Thrasher

Album: Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
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Songfacts®:

  • Throughout the song, references to geological formations and farming are repeated. The song could be interpreted to be about death or the decline of rock 'n' roll, but Neil says, "Thrasher was pretty much me writing about my experiences with Crosby, Stills & Nash in the mid '70s"
  • The great Canyon rescue episode probably refers to an episode of one of the mid '50s Westerns. Neil has said he enjoys sci-fi films and old Westerns.
  • This could reflect Neil's personal philosophy about life and music, and his emphasis on being true to his own heart and soul. In a 2003 Rolling Stone article, Neil said: "That's what I know how to do (make albums) and I do that OK. Sometimes I do it and people really like it. Sometimes I do it and they get pissed off at me (smiles). Whatever." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Amy - Chicago, IL, for all above with help from Thrasher's Wheat website
  • The album was recorded mostly live at San Francisco's Cow Palace, accompanied by Neil's perennial backing band, Crazy Horse. "Rust Never Sleep" references Neil's ongoing attempts at musical self-renewal so as to avoid becoming irrelevant, restless experimentation a hallmark quality of his music that has become almost synonymous with his name over the years.
  • The" dinosaurs" referred to in the song refer CSNY - something long dead and forgotten. More explicitly, the line goes on to state: "So I got bored and left them there, they were just dead weight to me. It's better on the road without that load."

Comments: 18

  • Iggi from Woodstock Georgianever thought of this interpretation-been listening to this album for decades and only just now tried to find out what it was about-i'm bookmarking this site...
  • Shanemac from UtahYoung needed to grow his musicality and he had to separate from CSNY to do so. Lost in crystal canyons could have meant Crosby's drug addiction or it meant that CSN was resting on their fame and newfound wealth. With the farming theme, in order to grow new crops first you need to separate the wheat from the chaff using a thresher. Young felt that CSN was the chaff and thus dead weight to him. Better on the road without that load. But Young added wonderfully to the songs of CSNY.

    After Powderfinger, Thrashed is my favorite song from Rust Never Sleeps. A wonderful album all told.
  • Stone from Biggest LittleNeil looked into the future and wrote this song about two friends I lost on a tour in Kabul. Every part of it matches the mood, time, and eternity found by two brave men lost at the end of paved roads.
  • Patrick Fun Philly from PennaI mostly agree..my thoughts about"crystal canyons" "aimless blade of science slashed the pearly gates" csn mostly crosbys drug use ....could crystal canyons be cocaine. Could science be the introduction to freebasing cocaine?
  • Dennis from Delray Beach FloridaYea this is one of my favorite songs fom a time that I wish that I could return to! I was thinking about the 1970s last night and i remember my friend Scott Hurst had every Neil Young album possible and before he died we were at a carnival in Lampertvill MI. And we were listening to this album and hanging out in my 63 Biscayne over by where the Shriners had a big trailer with beer taps sticking out of the side of it with nobody watching it and we helped ourselves to their beer for two nights before we got caught on the third hich was good I suppose cuz the next day was the first day back to school. That song Sugar mountain makes me think of that episode in my life. Man I wish I could go back and relive those two days and see my friends thathave since died and whom i no longer know!!!
  • Greg from Harrington Park, NjI always thought of the line "As the aimless blade of science slashed the pearly gates." as Lightning flashing from the heavens.... you never know where a bolt is going to strike, thus "aimless blade". Or in a more artistic sense, it could also be interpreted perhaps as technology colliding with religion.... open for interpretation.
  • Greg from Harrington Park, NjMike - in Carmel, CA - I don't think that line references the Brady Bunch -- considering it goes, "Brings back the time when I was 8 or 9. I was watching my mama's TV, it was that Great Grand Canyon Rescue, episode.... Neil was born in 1945 so 8 or 9 would have put him in 1953 or 54 watching this... not likely it was the Brady Bunch since they weren't even a show yet -- not doubting that Great Grand Canyon Rescue was a Brady episode - but it's not likely being referred to by Neil in this song. I think Amy has it right from the Thrasher's Wheat website that it is about an old 50's Western show -
  • Mikko from Townsville, AustraliaI had this song on tape over twenty years ago and it's meaning slowly faded away untill just recently I bought the CD. A gem refound.
  • Dan from Winthrop, MaThe they were just dead weight to me he's talking about CSN
  • Dan from Gaevle, Sweden"Just another line in the field of time...."

    Brilliant.
  • Mike from Carmel, CaI also think this is one of Neil's best -- high praise indeed. Believe it or not, Grand Canyon episode refers to an episode of the Brady Bunch TV series!
  • Davis from Halifax, CanadaVery Dylanesque in that Neil turns some really great phrases. My favourite is "I burned my credit card for fuel and headed out to where the pavement turns to sand". I first got turned onto Neil Young when I was in my early teens and this song has remained as spiritually important to me for over 25 years. When I die, I want this song played at my funeral and the phrase that I previously mentioned engraved onto my stone.
  • Joni from New York, NyI like what he says about the hotels waiting for him with "heated pool and air condition bar". It seems kind of out of place in the verse. Its a long phrase. It makes me laugh to hear it.
  • Steve from Fenton, MoThe song is aptly named as Neil is giving a good thrashing to CS&N.
  • Paul from Sacramento, CaAn amazing and evocative lyrical excercise, very Dylanesque, but with Young's unique signature style. This song (along with "Powderfinger") was an utter breath of fresh air in a musically bleak 1979 - a very unexpected revival of 1960's songwriting in the era of disco and pompous heavy metal supergroups. Such imagry - I have never been able to get the phrase "aimless blade of science" out of my head!
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI just heard this for the first time and I believe it's about Neil Young becoming lost and bored in CSN&Y and nothing left to do there.
  • Gerald Mueller from Woodstock, CanadaMy favourite Neil Young song.I get very melancholy when I hear this song. It reminds me of a Canada of my past, before factory farms,and mass consumerism of block stores and urban sprawl.
  • Daniel from Cape Breton, CanadaThis is the best piece of writing in Music.

    Danielj
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