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Shelter me from the powder and the finger

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

It's been a while since I had a good block of time to hit the studio. So, to get back in the recording groove and to relearn my Logic Pro chops, I decided to record a few cover songs.

My old band, The Skyōtes, performed Neil Young's song Powderfinger almost every night. When I saw Neil with Promise Of The Real a few years ago at Telluride, Colorado, this song was one of the night's most powerful. I love the crashing power chords, the classic Neil Young guitar solos, and the double guitar riff that ends every verse. The song was first recorded in 1976. Its most recognized version is probably with Neil's band Crazy Horse on the 1978 Rust Never Sleeps live album.

The song's story always spoke to me as an anti-war cautionary tale. A naive young man is confronted with a violent situation, possibly during the Civil War. He gets killed (probably) in what is really a senseless act of violence. But his upbringing or culture would only allow him to react in one way - he didn’t really have a choice.

I had Powderfinger in mind when I wrote Deepening Of The Stillness, beautifully covered by James Lee Baker on his Impressions album. In it, a young man lies on a field of battle moments before he dies. Memories flood his lingering consciousness, appearing to him in the present. And like Neil Young's character, his last thought is of his beloved..."Do I show you how much I love you?/Do I tell you the words written in my heart?"

Powderfinger written by Neil Young

Performed and recorded by Rick Todd

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