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Neil Young — Powderfinger
Album: Weld (Live)
Avg rating:
7.4

Your rating:
Total ratings: 2217









Released: 1991
Length: 5:37
Plays (last 30 days): 1
Look out Mama, there's a white boat comin' up the river
With a big red beacon, and a flag, and a man on the rail
I think you'd better call John, 'cause it don't look like they're here to deliver the mail
And it's less than a mile away
I hope they didn't come to stay
It's got numbers on the side and a gun and it's makin' big waves

Daddy's gone, my brother's out hunting in the mountains
Big John's been drinking since the river took Emmy-Lou
So the powers that be left me here to do the thinking
And I just turned twenty-two
I was wonderin' what to do
The closer they got, the more those feelings grew

Daddy's rifle in my hand felt reassuring
He told me, red means run son, numbers add up to nothing
But when the first shot hit the dock, I saw it coming
Raised my rifle to my eye
Never stopped to wonder why
Then I saw black and my face splashed in the sky

Shelter me from the powder and the finger
Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
Just think of me as one you'd never figure
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love, I know I'll miss her
Comments (471)add comment
When I hear this song, I always think about Drinking in L.A. buy Bran Van 3000. Big up Neil
 Misterfixit wrote:


Me too, all of the above; and yes, it's about them Blue Coats killing us Southrons 'cause we wanted rState's Rights.  You could take this song and J.J. Cale's "When this war is over" and put them right next to each other.  Perfect sense, to me, anyway.

 
 

Is it really about the civil war? I don't get that, but I'm not American so don't get the references. It would be interesting to know what it's about.

Having said that, I love the song, and it doesn't have to be about anything, just curious.
I guess I'm just not a Neil Young fan. This is nothing special to me.
 ace-marc wrote:
The  live version from Rust Never Sleeps is  better.
So play that one instead!
 

Is it really a 'live version'? I always thought B-side of RNS album was recorded in studio. 
 redart wrote:
Leonard Cohen followed by Neil Young  .   Two of my favourite artists, and both Canadians (which I'm not).  Have said it before and I'll say it again.....for such a small nation, Canada REALLY punches above it's weight musically !
 
Thanks for the compliment. Unfortunately, Celine Dion cancels out so much of the goodness. 
9? Changing to 10. Don't know what I was thinking.
Leonard Cohen followed by Neil Young  .   Two of my favourite artists, and both Canadians (which I'm not).  Have said it before and I'll say it again.....for such a small nation, Canada REALLY punches above it's weight musically !
it creates Imagery 
The  live version from Rust Never Sleeps is  better.
So play that one instead!
I love this one. Some I just can't get into, but when it's a  story I can understand (that is, when I can actually make out the vocals), it's especially enjoyable. Like Alice's Restaurant by Guthrie.
One of his best!
Guitar master. Makes it sound chaotic and beautiful while being totally in control of the instrument, and his vocal delivery.. 
 Typesbad wrote:
I’ve been reading the complaints below about Neil’s singing.  Besides being an old complaint I find it ironic considering the point of view of this particular song.  A scared young man, a kid really, tentatively doing what he thinks he has to do, which quickly turns out very badly.  I think Neil’s voice couldn’t be more perfect for it. 

Some voices are just beautiful; smooth as warm chocolate pudding and they are a thing to behold.  Others impress us with range or skilled technique.  And then there are the voices that simply have a character of their own.  They often have an everyman (or woman) quality that remind us that the emotions expressed therein are felt by and can come from any of us.  I treasure such voices.


 
Despite your name, you type very well.
from a 9 to a 10....everything about this is rockin'   
Neil in Hochform - das ganze Album ist supergeil.
 Grayson wrote:
Two songs remain maddeningly elusive to this day with their "what could they have been thinking on when they wrote that one?" kinda way: This and Nick Lowe's Rose of England. Maybe one or 2 by Elvis Costello, if one sat around wondering about Elvis Costello songs. And yeah, sure, who doesn't every 5-10 years or so. 
 

I assume you're not disparaging either song but maybe you are. I've never known anyone who was even a little familiar with Rose of England so it sort of rattled me to see it referenced here. Maybe Rose is from the POV of a man on the White Boat Comin' up the River.
 Typesbad wrote:
I’ve been reading the complaints below about Neil’s singing.  Besides being an old complaint I find it ironic considering the point of view of this particular song.  A scared young man, a kid really, tentatively doing what he thinks he has to do, which quickly turns out very badly.  I think Neil’s voice couldn’t be more perfect for it. 

Some voices are just beautiful; smooth as warm chocolate pudding and they are a thing to behold.  Others impress us with range or skilled technique.  And then there are the voices that simply have a character of their own.  They often have an everyman (or woman) quality that remind us that the emotions expressed therein are felt by and can come from any of us.  I treasure such voices.


 

I like Neil's singing, and I also like Geddy Lee and Lemmy.    All 3 are great at what they do/did.  All 3, I'm sure, annoy people at times.   
Brilliant song, from a brilliant album.
 kingart wrote:
What’s not to like stunning!
Yessss....  {#High-five}
 

 Typesbad wrote:
I’ve been reading the complaints below about Neil’s singing.  Besides being an old complaint I find it ironic considering the point of view of this particular song.  A scared young man, a kid really, tentatively doing what he thinks he has to do, which quickly turns out very badly.  I think Neil’s voice couldn’t be more perfect for it. 

Some voices are just beautiful; smooth as warm chocolate pudding and they are a thing to behold.  Others impress us with range or skilled technique.  And then there are the voices that simply have a character of their own.  They often have an everyman (or woman) quality that reminds us that the emotions expressed therein are felt by and can come from any of us.  I treasure such voices.


 
You hit the nail on the head as you can see by the numerous replies that agree with you, including me. There is a special impact in hearing an artist sing his own composition, regardless of what you think of his voice ie Dylan, Waites, Cohen etc. Pity those that can't appreciate that.
Two songs remain maddeningly elusive to this day with their "what could they have been thinking on when they wrote that one?" kinda way: This and Nick Lowe's Rose of England. Maybe one or 2 by Elvis Costello, if one sat around wondering about Elvis Costello songs. And yeah, sure, who doesn't every 5-10 years or so. 
 kcar wrote:


It's been 11 years since your post. I'm guessing no one could be bothered. 
 
I've been too busy enjoying this.  
I wonder why people argue over a song,  Music is like a spaghetti sauce , some like it hot , others don't. Some like it meaty and other don't, BUT it all end up being a spaghetti sauce and you don't have to like this particular recipe.   
One of my favorite Neil Young songs.  Thanks for playing.  Love the guitar work
 dogpound wrote:
someone please wake me when old white man hour is over
 

It's been 11 years since your post. I'm guessing no one could be bothered. 
 NickDanger wrote:

Yep.

 
Double Yep
Best NY track I've heard on RP, I'll give it a 3.
 GuiltyFeat wrote:
Does nothing for me. It's not hateful. Just background music.

 
Some artists do that to me, as well. Radiohead did but then BillG's repeated playing of them made me stop and listen - thank goodness. 

With this tune, Neil wrote a story that's so real that it always makes me stop and pay attention. The young man, facing something powerful and unstoppable, and dying young for no good reason. It might not make everyone get all sad, but it does it for me.
Good reviews from Neil's show with the Horse this week in Fresno. 
Not a big NY fan, but I do like this. Maybe it's because the band is so good.
It is just to bad that he is such a hypocrite. I used to listen to him.
 Typesbad wrote:

I’ve been reading the complaints below about Neil’s singing.  Besides being an old complaint I find it ironic considering the point of view of this particular song.  A scared young man, a kid really, tentatively doing what he thinks he has to do, which quickly turns out very badly.  I think Neil’s voice couldn’t be more perfect for it. 

Some voices are just beautiful; smooth as warm chocolate pudding and they are a thing to behold.  Others impress us with range or skilled technique.  And then there are the voices that simply have a character of their own.  They often have an everyman (or woman) quality that remind us that the emotions expressed therein are felt by and can come from any of us.  I treasure such voices.



 
Yessss....  {#High-five}
Neil is a certain brand..not great but not bland...wise @ a younger age & yet better with time.
 GuiltyFeat wrote:
Does nothing for me. It's not hateful. Just background music.

 
How can this ever be background music? Love it or hate it. You can't just ignore it.
 Michael_Dean wrote:
Yep, whatever it is I was doing stops when this song comes on.

 
Yep.
Neil is sooo unique just love his music and his lyrics
Phish did a rendition of this song the other night in MSG as part of their Bakers Dozen 13 days in NYC.  It was good, I will give Phish props as it is tough if not impossible to top Neil. Rust never sleeps!
 
 amoreena wrote:
This song always breaks my heart.......for all the ones that died too young.....

 
Well said.
Yep, whatever it is I was doing stops when this song comes on.
Big, bad, nasty neil. he goes from this to Harvest Moon. Quite the spectrum.
 
Good one!

Thanks for playing. 
 justin4kick wrote:
9th July Neil is going to visit Amsterdam and I'll be there!! This man is my all time hero. I bought Harvest when I was 13 and man what a pleasure has he brought me ever since.

 
Yeah, one of my hero's too.
 amoreena wrote:
This song always breaks my heart.......for all the ones that died too young.....

 
me too. and i love it so much...
and your name, too (great song!)
This song always breaks my heart.......for all the ones that died too young.....
Terrific Neil!
 
What a feeling in this song ! ...Neil Forever...
Does nothing for me. It's not hateful. Just background music.
 Typesbad wrote:

I’ve been reading the complaints below about Neil’s singing.  Besides being an old complaint I find it ironic considering the point of view of this particular song.  A scared young man, a kid really, tentatively doing what he thinks he has to do, which quickly turns out very badly.  I think Neil’s voice couldn’t be more perfect for it. 

Some voices are just beautiful; smooth as warm chocolate pudding and they are a thing to behold.  Others impress us with range or skilled technique.  And then there are the voices that simply have a character of their own.  They often have an everyman (or woman) quality that remind us that the emotions expressed therein are felt by and can come from any of us.  I treasure such voices.



 

{#Clap}
A true masterpiece.  Thanks for the memories, Neil.
 DavidFromHouston wrote:
No. Neil Young. No. 

WAY too overrated. There. I said it. His voice is easily the most whiny voice that has ever sold a decent number of albums. I just don't get it.  

 
Yes. You. Don't.
No. Neil Young. No. 

WAY too overrated. There. I said it. His voice is easily the most whiny voice that has ever sold a decent number of albums. I just don't get it.  
Two Canadian legends (Leonard Cohen previously) in a row, what a treat. Thankfully, Neil is still with us.
Neil Young, the reason the PSD button was invented. Yay ::click::
One of my favorite songs ever!
I love his guitar tone on this album.
Came across this guy (and CSNY) in the early '70s.
40 plus years on I still get that tingle when I listen to him (them) - just how many of those on X Factor etc.etc. wil be around in another 40 years and be able create that feeling! 
9th July Neil is going to visit Amsterdam and I'll be there!! This man is my all time hero. I bought Harvest when I was 13 and man what a pleasure has he brought me ever since.
 GreggH wrote:
PSD  Don't understand Radio Paradise's proclivity for putting wailing dying cat sounds on the internet-waves. Seems like we can count on hearing this guy once an hour or two. Enough to change stations.

 
Some people just don't get it.  We can't help you.  You should just hit  PSD, we don't care.  Neil Rocks......
 
ROCK-N-ROLL.......
 
Brings a tear to my eye every time I hear this song. It's the music, lyrics, voice, story...all of it.
 
 On_The_Beach wrote:

Even though this excellent post was just bumped, I'm gonna bump it again, because it so perfectly articulates my own feeling on the subject. Since when does one have to sound like Josh Groban to be considered a great singer? This is rock & roll, people. It's all about emotion and feel, not who has the prettiest voice. This goes for Dylan, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and all the other greats who are constantly being dumped on here.
Thank you, Typesbad!

 
Here, here!  Throw good ole John Hiatt in there too.
 On_The_Beach wrote:

...

Thank you, Typesbad!

 
Seconded.
 Typesbad wrote:

I’ve been reading the complaints below about Neil’s singing.  Besides being an old complaint I find it ironic considering the point of view of this particular song.  A scared young man, a kid really, tentatively doing what he thinks he has to do, which quickly turns out very badly.  I think Neil’s voice couldn’t be more perfect for it. 

Some voices are just beautiful; smooth as warm chocolate pudding and they are a thing to behold.  Others impress us with range or skilled technique.  And then there are the voices that simply have a character of their own.  They often have an everyman (or woman) quality that remind us that the emotions expressed therein are felt by and can come from any of us.  I treasure such voices.

 
Even though this excellent post was just bumped, I'm gonna bump it again, because it so perfectly articulates my own feeling on the subject. Since when does one have to sound like Josh Groban to be considered a great singer? This is rock & roll, people. It's all about emotion and feel, not who has the prettiest voice. This goes for Dylan, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and all the other greats who are constantly being dumped on here.
Thank you, Typesbad!
 Typesbad wrote:

I’ve been reading the complaints below about Neil’s singing.  Besides being an old complaint I find it ironic considering the point of view of this particular song.  A scared young man, a kid really, tentatively doing what he thinks he has to do, which quickly turns out very badly.  I think Neil’s voice couldn’t be more perfect for it. 

Some voices are just beautiful; smooth as warm chocolate pudding and they are a thing to behold.  Others impress us with range or skilled technique.  And then there are the voices that simply have a character of their own.  They often have an everyman (or woman) quality that remind us that the emotions expressed therein are felt by and can come from any of us.  I treasure such voices.



 {#Good-vibes}


I’ve been reading the complaints below about Neil’s singing.  Besides being an old complaint I find it ironic considering the point of view of this particular song.  A scared young man, a kid really, tentatively doing what he thinks he has to do, which quickly turns out very badly.  I think Neil’s voice couldn’t be more perfect for it. 

Some voices are just beautiful; smooth as warm chocolate pudding and they are a thing to behold.  Others impress us with range or skilled technique.  And then there are the voices that simply have a character of their own.  They often have an everyman (or woman) quality that remind us that the emotions expressed therein are felt by and can come from any of us.  I treasure such voices.


Oregon Stand Off theme song?
 MrRedwood wrote:
Rust Never Sleeps is one of those great albums that simply screams genius.  Godlike.
 

Weld's right up there with it.
Big Johns been drink'n every since the river took Emmy Lou...
Oh yeah! Thanks RP, I needed my Neil Young fix, and this is one of the best! 
Happy 70th Neil..keep on rocking in the free world
Can't live without Neil Young.
good ol' Shakey...
 hempmandan wrote:
Storyteller...
 
 
Rockin' storyteller.  Good stuff!
Storyteller...
 
Maybe the reason Dylan and Young get so much airplay is due to the fact that both of them have huge catalogs of great music, multiple genres from same artist over what 40, 50 years? It's a lot to cover... and real people love them
I can't fairly rate this because anything sounds good after a Leonard Cohen song ! But I do like the energy and the classic rock tone of the  song :){#Cowboy}
 gondi57 wrote:
One of best live albums of our times 
 


What an evocative line:

"Big John's been drinkin since the river took Emmy Lou."

That's some great songwriting, there. No sarcasm.
why in the name of all that's holy had i given this song a 6 last time? it's gone to 8 just for the crazy horse wall of sound... {#Bananajam}
really digging this live version!  Thanks, Bill
 GreggH wrote:
PSD  Don't understand Radio Paradise's proclivity for putting wailing dying cat sounds on the internet-waves. Seems like we can count on hearing this guy once an hour or two. Enough to change stations.

 
Add Santana and Dylan to this well-spake rant and I'm right there with you. As much as I adore RP, and constantly recommend it to friends, I feel I need to apologize each time for the constant Dylan/Young/Santana bent. All wonderful and lovely bands, but none deserving the level of rotation they get here. Over and over, Bill, bravo for a station that challenges and expands its listeners, but really... when have I heard Powderfinger enough? Today.
 
One of best live albums of our times 
Enjoy his Crazy Horse stuff - A LOT
 linny3333 wrote:
Great song....
 

 
Totally agree.  Love me some Neil Young. 
 coloradojohn wrote:
The man does things with a guitar that somehow transcend every layer of interference. The sounds go straight into my soul. REJOICE!

 
Indeed I agree
 
Great song....
 
 coloradojohn wrote:
The man does things with a guitar that somehow transcend every layer of interference. The sounds go straight into my soul. REJOICE!

 

Indeed.
cacophonous joy.
The man does things with a guitar that somehow transcend every layer of interference. The sounds go straight into my soul. REJOICE!
 On_The_Beach wrote:

Neil's songs are consistently highly-rated by RP listeners.
Quit whining like a baby and go find a Top 40 station.
 
Everybody is free to change the station. Bill loves him and a lot of listeners too. So he will going on play neil youngs songs.
God, this is painful.
PSD  Don't understand Radio Paradise's proclivity for putting wailing dying cat sounds on the internet-waves. Seems like we can count on hearing this guy once an hour or two. Enough to change stations.
MarkPeachy and others must want to go back to the "old days" (pre Beatles) when songwriters just wrote songs and the Pretty People (Tab Hunter, Pat Boone, Troy Donahue, etc) sang them....Those "talent" shows are sure trying to push that. How many of those poor yungins succeed? Cheap shows to produce instead of something of quality and remembrance.


Maybe it's because I learned it first, but I like the Margo Timmins version better...
 MrRedwood wrote:
Rust Never Sleeps is one of those great albums that simply screams genius.  Godlike.
 
Yep, it is still one of my fave albums of all time.

So glad I have seen Neil live. Just once, at Glastonbury, and he nailed it. I don't need to see him again, that gig is still with me and hearing this reminds me of that amazing time watching and hearing him perform.
This song is timeless, turn up the volume every time it's on {#Bananajam}
This thing goes from jam to jammer faster than just about anything else, and lays in a hell of a story, too. Seeing them do it live is kickin' ELECTRIC.
 gotallie wrote:
Timing and Tuning rules!
 
Perhaps in your high school music exam but give me emotion and feeling to technical compadrnce any day. I'd also suggest a colosaly successful carreer spanning decades suggest to me that Neil knows a thing or two about singing and playing. 
 jhorton wrote:
One can only wonder why people with NO UNDERSTANDING of rock and roll are listening to Radio Paradise?
Did you get lost on your way to the Justin Bieber channel?
  
{#Lol}



What he said. 
 jhorton wrote:
One can only wonder why people with NO UNDERSTANDING of rock and roll are listening to Radio Paradise?
Did you get lost on your way to the Justin Bieber channel?
 
{#Lol}
 gotallie wrote:
That S*** hurts my ears.  Please stop singing....and learn to play the guitar in tune...  Timing and Tuning rules!

 
One can only wonder why people with NO UNDERSTANDING of rock and roll are listening to Radio Paradise?

Did you get lost on your way to the Justin Bieber channel? 
Rust Never Sleeps is one of those great albums that simply screams genius.  Godlike.
Great Tune! {#Bananajumprope}
 tkosh wrote:

So glad they didn't have modern talent shows back then.
Oh, and please define atrocious.  If that makes you as adored, respected, and recognizable as these guys, I want some of it... 

 
Yes! U tell 'em. We r so lucky we didn't have these 'talent' shows back then!
lmao... this after live Leonard Cohen! PSD is getting a workout today I'm sure!
My favorite rendition of this great song of Neil's.
One of all time fav Neil songs! Just got my band to play it...was a huge success at a NY Day party!

Great tune by a great artist.  Love Neil Young & Crazy House.

 
That S*** hurts my ears.  Please stop singing....and learn to play the guitar in tune...  Timing and Tuning rules!
 oldfart48 wrote:
i'm closer to 70 than most around hear and I love a most of Bill & Rebbcas' new music,  YOU, however have still to learn to wipe......CAUSE YOU SHURE GOT IT ALL OVER YOU with that statement.....





 
Best reply EVER !
At least you can put a scalded cat out of its misery...
Now that's talent, I wish I could sing that way

jazznyc wrote:
This guy sings like a scalded cat.  

 


Thank god for this crazy man and his approach to music. He's one of the best!

And this song should get played more as well as the album "Comes a Time".       
 markpeachey wrote:
Yet another over rated singer from the past. Put him on a modern talent show and he's off the first week. That goes for Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan as well. They may write good songs but their singing is atrocious

 
Which says a hell of a lot about those so-called "talent"-shows.
 markpeachey wrote:
Yet another over rated singer from the past. Put him on a modern talent show and he's off the first week. That goes for Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan as well. They may write good songs but their singing is atrocious

 
So glad they didn't have modern talent shows back then.
Oh, and please define atrocious.  If that makes you as adored, respected, and recognizable as these guys, I want some of it... 
 markpeachey wrote:
Yet another over rated singer from the past. Put him on a modern talent show and he's off the first week. That goes for Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan as well. They may write good songs but their singing is atrocious

  i'm closer to 70 than most around hear and I love a most of Bill & Rebbcas' new music,  YOU, however have still to learn to wipe......CAUSE YOU SHURE GOT IT ALL OVER YOU with that statement.....




if this dweeb could sing as well as he writes, life would sound much better...{#Lol}
Canada's best, I would drink him if I could
 teleskialaska wrote:

Son, you have so much to learn about music.  To even compare Neil or Leonard or Bob to what you are hearing on modern talents shows demonstrates your lack of musical understanding. 

Or to put it another way, WTF are youeven talking about?  Why are listening to RP? 

As far as Powder finger goes, it is a great piece of American music written and sung by a genius.  I actually feel bad for you and your thinking.

 

Amen. The '60s and the '70s called, they want their musical legacy returned by those who stole it but don't appreciate it.