Young, Neil - Powderfinger Lyrics

Look out, Mama,
there's a white boat
comin' up the river
With a big red beacon,
and a flag,
and a man on the rail
I think you'd better call John,
'Cause it don't
look like they're here
to deliver the mail
And it's less than a mile away
I hope they didn't come to stay
It's got numbers on the side
and a gun
And it's makin' big waves.

Daddy's gone,
my brother's out hunting
in the mountains
Big John's been drinking
since the river took Emmy-Lou
So the powers that be
left me here
to do the thinkin'
And I just turned twenty-two
I was wonderin' what to do
And the closer they got,
The more those feelings grew.

Daddy's rifle in my hand
felt reassurin'
He told me,
Red means run, son,
numbers add up to nothin'
But when the first shot
hit the docks I saw it comin'
Raised my rifle to my eye
Never stopped to wonder why.
Then I saw black,
And my face splashed in the sky.

Shelter me from the powder
and the finger
Cover me with the thought
that pulled the trigger
Think of me
as one you'd never figured
Would fade away so young
With so much left undone
Remember me to my love,
I know I'll miss her.

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Young, Neil Powderfinger Comments
  1. Dan S.

    I want to be that guy at 1:04.

  2. willard2729

    Barber: howya wannit?

    Neil: half Lurch, half Sandy Duncan

  3. David Deyoub

    I saw Neil twice back in the late 70s or early 80s. Once with Crazy Horse and once acoustic. Both shows were probably the best shows I went to(and I went to many many shows back then). I just love this guy.

  4. Michael Riley

    The search made easy and inexpensive.
    A Hello and a Goodbye (just in case). ...

  5. udiseus

    That's right., this is WAR, between good and evil, light and darkness. He had to have elephant's balls to sing this on stage. Yeah

  6. susan hess

    Neil Young you f ing.................ROCK. How much I feel you and this song. This is glorious.................................Love every note,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,every bit of this. Just the master of it.............................keep creating the magic that you do. Cause it brings me peace and makes every cell in body smile.............Thanks you for every bit of the soul you deliver to us...................Love you : )

  7. Brian Himes

    Love this song! Neil at his best!

  8. brad pertner

    Neil never disappoints

  9. Michele Erwin

    I'll never forget this jerk off guy who worked for Harvey and his TMZ show. Some blond punk ass kid. He showed a picture of Neil Young, coming out of a convenience store, dressed like he usually is, Jean's, t shirt, and flannel shirt (hey, I dress like that), and this punk was making fun of Neil, saying he looked homeless.
    It pissed me off! My first thought was "and just what have you done to make the world a better place"? Neil has done so much to help many causes, especially farm aid. The best this kid could claim was he worked for an attorney who made his living picking on others.
    Rock on, Neil! I still have my greendale shirt from 03 when I went to that concert. I still wear it. Long live treasured t shirts, Jeans, and flannels.

  10. Kevin KHENNOUF

    playmobil coupe .

  11. Bombour

    my old mans favourite Neil young song

  12. Stuart barickman

    Man this song hits home for me! Love it, Neil Young never dissapoints!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. James Quin

    Saw Neil sit at a piano for 2 hrs in Maple Leaf Gardens.

  14. art vallejos

    Crazy Horse

  15. AJ Wiebusch

    He's got the same guitar strap from the original performance.

  16. cloisterene

    Wearing an Elvis t-shirt :)

  17. Göran Bertilsson

    A trou hero!!

  18. Owen Kenney

    My favorite part about these weld videos are when they show how diverse the audience is age wise. One clip is someone who looks like hes been there since the beginning, and the next would be a kid in a Sonic Youth shirt. Fucking Awesome.


    yeah exactly, as you probably know, Sonic Youth was one of the opening acts on this tour


    @blindriv3r and Social Distortion, if I remember right

  19. Karen Everett


  20. Rodger Hodgson

    The hair is fucking great. He don't need no gimmicky haircut or boots.
    In fact he prob did the hair thing to piss people off. It's the thing in his music as well. He disregards convention and eschews accolades. He ain't singing for anyone.

  21. Rodger Hodgson

    This the most incredible piece of English ever written. Not Shakespeare, not Chaucer, not the Brontes, not Edgar Allen Poe, not anyone did this but Neil Young.

    And to think he put it to this guttural piece of eccentric guitar. This is the greatest piece of art on the planet.

    It has the capture of a painted work, here he outshines Van Gogh. More nuanced than Shakespeare and he takes the Dylan story to another level.

    "Shelter me from the powder
    and the finger
    Cover me with the thought
    that pulled the trigger
    Think of me
    as one you'd never figured
    Would fade away so young
    With so much left undone
    Remember me to my love,
    I know I'll miss her."

  22. Renee Lee

    uh, yeah, about 20 or 30 yrs ago.  It ain't all that opaque.

  23. Alan Wood

    I have that on VHS in a box somewhere...saw the "Ragged Glory" tour in '91, just mind blowing.

  24. VISH S

    Seen Neil a few times & my regret is I didn't see him earlier. Rush is my favorite band then Neil. Have many favs but Cowgirl in the sand & Like a hurricane especially with Crazy Horse are my favorites.

  25. leo sara

    one of my neil youngs favorite songs

    VISH S

    Have to agree with you.

  26. M CellDean

    Love this iconic legend!

  27. Del

    That guitar sound!

  28. Scott Ferreira

    Artist. Genius. Treasure. Haircut?

  29. Leona King

    Seen the Great man in July in Kilkenny,along with Dylan ,what a night 🌙🌙🌙.

    Rodger Hodgson

    Lucky bastard

  30. Powering On

    I saw him live in Sydney in the 80's. If i could see him live one more time before I die, I will go to heaven a happy person

  31. John Erkman

    Saw this tour 😎❤️😎🤘❤️

    Orchestra pit seats at The Fox Theatre in St. Louis!

  32. Mike Pociuk

    Best version ever of Powderfinger

  33. The Phantom

    This is what I’m taking about!!

  34. David Sweet

    Might be the best match of music and story ever

    Rodger Hodgson

    I believe "Hide in Your Shell", Supertramp does it even better.

  35. Hebdeba V

    he looks like an ogre. an ogre id like to fuck

  36. Tom MacDonald

    neil is so incredibly underrated yet those who know ,,, know this is canada's national treasure he makes me proud to say i am from canada and so is Neil fukkin young

    Tessmage Tessera

    Okay, but help me out here... who exactly underrates Neil Young..? He's a living legend. I don't think I've ever met anyone who felt otherwise about him.

    Rodger Hodgson

    I feel so proud to be Canadian but I'm Aussie. Believe it or not but some Aussies don't get Neil Young. Strange but true

    Tom MacDonald

    @Tessmage Tessera i must say i have to admit i may of been a bit quick on the reply however Neil is to me one of rocks true greats yet i feel he hasn't gotte the true respect and the credit he deserves we hear how nirvana, pearl jam are the powerhouses of grunge yet lets not forget neil young is grunge

    Tessmage Tessera

    @Tom MacDonald Maybe they just need to throw away the whole "Grunge" label. Neil Young was playing that style of alternative hard rock as far back as 1967. Well, nobody was calling it "Grunge" back then. I guess every generation likes to believe that they've invented something new. Not in this case, however... all they did was invent a new label for some older music.

  37. Zen Landon

    Not the live rust version but good

  38. colin poitras

    My favorite Neil song. I get choked up every time. The young man dies and Neil sings " remember me to my wife, I know I'll miss her". so sad. A BRILLIANT SONG.

    Skip Acuff

    One of the best solos he’s ever performed for “Powderfinger” imho.

  39. Philippe Metois

    my favorite song of his

  40. Ezra Miller

    The lead guitar on this song is like nothing else ive ever heard. Amazing.

  41. roshima fair

    This sounds like "going off to war'

    Hank Armstrong

    Should have heard it in 1979. Still on my radar in 2019. LIVE RUST.

    Hank Armstrong

    Cortez The Killer. WAS war.

  42. R Moranville

    its about a frontier life before there was anyone around. anybody comin towards them could be the fuckin end, that's what its about, where in hell did you come up with civil war?

  43. Arnoldus Feka

    Beautiful and very meaning song!

  44. Blake Whittington

    I take it that guys name was John

  45. sharonbunratty w

    well, I think it is tragically, poetically the moments of that Union Soldier's life. Rendered pontifically with Mr. Young's musical score.

  46. Michael Ehrhart

    This is the greatest rock and roll song of all time.

    Michele Vanderwoude



    Paddle Steamers up The Mighty Murray River in Echuca......Not today.... The NWO has got their illuminati Way.......SAD !

  48. sharonbunratty

    He is singing about the last moments of a boy's life, in the South, during the Civil War, just before he dies. Did anyone else get that??


    a Union River/ paddle boat coming at ya !

    TAT S

    Dah, ya!!

    Len R

    sharonbunratty I used to think that too (though certain details such as “white boat” and “big red beacon” don’t fit neatly into that time period). Neil himself has said he doesn’t know what he was thinking when he wrote the song. He was essentially painting a musical landscape that allows the listener to interpret the song as they understand it :-)

    Fabio Consonni

    Saronbunratty: to me he's singing about your life, about those moment in which you found yourself alone and had to decide something important without the help of anyone (daddy's gone, my brother's out hunting, Big John's been drinking, the powers that be left me here...); he's singing about you whyle you are taking the decision to become an adult, about the moment you are feeling sure/unsure to take the right deision, about that magic moment.

    Al Lagoon

    I thought it was the g-men coming to sight down the still in the 60s

  49. sharonbunratty

    My fav Neil Young song of all time. I cry every time.


    @D Walk hell yeah i do too.

    wilson blauheuer

    Does the protagonist  commit suicide or get killed by the ship?


    @wilson blauheuer I always took it as he got killed by the people on the boat.

    wilson blauheuer

    @Im1sickpup my friend insisted the guy raised the rifle to his own eye and shot hisself

    D Walk

    @wilson blauheuer The percussion rifle used during the civil war weighed around 9 pounds and was almost 5 feet long. He was going to shoot at the people on the boat.

  50. Henry Ybarra


  51. cardo

    One of the greats, when Neil is in his zone there are no better.

  52. Ton Wijnen

    Wonderful music.

  53. Ben Grubb

    I feel like the haircut actually looks good


    1991 that was in style

  54. Dykes Georgel sr

    Wood anyone like to see attribute of a Mustang 4 x 4 truck .that I called Crazy Horse after mr. Neil

  55. Marlene Sullivan

    KEEP ROCKING NEIL..🎸Love all your songs..💗

  56. freitag314

    Great song, Neil. I outgrew your politics but still enjoy your music.

    Brian Carroll

    freitag314 or maybe you just rusted away.


    You cannot outgrow anything with a closed mind

  57. stephen rollins

    and I just turned 62, STILL wondering what to do....

    Mìchael Osborn

    Coming up 82 ...still listening?

    Bev Petty

    60 and cunfused...


    stephen rollins I’m 24 and there’s so much more

  58. T Markham

    That unit making it clear to his wife that he's Big John and he's been drinking is the best thing on YouTube.


    Best comment on Youtube this week.

    Matt Shaffer

    That dude is on several of the Weld videos. True good ol' boy.

  59. Dan Soriano Disu

    The real alpha male neil young

  60. mujin70

    Saw him during this tour. Hard to believe so much time has passed. Funny to see the Social Distortion or was it a Sonic Youth shirt since they did open for him. Weird audience as I recall.

  61. M Glasow


  62. Timothy Joy

    I love the shots of the people singing in the audience. Wish I was there!

    Know One

    I love the shots of people smiling while they sing along with a song about a young man being murdered by police. It proves to me just how oblivious people are to the music they listen to.

  63. Joe Morrow

    Never a big fan when I was younger because of Jimi Hendrix,, Cream, Black Sabbath,,Rolling Stones Gand Funk Railroad, Deep Purple,Santana, Sly and the Family Stone,,, Montrose, Chicago,,The Who,, Then something happen,, Neil Young & the Bluenotes,,,Top Quality all around Musician,,don't think I had enough time to be a fan,,,so busy in High School

    Stuart Baumann

    I’m like Joe, catching up on lots of overlooked music. I’ve got to love YouTube, but does anybody actually buy the CD’s or new vinyl?

    Joe Morrow

    @Stuart Baumann vinyl is on the way back,,

  64. Powering On

    My last wish is that i can see Neil Young live once more...the words to this song remind me of my father;s suicide so precisely that it is like reliving it every time i hear the song that i love so much...irony

  65. Daniel Crocco

    Puta que pariu...Neil Rules!!!!

  66. Kyra Burlum


    Fabio Consonni

    My favourite song ever; when I play it on stage it's such a sacred moment every time

  67. The Art

    Great song but the worst haircut I've ever seen

  68. Dan Ference

    Look out momma, there's a neil young playin down by the river!

    Joshua Herpolsheimer

    Sounds like a parody song in the making!!!

  69. David Rorke

    What’s with the head Neil ....looks like the chicks hair cut from Pulp Fiction lol...

  70. Alan N

    I love Neil but what was he thinking with that haircut? lol

    Glenys Self

    We are more than the hair that grows on our heads

    Glenys Self

    So strange to believe but we are more than the hair that grows on our heads

    Everett Evans Jr

    Doesn't give a shit,that's neil

  71. Arild Søgaard

    my favorite too. great

  72. Bill Vallier

    Not too shabby for a Canadian boy.

  73. Doctor Skull

    Great song. Great performance!

  74. Steve

    Neil has great backup singers.

  75. Larry Garland

    Don't know why, I cry every time I hear this song...?

    Arild Søgaard

    me too almost

    Ramas Samar

    Too much soy in your diet?

  76. Tony Thomas


  77. elmer sawad


  78. Isismusicnow

    I fucking love this song

  79. Anne Flint

    its so good it tells many different storeys it can mean somthing different to all of us and the same thing pete neils aq bloodey genious

  80. John Hebbes

    What can I say....awesome,

  81. Mitch Kenvin

    The entire purpose of music is to “move” people. Nobody ever did it better and I doubt anyone ever will.

  82. Vi B

    my fave song by Neil , awesome

  83. milky licker

    Story has it that Neil wrote this song for skynyrd and they passed before they could record it.

    art vallejos

    milky licker Sedan Delivery. Too

  84. Basin

    My favourite Neil Young song.

  85. GretschDog

    Anyone here ever play at Lupo's ?

  86. Corey Lampron

    Dig the Lupo's shirt.

  87. Sue Schummer

    Best one. Bless You. ✌️

  88. Tommy Bengtsson


  89. Anne Flint

    youre all welcome a friend of neils is a friend of mine pete

  90. Isismusicnow

    Could be Neil's worst hair cut ever


    rm Look out momma. There’s a van down by the river.

    Bird O'Donnell


    Craig Gagnon

    He doesnt care

    Len R

    Craig Gagnon I came so close this semester to showing this video to my students. Would have been a great chance to show that you can make great music without an auto-tuner and not giving a flying you know what about how you look. Probably would have gotten a bunch of “Ok Boomer” comments from them. Funny thing is the first time one of them said that to me I replied “Thanks for the compliment.” They didn’t know what to make of that lol.

    Craig Gagnon

    @Len R not to mention the level of social awareness and intellect.... You should man!!

  91. Martha X

    And that's how you write a song. Such a beloved Neil Young song.

  92. Brian McCall

    Great, great show! Social Distortion got the party started right with their three chord, two minutes burst, Sonic Youth brought the noise and some Daydream Nation, then the Horse brought the house down! All fire and fury. Cincinnati 1991.

  93. Steve Pawlowski


  94. Kevin Barron

    Ummm fan shots....nope.

  95. Daniel Trumm

    f'n chills. So much love for Crazy Horse. My favorite song... well... back to back with Cortez!

    jeanette stiles

    Got a lot of love for "Piece of Crap" too.

  96. Kees van der knaap

    verry good !

  97. art vallejos

    Born To Rock

  98. Robert Wiesler

    Absolutely fantastic
    One of the best songs ever written
    In my opinion the 2019 version with Promise of the Real is even better
    I have heard it a week ago in Munich - unbelievable

    Brian McCall

    Nah, no way

    Hobart Hoskins

    What a big lie of a song.