Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)

Album: Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
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Songfacts®:

  • This is an alternate version of Young's song "My My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue)," which also appears on the Rust Never Sleeps album. The lyrics are slightly different, and "Hey Hey, My My" is electric, while "My My, Hey Hey," is acoustic.
  • Young recorded this with the band Crazy Horse. It was the first time Young recorded with them since Zuma in 1975.
  • In the biography of Neil Young, Shakey by Jimmy McDonough, Neil points out that this song came about when he was jamming with the band Devo. The phrase "rust never sleeps" was uttered by Mark Mothersbaugh, and Neil, loving the impromptu line, acquired it. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chris - Philadelphia, PA
  • The lyrics refer to "The King" and Johnny Rotten as rockers whose legacies live on. The King is Elvis Presley, and Johnny Rotten was the lead singer of The Sex Pistols.
  • In The Complete Guide to the Music of Neil Young, Young explains why the line "rust never sleeps" appealed to him. "It relates to my career; the longer I keep on going the more I have to fight this corrosion. And now that's gotten to be like the World Series for me. The competition's there, whether I will corrode and eventually not be able to move anymore and just repeat myself until further notice or whether I will be able to expand and keep the corrosion down a little."
  • This is the last song on the electric side of Rust Never Sleeps. The first side (first five songs on the CD) are acoustic.
  • The song has become a standby of Young's live performances, being played at nearly every live show throughout his career, often as a closing song.
  • John Lennon expressed his disagreement with the "burn out or fade away" sentiment in a 1980 interview with Playboy: "I hate it. It's better to fade away like an old soldier than to burn out. If he was talking about burning out like Sid Vicious, forget it. I don't appreciate the worship of dead Sid Vicious or of dead James Dean or dead John Wayne. It's the same thing. Making Sid Vicious a hero, Jim Morrison - it's garbage to me. I worship the people who survive." Young responded to the quote, saying that he was describing the paradoxical nature of the rock-and-roll lifestyle, not advocating it.
  • This was included on Live Rust, a concert album and video featuring Young playing against a backdrop of comically enormous amps and microphones.

Comments: 31

  • Kc from Raleigh, NcThis song was in response to a Rolling Stone Article published in 1990 that asked if now that the 80's we're over if Rock was dead. I think we can all agree to Neil's response.
  • Pj from South CarolinaI love Neil Young,/Not worship, just have similar beliefs, and respect for his fighting spirit with many health problems. He feels like an old friend with a heart of gold.
  • Nocturnal101 from Us"Out of the Blue and into the black" people commenting are taking the thoughts meaning way too hard and pulling out more than what it means.
    When your out of the blue into the black is the same as - Taking things too far, and that thin red line that once you cross the line you don't come back from it, its metaphorical for all the singers and musicians that have died, or nearly died or lived tortured lives due to the scene, living the glamour rock(I would say not just confined to rock) style, even Alice Cooper had similar irony in his songs addressing similar issues and Nicky Sixx with Sixx AM addressed the similar ideas in "The Heroine Diaries" Album of his particular hard fall crossing the line Young described with Motley Crue.
  • Jaysin801 from SlcBlack could very much be heroin. Out of the blue into the black. Out of nowhere into heroin. Heroin or death, in some instances they are the same thing. Probably death, but they were all on heroin.
  • Tillaman SparecrowTell me,
    Do you know..?
    The difference between
    A Raven and a Crow...

    though subtle it may be,
    It's less a mystery...
    If you'll listen very close
    Lend an ear to me....

    I'll try to relay,
    What a man, can describe..
    With words you'll understand...
    The meaning of life...

    The black and the blue,
    Which one applies to you,
    The Crux of it you see,
    Is to be or not to be...

    The Raven coloured blue,
    Is a birthday child new,
    dressed in black, the Crow
    A harbinger of souls...

    The living and the lost...
    Exist eternally,
    I say this at a cost...
    There's no difference between...
    Eyes closed or wide open...
    Lucidity and dreams...
    And though they appear to be...
    Identical, believe...
    The circle is unbroken,
    On their burning wings...
    No pale outline of a dove,
    Just silouettes In time, of
    Forms we knew and know....
    The Raven and the Crow...
  • Brian from VegasIs that the Johnny commenting on this song?
  • Matt from SyracuseThis song was written for Dennis Hopper's 1980 movie Out Of The Blue and plays off a teenage girl's confusion over a drunk dad, the death of Elvis, and both the exit of Johnny Rotten and the death of Sid Vicious. Hopper thought this movie would play to punk in the 1980's, not grunge in the 1990's. I thought much of the movie was crap.
  • Daviddevo from EarthI've always imagined 'out of the blue, and into the black' as being a metaphor for death. The spirit of the body rising out of the blue atmosphere of Earth and passing into the blackness of space.
  • Ken from Philadelphia, PaNeil Young has long been called the "Godfather of Grunge" thanks to this song (and, in fact, all of the electric songs on "Rust Never Sleeps"). This was not a media thing. Pearl Jam, for example, freely admitted that Neil was a huge inspiration, and the band performed with him numerous times in the 90s (including a rollicking version of "Rockin' in the Free World" that they played together on the MTV Music Awards in the early 90s). Eddie Vedder even gave Neil's his induction speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when he was inducted.
  • Mac from San Jose, CaI've heard somewhere that the Johnny Rotten bit was actually in reference to Sid Vicious.
  • Kevin from Ottawa, On"Out of the blue and into the black" was a Vietnam War-era phrase that originally referred to jumping out of the daylight into the darkness of a Vietcong tunnel, and was later generalized to refer to various situations, including death.
  • Rob from Cleveland, OhIn Kurt Cobain's suicide letter, he used the lyric "its better to burn out than to fade away."
  • Altur Rang from Voorhees, NjOut of the blue and into the black.

    If the song alludes that the King (ELvis) is gone, with gone meaning dead, then blue would be life, black would be death. This is also supported by "once you're gone, you can't come back." Johnny Rotton still makes music to this day. Elvis can't come back for obvious reasons. The song seems to say all this happens "when you're out of the blue and into the black." Therefore, you can't come back when you're dead or into the black.

    There was a post saying that this lyric was about money. If it were so, then why weren't the lyrics "out of the red and into the black"?

    Or does "out of the blue" meaning somebody who just shows up out of nowhere?
  • David from Huntington Beach, CaGreat song. This song is kind of like an extension of "Cinnamon Girl" musically (which has to be the "first" "grunge" song ever), but with much more meaningful lyrics.
  • Tom from Cracov, MdCan you imagin better song about the rock and the way rock is going to?
  • Topper from Perth, Australiawhat he's implying with his reference to "the king" and "johnny rotten" is that it's better to "burn out" aka Elvis than to "fade away" into obscurity like that talentless tool john lydon aka "johnny rotten"
  • Pat from Albuquerque, NmI'm listening to the live version of this song from Live Rust as I type this. This song is the original "grunge" song--fuzztone, intense emotions, and all of that. Bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Nirvana have said they based their sound on what Neil did in the late 70s. Neil toured with Pearl Jam back in the 90s at one point.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoI think R.E.M. borrowed heavily from this song when they wrote "The One I Love".
  • J from Port Huron, MiNoel Gallagher performed this song at the Oasis concert which was recorded and released as Familiar to Millions, eliminating the verse about the King and Johnny Rotten. It's a great version. For anybody who knows the work of D Richmond, he does a pretty killer version too.
  • Zach from Boston, MaOut of the Blue means out of depression and into the Black means into the void of death (suicide) or out of the blue means out of nowwhere and inot the black still means death, this with the lines once you're gone you can't come back is an ode to the live fats, die young life style of rockers. Punk rock was huge at this time and people like Nei l Young were being considered old music or dinosaurs. He is acknowledging this but at the same time, this song made him popular again. The song inspired many grungr artist such as Kurt Cobain wh oused it in his suicide note.
  • James from Victoria, Canadathe lyric: "It's better to burn out, than to fade away" was found written by Kurt Cobain when he shot himself to death.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaEric and Matthew have it right.
  • Neil from None, CaI prefer the more poetic interpretation of "Out of the blue and into the black". Its what one experiences when one leaves the planet.
    Also, "once you're gone, you can't come back."
    .
    smoke em if you got em
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaDave, out of the blue means coming from nowhere, like Elvis did. Into the Black means getting a lot of money, because in the old days (I'm 13) they wrote income on black ink and lost money in red.
  • Dave from Richland, CanadaAny ideas as to what "Out of the blue, and into the black" means?
  • Eric from Audubon, PaI believe Neil was one of the few rock stars who was ready for the changes to come in pop music. When he sang "rock'n'roll will never die" he was aware that the spirit of the music is ever-present, whether in punk, blues, hip-hop, etc.
  • Stian from Norway, Norwayits also a acoustic version of hey hey my my
  • Rich from Winchester, EnglandActually in this electric version Young changes the lyric at the end to "IS this the story of Johnny Rotten?" - leaving it to the listener to decide. The song is really about rock being more than any one individual - the essence will live on beyond the King (Elvis) or Rotten. Jeff Blackburn deserves at least partial credit for writing this song.
  • Daniel from Cape Breton, CanadaIf you own the album you will see in the liner notes that it is "DEDICATED" him.
  • Matthew from New York, NyIn 1977, Elvis, The King of Rock 'n' Roll, died. At the same time, Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols broke out. What Young is saying is the King (Elvis) is gone, but his spirit, or the spirit of rebellion in rock, lives on in Johnny Rotten and punk rock.
  • Neil from San Diego, CaAre you sure the whole song is about Johnny Rotten? I always thought that his name was mentioned mainly because it rhymed with "forgotten."
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