Why is Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s Rust Never Sleeps on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
Hey hey, my my. Rock and roll can never die.
Some stats & info about Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Album Rock, Singer Songwriter
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #296
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was Rust Never Sleeps released? 1979
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #644 out of 1,000
Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s Rust Never Sleeps on YouTube
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s Rust Never Sleeps mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
“My, My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” is one of my all time favorite Neil Young songs. I kind of bucket it with the fabulous “Rockin’ in the Free World,” which came out 10 years later on Freedom in 1989.
Interestingly, “My, My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” is the far more optimistic of the two songs lyrically, though musically it’s slower and more contemplative. Whereas “Rockin’ in the Free World,” like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” has a big, catchy, singalong chorus, is really about the plight of those left behind by the economy, the government, or society at large.
Here’s a pretty fascinating sidenote that connects one of the most famous lines that Young has ever written, from “My, My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue,” with Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.
Kurt Cobain’s suicide note contained a line from this song: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” That line has become one of the most famous song lyrics of all time. When Young was asked by Time magazine in 2005 about the line and Cobain’s death, he said: “The fact that he left the lyrics to my song right there with him when he killed himself left a profound feeling on me, but I don’t think he was saying I have to kill myself because I don’t want to fade away. I don’t think he was interpreting the song in a negative way. It’s a song about artistic survival, and I think he had a problem with the fact that he thought he was selling out, and he didn’t know how to stop it. He was forced to do tours when he didn’t want to, forced into all kinds of stuff. I was trying to get a hold of him – because I had heard some of the things he was doing to himself – just to tell him it’s OK not to tour, it’s OK not to do these things, just take control of your life and make your music. Or, hey, don’t make music. But as soon as you feel like you’re out there pretending, you’re f–cked. I think he knew that instinctively, but he was young and he didn’t have a lot of self-control. And who knows what other personal things in his life were having a negative impression on him at the time?”
Crazy Horse sets the perfect mood to capture Young at his best throughout Rust Never Sleeps, and I’m especially reminded of this on “Powderfinger,” a mid-tempo rocker that allows Young to do his thing effectively. This song also makes me think about how Rust Never Sleeps was released in 1979 but really doesn’t sound like a “late ‘70s” record at all. It sounds timeless on the whole, really.
“Thrasher,” belying its song title, is a gentle, pretty number. I don’t think Neil Young’s voice has ever sounded better than on this album.