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Music / Rust Never Sleeps

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Rust Never Sleeps, released in 1979, is the second live album by Neil Young, and could also be called his tenth studio album. That is, it was mostly recorded live and complemented with studio overdubs, and it introduced a set of new songs in the way a studio album traditionally does. Young had been working on these songs for years, but in final form, some of them are influenced by Punk Rock. Featuring Crazy Horse, Young’s band of True Companions, Rust Never Sleeps has consistently been ranked as one of Young’s best albums and one of the best of The '70s. The album was listed at nr. #351 in Rolling Stone's Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.


Track Listing

Side One

  1. "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" (Young, Jeff Blackburn) – 3:45
  2. "Thrasher" – 5:38
  3. "Ride My Llama" – 2:29
  4. "Pocahontas" – 3:22
  5. "Sail Away" – 3:46

Side Two

  1. "Powderfinger" – 5:30
  2. "Welfare Mothers" – 3:48
  3. "Sedan Delivery" – 4:40
  4. "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" (Young, Blackburn) – 5:18

It's better to trope out than to fade away:

  • Album Title Drop: "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)":
    It's better to burn out, 'cause rust never sleeps
  • Apocalyptic Log: "Powderfinger" ends with the death of the young narrator figure
  • Book-Ends: Like many of Young's albums, it opens and closes with the same song. As with Freedom, the opening and closing renditions are acoustic and electric, respectively.
  • Braids, Beads and Buckskins: "Pocahontas", about the Indian chieftain's daughter.
  • Car Song: "Sedan Delivery" is about a car.
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  • Courier: "Sedan Delivery" again. From the reference to "chemicals and sacred roots", it sounds like he's in the drug trade.
  • Darker and Edgier: The album was written in response to both the death of Elvis and the simultaneous rise of punk rock, in particular the Sex Pistols.
  • Death Song and Posthumous Narration: "Powderfinger"
  • Distinct Double Album: It's always been a single disc, but the acoustic and electric sides give this impression.
  • Has a Type: "Welfare Mothers" make better lovers.
  • Live Album: Mostly recorded live at the Boarding House nightclub in San Francisco, with studio overdubs done later. You can only hear audience sounds on a couple of tracks.
  • One-Word Title: "Thrasher", "Powderfinger"
  • One-Woman Song: "Pocahontas"
  • The Power of Rock:
    Hey hey, my my, rock and roll can never die.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Thrasher" is an allegorical take on Young's breakup from Crosby, Stills and Nash.
  • Refrain from Assuming: The song is not called "Hey Hey, My My Rock 'n' Roll Will Never Die", but "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)".
  • Shout-Out:
    • "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)":
    The King is gone, but he's not forgotten
    This is the story of Johnny Rotten.
    • "Pocahontas" makes mention of Marlon Brando, who had turned down his Oscar for The Godfather to protest mistreatment of Native Americans.
    • The song "Hope I Grow Old Before I Die" by They Might Be Giants from their album They Might Be Giants (1986) is a shout-out to "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)".
    • A macabre shout-out was made by Kurt Cobain in his suicide note, where he quoted the line "it's better to burn out than to fade away" from "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)". Young later dedicated his 1994 album, Sleeps with Angels, to Cobain.
    • The Australian rock band Powderfinger named themselves after the song from this album.