Neil Young performed “Rockin’ in the Free World” on Saturday Night Live 31 years ago today, on September 30th, 1989. In a 1992 interview, Young spoke about why he doesn’t like playing on TV, but admitted to having pulled it off with that particular appearance.
“What I really don’t like about doing TV and why, from the beginning, I hardly ever did any TV, is that you really don’t really have control of what’s going on. I’m a control freak — I freely admit this. When I’m doing my thing, everything has to be the way I want it, or I just don’t go. I try to be as open as I can and if the circumstance isn’t right then I’ll be inhibited and I’ll be distracted and I can’t do my thing. On television, your control is limited. I did Saturday Night Live a couple of years ago and I was successful at doing the show and being a musician and playing music.”