In Praise of Powderfinger, Neil Young's Best Song

Image result for rust never sleeps
Rust Never Sleeps: Neil Young live. Courtesy Getty Images
"Powderfinger" may be Neil Young's best song. In a few short minutes, Young manages to paint an evocative picture that is cinematic in its scope- place, setting, theme, backstory- it's all there as Young tells the story (in first person) of a young man that encounters war, death, and violence admist the backdrop of a small town life, filled with family tragedy and everyday musings.

"Powderfinger" can be heard in two formats: first, there's the revved up electric version that Young cut with his band Crazy Horse. Of course, Young's got the heart-wrenching acoustic version in his back pocket as well. Both can be heard below.

Most impressive of all is Young's ability to communicate, deeply, the tragedy of an early death on a river town. While the song is filled with specifics, it manages to be general enough- and finds it place in the Vietnam War or perhaps the American Civil War in equal parts. There's really no tellin'. One thing, however, is for sure: Young's aching vocals expertly paired with chord changes, here, convey emotion that is resonates across time, space, and human hearts, rendering "Powderfinger" as one of his best moments.



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