He’s not Neil Young’s brother
I was originally scheduled to talk to Rusty Young, who plays the Ludlow Garage with Poco Dec. 1, the day after the presidential election in 2016. But even for the perpetually upbeat singer/songwriter, the results were so disturbing that we postponed it for a day. And when we did start chatting, he had regained his inherent optimism that has made him one of music’s good guys since he hooked up Buffalo Springfield in 1968, then became an original member of Poco that year.
Rusty Young planned to celebrate his 70th birthday this year by retiring after more than 50 years in the music business. As often happens, however, life interfered.
Young, one of the four founders of Poco in 1968, joined Jim Messina, another of the original members of the country rock pioneers, for three shows in California. By the time Young returned home to Missouri, he had agreed to record his first solo record.
“I met this guy (Kirk Pasich), who has a label called Blue Elan,” says Young, who brings the current edition of Poco to the Sharonville Convention Center Saturday. “I was totally flattered that they had so much faith in me.
“I have only done Poco records for whatever it is, 48 years. I had some new songs and I needed to get this book finished, so I thought what better thing than to have the book and record come out together.”
Young has plenty of tales to tell in the book scheduled to come out next year. He played pedal steel on the final Buffalo Springfield album, “Last Time Around” in 1968. By then, Stephen Stills and Neil Young were on to their next projects, so the hired hand joined Messina, Richie Furay and drummer George Grantham to explore the then unexplored world of country rock. Other people also were interested in joining the band.
“Gram Parsons auditioned to be in Poco, but he joined the Byrds instead,” Young says, springing a surprise story about the man who was instrumental in the country rock movement with the Byrds’ “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” and then the Flying Burrito Brothers. “He was a friend of Richie’s from New York.
“At some point, maybe a month of teaching him the songs we were writing and playing, he (decided he) couldn’t get along with Jimmy. He said to Richie and me, ‘You’re going to have to decide between me and Messina.’ So we said, ‘Gram, Jimmy’s the heart and soul of the band, we can’t let him go.’ ”
There’s another story that sounds as promising for the still-untitled book. Readers might not have to look further than the cover for this one.
“I’m still kicking around a bunch of different names,” Young says. “I think I have some good ones, like ‘Neil Young Is Not My Brother.’ I haven’t really decided yet.”
Although Neil is from Canada and Rusty grew up in Colorado, apparently it only took the latter’s name in the credits on “Last Time Around” to forge a familial relationship in some people’s minds.
“A girl would come to the merch table after a concert and say, ‘I made a bet with my girlfriend over there …’ Sometimes I would lie and say, ‘Yes we are,’ ” Young says.
Then he adds with a laugh: “You don’t want to break their hearts.
That was then and now Young is focused – and excited – about a future that doesn’t include imminent retirement.
“I was rehearsing a couple of the new songs while we were on the road recently and one of them really got to me,” he says. “I can’t stop singing it or thinking about it. I’m really anxious to start recording some of this stuff.”
Young’s enthusiasm belies his age, but reflects the title of Poco’s last album, 2013’s “All Fired Up.” Fans can thank him for that and for the classic tunes that make them feel forever young.
Watch Rusty Young talk about Poco’s “Crazy Love”