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Album: Rust Never SleepsReleased: 1978
There's no small controversy over the meaning of this song. Some think it is set during the Civil War, with the attackers being Union soldiers. Others say that the "White Boat" is actually a Coast Guard Cutter, and the family being attacked are involved in drug running or operating an illegal distillation business. (thanks, David - Lilburn, GA)
Young offered this to Lynyrd Skynyrd, but 3 members of the band died in a plane crash before they could record it.
Young recorded this with Crazy Horse. It was the first time since 1975 that he had recorded with the band.
This starts the electric side of Rust Never Sleeps. The first side of the album (or first 5 songs on the CD), are acoustic.
Powderfinger are an Australian rock band, originally from the city of Brisbane in the state of Queensland. They started out playing music from other bands like The Doors and Led Zeppelin. They also played Neil Young songs, and got their name from this song. Double Allergic (1996) was their breakthrough album in Australia, particularly because of the singles "Pick You Up" and "D.A.F" (which was named because of the first 3 guitar chords of the song).
When they were dating, Australian Mary Donaldson gave Prince Frederick of Denmark some of Powderfinger's music because it was her favourite Australian music, and he hadn't heard it before. Now they are married, and she is Australia's first princess. (thanks, Eliza - Sydney, Australia, for above 2)
The song's title is directly referenced in the line "Shelter me from the powder and the finger." This can be read as a critique of the prevalence of violence in American society.