Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam remembers Neil Young’s ‘liberating’ songwriting advice

Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam recently talked with Louder Sound in-depth on Neil Young’s ‘liberating’ counsel for songwriters just breaking through. He clarified: “Plus, his [Neil Young] chord changes are amazingly simple. He would respond, “Yeah, you know lately I’ve been really into just two chords,” and I’d remark, “God Neil, I’m so excited, I love that new song where you’re just playing three chords.” Stone continued by elaborating on the insight he had about creating art:

It is as though ‘Wow! God!’ The most liberating thing I’d ever heard was [Mudhoney guitarist] Steve Turner tell me when I was in high school, “Don’t learn to play your guitar, don’t figure it out, just get a band and do it.” I’d never in my life heard someone talk about art that way.

Gossard said that the mountain becomes a hill when an artist like Neil declares that using two chords to begin composing music is more than acceptable. He went on: Therefore, when Neil Young advises focusing on songwriting while only using two chords, it is extremely liberating because it makes music feel like it is for everyone and not this difficult, unreachable thing. Imagine how liberating it would be if people knew they could write a successful song with just a few chords under their belts. The musician also complimented Neil for the kind of person he is, saying: Neil is old as hell, but his enthusiasm for music is comparable to that of a young child. He is the best; I don’t believe anyone can compete with him. He’s also a gentleman and unquestionably one of the good ones.

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