Wednesday, April 19, 2006

NEIL YOUNG IS LIVING WITH WAR. CAN HE RESCUE AMERICA, AND THE REST OF THE WORLD, FROM IT?

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Until a few years ago I was president of Reprise Records, a label whose historical roster is really amazing-- from Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell to Green Day, Depeche Mode, The Smiths and... the point of this story, Neil Young. Now I'm retired from business and I live my life as a humble blogger. Last week I wrote a story about Neil's surprise new album, LIVING WITH WAR coming out. Please read that so I don't have to repeat anything I've already written and I can just continue from where I left off.

I left off right after having sat in a room in Elliot Roberts' home (Neil's manager) with earphones on listening to a disc Neil had made for him. After years of always hearing Neil's music on discs personally put together by Neil, I appreciated how much better this listening experience was bound to be compared to hearing the songs on a commercial CD. Before-- and again after-- playing it for me Elliot asked me not to write about it until Wednesday. That's today.

First my biases: I'm prone to love everything Neil records. I feel he's one of the greatest songwriters and musicians of our time. If I listen to a song of his and I don't get it, I have long learned that that is because I haven't spent enough time with it and that when I do, I will eventually see what he was trying to do and appreciate it. A second bias, just as strong-- and one regular DWT readers are already very aware of and probably in sync with-- is my abiding mistrust for the Bush Regime and the alarm with which I view what they have done, and continue to do, to the country I love so much. The nexus of these two biases lead to an incredible hour of listening.

The specifics of the songs Neil has recorded and the points he raises lyrically should come as no surprise-- not even to people whose consciousnesses have been enveloped in a powerful and mind-numbing haze for the last few years. Conventional wisdom has pretty much made it clear that Bush and his regime are incompetent, venal and corrupt and that his war is one of the most catastrophic foreign policy blunders every made by a U.S. president. What Neil has done with LIVING WITH WAR is made these idess easily digestible for post-literate western society at large. He's managed to create a body of work that will help make it easy for people to talk about the war, Bush's short-comings and how to deal with them. Virtually no one wants the U.S. to start a (nuclear?) war against Iran-- not the citizens of this country and not the professional military. But who's going to stop Bush and the crazed, obsessed fanatics he's surrounded himself with? LIVING WITH WAR will filter up into political policy circles, not with answers but with the questions he's raised from us and for us.

According to his manager, Neil recently flew back from the Nashville premiere of his film, HEART OF GOLD, with Steve Bing, a film producer friend who is also one of the most consistently generous supporters of progressive causes in the U.S. (Bing, 41 and one of the richest men in America, who at 6'4" likes to wear jeans and T-shirts, has donated mightily to the Democratic Party, to Stanford University and gave $10 million to the National Resources Defense Council's study of global warming, among many other things.) He and Neil had a long talk about Bush's war in Iraq and what the Bush Regime has been doing to the U.S. The discussion helped Neil flesh out an idea that was germinating in his mind, a concept album about Bush's America, something he started getting at when he wrote and performed GREENDALE. From the time he started writing the songs until the album was recorded, 9 days passed. Neil can be fast, but that is really fast.

The first track is called "After the Garden" and, obviously, its first lines are the first lines of the album:
Won't need no shadow man
Runnin' the government

A nice optimistic beginning for a collection of songs that could have been a big downer. Neil chose a different road though-- one that is inspiring and positive, both musically and lyrically.

The second song, the title track, is something I've already covered in the first post and I included all the lyrics there. Neil's use of part of the "Star Spangled Banner" towards the end is chilling and a great reminder that this is our country, not just Bush's and Cheney's and Rumsfeld's and the reactionaries' who are behind the immensely unpopular and tottering, incompetent regime.

The next song starts out dark and ominous, "The Restless Consumer," a song as destined to be called "Don't Need No More Lies," as Green Day's classic "Good Riddance" is always called "Time Of Your Life." This is a heavy song that weaves together several threads which have shown up in Neil's work for many years. Just from my one listen I took from it an anger at the power of "Madison Avenue" to create absurd demands-- from needless consumerism to... needless wars. The song questions how a society-- ours-- sets priorities. Why wars instead of curing diseases, for example? This'll be a good one for college professors to discuss with their students for decades to come.

"Shock And Awe" is the fourth song on the record. Neil doesn't have planes and tanks and bombs. He has words and, ultimately, his "Shock and Awe" will be long remembered after Bush and his shock and awe are nothing but an unfortunate footnote in history books.
Back in the days of shock and awe
We came to liberate them all
History was the cruel judge of overconfidence
Back in the days of shock and awe.
Thousands of children scarred for life
Millions of tears for a soldier's wife
Both sides are losing now...


I remember thinking that right around this point in my listening experience, and especially with the next song, "Families," came the realization that I was listening to a classic Neil album that will go down as one of his greatest. The sixth song, "Flags of Freedom," made me glad I was sitting alone so I could let me tears flow freely without embarrassing myself or anyone else. The first 2 lines give it all away: "Today is the day our younger son/Is going off to war..." The blurb Neil wrote on his website,
""I think it is a metal version of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan... metal folk protest?" has a lot to do with this song. There's even a shout out to Dylan in the lyrics!

The next song is the one that really lays it on the line, the one all his accumulated moral authority allows him to write, the one everyone wants to know about, "Let's Impeach the President." Maybe his pal Steve Bing should send the lyrics to all the wet-finger-in-the-wind Democratic senators who refuse to back Russ Feingold's moderate censure resolution. Instinctively, Neil must have known the song is going to cause an uproar and become the focus of the album. So he crafted an absolute masterpiece, immune from the barbs and arrows that will surely come.
Let's impeach the president for lying
Misleading our country into war
Abusing all the power that we gave him
And shipping all our money out the door

He then goes on to lay out a case as strong as anything Henry Waxman is going to do-- maybe not as specific-- but a lot more poetic. The song discusses the Regime's criminality, spying, the mess they made of post-Katrina New Orleans, hijacking "our religion" for partisan purposes, as well as how they have used divisiveness and racism to further their political agenda. Neil backs up his lyrics with Bush's own words, turning his inspid/Orwellian words on tape against him as the song is transformed from a hard rocker into a soaring gospel inspirational.

He follows it with a more forward-looking "Lookin' For A Leader," which has the musical potential to be a single. It's a song crying out to "re-unite the red, white and blue," and to "clean up the corruption." Neil sings that "We're lookin' for a leader/With the Great Spirit on his side." He even includes an interesting couple of shout outs to Colin Powell and to Barack Obama, with whom he spent some time at Farm Aid. (I won't give them away; you'll want to hear how he approaches this himself. He even almost mentions the Hillary word... but doesn't-- thank God.) This song is a really good rocker that radio programmers are probably going to gravitate to; it won't get the raving, vicious right wing fanatics calling in and threatening to kill djs.

The album ends with a song about somebody's buddy who went to Iraq, "Roger and Out" and it goes into a stirring rendition of "America the Beautiful" sung by a 100 piece choir. Elliot assured me it was comprised of the best voices in L.A. It sounded that way. And they're singing all over the album. In fact one of them, Alicia Morgan, an articulate and idealistic blogger, as well as a wonderful singer, was interviewed the other day in THE INDEPENDENT, a U.K. newspaper.

I spoke to some of my old comrades at Reprise today. They're still getting their heads around a marketing strategy for the album, although it looks like an early summer release, perhaps with songs streaming on the internet early and probably a single to radio "very soon."


UPDATE: ROLLING STONE SEEMS TO AGREE WITH NEIL

The new issue of ROLLING STONE, the cover of which you see above, is just out with an assessment from one of America's most distinguished and best-regarded historians: Bush will probably rank as the worst president in American history. Hey! DWT has been saying that since... forever. I mean when he stole the 2000 election you should have had a clue-- if you weren't paying attention to the campaign and thought how easy Clinton made it look to be president and thought even a nincompoop like Bush, Jr. could muddle through it without doing much damage.


THURSDAY UPDATE: THE COVER ART

My old friend Dan left Warner Bros soon after I did and moved to Spain. He returned to America, and to Warners, this year and one of his first assignments was to work with the team that will be getting out all the official Neil and LIVING WITH WAR information. I grabbed this picture of the cover art from Dan's new site, which also has a brand new video interview with Neil about the new album (done by a somewhat lame local tv talking head).

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69 Comments:

At 1:13 AM, Blogger steve heeren said...

pardon my ignorance, but who are the people on the opening graphic of this post? i recognize bob dylan and neil young, but who are the other two?
(I moved away from the usa in 1968 so don't have much contact with it any more)

 
At 1:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the detailed review.I love the line about "The shadow man"
I thought after "prairie wind"(which i liked) Neil was reaching for his slippers.
Good on you Neil !Drive it home!

 
At 2:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds incredible. I can't tell you how ridiculously jealous I am that you got to hear it. I really hope they put this album on the fast track for release, because I can't wait much longer to hear it.

And I really loved the review, but I wish you'd talked a little more about what it actually sounded like. Neil's so varied that you never really know what you're gonna get. Is it another "Freedom"? Or maybe closer to "Greendale"?

It doesn't matter though. I'm extremely biased when it comes to Neil too... and you've left me confident that I'm going to dig this record.

Thanks for the info.

 
At 2:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the in depth review of the album.
I thought Neil might be reaching for his slippers after "Prairie wind"(i did like that album, honest)
Good to say he's got angry about the loonies in power.
Poor Neil,he's getting all the flak from the right wingers,but Patti Smith is getting her point across also.
Mark Eitzel on his European tour said America was now a Police state.
Keep on rockin' Neil !!

 
At 4:33 AM, Blogger Jo*in*Vermont said...

thanks for paving the way for this new piece of truth from Neil! any way we can get them to put the rush on this record? they really don't need the usual 'spit and polish' to market this and America needs to hear this NOW!

 
At 4:58 AM, Anonymous karenbarryschwarz said...

God bless America, and God bless Neil Young. I don't know if Neil can 'rescue America and the rest of the world,' but I do know the he has rescued me, and more than once. In fact I think he rescues me a little bit more each time I hear his voice. Maybe now he can rescue the world, one person at a time ...

Thanks for telling us about the album!

 
At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pre review. You did a very thoughtful and thorough description of the lyric content of the recording, but could you get more specific about the musical characteristics? Guitar tones, drumming, where and when the trumpet fits in, the qualities of Neil's voice?Is the guitar wildly overdriven? Feedback? Solo passages? how do the songs vary in length?
You have to understand that it is torture to have these tantalizing verbal descriptions, so I need some more to go on. I'm like a starving person reading a restaurant review and I've only heard about the menu and ingredients and how good the cook is. I must, at least have a description of the taste.

Thanks,

Tom

 
At 5:47 AM, Anonymous expecting2fly said...

Thanks for the review, much appreciated. You don't mention it, but the album ends with an a capela version of America The Beautiful, right?

 
At 5:53 AM, Anonymous expecting2fly said...

Oops. Just re-read your review. There it is in black and white. Sorry for my last comment...

 
At 6:02 AM, Anonymous adrian matthews said...

thank you for my first thorough insight into what will clearly be another unorthodox brain and ear challenge from the Master himself...i get the feeling of a Freedom meets Greendale meets Sleeps with Angels observation of Society in 2006.....talking of observations-of-society-at-a-moment-of-time, boy do we crave the "Ordinary People" and full "Crime in the City" from the "Wall Street" era of 1988.....

 
At 7:02 AM, Blogger Alicia said...

Thanks for the nice mention, DWT. In the short conversation I had with Neil at the session, we both agreed that this feels like a tipping point, that things are ready to start changing. Not that the right-wing is going to change, but perhaps the progressives can start to coalesce. We are the majority but we have not claimed it so far, ceding the field to the right-wing noise machine and the army of evangelicals. I'm hoping that this record can be a rallying point to help liberals find their voice once again.

Great post - I'm linking to it.

 
At 7:05 AM, Blogger ;) said...

I've got goosebumps.

 
At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this has nothing to do with the new album or the crazed Government,but can anyone tell me why Frank Sampedro didn't play on "Greendale"?
Jim McA

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing--I can't wait to hear this thing!
Love Neil, love this message, damn the torpedoes.

God bless Neil (and keep him safe from the wing-nuts), God bless America!

-Chicago

p.s.
Please ask/beg Neil and Elliot to got on tour with the new power trio!

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger OK-1K said...

To respond to the first comment, and somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, the 4 muskateers are Andy Kauffman, Bob Dylan, Lenny Bruce, and Neil Young.

 
At 10:03 AM, Blogger dave said...

I remember seeing Neil Young and Crazy Horse shortly after Gulf War I started, back in 1991. During intermission, he played Hendrix' Woodstock version of "The Star Spangled Banner" through the PA. It was the perfect commentary on the war at the time.

I think we're hitting a point where artists can no longer address the war and the political situation indirectly. We have to challenge the enemy head-on.

 
At 10:09 AM, Blogger subbionic said...

whay to go neil. let the rich keep gettin richer! thtey even got rich with 'lets roll' song when neil supported bush. way to go bud make us proud.

 
At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the ashes of the 60's, an elder emerges from the fog to show us the path to freedom. God bless the U.S.A and God bless Canada for giving us Neil Young....

 
At 10:42 AM, Blogger C. Atrox said...

I love Neil's music and look forward to hearing a new brave album from him concerning our current events. But there is always one thing that has bothered me about Mr. Young...his support for Ronald Reagan. What was THAT about?

 
At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil Ochs and Woody Guthrie are the other two peopele in the illustration.

 
At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Nic said...

It's great to hear from someone who's actually heard the album--sounds cool. But I think it may be wishful thinking to say, "LIVING WITH WAR will filter up into political policy circles," and "This'll be a good one for college professors to discuss with their students for decades to come." It's quite possible that after some initial publicity--including lots of derision--the album will fade into the background and stay there, listened to only by Neil's hardcore fans (like me). What will make the difference between it having real lasting impact or just landing with a thud will be the quality of the music surrounding the message--"Ohio" and "Southern Man" and "Rockin' In the Free World" are classics because the music's so damn good. Here's hoping that's the case with LWW!

 
At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Musketeers: Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Neil Young

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger Scott said...

Really looking forward to the record. Your early "review" is excellent and will get many people ready to get it. Now.

 
At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil still is the most relevant muscian of his generation and just love his rocking side. Why no Crazy Horse on this one? Just no time to get the boys together?
9 days has got to be some sort of record.

 
At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

C. Atros cited Neil's support for Reagan. There is also Neil's early support for the Patriot Act.

I get the sense that Neil's instincts are to protect freedom from external hateful ideologies. However, when he has done so, he has played right into the hands of those internal hateful ideologues.

 
At 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review. Mr. Young has been vastly underappreciated for years.
I hope this album becomes another classis Young.

 
At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I cried our way through Prairie Wind. Neil continues to be an uncompromising artist. And shame on other so-called artists who compromise their values for a paycheck. LONG MAY YOU RUN NEIL!

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger Zepp said...

Plan to get a copy as soon as possible. I know Howie's musical judgment, and I know Neil Young's artistry.

This will probably be the best album of the year.

 
At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Canadian and "Let's Roll" did it for me. I have not listened to him since and my collection will be given away.

Not a bad poet but an opportunist par excellence.

There had to be a different view, sorry folks.

PenGun

 
At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to love Neil Young. Cant wait. Pink has a song about the president thats pretty good. Its on Rosie O'Donnells site.

 
At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Zappa said,let the music do the talking.
All the arguments and it's not even out yet !
Hope it's in the same league as "Sleeps with angels" and "Freedom"

 
At 1:35 PM, Anonymous PatD said...

Pop culture has to be the way we pierce the political apathy of the silent majority. Good job Neil and your associates as well as others such as The Dixie Chicks.

 
At 2:27 PM, Anonymous I Take My Orders From Fools said...

Great news and review... I've got to agree with KBS, Neil has save me more than once too!
I'm really looking forward to hearing this new masterpiece... coming from one who voted for GWB but is NOT pleased with what's been
going on.

 
At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

uhhh, is there any music on this record? could you mention it perhaps? I remember the idiotic rolling stone review of Sleeps With Angels-all about its "societal impact" and other liberal crap, and barely a mention of the music.

 
At 6:28 PM, Blogger john bourne harbour said...

what's the problem with "let's roll"??? i just read the lyrics to it and it appears to be about the airplanes that were in the sky on 9/11-- and one verse from the song is appropriate even now depending on who you think the evil is-- hey-- let's roll---

No one has the answer,
But one thing is true,
You've got to turn on evil,
When it's coming after you,
You've gota face it down,
And when it tries to hide,
You've gota go in after it,
And never be denied,
Time is runnin' out,
Let's roll.

 
At 6:34 PM, Blogger john bourne harbour said...

what's the problem with "let's roll"??? i just read the lyrics to it and it appears to be about the airplanes that were in the sky on 9/11-- and one verse from the song is appropriate even now depending on who you think the evil is-- hey-- let's roll---

No one has the answer,
But one thing is true,
You've got to turn on evil,

 
At 9:38 PM, Anonymous supernatural groove said...

Thanks so much for sharing your early insight on this record. I'm really proud of Neil. It was in his eyes during Greendale, then lots of life challenges happened, and it was coming back during "Southern Man" at Farm Aid, then again during "No Wonder" on Conan -- The Look. But to see him bounce back with this so soon after Prairie Wind makes me really happy for him, and proud to have been a Neil Young fan for so many years. He's the one we needed to deliver these messages. And he seems quite comfortable in his interviews now -- has his talking-points down -- but can roll with it too.

Just like Greendale, I'll be buying a lot of LWW discs for gifts.

Going through the list from your review, I get the following. But there are supposed to be 10 songs on the record. Do you know, will "America the Beautiful" be the tenth track?

LIVING WITH WAR

1) After the Garden
2) Living With War
3) The Restless Consumer
4) Shock And Awe
5) Families
6) Flags of Freedom
7) Let's Impeach the President
8) Lookin' For A Leader
9) Roger and Out

(Speculative)
10) America the Beautiful

 
At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lets hope this dont suck like everything neil young have done after ragged glory, one pathetic shite album after another

all we need in this tragic world is an old fart hippie telling us we need to impeach bush.. i thought he wrote the hippie's dream was over about 20 years ago... 60 years old rock musicians should retire

 
At 3:32 AM, Blogger The Beagle said...

Whilst I accept that Bush has washed his hands big time of his moral responsibility now that Saddam has been deposed, who would have held Saddam to account for crimes against humanity, e.g. Halabja, had Iraq not been invaded?

 
At 7:18 AM, Blogger Gianmarc said...

While watching the interview with the lame TV bobblehead woman I was absolutely elated to hear the host of the show say that he thinks it's "ridiculous" for anyone to accuse Young of just doing this for publicity. I didn't know people were still capable of forming their own opinions in the mass media. What a refreshing moment that was for me. Very impressed by that man.

--Gianmarc Manzione

 
At 9:00 AM, Anonymous kim said...

I was just reading your post about Neil Young, and I really like your blog.

I'm writing you to tell you about a musician and songwriter of THIS generation whom I think is the son and the heir to Neil Young and Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. And, like Woody Guthrie, it seems he may pass on under-appreciated. Great songwriters are like an endangered species, especially nowadays. Do you have any idea what the current crop of young songwriters are like? Generally, they are ironic,detached, oh-so-smart and hip,and very superficial. They don't really seem to care about anything beyond television and media culture and their music shows it.

Joel Moore (Visitor) is VERY different. He is BRILLIANT, absolutely brilliant and he has a SOUL. His lyrics are up there with Bob Dylan, and his heart is as touching and lovely as Neil Young's.
He has been writing songs about us, our country, this difficult time we are all in- and NO ONE CARES.
No one of his generation. They all think he is too serious, too full of it- he should be lighter, wittier,
more fun - not such a drag. While he writes songs about the Katrina disaster, his friends write songs
about things like the tv show "24".

Here are some of his lyrics from "Talkin' America tis of thee Blues":

"Now that our Fathers' bones turned to dust for sale
Will we ever escape the digit trail
Electronic murder at the lowest cost

They're hittin' us hard right between the eyes
With their 666 and their mouth of lies
The fountain pen men are stealing the sun right outta the sky

As the ads whiz past right into our eyes
Assuring that the inner part of us dies
The employed, the dazed and the newsed comply

The juice of it all is we're in free-fall
Our mamas and our papas bought into the WALL
Watered down the word the song the fight the truth

Our souls are frostbit
Downwind this arrogant wit
In an Earth burning fit
In rides our vacation president..."

This song is 28 verses long. It is amazing.
Unfortunately, it is poorly recorded, on crappy home recording equipment.

No record company is interested in this material.
No "indie" record company is interested in this material - it's not "hip".
Therefore, the songs (over 2 albums worth, plus 60+ others), go completely unheard.

I implore you - please listen to his material. We need someone to take over from the older
generation, to continue the tradition of artists with integrity and vision and fight.

His website is www.joelmoore.org
If you are patient, and look through the various links, you will find a wealth of material.

 
At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Steve said...

Wow! Is Neil planning on doing a tour for this album? If he does I suggest he start it in Iraq (Buck Up the morale of the troops). I'm sure he will be well recieved plus get a first hand look on what's going on over there, not even Michael Moore did that. "Keep on rocking in the free world"

 
At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the artwork at the start of the blog entry, yet again Dylan is appropriated to serve the interests of a fringe political position...too funny.

This album will do absolutely nothing in the world except fire up those on the kook left-wing fringe-after all, now Neil Young has validated their views.

Prairie Wind and the movie Heart of Gold was so good...I thought maybe he was on his way back...oh well.

Signed,

A 36 year Neil Young fan.

 
At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Don't forget the Kinks were on Reprise! Ray Davies has also been one of the major protesting voices of the generation...up to and including his present solo CD,"Other People's Lives". But at this moment you ought to check out the Kinks Preservation CD's. Very relevant.

 
At 8:21 PM, Anonymous rat-terrier, austin said...

I was going to get some work done this evening, but it can wait until tommorrow. Neil Young with a powerful new album eh? Old Black snarls at least once more time (he broke a G the last time I saw him, he was playing with such fury).

I'll have a beer instead. My Les Paul is ready to go. I think I'll trade some licks with "Down by the River", and maybe "Like a Hurricane"... until my fingers burn

 
At 4:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HERE WE ARE IN THE YEARS......

OF THE PEOPLE
BY THE PEOPLE
FOR THE PEOPLE

HAS BEEN REPLACE BY:

OF THE GOVERNMENT
BY THE LOBBISTS
FOR THE SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS

iT IS A MILITARY AND POLICE STATE WITH YOUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH LIMITED TO THE DISTANCE OF YOUR VOICE. THE MIGHTY DOGS OF WAR OWN AND CONTROL YOUR PUBLIC AIRWAVES FOR TRUTH. REPLACING YOUR COUNTRY WITH A COMMERICAL MENTALITY OF EUROTHINKING..NEIL IS AND REMAINS THE VOICE OF OUR LEGACY FOR THE GENERATIONS TO COME. LISTEN MY CHILDREN AND SPREAD THE WORD, THIS IS OUR COUNTRY NOT THE CORRUPT NEVER ENDING GREED AND DESTRUCTION OF OUR COUNTRY AND MOTHER EARTH FOR MONEY,POWER. BASED UPON FEAR AND PREACHED FROM EVERY SOURCE THAT ENTERS YOUR MIND AS IT STARTS WHEN YOUR ALWAYS AFRAID...FARM AID, FREEDOM AIR..WAKE UP

 
At 6:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll just say that I've been an avid fan of Neil's since the early Buffalo Springfield days. . . . One thing I just don't understand about the American people and Bush. Not only did the people elect this idiot to begin with (OK, forget my hoe state of Florida for a moment) but they RE-ELECTED him! Isn't this now a case of one "getting what they deserve"? Seems to me that folks who voted for this duffus, not once but twice, have no right to complain about the condition of the USA now. Just my 2-cents worth.

 
At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Gary said...

Phil Ochs and Woody Guthrie are the other two people in the graphic

 
At 10:59 AM, Blogger Mike Lewis said...

Here is a quote from http://www.counterpunch.org/neilyoung.html:

People for the American Way, which once described the goal of the PMRC censors as "to bring children and parents together on music selection," gave Neil Young its Spirit of Liberty award at a December 11 Beverly Hills banquet. Young used the occasion to proclaim his support of the USA/Patriot Act, which became law on October 26. "To protect our freedoms," Young said, "it seems we're going to have to relinquish some of our freedoms for a short period of time."
Speak for yourself; you are not speaking for me. Bush and Cheney did not recently become evil morons, they always were. Being famous does not give you insight, it just gives you a forum. Better late than never.

 
At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil Young is like a long distance runner out of the 60's carrying a spirit-lit torch and aging as he runs through the decades. Nearing his destination he drops exhausted to his knees and thusts the fire into a sea of gasoline, hopefully waking the music and the people from their coma.

 
At 1:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your well-written, emotional review of Neil's new album. I thoroughly enjoyed Greendale, and saw a number of shows on the tour. The message Neil put across on that album was one that I related to quite strongly. And this time, once again, he seems to be very much in tune with what I've been feeling for a long time. I'm sure he realizes that he's speaking for so many of us ... and thank god for his boldness, since he speaks so eloquently.
With that in mind, I have to say that I'm afraid that Neil may be putting himself in a tought spot. The antagonist of Greendale was the mass media, and while they are all-powerful, they are also faceless. But this time it's 'personal'. Neil's taking on someone who has a face - no, make that at least two. And h*'s someone with way too much power.
Neil is going to have to be careful this time around. Because these creeps are not above getting personal in return. Neil and his people will have to make sure that every 't' is crossed' and every 'i' is dotted in everything that he does. And he'll need to make sure that no one can find 'just cause' to show up at his ranch unannounced. Etcetera. I don't mean to sound so paranoid ... but I can't help but worry when it comes to people who know how to play hard ball.
On the surface, h*s people will surely let this album go by unnoticed. But they're going to be watching. And since there's a CSNY tour supposedly around the corner, he'll need to be very careful with regards to his travel partners.
Neil is one of the greatest songwriters of our time. I'm proud to know that he has chosen this country as is home. I have been experiencing such deep feelings of shame in recent months about America. But if Neil - someone who was not born here - chooses to stand by and fight for what's right about this country (as he always has) without letting it 'bring him down', then I will continue to as well. If we have to live with war ... then let's raise our voices to shout it down.

 
At 2:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil is always spouting off, and always changing his mind on things. We will all have to wait and hear the MUSIC, because unless it is absolutely GREAT, this project is just gonna be another embarrassment for his musical legacy. His last few albums have been pretty weak - just admit it to yourself! We all want him to be great, but now falls short of the mark more often than not...
GW

 
At 9:24 PM, Blogger Merlyn Merlot said...

Hey look on the bright side
they haven't caught Osama or Zarkowi
but they sure as hell caught Tommy Chong
and Cat Stevens!

It sounds like Neil got tired of waiting for the new generation to take an artistic stand
.
There seems to be a new momentum in rescuing our democracy from this administration's fascist
hijacking

I do believe that Living With War could very well be the soundtrack of the Sea Change
thanks for sharing your excitement
It's contagious

 
At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the anonymous poster a couple messages behind me, you say that this album has to be incredibly great or it's an embarrassment? That really makes a lot of sense, Neil is actually taking a stand on what many people are thinking but are afraid to say. I also hear people complaining about the author not mentioning the actual music, tone, etc. I think at this point in time the message of protest is more important than the music, which I'm sure will be just fine. While I didn't really think Prairie Wind was Neils greatest, I don't think it was weak at all and I absolutely loved Greendale. Anyways, I just think it's inevitable that there's going to be a backlash from these right wing fanatics, who will try to spin Neil into an "embarrassment to the music industry" just for speaking his mind. Eat a peach

 
At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Out of the woodwork said...

Howie, what a beautiful article. I especially loved this:

"The sixth song, "Flags of Freedom," made me glad I was sitting alone so I could let me tears flow freely without embarrassing myself or anyone else."

Don't be embarassed. Neil's music has a way of making you cry sometimes. He knows it. I remember once (I think it was at a Brige concert) when his last song drove me to tears. When he got offstage I told him, with a smile, "Dammit, Neil you made me cry again." He looked at me with that particular Neil twinkle of understanding, and I'm sure you know what I mean, and said, "Yeah," then gave me a hug.

Neil knows what he's doing. If his music made you cry it would not embarrass him, and shouldn't embarrass you. Hell, I've even seen Elliot's eyes get misty listening.

As the feelings among everybody at Neil's 60th birthday party made so evident, now matter who you are, famous or obscure, fellow musician, friend or family member, it's simply an honor to know the man.

 
At 12:23 PM, Anonymous atrnyc said...

a forest fire
on its head
a crown of fuel

The images continue to come at different times, snaps of memory, questions about my decisions, keeping calm underground. The day, the event of nine eleven belongs to each of us and us collectively. And it was stolen, the silence more powerful than words or action.

For us now this call to arms is about words, moving forward in appropriate directions: creating a government that will not be abused and has meaning we honestly support. When I pay my taxes I want to know some part goes to a need holding significance in my heart.

rush hour train
emerges faces pressed
to glass on the bridge

gasps
questions
sharing
numbness
disbelief
people

out of this
tangible feeling
panic sadness
open hearts

a connection of solidarity
humanity
and grace

We have the responsibility and the ability to stop destruction in our name. We cannot only hope to create worth and care, we must see that it happens. The grieving is unfinished, and the struggle is also ahead.

 
At 7:27 PM, Anonymous J.F.William said...

Short of a second american revolution, I'm afraid we are all pretty much fucked...

Dying Regime : http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=378229989470389403&q=dying+regime&pl

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

Peace !

 
At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very generous and absolutely great review Howie, I´m late as usual in picking up but will have to get the album tomorrow somehow, so
I have not heard it yet.
What strikes me is that in *one* aspect, society seems to work; even though media (who´s surprised ?) and all other more or less corrupted forces seem to ignore the unseen crimes that´s been comitted by the US government the last years - artists have begun to speak out real loud.
I can´t think of a much louder criticism than this. But of course it´s completely relevant and in paralell with the danger posed by the neoconservative rule of the White House. If rock has to become agitative and politically outspoken again, so be it.
Rock and roll is about changing things, small and big.

 
At 12:06 AM, Anonymous Greg said...

Thanks for your review - I can't wait to get this CD - I am sure I will buy more than one copy. I have always loved Neil Young. I have always seen through GWB - he is nothing but an arrogant punk who is destroying America. I am so happy to see Neil lead the fight for FREEDOM in America. I soo hope this starts the tidal wave that will end this corrupt and destructive regime and lead us back to the America we can be proud of.

 
At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That you, HK? Just got the album today, and have heard about half of it. A smokin' killer. Yes, "Flags of Freedom" will make any American weep. A rabbit punch to Bush and Co., and one long overdue. Somewhat sad to think that U.S. citizens must turn to a 60-something Canadian for leadership in the conscience department. But I'm glad Neil blew this record out. Quite an experience. Here's hoping everyone listens. And impeaches the president. --cm

 
At 9:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I plan on buying this and pearl jams new cd. They are so great...I think Vedder is my generations Neal Young.

 
At 1:08 AM, Blogger john said...

Hi.

Bumped into a Norwegian Neil Young Cover band on web: www.realneils.com
They sounds absolute afantastic. Take a peak!!

 
At 1:09 AM, Blogger john said...

Hi.

Bumped into a Norwegian Neil Young Cover band on web: www.realneils.com
They sounds absolute fantastic. Take a peak!!

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger LeWolf said...

I can only suppose the UN inspectors did not find any weapon of mass destruction in Iraq because they were looking in the wrong place. It wasn't in any of Saddam's White Palaces, it was in plain view at the White House all this time.

And now, trumpets blaring in round 2 of shock and awe, we're about to see the administration leveled by a laser guided CD, 'living with war'.

Don't need no UN Sanctions,
this note's for you...

Nice job. ;>

Paul Wolborsky
paul.wolborsky@gmail.com

 
At 7:35 AM, Anonymous TJR said...

My name is TJR and I was one of the 100 voices that sang on this album.

There is not much more that I can say about this album that hasn't been said allready...except that on a personal note, singing "America The Beautiful" at the end of the recording session with all of those amazing voices was one of the most unexpectedly spiritual experiences I have had in a long time.

 
At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read this review plus comments after listening to the CD a few times. Great lyrics and message! (Rhythms and melodies may also be okay), but unfortunately, the acoustic qualities of the music and vocals were dismally abysmal - it was frequently difficult to understand the words (and I'm a native speaker!),and the music was not nearly "differentiated" enough, acoustically speaking - the sounds were far too lacking in "brilliance" and depth; just a mass of decibel "grunge" without distinct enough highs and lows, so that it (and hence, the lyrics as well!) didn't "penetrate" into your soul nearly as powerfully.

So unless the commercial CD is of far better acoustical quality than the on-line versions are...

that said, tracks 1, 4, 7, and 8 are by far the most powerful:

After the Garden; shock & awe; impeach; and looking for a leader.

P.S. Can anybody tell me what specifically the text line "after the garden" is referring to?

 
At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

neil says it loud and proud keep on rockin in the free world dude

 
At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've listened to this album most every day since the Internet release, and think it's one of Neil's best. Yet, I've got to agree with an earlier comment that the sound quality would improve access for the masses. Can anyone tell me if the the commercial CD sounds better than the Internet release?

But ya know, it's the message that matters, and I get that loud and clear.

THE REVOLUTION STARTS NOW! (but let's wait for the congressional elections)

 
At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"AARON WOLFSON #1 ON NEIL YOUNG"

Recording artist Aaron Wolfson's song "Daddy's Gone Away," has reached #1 on Neil Young's website "Living with War Today."

The modest anti-war video, attached with the song, is #1 out of over 543 videos, and has already attracted over 6,243 views.

View the video at: http://www.neilyoung.com/lwwtoday/lwwvideospage.html

More info available at Aaron Wolfson's website: http://www.aaronwolfson.com

Thank you.

 

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