The full transcript from Uncut's neil Young Archives cover story

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In last March issue Uncut , we brought you the inside story on Neil Young’s long-awaited Archives project. We spoke to his friends, colleagues and conspirators and, over the next few weeks on uncut.co.uk, we’ll be printing the complete transcripts of these interviews.

Previous installments are available by using the links in the side panel on the right.

GEORGE GRANTHAM

Drummer on Neil Young. Also a member of Poco

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UNCUT: When did you first meet Neil?

GRAHAM: Well, I did Neil’s first solo album with Jimmy Messina. Jimmy was a lead guitar player, and a great bass-player. He played bass in Buffalo Springfield before they split up. That was the first time we really got to talk – just about the songs. Neil was hard to get to know. I enjoyed his music a lot. He communicated. But mostly, we recorded.

I know Neil had issues over control in Buffalo Springfield…

They all had issues!

But was he very much in control of this solo album?

Yes he was. He played everything except bass and drums. The most we ever had was three of us in the studio. He’d give us a tape of the songs, to just practise with. He didn’t talk about what he wanted. The songs spoke for themselves. It was just work, pretty much. Jimmy and I just laid down the bass and drum tracks. It took us a couple of weeks, probably. The production changed a lot of things. Some of it I liked, some of it I didn’t. But it was Neil’s record, to do what he wanted. I just played. If he liked it, he said, “Fine”. If he didn’t, we’d do something different. Anyone would have done what Neil said, not just session men. I didn’t see much of Neil after that. He went on his own way. I think he was more a loner than anything. He was used to being by himself.

Did he seem very intense in the studio? Driven to get this thing done, now he finally had the freedom to make his own thing?

Yes. Yes he did. “The Loner” I definitely remember making. That was the single. It was pretty quick. One of the first few takes. And it sounded like a single. Everyone was very pleased with it. “The Loner” sticks out more than anything. It sounded a lot like Neil from the Buffalo Springfield.

Did you get to see much of him back at his home, in Topanga Canyon?

Not much. In fact, I think the way he picked Jimmy and I was he came to a rehearsal Richie Furay was having at his house. We were in Richie’s band, Poco. He just asked if he could use us to play on this album. And we said, “Yes, sir…” It was more of a friendship thing than it was anything else. Only way I knew Neil was, I followed the Buffalo Springfield. And when they started breaking up is when Poco started getting together. So as we were rehearsing, we’d see Neil every now and again, up in Topanga Canyon. I guess he just didn’t have anybody else in mind.

INTERVIEW BY NICK HASTED