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Death, travel and Pocahontas. The imagery on Neil Young's album Rust never sleeps
The following essay, “Death, Travel and Pocahontas,” seeks to interpret the imagery on Neil Young’s album Rust Never Sleeps. The album was released in July 1979 and with it Young was venturing into a dialogue of folk music and rock music. On side one of the album the sound is acoustic and simple, reminiscent of the folk genre whereas on side two Young is accompanied by his band, The Crazy Horse, and the sound is electric, reminiscent of the rock genre. By doing this, Young is establishing the music and questions of genre and the interconnectivity between folk music and rock music as one of the theme’s of the album.
Young explores these ideas even further in the imagery of the lyrics on the album by using popular culture icons. The title of the album alone symbolizes the idea of both death and mortality, declaring that originality is transitory. Furthermore he uses recurring images, such as death, to portray his criticism on the music business and lack of originality in contemporary musicians. Ideas of artistic freedom are portrayed through images such as nature and travel using both ships and road to symbolize the importance of re-invention.
In conclusion, this essay portrays how Young’s ideas are echoed throughout the album both through the use of imagery and by the use of two distinctive genres.