As The Virginmarys’ first tour in almost two years hits its final few shows, with a couple of days off before them, Ally Dickaty has taken to the bathroom to record a cover of Neil Young’s “Powderfinger” from Rust Never Sleeps, much like another video he did years ago with original number “Long Way Down From the Top” (honestly, you get great acoustics in a bathroom).
Here, the plugged-in number takes on a new sense of vulnerability and fear from the narrator as he faces insurmountable odds at such a young age as Ally strips it down on an acoustic guitar to reach the root of the story. Whilst it may be more fatalistic than most, if not all, Virginmarys songs, Young’s influence on Ally’s own songwriting and his love for his music is writ large in this version as he relates the story, empathy coating his inimitable throaty vocals.
Like all the best covers, this pays reverence to the original whilst Ally brings his own flair to it – it doesn’t have to be plugged in like the original to be punk rock. It’s a song which conveys so much with so few words – a tragic story in itself but as you dig deeper, shares the same disdain The Virginmarys themselves have for the powerful squandering the young and the powerless in whichever way they see fit. It’s as raw and relevant today as it was in 1979.
Header image by Alex Wright of Teneight Studios