Neil Young Noel Coppage - Essay

Noel Coppage

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

It's awfully hard to improve on what Steve Simels once said about Neil Young: he may be a bozo, but he's a great bozo. Young has come to mean so much more to many of us than the sum of his talents. Most of the negative stuff said about him is said affectionately…. He's not a great singer or a great guitarist, and he probably isn't even a great songwriter—although he does have a good, strong, healthy, dependable voice as a writer—but there's an extra ingredient that can transcend this technical-prowess stuff, and Young has it. Nobody can quite describe this quality—one can circle around it by saying Young has style and soul, which is true but not the whole truth—but it is easy to recognize. It comes shining through "Live Rust," which has the unpretentious air of a "typical" concert … by a band on the road, an unfussy approach that's hard to get in two-record live albums. It has a sense of proportion, and it works both as a well-balanced album and as a retrospective by one of the few hippie musicians who haven't sold out.

Noel Coppage, "Popular Discs and Tapes: 'Live Rust'" (reprinted by permission of the author), in Stereo Review, Vol. 44, No. 4, April, 1980, p. 107.