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(Credit: vivahate / angelo)


Watch Bob Mould and Peter Buck cover Neil Young in 1990


The effect that Neil Young had on subsequent generations of musicians is staggering. The man who could land number one hits with gentle folk ballads like ‘Heart of Gold’ was also putting out sprawling epics like ‘Cortez the Killer’ and scuzzy rock tunes like ‘Powderfinger’ without ever compromising his sound or style. His singular guitar playing made him the ‘Godfather of Grunge’, but his iconoclastic attitude is what keeps him relevant even today.

Going against the grain became a necessary modus operandi for any and all players who cited Young as an influence. That nonconformist spirit had wide-ranging effects, specifically on the emerging punk scene of the 1970s and the eventual evolution into the alternative rock scene in the 1980s. The seeds that Young planted eventually germinated into some of the most successful and influential bands of all time, and his legacy could be felt both across the US and around the world.

Just look at two of his immediate disciples: there is Minnesota’s Hüsker Dü, who took Young’s penchant for distortion and combined it with his unmatched love of melody to create something more tuneful and impactful than any other punk or hardcore band could. But there’s also Georgia’s R.E.M., who picked up the folky side of Young’s repertoire but played close attention to his versatility, eventually incorporating the same amount of variety to keep their own audience guessing.

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Young disciples come in all shapes and sizes, but they don’t get any bigger or badder than Bob Mould and Peter Buck, the respective guitar players for Hüsker Dü and R.E.M. The two groups crossed paths quite a bit in the ’80s, with Mould explaining that their shared drive made the two seemingly-incongruous acts kindred spirits. “We were starting making inroads in the southeast,” Mould recalls in podcast You Remember. “We were friends with R.E.M., so we were playing a lot in Athens and hanging out down there. I would go down there for a week at a time and stay with [Michael] Stipe until he got sick of me and then I’d go stay with Peter. We were all doing this thing: we were all sharing connections and contacts”.

The friendship lasted beyond Hüsker Dü’s eventual breakup in 1987, by which point both bands had signed major record deals and moved into a higher level of notoriety. When Mould embarked on the first era of his solo career, before he formed the band Sugar in 1992, he would often trot out cover songs to keep shows loose and fun. When Mould appeared at the Georgia Theater in Athens on July 25th, 1990, he brought out an old friend and hometown hero for one of those covers.

Somewhat uncharacteristically wielding a Fender Stratocaster – an instrument which was probably Mould’s, considering Mould had just transitioned to using Strats full time and Buck was almost never seen with them – Buck joins in on the fuzzy riffage of Neil Young’s classic ‘Cinnamon Girl’. Clearly, these two have been listening to the song for years, as both know the intricate changes and nuances of the track like they had both been in Crazy Horse. Mould rips out the one-note solo while Buck keeps blasting out those drop-D chords, and together they make a hell of a noise.

Check out the cover of ‘Cinnamon Girl’, plus Mould’s subsequent cover of Cheap Trick’s ‘Surrender’, down below.