After seeing an uptick in traffic to our stories about “Pono,” Neil Young’s putative solution for all that ails digital music (in the form of a hardware player and high-resolution music that would go with it), we wondered: What’s up with that?
As it turns out, Neil was on The Daily Show last night, talking about his new book, his new album, and, yes, digital music enthusiasts, Pono. That explains why so many people are seeking out our Pono articles not only here — but also on syndication partners Time.com, Huffington Post, and Hypebot, which are sending people through to here too.
First, check out our coverage on Neil Young and Pono, the hardware/audio format solution with which Young hopes to make digital music sound better:
- Will Neil Young’s ‘Pono’ Player Really Make Music Sound Better?
- Guest Opinion: Neil Young Says Pono is Hawaiian for ‘Righteous’
- Guest Opinion: Why 24/192 Music Downloads Make No Sense
- Neil Young Goes Live with High-Resolution, Pre-Release Album
- Neil Young’s High-Resolution Audio Format Could Make for Better Interactive Apps
Then, here’s the latest — what Neil Young said about Pono to Jon Stewart last night:
“I’m not trying to change the world — I’m just trying to make it so that when I look at it, it’s great, you know what I mean? Not so I can make a million dollars, or even a gazillion…
“For instance, I’m walking down the street, and I see some beautiful girl walking along, and… she’s got these white things [which we take to be first-generation iPod headphones] coming out of her ears. And I’m going, ‘That poor girl. She’s listening to real crap.’ And I go, ‘It’s so easy to fix that,’ and I put together a team of people and we fixed it…
“People don’t have MP3 listening parties. They have vinyl listening parties — a vinyl evening at my house, or something. People — like, my own daughter is having her wedding, and she’s so excited, she called me up, ‘Daddy, I got a DJ — they’re only going to play soul 45s — got real 45s in a turntable.’ And they’re doing this because you can feel it, and you can hear it.
“So, I don’t want to go on a big rap here, but 21st-century digital, what we have with Pono, it’s not your mother’s digital. It’s a whole other thing.
(Jon Stewart: What do you lose, when you compress music?)
“You lose the soul. You lose the feeling. You lose what makes you feel good, what makes music live, and it’s like, oh my god, if you were Picasso, and you made a Picasso and then it came out, and everybody saw it, and it was a Xerox of a Picasso, that’s what it feels like. People aren’t used to hearing the real thing anymore, so we just want to give a choice.
“MP3s and everything — that’s great. It’s all fine. But we think, with the same convenience, that you could hear everything, sound great. You
know, how do you live it, feel it?
“It’s very easily done, and it’s not a secret. As soon as people hear it, they’ll realize that it’s not a secret.
(Jon Stewart: What do you, add cowbell?”)
“Yeah, that’s good. I like that.”
Second, it sounds like the Pono audio format (to be sold by the Pono music service and played on the Pono music player) will in fact be higher-resolution music, which is mathematically closer to vinyl, even though some doubt whether humans really can tell the difference.
Third of all, people definitely do have MP3 listening parties.
That said, we heart Neil as much as anyone does, and we can’t wait to check out Pono with our own actual ears, and to see where the hardware stands. Just as music players are turning into apps, Neil Young, ever the contrarian, is seeking to turn one back into hardware (today’s smartphones can’t decode super-high-resolution music files, so Pono will require special hardware).
Finally, here’s the video in question: