“Live Rust” At 40 Remains Free Of Corrosion

Anniversary of Neil Young’s iconic live album occurs just in wake of his 74th birthday

On November 14, 1979, Neil Young and Crazy Horse released Live Rust, which was my introduction to Young. I heard this live album for the first time as a 13 or 14-year-old back in Germany, after my best friend had gotten it as a double LP. With Young’s 74th birthday (November 12) and the 40th anniversary of Live Rust being just around the corner, I thought this would be a opportune moment to celebrate one of my favorite live albums by one of my longtime favorite music artists.

Before getting to this, I have to give credit where credit is due. This post was inspired by a great “Life Rust” show I saw Friday night at a local Jersey theatre. Decade, a top notch band around Neil Young tribute artist John Hathaway, played the album in its entirety and recreated scences from the companion movie Rust Never Sleeps – it was a pretty cool experience! For more on Decade and their upcoming gigs, you can check out their Facebook page. I also got a sample clip from the above show at the end of the post.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse_Live Rust 2

Live Rust captured footage from various concerts Neil Young and Crazy Horse played in the fall of 1978 during their Rust Never Sleeps tour. Venues included Cow Palace, Daly City, Calif.; Boston Garden, Boston; Civic Center, St. Paul, Minn.; Chicago Stadium, Chicago; and McNichols Arena, Denver. Weirdly, the album features a stage announcement recorded at Woodstock following the start of a rainstorm. Young had performed at the festival as part of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

The companion film Rust Never Sleeps captured the band’s October 22, 1978 concert at Cow Palace. It was released on July 2, 1979 by Young under the pseudonym “Bernard Shakey.” There is also an album with the same title, which appeared ahead of the movie on June 22. While it is based on material recorded at Boarding House in San Francisco, the record is not a true live album, in my opinion. In addition to added overdubs, most audience noise was removed later in the studio. Time for some music from Live Rust!

I’d like to kick it off with Sugar Mountain, which like most tracks on the album was written by Young. He composed the tune on his 19th birthday (November 12, 1964) in a hotel room in Ontario after a gig with The Squires, one of his first bands. The song was initially released in February 1969 as the B-side to Young’s single The Loner.

The acoustic My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) and its grungy counterpart Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) are among the many highlights on Live Rust. Both tunes were co-written by Young and Jeff Blackburn and first appeared on the Rust Never Sleeps album. Here’s the acoustic take.

Moving on to the record’s rock section, Powderfinger is one of my favorite electric songs by Young. Like My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) and Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black), the tune was intially released as part of the Rust Never Sleeps album.

Like a Hurricane is another electric tune by Young I’ve always dug. It was first included on his eighth studio album American Stars ‘n Bars from May 1977.

As noted above, the last clip for this post shall belong to Decade and their rendition of Tonight’s The Night, the final track on Live Rust. Young first recorded the tune as the title song to his sixth studio album. It’s a tribute to first Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and Bruce Berry, a Young roadie. Both died from heroin overdoses.

Neil Young is still highly productive and going strong. My thoughts on his most recent album Colorado are here.

Sources: Wikipedia; Ultimate Classic Rock; YouTube

17 thoughts on ““Live Rust” At 40 Remains Free Of Corrosion”

    1. I can see why Neil Young to some may be more of an acquired taste. His shakey voice and some of his heavy grungy electric tunes probably aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. Sometimes they overwhelm me as well!

      While I would generally describe myself as a Neil Young fan, I mostly dig his late ’60s and ’70s work – pretty much everything that’s on his first compilation album “Decade.” There are monents of brilliance in his post ’70s output, such as the 1992 album”Havest Moon,” though it’s fair to say the results vary.

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      1. Also, dünne, weinerliche, zittrige Stimme …*waaahhh*, was ich da so alles lese, für mich klingt dieser – bitte nur bildlich gesehen! – “grobschlächtige” 😉 Mann nach wie vor wie ein Engel. Und gerade das touched mich …

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      2. Dank fuer den Kommentar, dem ich einhunderdprozent zustimme. Neil Young hat einen speziellen Charme. Er hat meiner Meinung nach viele brilliante Momente, insbesondere in seiner Fruehphase. Allerdings gibt es auch Sachen von ihm, die mir weniger liegen.

        Haeufig gefaellt Young mir am besten solo mit Gitarre und Mundharmonika. Als Hobbygitarrist schaetze ich besonders sein akkustisches Spielen. Wohingegen sein elektisches Gitarrenspiel technisch gesehen relativ ungehobelt ist, wuenschte ich gleichwohl, dass ich sie so spielen koennte.

        Mit E-Gitarre fehlte es mir immer an Fingerfertigkeit, sodass ich nie besonders weit damit gekommen bin.

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  1. I’m not a huge Neil Young fan either, but there are more than a few songs of his that I dig. I listened to this based on your write-up. It sounded good but I found I’ve heard some of these songs SO many times I can’t listen to them anymore, whether live or not. I was expecting it to be more Crazy Horse crunchy than it was.

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  2. I suppose it’s fair to say this album essentially is a greatest hits compilation live. There’s really no deep cut on here.

    I think there’s a good mix of acoustic and electric tracks. The latter include the quite crunchy “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”, but again, it’s not exactly an obscure tune.

    I still enjoy listening to the songs on this album, even though I’ve also done so many times.

    I can’t deny there may also be a sentimentality factor at play. “Live Rust” was my intro to Neil Young when I was a 14-year-old or so. I loved the album from the very beginning, especially the acoustic songs. This all happened not long after I had started taking classical/acoustic guitar lessons.

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  3. Sure, we all have sentimental favorites. I’d probably have been more into this album if I when I first heard it I wasn’t already familiar with the tunes. My relationship with Neil is different than what I have with a lot of other artists. His songs are good but he’s never really blown me away. Songs like “Cinnamon Girl” do nothing for me at all. But then again, when I like something by him I really like it. “Helpless,” “The Loner,” “Needle and the Damage Done,” “Ohio,” early stuff like “Mr. Soul.” “Hey, Hey, My My” is a good one and fun to play on the guitar. But he’s purely a radio guy for me, not somebody I’d go see. I can’t image driving from, say, Jersey to Boston to see him. What kind of a fucking nut would do that? 🙂

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      1. Good thing my favorite Neil Young tribute band is from Jersey and is quite affordable, so I can easily go and see them!😆

        Since Neil Young’s touring is sporadic and unpredictable, plus he’s definitely not getting younger, I figured last year in Boston may well have been my only opportunity to see him, so I’m glad I did.

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      2. Whoops, almost missed that comment – I don’t recall reading about any health issues Neil has. But with artists who were around during a time when drugs were available everywhere, you have to assume they didn’t have a healthy lifestyle. And that might come back to bite them as they age.

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      3. I’ve seen the real thing (back when it was affordable) but not Journeyman. I think I may have mentioned I was considering going to his Crossroads thing in Dallas. But when you added up the ticket, flight, hotel, booze, coke and hookers, man it was just getting too expensive! Interestingly, I could have seen it for 40 bucks on pay-per-view. But it will wind up on one of the cable channels eventually. What can I say? Keep me searching for a heart of gold. And I’m gettin’ old.

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