These days if you want illegal bootleg Neil Young songs you'll most likely torrent them. But there was a time, believe it or not, before the internet. And back then if you wanted some illegal Neil Young songs, you would buy vinyl bootlegs. And if you were a record store who happened to stock such bootlegs the last thing you would likely expect is for the recording artist themselves to turn up at your store and discover those bootleg LPs.
But that's exactly what happened to this clerk when music legend Neil Young strolled in and started doing some record shopping, just like us mere mortals would. He starts off intrigued by a new Bob Dylan record, or new compilation anyway. Because it's Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. II which was released in 1971.
The footage in the clip is actually taken from, according to the YouTube description, an "autobiographical film Neil made in 1972." Which presumably must be Journey Through the Past, a doc featuring concert and backstage footage which Young had been shooting on and off since 1966 and was released in 1974.
Neil Young Finds Some Neil Young Bootleg Albums
Anyway, after the interest in the (bootleg) Dylan record the Canadian musician happens upon some bootleg Neil Young songs. "Where'd you get these records?" he asks the clerk referring to some Crosby Stills Nash & Young live bootlegs. Whoops. The clerk for his part plays dumb when Young asks who puts them out. And when pressed further the clerk blames the boss, saying he buys them.
What ensues is some back and forth between Young and the clerk about the Neil Young songs, the clerk brilliantly swerving Young's question of what he thinks of it by saying he doesn't listen to records. "I have a tape player." he notes, washing his hands of it all.
Throughout it the clerk seemingly has no idea that it's Neil Young he's talking with. Until Young notes that, yes, he's one of the actual people on the bootleg singing the goddamn Neil Young songs!
Neil Young Tries To Steal Bootleg Neil Young Songs
He then asks the clerk if he can give his boss a note so they can discuss the bootleg Neil Young songs. Shortly after he then says he's going to take the Crosby Stills Nash & Young LP without paying. And he promptly does, leaving the store. He's then chased by the clerk and Young ends up going back to the store to talk to the boss on the phone.
It ends with Young leaving with two free records after chatting with the boss and coming to an agreement. And we're left with an amusing and nostalgic exchange from a long gone era when illegally obtained bootleg music meant physically trekking all over town, sometimes without any luck, to find a record store that hopefully stocked the album you wanted and buy it. And if you couldn't find it you'd settle for a bootleg LP of Neil Young songs.
For his part though, Young seems to have mellowed in his attitude when it comes to modern day music piracy.
Saying at a conference on digital music back in 2012. "It doesn't affect me because I look at the internet as the new radio. I look at the radio as gone. [...] Piracy is the new radio. That's how music gets around. [...] That's the radio. If you really want to hear it, let's make it available, let them hear it, let them hear the 95 percent of it."
In a strange twist of ironic fate those Neil Young Bootleg albums are probably worth a small fortune today.