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Watch Neil Young Give Meryl Streep a Guitar Lesson

Meryl Streep revealed awhile back that Neil Young gave her a guitar lesson to help her prepare for her role in the 2015 film Ricki and the Flash, in which Streep plays an aging rocker.

Turns out there’s a video snippet of their meeting, and you can watch it above.

Using a black Fender Strat through a Fender amp, Young coaches the three-time Academy Award winner on the finer points of playing rock guitar. The video opens with Young dialing in a distorted tone on the amp and Streep plunking away on the Strat.

“All I did was I turned everything all the way up,” he explains. “That’s what you always do. Everything!”

After Streep hands over the guitar, Young spends a minute doing some impromptu riffing.

The film's director, the late Jonathan Demme, set up the meeting between Young and Streep, who received guitar lessons from others after she and Demme decided she should actually play the instrument in the movie.

“From our first conversation, we agreed it was going to have to be live performance which, as you know, is a departure,” Demme told Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab). “On most movies, [performance] is done through playback [i.e. post-production dubbing]. So we agreed implicitly that Meryl, who did not play guitar, was going to have to learn to play electric guitar credibly.”

Christopher Scapelliti
Christopher Scapelliti

Christopher Scapelliti is editor-in-chief of Guitar Player (opens in new tab) magazine, the world’s longest-running guitar magazine, founded in 1967. In his extensive career, he has authored in-depth interviews with such guitarists as Pete Townshend, Slash, Billy Corgan, Jack White, Elvis Costello and Todd Rundgren, and audio professionals including Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick and Ken Scott. He is the co-author of Guitar Aficionado: The Collections: The Most Famous, Rare, and Valuable Guitars in the World (opens in new tab), a founding editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine, and a former editor with Guitar WorldGuitar for the Practicing Musician and Maximum Guitar. Apart from guitars, he maintains a collection of more than 30 vintage analog synthesizers.