5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
Jesse Colin Young has influenced and shaped the character of American music for over 50 years. Discovered in 1961, Jesse Colin Young had a serious solo career, showcasing his vocals and guitar work, with 2 records, Soul of a City Boy (Capitol) and Youngblood (Mercury), before he formed his folk rock band The Youngbloods in 1965. The Youngbloods made 5 records on RCA (Sony BMG) and 5 records on Warner Brothers before Jesse went on to make 16 more records (Warner Brothers, Electra, Polygram) in his expansive solo career. Jesse has always responded to the world around him with a clear voice and focus that touches on our humanity. His style is now considered Americana, but in fact it’s his unique fusion of folk, rock, jazz and blues with an emphasis on his extraordinary voice that makes his signature sound.
SD: When you look back on your career, can you believe you have been doing this for over five decades?
JCY: No! I can’t believe I actually had the energy to last this long. For some reason, I am doing it again. I did take an 8 year hiatus. After my son, Tristan, graduated from Berklee, he put a band together and I saw them perform and they were great. That is when I thought before I leave the planet, I had to play with these young people. BMG is interested in our new record. It is really a thrilling time for me right now.
SD: What sparked your interest into playing the guitar?
JCY: While attending Phillips Academy in Andover, I was informed I needed to pick an elective. I choose to learn the classic guitar. It was tough, I was playing on a $15 guitar, but I fell in love with it.
SD: Having been in the music business for so long, what has been the biggest culture shock for you?
JCY: Most of what comes out of the radio today. My genre was folk. The folk scene back in the 60’s was really in the Boston / Cambridge area. Not in NYC. That is where I met Jerry Corbitt and we formed the Youngbloods. I don’t like to discuss it, but there is a lot of music I don’t like. Most artists today lack real talent. I listened to singers who can really sing without auto tune. I grew up in the 50’s listening to some great musicians and singers and we just don’t have that kind of talent anymore.
SD: What is it like having your son in the band?
JCY: It’s wonderful! We always fooled with the idea, but I never thought he was a fan of my music. Growing up, he was always listening to Megadeth and Metallica. One day, I heard the sound of Miles Davis coming from his bedroom and I fell to my knees and gave thanks!
SD: When can we expect a new Jesse Colin Young record?
JCY: I am working on it. Performing with my new band, I have gotten this new burst of energy to write. I need to create an everlasting picture of this band and what we are doing. The only way to do that is to produce a new album.