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Neil's youngsters

Neil Young is the Halley's comet of rock stars. Even though his cycle is less predictable, every few years he comes back around and becomes hip to a new generation. From punk in the 1970s to grunge and alternative-country in the '90s, Young has been able to defy time and stand as a major influence on everyone from Nirvana's Kurt Cobain (who quoted Young in his 1994 suicide note) to Jewel.

As for some of the latest bands to bear Young's stamp:

* White Stripes. Of all the current hot-shot guitarists, Jack White is the one who comes closest to approximating Young's rampaging guitar maelstroms.

* My Morning Jacket. Where White has Young-the-guitarist down, My Morning Jacket's Jim James sings in a high, keening voice that sounds like Young heard from a great distance away on a very cold night.

* Ryan Adams. Like Young, Adams flits between styles quite a bit. Also like Young, Adams is capable of commanding a noisy crowd to pin-drop silence with nothing more than his voice and an acoustic guitar.

* Wilco. Jeff Tweedy seems just as hardheaded and unwilling to compromise as Young ever was.

* Driveby Truckers. Everybody cites Lynyrd Skynyrd as a key influence on the Truckers, but Young's protean squall and apocalyptic demeanor seem just as important to them. *

David Menconi

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