A long interview with Neil Young guitarist Poncho Sampedro

"Most people turn a corner, Neil ricochets," says the Crazy Horse guitarist

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The Horse are so central though.
He’s said a lot of things to us in the last couple of years to us, Billie, Ralph and I, made us really feel special and he always wants to play with us and this is what he really loves and this is where he gets to be the freest and all those kind of things. I feel good about that and I’m glad he took the time to say that to us. I would just like to take the time to tell everybody, Wow, I can’t believe I started off playing guitar when I was a little kid just wanting to hear one of the songs by our band on the radio, here I am so many years later and all you people supported us all the time, and I don’t know how to express it really, but that I love you guys, it’s really cool.

Favourite show for this tour?
The one we played in Cork, in Ireland. The audience was so vocal. They were singing over us. “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” was amazing. I couldn’t believe it, it’s like we could have stopped playing. It was overwhelming. I’ll never forget it. The whole room was swinging big time with it. It was just amazing, it really was. Other times, I think some other favourite shows would be when we toured South America and we played Argentina. When we played “… Hurricane”, the whole crowd started chanting like a soccer chant over and over, I looked over at Neil and he threw his head back and his eyes went up in the air and he started thinking, it was almost like he was going to have an epileptic attack, he was just gone. It was amazing. An experience that doesn’t happen very often.

Neil’s sense of his own mortality?
I tell you this much. Here’s the difference between Neil and I. Neil is ready to live until he’s 100 and something years old, and I think I’m going to die when I’m 73. I’m happy with it. I’ve abused myself so bad, I know I’m not going to live that long. It’s cool, I’ve lived a great life. It makes him shiver. He’s like, “No, man. Just take care of yourself. Be healthy, work out. You can live a long time.” He refuses to accept it, whereas I just accept that that’s what’s going to happen. I can’t do all the shit I did and expect it not to happen!


None of you were angels, really.
No, but I think I was a little worse that the other guys.

Retire. Yeah, yeah. I’ve worked hard all my life. 18 and a half years on the Tonight Show. That’s every day there’s a live show every day. And when people are home at Thanksgiving and Christmas and they’d turn on the Tonight Show, I was there, I wasn’t on vacation. I’m really enjoying this time off in Hawaii and I’m enjoying gardening and working with different farmers here and I love going swimming here and snorkelling and kayaking and checking out the whales and the dolphins. I have a long list of things to do, it seems like I never catch up. So in one way I’ve retired from a certain world, but I haven’t stopped working a day. And it’s beautiful here every day, if you can handle the heat, which I enjoy.

But you’d be ready to go back out with the Horse, if the call comes?
I have a guitar sitting here, just to let you know I’m ready! I’m sitting here in my living room, surrounded by guitars. I play all the time. How many have I got? Within eye sight, I have two acoustics, a ukulele and an acoustic bass. Every Tuesday night, a guy comes by, a friend of mine and we play really hard for five or six hours. I still play, I love to play. When I say I’m retired, I just mean than going on the road, that’s fun for a short period, but I’m not planning on getting another day job for the rest of my life and working for somebody else. I’m just going to sit around here, doing what I do and enjoying myself as much as possible.

Do you have any plans to see see Neil?
We still exchange emails, talk a little bit. He says something about he might be over here at the beginning of the year, just a couple of months away. I didn’t go to the Bridge School. It’s a long trip just to go there and hang out. but if he hits the area, I’m sure we’ll hang out and see each other. Hopefully, we don’t have to see each other for any other weird reason. We could do a show tonight.


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