Thursday, July 1, 2010

Neil Young rocks SNL


When Neil Young returned to rock’s mainstream in 1989 with “Freedom,” he did it in a big way.

Coming off the blues record, “This Note’s For You,” “Freedom’s” lead track, “Rockin’ In The Free World,” signaled Neil’s return to heavy rock, and his touring band fully supported that mandate: Charlie Drayton, Steve Jordan, and longtime sideman Frank 'Poncho' Sampedro all fit the bill.

To help launch the record, Neil and crew appeared on Saturday Night Live, in what has become referred to as one of the most intense live television studio performances ever.

I can still remember seeing Neil on the show when it happened, completely in awe of the raucous high-energy version the band delivered – they played as if possessed.

Watching the clip, it’s hard to fathom how pumped Neil and the band were throughout the song – they’re literally banging into each other in a celebration of pure rock ‘n roll joy.

In an interview with the Village Voice, Neil talked about his plan of attack for the show: he worked with a trainer before going onstage to work himself up to the encore intensity level he’s at when he normally performs the song after 2 hours on stage.

“To perform that song the way it's supposed to be performed, you have to be at peak blood level,” said Neil. “Everything has to be up, the machine has to be stoked. To do that, I had to ignore Saturday Night Live completely. I had to pretend I wasn't there.”

A half-hour before going on, Neil worked out with his trainer, lifting weights and doing calisthenics to get himself wired.

And it shows……..

Rockin'Neil Young - Rockin' In the Free World - Freedom

Neil Young – Rockin' In The Free World
Saturday Night Live – September 30, 1989