February 7, 2023

Neil Young talks to Conan O’Brien about his best and worst TV appearances – Rolling Stone

When Howard Stern Requested Conan O’Brien to name his favorite music artist two months ago, He answered without hesitation. First love ever Neil Young,” he said. “He manages to stay completely authentic and raw in a way that seems almost impossible to me. What was he doing with Buffalo Springfield’s? [1966], still striving for it. Did not calcify. Didn’t peel off. Still striving for it. So this guy amazes me.”

O’Brien Young has appeared on many of his late-night talk shows at several points over the past few decades, and just sat down with him for an hour-long talk that will air today on SiriusXM’s Team Coco Radio. Their conversation touches on Young’s many memorable TV performances, starting with a memorable, you’ll-miss-you’ll-miss-it-you-will-miss-Buffalo-Springfield appearance on a 1967 episode of the CBS detective series. Manx. “Our directors thought this was a great opportunity to move into television,” Young said. “I don’t think we even looked at it. We just kept going.”

The appearance looms larger on Stephen Stills’ mind. The Buffalo Springfield singer brought it up like never before in a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone. “The best sound we had was when we did this stupid TV show where we played a little song,” he said. “We were like, ‘Oh my God, this is the sound we’ve been looking for.'” It was the only place we could get that sound right.”

Four years later, Young had a memorable television performance when he appeared Johnny Cash show To play “The Needle and the Damage Done” and “Journey Through the Past.” “You should realize I’m 23 years old, and I’m going to be on a TV show,” Young told O’Brien. “I was petrified. I was thinking about what song I was going to sing and whether or not I was going to fail. That’s all I thought about. I don’t remember much about it.”

He clearly remembers his legendary performance Saturday Night Live in September 1989, playing “Rockin’ in the Free World” with drummer Steve Jordan, bassist Charlie Drayton, and Crazy Horse guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro. According to many young fans, this is his best solo performance in a TV show. Conan O’Brien was a young writer on SNL at the time, and he remembered watching it live.

“Lorn Michaels has a saying that television is the worst way to experience music,” O’Brien said. “I think he’s usually right, except something happened that night. He was smug and rambling across the TV. I’m on the floor in [Studio] 8 h. I am a child. I’m in my twenties. I watch you do that. The place, I just melted it down. I think there was structural damage to 30 Rock. It was never completely fixed.”

Young has released two Crazy Horse albums and a steady stream of archival releases since beginning of the pandemic, but he hasn’t played a concert since 2019. In several recent interviews, he’s said he doesn’t want to play shows unless venues change the way they get their food at concession stands.


“When I look at the compromise I have to make to do this, the things I don’t believe in, that I have to stand for, don’t excite me,” Young told Q’s Tom Power in November 2022. “I can handle the power of a place, and I can make it clean. I can make the PA clean, the lights clean, the electrics in the building clean. I can clean all my vehicles. I have the right fuel. I can do all of that. But the food—all of those Places are fueled by factory farms.”

He sounded more optimistic about future concerts on December 2, 2022, in response to a fan at the Neil Young Archives. He wrote: “We are looking for places for next summer.” “I love the Earth.”