Rust Never Sleeps

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Rust Never Sleeps
Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps.jpg
Live album with studio recordings by
ReleasedJune 22, 1979 (1979-06-22)[1]
VenueThe Boarding House, San Francisco,
Indigo Ranch, Malibu,
Triad Studios, Ft. Lauderdale,
Woodland Studios, Nashville,
McNichols Arena, Denver,
St. Paul Civic Center,
Cow Palace, San Francisco
ProducerNeil Young, David Briggs, Tim Mulligan
Neil Young chronology
Comes a Time
Rust Never Sleeps
Live Rust
Crazy Horse chronology
Crazy Moon
Rust Never Sleeps
Live Rust

Rust Never Sleeps is the seventh album by Canadian American singer-songwriter Neil Young and American band Crazy Horse. It was released on June 22, 1979, by Reprise Records and features both studio and live tracks.[5] Most of the album was recorded live, then overdubbed in the studio, while others originated in the studio. Young used the phrase "rust never sleeps" as a concept for his tour with Crazy Horse to avoid artistic complacency and try more progressive, theatrical approaches to performing live.[6]

The album peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 album chart and spawned the hit single "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" that peaked at No. 79 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.[7] It also included one of Young's most popular and critically acclaimed songs, the enigmatic "Powderfinger".[8][9] The album, along with Young's 1990 release Ragged Glory, has widely been considered a precursor of grunge music with the bands Nirvana and Pearl Jam having cited Young's heavily distorted and abrasive guitar style on the B side to this album as an inspiration.[10]

Background and recording[edit]

The album was recorded in 1978 during the lengthy "Rust Never Sleeps" tour, in which Young played a wealth of new material. The concert tour was divided into a solo acoustic set and an electric set with Crazy Horse. Two new songs, the acoustic "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)" and electric "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" were the centerpiece of the new material.

The acoustic portions of the album including, "My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)", "Thrasher" and "Ride My Llama" were recorded live in San Francisco at the Boarding House between May 24 and May 28, 1978. Two songs from the album were not recorded live: "Sail Away" was recorded without Crazy Horse during or after the Comes a Time recording sessions,[11] and "Pocahontas" had been recorded solo in 1976[11] (original recording without overdubs was released in 2017 on archival release Hitchhiker).

The B side opens with "Powderfinger," whose enigmatic and evocative lyrics about a family's confrontation with authorities have never fully been explained by Young, and ends with the anthemic "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" with the defiant lyrics, "Rock and Roll can never die." After his final performance at the Boarding House on May 28, Young collaborated with the art punk band Devo on a cacophonous version of "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" at the Different Fur studio in San Francisco.[12] During the Different Fur studio session, Devo vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh added the lyrics "Rust never sleeps", a slogan he remembered from his graphic arts career promoting the automobile rust proofing product Rust-Oleum.[13]

Young adopted Mothersbaugh's lyrics and created a new version of the song with Crazy Horse. He also adopted Mothersbaugh's lyrics for the title of his album as a metaphor about the hazards of complacency on his music career and the need to keep moving forward.[13] The lyrics, "It's better to burn out than fade away", were widely quoted by his peers and by critics.[12][14] In a 1980 interview with David Sheff from Playboy magazine, John Lennon was dismissive of the lyric and the song's reference to Johnny Rotten for what he interpreted as worship for the dead saying, "No, thank you. I’ll take the living and the healthy."[15][16] In 1994, Kurt Cobain quoted the lyric in his suicide note.[17]

The electric sets were recorded during the Neil Young/Crazy Horse tour in late 1978, with overdubs added later.[18] Audience noise is removed as much as possible, although it is clearly audible at certain points, most noticeably on the opening and closing songs. The 1978 tour featured an abrasive style of guitar playing influenced by the punk rock zeitgeist of the late 1970s that Young saw as a wake up call for a rock music world which, in his opinion had become predictable and overdone.[19] The electric sets provided a reenergized response to the punk rock revolution and, were in stark contrast from Young's previous, folk-inspired album Comes a Time.[20][21]

Critical reception[edit]

Retrospective professional reviews
Review scores
Chicago Tribune[23]
Christgau's Record GuideA+[24]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music[25]
The Great Rock Discography9/10[25]
Music Story[25]
MusicHound Rock4.5/5[25]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[26]
Spin Alternative Record Guide10/10[25]

Reviewing for The Village Voice in 1979, Robert Christgau called Rust Never Sleeps Young's best album yet and said although his melodies are unsurprisingly simple and original, his lyrics are surprisingly and offhandedly complex. "He's wiser but not wearier", Christgau wrote, "victor so far over the slow burnout his title warns of".[28] Paul Nelson, writing in Rolling Stone magazine, found its first side virtuosic because of how Young transcends the songs' acoustic settings with his commanding performance and was impressed by its themes of personal escape and exhaustion, the role of rock music, and American violence: "Rust Never Sleeps tells me more about my life, my country and rock & roll than any music I've heard in years."[29]

Rust Never Sleeps was voted the second best album of 1979 in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll.[30] Christgau, the poll's creator, ranked it second on his own list for the poll, as did fellow critic Greil Marcus.[31] The album also won Rolling Stone magazine's 1979 critics poll for Album of the Year.[32] In a decade-end list for The Village Voice, Christgau named it the ninth best album of the 1970s.[33]

In 2000, Rust Never Sleeps was voted number 240 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums book.[34] In 2003, it was ranked number 350 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[35] Rolling Stone re-ranked the album at 351 in the list's 2012 edition, and later at number 296 in the 2020 edition.[36][37] In a retrospective review, Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said that the acoustic and electric sides were both astounding.[23] AllMusic's William Ruhlmann viewed that Young reinvigorated himself artistically by being imaginative and bold, and in the process created an exemplary album that "encapsulated his many styles on a single disc with great songs — in particular the remarkable 'Powderfinger' — unlike any he had written before."[22] Rob Sheffield, writing in The Rolling Stone Album Guide (2004), felt that "Powderfinger", "Pocahontas", "Thrasher", and "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" were among Young's greatest songs.[26]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Neil Young except where noted.[38]

Side one
1."My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)"Neil Young, Jeff Blackburn3:45
2."Thrasher" 5:38
3."Ride My Llama" 2:29
4."Pocahontas" 3:22
5."Sail Away" 3:46
Side two
7."Welfare Mothers"3:48
8."Sedan Delivery"4:40
9."Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)"5:18


with (on "Sail Away")
Crazy Horse (on side two)


Chart performance for Rust Never Sleeps
Chart (1979-1980) Peak


Australia (Kent Music Report)[39] 8
US Billboard Top LPs & Tape[40] 8
UK Album Charts[41] 13
Canadian RPM 100 Albums[42] 28
Dutch Album Charts[43] 19
German Album Charts[44] 59
Finnish Album Charts[45] 9
New Zealand Album Charts[46] 7
US Cash Box Top 100 Albums[47] 9
US Record World Album Chart[48] 13


Year Single Chart Position
1979 "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)" Billboard Pop Singles[49] 79
US Cashbox Singles[50] 94
US Record World Singles[51] 72

Year End Chart

Year Chart Position
1980 Billboard Year End Chart[52] 78
1979 Cashbox Year End Chart[53] 43


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[54] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[55] Silver 60,000^
United States (RIAA)[56] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Concert film of the same name[edit]

A film of the same name was released on 15 August 1979 in the US, featuring the October 22, 1978 concert performance at the Cow Palace.

Track listing:

  1. Sugar Mountain
  2. I Am A Child
  3. Comes A Time
  4. After The Gold Rush
  5. Thrasher
  6. My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)
  7. When You Dance I Can Really Love
  8. The Loner
  9. Welfare Mothers
  10. The Needle And The Damage Done
  11. Lotta Love
  12. Sedan Delivery
  13. Powderfinger
  14. Cortez The Killer
  15. Cinnamon Girl
  16. Like A Hurricane
  17. Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)
  18. Tonight's The Night [not present in the theatrical release, only in Video/DVD releases]


  1. ^ "Neil Young Archives". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Crazy Horse - Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  3. ^ Schinder, Scott; Schwartz, Andy, eds. (2007). Icons of Rock: An Encyclopedia of the Legends Who Changed Music Forever. ABC-CLIO. p. 460. ISBN 978-0-313-33845-8. Retrieved November 27, 2013. ...Rust Never Sleeps mixed acoustic material with squalling, feedback-laden hard rock.
  4. ^ "50 Greatest Grunge Albums". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 14, 2019.
  5. ^ Mendelsohn, Jason (June 14, 2013). "Counterbalance No. 133: Neil Young's 'Rust Never Sleeps'". PopMatters. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  6. ^ Daniel Durchholz, Gary Graff (2012). Neil Young: Long May You Run: The Illustrated History, Updated Edition. Voyageur Press. pp. 112–13. ISBN 978-0-7603-4411-8. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  7. ^ "Billboard 200 December 21, 1979". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  8. ^ "Rolling Stone Readers Poll; The Best Neil Young Songs". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  9. ^ "Neil Young Releases a Never-Before-Heard Version of His 1979 Classic, "Powderfinger"". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  10. ^ "This is why Neil Young is called the 'Godfather of Grunge'". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  11. ^ a b "HyperRust chronology". Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  12. ^ a b McDonough 2002, pp. 531–532.
  13. ^ a b McDonough 2002, pp. 531.
  14. ^ "Neil Young Powderfinger". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  15. ^ "Rust Never Sleeps by Neil Young". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  16. ^ "Neil and The Beatles". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  17. ^ "Kurt Cobain and Neil Young". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  18. ^ McDonough 2002, pp. 538.
  19. ^ McDonough 2002, pp. 522.
  20. ^ McDonough 2002, pp. 529–537.
  21. ^ "Neil Young at the Encyclopedia Britannica". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  22. ^ a b Ruhlmann, William. Rust Never Sleeps at AllMusic. Retrieved 8 May 2005.
  23. ^ a b Kot, Greg (October 21, 1990). "From Rock To Country And Back Again". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  24. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: Y". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 23, 2019 – via
  25. ^ a b c d e "Rust Never Sleeps". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  26. ^ a b "Neil Young: Album Guide". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  27. ^ Garrett Gravley (July 20, 2019). "A New Neil Young & Crazy Horse Awaken on Rust Never Sleeps". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved January 6, 2023.
  28. ^ Christgau, Robert (July 30, 1979). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  29. ^ Nelson, Paul (Oct 18, 1979). "Neil Young Rust Never Sleeps > Album Review". Rolling Stone. No. 302. Archived from the original on 24 August 2007. Retrieved 12 Jan 2007.
  30. ^ "The 1979 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  31. ^ Christgau, Robert (January 28, 1980). "The Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll (Almost) Grows Up". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
  32. ^ "Albums Of The Year And End Of Year Critic Lists". Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  33. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 17, 1979). "Decade Personal Best: '70s". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved June 23, 2013.
  34. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (2000). All Time Top 1000 Albums (3rd ed.). Virgin Books. p. 110. ISBN 0-7535-0493-6.
  35. ^ "Rust Never Sleeps ranked 350". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2011-09-02. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  36. ^ "500 Greatest Albums of All Time Rolling Stone's definitive list of the 500 greatest albums of all time". Rolling Stone. 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2019.
  37. ^ "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2020-09-22. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  38. ^ Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Rust Never Sleeps (Reprise Records, 1979).
  39. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 295. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  40. ^ "Stephen Stills". Billboard. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  41. ^ "STEPHEN STILLS | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  42. ^ Canada, Library and Archives (2013-04-16). "The RPM story". Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  43. ^ "Dutch Albums". Retrieved 2016-07-22.
  44. ^ "Suche - Offizielle Deutsche Charts". Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  45. ^ Sisältää hitin: Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1961.
  46. ^ Hung, Steffen. "The Stills-Young Band - Long May You Run". Retrieved 2020-06-21.
  47. ^ "CASH BOX MAGAZINE: Music and coin machine magazine 1942 to 1996". Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  48. ^ "RECORD WORLD MAGAZINE: 1942 to 1982". Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  49. ^ Comes a Time – Neil Young > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles at AllMusic. Retrieved January 2, 2005.
  50. ^ "CASH BOX MAGAZINE: Music and coin machine magazine 1942 to 1996". Retrieved 2021-04-03.
  51. ^ "RECORD WORLD MAGAZINE: 1942 to 1982". Retrieved 2021-04-03.
  52. ^ "BILLBOARD MAGAZINE: American music magazine 1920's to 2017". Retrieved 2021-01-13.
  53. ^ "Cashbox Year End Chart 1978" (PDF).
  54. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2010 DVDs" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  55. ^ "British album certifications – Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  56. ^ "American album certifications – Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 17 November 2019.


External links[edit]