Friday, November 12, 2010

Neil Young and Devo

For Neil Young's 60-thousandth birthday, I think it's time to finally address the little-known Neil / Devo connection - in particular how Neil Young lifted the phrase: "Rust Never Sleeps" from Devo.

Some general background:

“It Takes A Worried Man” (available on the Pioneers Who Got Scalped anthology)

In 1982, Neil Young had the crazy-ass notion to co-direct an apocalyptic comedy film with the actor Dean Stockwell, called Human Highway. He cast Devo as nuclear garbagemen. In the film, they sing an upbeat, poppy version of the folk-festival classic “Worried Man Blues” (here slightly retitled) while they cart around barrels of nuclear waste. (The band has also been known to perform the song when they pretended to be Dove – a Christian, leisure suit-wearing opening act for many ‘80s-era Devo shows. Here’s a video of Dove in action.) The movie made it to VHS, but then faded into obscurity. Inspired somewhat by Devo, Neil Young released the synthesizer-driven album Trans… and eventually got sued for it. Apparently, everyone doesn’t appreciate devolved music.
Then we pick up the weirdness here, in special screen-shot form:

1 comment:

Simo said...

This ones' been a long time coming TB! Nice work..
Its a fascinating match-up. Three questions:
1. Where can I get a copy of Human Highway?
2. Who was it that sued Neil for Trans and for what? Is wasn't Devo right? Was this the infamous "you don't sound like Neil Young and its intentional" lawsuit?

3. is there a recording somewhere of the Devo/NY track? Do you have it?