Song Analysis – Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black) – Neil Young

Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)

[Hey is a word we use to get attention. Neil Young uses “my. my” and “hey, hey” to support rhymes with “eye” sounds and “ay” sounds. The black can mean death, night or in financial terms, it can be a good thing, synonymous with success.]

My my, hey hey

Rock and roll is here to stay

It’s better to burn out than to fade away

My my, hey hey

[“My,my, hey, hey” is next to meaningless. But it does give Neil Young a ”long ay” sound that he can rhyme with “stay.” When we say something is “here to stay,” we mean it will be around for a long time, maybe forever. Rock and roll has endured for several decades, though changing quite radically in the process.

The line “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” is haunting. It enjoyed and continues to enjoy a life beyond this song. In fact, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana wrote the lyric on his suicide note. The concept is that it’s better to be like a candle that burns brightly for a short time than to be like a star that burns for a long time but with less brightness.]

Out of the blue and into the black

They give you this but you pay for that

And once you’re gone you can never come back

When you’re out of the blue and into the black

[You might come out of nowhere but suddenly you have a lot of money. You become famous and suddenly everyone gives you things for free. But there is a price – loss of privacy and losing touch with reality, COUGH Charlie Sheen COUGH.  When you leave home, you can literally come back, but in another sense you cannot come back because your experiences on the outside make you a different person, so you cannot be the person you were. Also, once you die, you cannot come back, except for the Resurrection, but maybe Young doesn’t believe in that.]

King is gone but he’s not forgotten

Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?

It’s better to burn out than it is to rust

The king is gone but not forgotten

[ Johnny Rotten was the stage name of John Lydon, lead singer of Sex Pistols. This whole song is really about the mythology of rock and roll. Rock and roll is revolutionary. Kids love it but parents don’t understand. Don’t trust anyone over 30. The “King” is Elvis Presley, who died in 1978. But even now, in 2011, Elvis is not forgotten. ]

Hey hey, my my

Rock and roll can never die

There’s more to the picture than meets the eye

Hey hey, my my

[“More than meet the eye- Transformers!” Sorry, I’m an 80’s kid so I had to get that out of my system. There is often more to pictures than we see, especially as relates to popular musicians. They may look happy when they are really dying inside. In a way, this song serves as a warning to would-be rockers. Rockers aren’t what they appear, they pay a price, and they often die young.]

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