The Def Leppard Song Joe Elliott Hid Neil Young Lyrics

Borrowing elements from other artists is not an issue to an extent. However, sometimes it can cause trouble. When these little ‘inspirations’ turn into rip-offs, two sides may find themselves in a legal battle. Led Zeppelin is probably one of the bands that got into trouble most, as numerous blues and folk artists sued them for stealing some of their songs’ structure and making minor changes to the lyrics and guitar.

Although these cases often end up in long-lasting feuds, some didn’t see a problem with others copying them. For instance, GN’R’s manager argued that Nikki Sixx stole the riff of ‘Dr. Feelgood’ from them, but the band didn’t care as Sixx was their friend. KISS didn’t sue Bruce Springsteen as they loved him, and Tom Petty said RHCP didn’t have bad intentions in using some elements from his song.

Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Pyromania’ are landmark albums that dominated the music charts for many years. So, it’s no surprise they became an inspiration source for various musicians. That being the case, the band was also inspired by another artist while writing a song from ‘Pyromania.’ Neil Young’s sound is quite different than Def Leppard’s, but it looks like they admire him enough to use a line from the iconic singer in one of the band’s tracks.

Pyromania’ marked a shift towards a more radio-friendly sound rather than Def Leppard’s roots in heavy metal. Following its release, the album brought huge success to the band, especially with the hits titled ‘Photograph’ and ‘Rock Of Ages.’ Apart from being a successful chart-topper, ‘Rock Of Ages’ has a lesser-known feature: it begins with a line from Neil Young’s ‘My, My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue).’

After the German-like gibberish phrase ‘Gunter glieben glauten globen’ introduced by the band’s producer Mutt Lange, ‘Rock Of Ages’ begins with a melody. Elliott then starts to sing the lines ‘All right / I’ve got something to say / It’s better to burn out / Than to fade away.’ The last two lines directly reference Young’s classic ‘My, My, Hey Hey (Out Of The Blue).’ According to some other sources, Elliott didn’t know these lines belonged to Young but saw them on a T-shirt and used them for the song.

Neil Young’s lines, ‘It’s better to burn out than to fade away,’ later became widely quoted by his fellow musicians and got commonly known in rock history after Kurt Cobain used them in his suicide note. Although it remains unknown whether Joe Elliott intended to use Young’s lyrics or saw them on somebody’s T-shirt, the lines found a perfect use in a Def Leppard song. Moreover, it seems Young doesn’t have an issue with it.