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Rust Never Sleeps

By: Neil Young

My my, hey hey

Rock and roll is here to stay It's better to burn out

Than to fade away My my, hey hey.

Out of the blue and into the black

They give you this, but you pay for that

And once you're gone, you can never come back

When you're out of the blue and into the black.

The king is gone but he's not forgotten

This is the story of a Johnny Rotten

It's better to burn out than it is to rust

The king is gone but he's not forgotten.

Hey hey, my my

Rock and roll can never die

There's more to the picture

Than meets the eye. Hey hey, my my.

Rust Never Sleeps has "statement" written all over it; it's split into two halves, one the solo acoustic music that his audience craved, the other the electric rock 'n' roll he loved to play, and it's framed by two versions of the same song. But rarely has so quirky and personal a statement connected so strongly with the mainstream. Both of the record's sides were recorded live (save "Sail Away," a sweet country-ish trifle which wouldn't have sounded out of place on Comes A Time) and polished in the studio with the addition of overdubbed vocal harmonies, extra guitar noise and, on two songs, out-of time handclaps. (reference)

On the record's first half Young reflects on promises; his generation's failed utopian promises, the betrayed promises the white man made to the Indians, and the eternal promise of love. The flip side shreds those promises with four heavy rockers. "Powderfinger" paints a scenario of youth cut violently short, while "Welfare Mothers" and "Sedan Delivery" blend prescient visions of economic desperation with ribald humor. The album ends in a furious orgy of bludgeoning guitar distortion and words as distrustful as anything the punks could muster. Guess he dodged that bullet!