Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The As-Always Fearless Neil Young

In an era where too many of even our greatest 60s radicals have shied from speaking against this unjust and mercenary war in which we're too deeply entrenched, Neil Young, on something of a musical roll, is about to release his gorgeous, flagrant, angry, hopeful and downright moving Living With War. Click here to listen to the whole thing--but please, if you believe it, run out in two weeks and buy this one. It will be worth it.


Anonymous Quinn said...

"Living With War" is a angry intictment of our current situation; but I fear that its entertainment value obscures any call-to-action.

I mean, Neil's got a great fuzzy guitar sound going on with this album and some pissed-off lyrics that reassure us that our anti-war position is correct, but what are we going to do about it? "I take a holy vow, never to kill again," Neil says in one of these tunes. But how do we do that?

For God's fucking sake, we don't have much of a choice. All we have is our vote, and we would have been in the same place if we voted for a Republican or a Democrat.

We've been broken apart by our media, convinced that this war is no more than entertainment, that the death and destruction that goes on is worth no more than a soundbyte on either the 10:00 news, or our computer screens. So what the hell is Neil's record?

In the end, it's just another part of that media.

I would say that part of real antiwar protest would to be to igore Neil's record...and DON'T BUY IT. Because if this album was anything more than a commercial protest, if Neil really meant this record as a intictment, it wouldn't be for sale. It would be free. Notice that the thing is not DOWNLOADABLE...it's only available via sreaming media. If you want to own it, you have to pay...

So I don't really believe him. Real protest music belongs to the people, not to the record industry, and by participating in the latter, Neil's record is not real protest, it's product, entertainment product...and in the end it only serves to distract us.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Quinn makes some good points, that our media heroes have betrayed us as much as anyone else, that either side is part of the same infernal arguement--and this I concede, sadly, because it does really render the situation hopeless and I tend, believe it or not, towards optimism, even in times (and Times) as bad as this.

But I still feel the purchase of the record is not inherently a bad thing, that good protest music should be free, because we do live inside a capitalist democracy like it or not, and sometimes if you play by the rules--you purchase a record and give something to a corporate interest, you cast a vote in opposition to the obvious evil rather than for the most desirable good--you can at least do what one can to change things from the inside. After all, we enjoy the fruits of the not-always-despicable capitalism by signing onto blogger to express our opinions, by reading books even by Noam Choamsky, by attending The Fog of War and casting our dollars or votes if not in the exact right direction, at least to the slightly more proper winds, however fugitive or mixed the result.

After all, I purchased all the records I own by Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie and Paul Simon. Those guys are capitalists--brilliant capitalists--as much as Mr. Young. We may not be able to change the infrastructure, but with complex thoughts such as these being available in a mainstream way, we may be able to change our collective hearts and minds. It is removing the sliver from our own eyes before we pull the plank from our brothers'. I don't think it will work, but at least it's a step in what I hope is the right direction.

Then again, we are going to war with Iran, it seems written on the wall (the donor's wall that is), and so Mr. Young's record is someone's palm trying to hold back an infernal tidal wave. At least he's trying; we all should be too.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Quinn Skylark said...

I guess it's just that by streaming the whole record, Neil hints at the possibility of just making it free and downloadable, but insead it's just a tease. In a week, it will be gone. In the past, it would have made sense to sell the record, because that would be the only way to distribute it, the only way to get the message heard. But now, we have the ability to spread music freely, all you have to have is an Internet connection.

My punk rock roots tell me that there are alternatives to mainstream or corporate culture, and I continue to fully embrace that idea. I don't really mind that Neil releses his regular music on Reprise/Warner, but when it comes to stuff this fiercely political, I think it would carry more weight if he said, 'Fuck it, this message is too important. I just wanna get it out there.' By sidestepping the commercial routine, the songs would be MORE than a product.

But such as it is, the songs are just commercial products and, as such, they are emasculated as protest music. A DJ could play "Living With War" on the radio between Billy Joel and Pearl Jam and nobody in his audience is going think twice about what's being said.

6:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We should give out free copies to Iraqis as part of their new freedom. It will help them to understand that we don't really want to be there and that this whole thing is just a twisted neo-con nightmare. Liberalism is the only hope left to us. We must abolish religion and traditional gender roles, poverty, private property, capitalism, "tradition," and race. We must all be the SAME now in order to stop war and oppression from Neil Young's record company and George "W" Bush alike. It is the only way. Onward liberalism! It isn't a dirty word. It is the future!

8:43 AM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

I don't disagree with Neil Young's political stance--at least as it stands right now. There's a quite interesting review of "Living with War"/short history of Young's rather mercurial, shall we say, history of political beliefs over on the http://arts.guardian.co.uk/filmandmusic/story/0,,1767177,00.htmlGuardian's website .

However, after listening to "Living with War" a few times, I really wonder if this album will stand any test of time in terms of Young's musicianship, if we can even divorce its lyrical & political content from its musical structure. On the other hand, *any* recording is merely a snapshot of a certain moment in time...

10:05 AM  

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