Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rust Never Sleeps (1979)

I've already nominated After the Gold Rush as my sense of the best Neil Young album (with or without Crazy Horse, and of course allowing for the ridiculousness of such judgments) so I can't say that about this one. But even with weak tracks and/or moments here and there among its nine songs ("Welfare Mothers") this is an awfully close second. No other rock artist has come so close to nailing the experience of the U.S. Civil War as Young does here in "Powderfinger" – not bad for a Canadian, not bad for a history lesson. (N.b., so it seems to me. I wasn't there. I can only speak for the amazing power of it, which has repeatedly set me to bawling.) Ditto "Pocahontas" re: that American legend. Elvis Presley and Johnny Rotten also make brief appearances here that ring with veracity and authority. In short, perhaps no one at the time understood better the moment in history in which he existed. And that's just talking about the lyrics. The music? It's Neil Young and Crazy Horse in peak form. What else do you want to know?

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