Skip to main content

Juliana Hatfield and Emma Swift discuss covering Neil Young for Record Store Day Black Friday

American Laundromat Records has released a fundraising 7-inch vinyl single of Neil Young songs by Juliana Hatfield and Emma Swift

Neil Young on vinyl at the Goldmine shop

RSD 2022 Juliana

Juliana Hatfield performs “Lotta Love” and Emma Swift sings “Give Me Strength” as a Record Store Day Black Friday release and fundraiser for Casting for Recovery. This special pair of Neil Young covers are in addition to songs included in the Cinnamon Girl compilation we highlighted earlier this year. Additionally, American Laundromat Records will be releasing The Juliana Hatfield Three’s debut album Become What You Are in January for its 30th anniversary.

Part One – Juliana Hatfield

GOLDMINE: Welcome back to Goldmine for our fifth time in the past five years. I love how Casey Burns’ artwork on your new single matches the look of Neil Young’s Comes a Time album. When his album was released in 1978, I was working at Peaches Records & Tapes and we would play it often including his version of “Four Strong Winds,” a song he used to play on a jukebox in Canada growing up, “Look Out for My Love,” which Linda Ronstadt would cover two years later and “Lotta Love,” which Nicolette Larson, who sang background vocals on his album, would cover later that year. It had been a while since I played that album, so I listened to Neil’s version, and I was surprised on how slow that was versus Nicolette’s Top 10 hit which I have heard so many times. You kept the Nicolette tempo and then electrified it with your fuzz guitar, which is a great approach.

JULIANA HATFIELD: When I was a kid, I grew up on the Nicolette Larson version, which is what I heard first. For the longest time I thought it was her song and didn’t discover the Neil Young original until a bit later. I wanted to approach the song differently because it has already been successfully covered.

GM: Your guitar introduction and your solo remind me of The Rolling Stones’ “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” which gives the recording an added dimension.

JH: I wasn’t thinking of that, but that makes sense to me now. I wanted my version of “Lotta Love” to be a little tougher. I was trying to counteract the sentiment of the song which I think is emotionally demanding where one person wants the other to attend to that person’s needs which I interpret as, “It is going to take a lot from you to give me a lotta love.” I was fighting against that with my electric guitar. 

“I wanted my version of ‘Lotta Love’ to be a little tougher. I was trying to counteract the sentiment of the song which I think is emotionally demanding where one person wants the other to attend to that person’s needs which I interpret as, ‘It is going to take a lot from you to give me a lotta love.’ I was fighting against that with my electric guitar.” – Juliana Hatfield

 

GM: Are you also playing drums this time on the recording?

JH: No. When I recorded the song, it was during the pandemic lockdown, and I was struggling to figure out how to record at home alone in Massachusetts. My friend Jed Davis in Connecticut built rhythm tracks around what I emailed him. We worked long distance together to shape the song. Without Jed being involved I probably would have gone for some straight-ahead simple drum and bass parts with a more traditional sound.

GM: He did a great job and the two of you sound great together on the recording. I remember you working with him on your original composition “Christmas Cactus,” which was also a Record Store Day vinyl single. In addition to your originals, your covers are so creative. When we first talked, your Olivia Newton-John cover album was released. Since then, you have also covered The Police, and my favorite song on that album is your version of their 1979 song “Can’t Stand Losing You.”

JH: When I do these covers, I generally don’t have a grand concept for a sound. I just dive into things and roll around in the mud and see what I can come up with. The only concept was that I would make an album of Police songs, but I had nothing sonically in mind. I tried to embody something in the songs which is ineffable and provide intuitive interpretations.

GM: Now moving on to your compositions, the 30th anniversary of your Become What You Are album will be released on vinyl, which is exciting, and I think the title is still very applicable today with a lot of movements centered on embracing your own identity.

JH: When I was writing the album, I was reading a lot of Nietzsche’s philosophy at the time. I was very troubled when I was in my twenties and the only confidence I had was in my creative musical ideas. Personally, I had hoped that I would feel the confidence in life that I had in my music. Three decades later I am still just getting closer to feeling like myself. Everyone has their own journey and I support people being who they are.

GM: You address those challenges with people on the album’s song “For the Birds,” where you would rather hang around with birds than people many days. It is a bouncy song with quite a story.

JH: In some ways I still feel the same way, feeling so much empathy for animals suffering where a lot of human suffering is driven by people doing it to themselves. I think I am little more accepting now than I was then. 

GM: Dean Fisher is on bass and Todd Philips is on drums on that 1993 album. What are your former bandmates doing these days?

Pre-order now the January 20, 2023 30th anniversary vinyl release on American Laundromat Records

Pre-order now the January 20, 2023 30th anniversary vinyl release on American Laundromat Records

JH: Dean is still making music and was teaching music for a while. He has a wife and kids. Todd still plays drums once in a while but made a career in Los Angeles creating and editing movie trailers putting scenes together with music. Thank you always for your interest in my music. Now I look forward to hearing Emma’s version of “Give Me Strength.”

 

Part Two – Emma Swift

GM: Welcome to Goldmine. Congratulations on your version of  “Give Me Strength.” It is beautifully sung. You have a slight vibrato, and your delivery is gentle. You did a great job on a song that I didn’t know. The new single is on American Laundromat Records out of Connecticut. How did you get connected with them?

EMMA SWIFT: I have always been a fan of American Laundromat. They are a cool independent label who often do fantastic Record Store Day vinyl releases. I had been following them online and they had been following me too. They had already released a full album fundraiser of Neil Young songs called Cinnamon Girl and I really liked that double vinyl album, so it is great to be a footnote to that. I received an email from American Laundromat Records asking me if I would like to record the flip side of this Juliana Hatfield vinyl single and I was thrilled. I am an enormous Neil Young fan and I wanted to interpret a lesser-known track because so many of his songs have been covered before. “Give Me Strength” came out in 2017 on his Hitchhiker album of archived songs from 1976, which he put on the back burner. It was very enjoyable to sing it.

“I received an email from American Laundromat Records asking me if I would like to record the flip side of this Juliana Hatfield vinyl single and I was thrilled. I am an enormous Neil Young fan and I wanted to interpret a lesser-known track because so many of his songs have been covered before.” – Emma Swift

 

GM: I see that Neil recorded the songs in August of that year and I guess the release of the album might have gotten in the way of his album with Stephen Stills, The Stills-Young Band’s Long May You Run which was a nice collection including the gentle “Midnight on the Bay.”

ES: I am a fan of his mid-1970s trilogy era of On the Beach, Tonight’s the Night and Zuma, where he was more grungy than he was on Harvest. I have covered some of his songs from that time period.

GM: Speaking of grungy, who is playing the fuzz guitar on the instrumental break on your new version of “Give Me Strength?”

ES: Most instruments are played by my friend Nashville producer Jordan Lehning along with Eric Slick from the Philadelphia band Dr. Dog. It was recorded deep into the pandemic when it was quite difficult to get into studios. 

RSD 2022 Emma

Emma Swift

Fabulous Flip Side: Give Me Strength

A side: Lotta Love – Juliana Hatfield

Debut: November 25, 2022

American Laundromat ALR-0055

GM: Now back to the mid-1970s Neil Young albums, my cousin bought Tonight’s the Night, which I learned through him back then, and you did a nice job covering “Mellow My Mind” from that album.

ES: Oh, thank you. That was recorded in Nashville, too with some friends of mine who own Cosmic Thug Records. I recorded that song before I recorded the Bob Dylan covers project. I have always flirted with recording Neil Young songs, sneaking out individual covers from time to time versus a whole album.

GM: Your album of Bob Dylan compositions entitled Blonde on the Tracks is a clever title, which is what my fellow Goldmine writer Lee Zimmerman also stated in his review of your 2020 album. One of my favorites is the opening number “Queen Jane Approximately” which was a flip side of “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later),” which you also cover on side one of your vinyl album. Hugh Hales-Tooke’s video of “Queen Jane Approximately” is also quite clever.

Available on Tiny Ghost Records

Available on Tiny Ghost Records

ES: Thanks so much. One of the great things about doing that version of “Queen Jane Approximately” was putting in that 12-string Rickenbacker guitar as a little bit of a nod to The Byrds who covered so many Dylan songs. In the realm of Dylan, I consider myself partaking in a fine tradition of interpretation that goes back to Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, The Byrds and so many more. 

GM: I was so pleased that you also included “The Man in Me” on the second side of the album. I first learned that song on a 1970s 8-track tape by the group McKendree Spring and didn’t know it was a Bob Dylan composition until many years later.

ES: My producer Patrick Sansone plays keyboards on that song and my husband Robyn Hitchcock is also on the album playing guitar. He just finished a whole run of dates with Jessica Lee Morgan in the U.K. She is fantastic. 

GM: On Record Store Day Black Friday you will be performing in Norway. I have been to Oslo and Bergen. Where will you be playing?

ES: In Tromsø which is right up north. It is a really cool folk festival called The North Country Fest. I have played in Norway before but never this time of year, so I am hoping to be able to catch the northern lights. The first pressing of my Blonde on the Tracks album was pressed at my friend’s vinyl pressing plant in Norway. I have quite an ongoing connection with the country. It is a beautiful part of the world.

GM: Then on December 2 you will be back at one of your former residences, London.

ES: Yes, at the Troubadour. Now we are generally in Nashville, and I think of myself as an Australian born Nashville artist, married to a British guy, so we do spend a lot of time in the U.K. and throughout the world. Thank you and Goldmine so much for this wonderful interview. I appreciate it. You are awesome!

Note to Goldmine readers: Juliana Hatfield’s “Lotta Love” and Emma Swift’s “Give Me Strength” are not currently available as YouTube links but are exclusively available on a vinyl single at participating record stores on Record Store Day Black Friday.

 

Related links:

julianahatfield.com

emmaswift.com

alr-music.com

recordstoreday.com

Goldmine 2022 Cinnamon Girl compilation coverage

Goldmine 2021 Juliana Hatfield interview

Goldmine 2020 coverage of Emma Swift's Blonde on the Tracks

castingforrecovery.org

Goldmine Fabulous Flip Sides now in its eighth year

goldminemag.com/columns/fabulous-flip-sides

The Goldmine store is a music collector's one-stop shopping of vinyl, CDs, box sets, collectibles and Goldmine-only exclusives. Click HERE to visit!