot altitude before performing at the Desert Trip festival in 2016.
In the film, Young’s band plays his song “Peace Trail” as listeners float in the air. In another scene, Young strums a ukulele as Hannah floats behind him, tied to Young’s waist by a rope.
“When you’re in the music, sometimes you float away in your mind,” Young said. “It’s just another representation of the effect of art and music on people.”
Hannah, who wrote the film and is making her directorial debut, said it was all very spontaneous and not meant to be taken too seriously. Hannah described it as a “homespun project” and said she was surprised when Netflix expressed interest.
“It’s not really their sort of thing,” she said, adding that Netflix typically goes for more polished productions and not “spitball movies people make for themselves.”
“That’s my biggest concern that people will be expecting a normal movie or a rock and roll documentary and they’ll be like, ‘What the heck?’” Hannah said. “I hope that they take it in the lighthearted spirit it was intended and turn it up so they can hear the music.”
Young said he didn’t know what people would think of “Paradox,” but he stands by it.
“It’s a little surreal but it’s playful and loving, no violence, no hatred,” Young said. “It’s a great palate cleanser.”
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