I found this at once comical and tragic. If this is Neil's idea of promoting a new album, he's going to have a bad time. Newsweek: Neil Young Hung Up on Me "Neil is going to ask you if you've listened to the album on Pono," I had been warned. I needed to have an answer. That answer needed to be yes. Neil Young was preparing to release his bonkers new live album, Earth. I was preparing to interview Young, ostensibly about Earth, the album and (perhaps) the planet. And, just as urgently, I was preparing to listen to Earth on the format Young required of me: Pono, the extremely high-resolution, "no-compromise" portable music player he's been developing for half a decade. --- Since I don't own a PonoPlayer—the price tag is somewhere in the range of $399—Warner Bros. Records invited me to spend a few hours at its headquarters listening to Earth on a Pono device there. “Just so you know, it's 97 minutes long,” a rep warned me, in a voice you might use to talk about an invasive dental procedure. Instead, I wound up receiving a loaner PonoPlayer and high-resolution headphones in the mail from Young’s manager’s office. --- When I steered the conversation towards Young's new album, I found that I was the one being questioned. "You've done many, many live albums before," I observed. "What was it about this tour that you wanted to document with a double album?" "Have you heard the record?" Young responded. "Yes, I've been listening to it on—" Before I could get out the word "Pono," Young shot back: "Have you heard the whole record?” “Mmm-hmm.” “Have you listened to it all the way through, from the beginning to the end?" "Yes, I have,” I answered. I briefly wondered whether there was a hidden message within the endless 28-minute recording of "Love and Only Love" that, when played backwards, would have answered my question perfectly. --- Then Young turned my attention to the vocals on the record. I let him direct the interview toward subjects he wanted to discuss. But his responses remained somewhat terse. Young: On some of the songs, you may have noticed some additional vocals. Did you hear those? Me: I did. Some vocals sounded like they were being fed through a processor or some sort of effect. Young: Umm. I'm just trying to think of which ones would be like that. Certain words were [put through] processors. Words like "GMO”? Me: Mmm-hmm. Young: Yeah. They were processed. Like GMOs are. Me: Those were overdubs that you added later? Young: Those were, yeah. There's a lot of overdubbing on this record. Me: So can you tell me about the animals that are included? Young: Uh, which ones? Me: All of them. Where did the idea come from? I’ve never heard a live album that features sounds quite like that before Click. We'd been disconnected. Weird—the landline connection seemed so clear. We'd been speaking for just over three minutes. I'm trying to think of some analogous scenario, like an actor who insists a reporter see he latest film on IMAX as a condition of consenting to an interview. But this would only work if the actor also had a major financial stake in IMAX. Also, IMAX's 70mm format has a record of high-quality presentation that goes back decades. Pono is an obscenely overpriced, poorly designed device that nobody needs, and very few people seem to want. It holds much less music than comparable devices and costs much more. Neil really should just beg off interviews from now on.