Keep on rockin in the free world.
January 11, 2002 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Keep on rockin in the free world. You go Neil! "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." One of John Ashcroft's favorite rockers?
posted by martk (48 comments total)
 
It was necessary to destroy the Constitution in order to save it.

I love Neil, but he ain't the sharpest tool in the shed.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:14 AM on January 11, 2002


Ok. I am chained, drugged and heading for jail in Cuba. Now when do we get our freedom back, or is this called Indian giving (aka: Native American giving)?
posted by Postroad at 10:25 AM on January 11, 2002


jeez. I love Neil too, but .. jeez.
posted by dig_duggler at 10:29 AM on January 11, 2002


Old man, take a look at your life.....
posted by briank at 10:31 AM on January 11, 2002


and i always thought the words to rockin' in the free world were supposed to be ironic. it sucks when your heroes turn out to be morons.
posted by zoopraxiscope at 10:36 AM on January 11, 2002


More of Neil here, and a bit of a longer account of what he said. Not that this counts as an endorsement, but . . .
posted by raysmj at 10:38 AM on January 11, 2002


See links below about the "best" and "worst" rock stars of all time. Neil Young is one of those rare artists who has produced a large enough body of work to have earned a place on both lists. In any case, no artist should get mixed up in politics. Not Barbra Streisand, not Neil Young, not Bert Brecht, not nobody. Artists should be above politics.
posted by Faze at 10:44 AM on January 11, 2002


Neil Young has always been fairly conservative. I remember seeing him on TV talking about how much flak he got from other musicians for voting for Regan.
posted by internal at 10:52 AM on January 11, 2002


Bravo Neil...seriously. Desperate times call for desperate messures. Life isn't fair, it sure as Hell wasn't fair for those 5,000+ in NY and DC, so I don't care if an illegal alien is detained for a while. I don't care if the long arm of the law is a bit stronger. This is an anti-terrorism effort...not an anti-freedom bill. How many more people are going to die before you stop whining?
posted by Greener at 10:53 AM on January 11, 2002


Artists should be above politics.

I don't understand this statement at all. This doesn't make any more sense to me than saying "Plumbers should be above politics." If you were to say that art should transcend politics, then I could at least see an argument. But such a weirdly sweeping statement about a particular group of people seems pretty silly.

How many more people are going to die before you stop whining?

I promised to stop after ten more, and I'm holding myself to it.
posted by Skot at 11:07 AM on January 11, 2002


I really like Neil's music, but as an artist I can't understand how he can support a group that supported the PMRC. They tried to do to records what the MPAA did to films.

And besides, isn't his endorsement of U.S. anti-terrorism legislation irrelevant? He's Canadian.
posted by eraserhed at 11:07 AM on January 11, 2002


politics aside, neil young is the most untalented hack to ever pick up a guitar. in his hands, it becomes an instrument of aural torture. he has no technique, no finesse, no sense of construction, no chops and no apparent ability to even tune the damn thing. has nobody ever actually listened to his 'solos'? i surpassed that man's ability before i was 17, and that is absolutely no shit. yeeeesh...
posted by quonsar at 11:08 AM on January 11, 2002


Yngvie Quonsar...
posted by websavvy at 11:10 AM on January 11, 2002


quonsar there is far more to talent than technical prowess on the guitar. Need proof? Notice that guitar store employees never start bands that anyone gives a crap about.

Come to think of it, I don't think I've heard of YOU either...
posted by glenwood at 11:16 AM on January 11, 2002


Quonsar,

I hit up Tower Records but they were sold out of all your album releases. Ah, sweet success.

I've seen the poster and the damage done...
posted by BentPenguin at 11:17 AM on January 11, 2002


What an idiot. And I hate his music, too.
posted by rushmc at 11:18 AM on January 11, 2002


Quonsar,
I saw you on your last tour, you KICK ASS!
posted by Greener at 11:19 AM on January 11, 2002


Isn't Neil Young Canadian?
posted by rev- at 11:21 AM on January 11, 2002


success does not equal talent. talent does not equal success. the fact that i did not choose to devote myself to guitar playing as a career is not relevant to a discussion neil young's stunning inability to play.

and in fact, i did kick ass on my last tour. it was a triumphant whirlwind of dazzling metro arenas like the hart bar (hart michigan) and whisky creek resort (which i dont think even has a postal address). i was 19, it was winter, and i got laid. sweet success!
posted by quonsar at 11:30 AM on January 11, 2002


What rushmc said.
posted by dong_resin at 11:31 AM on January 11, 2002


Neil Young is great. . .I totally disagree with his stance on this, as i was appalled that he endorsed Reagan. But you have to admit he speaks his mind. . .he was great singing "Imagine" on that telethon even though half the Mi-Fiers didn't know who it was.

I have seen him a bunch of times and he's sucked about half of those times but been out of the world wonderful the other half. You get the full meal deal with him whether you want it or not!

And Quonsar, listen to the solo on Danger Bird, and tell me honestly that you could create something as engrossing and symphonic with an electric guitar. . . didn't think so. . .
posted by Danf at 11:33 AM on January 11, 2002


Greener: could you throw more meaningless, hackneyed slogans into that comment, please.

Also, I put that crack about "fairness" right up there with "love it or leave it" among the most unAmerican statements being tossed around these days.
posted by jpoulos at 11:37 AM on January 11, 2002


Tell me again what Neil's non-ability on guitar has to do with his comments on civil liberties?

Tell me again why the comments of an aging rock legend have any relevance to anything?
posted by Ty Webb at 11:45 AM on January 11, 2002


ummm...live free or die?

(gets off soapbox)
posted by Greener at 11:49 AM on January 11, 2002


Well, along the lines of desperate times call for desperate measures. It is useful to look at the political context in which the Bill of Rights was signed into law. The United States was facing hostile enemies on all borders. The republic was fragile and could have apart at any moment. The threats faced by the United States included not only the threats of the massacre of entire communities, but the threat of destroying the entire United States and reverting it to a colony status. During the revolutionary war the congressional forces faced threats of spying not only from the British, but from their own soldiers and officials.

And yet in spite of this, the founding fathers created a sweeping concept of human rights as an essential part of being human.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:56 AM on January 11, 2002


My only point is that the USA/Patriot Act makes life safer for me. It is an Act geared for right now, not the future. If a few illegals get a hard time, I won't lose any sleep. Is this act simply a way of cutting out the red tape so that terrorists can be brought to justice? Yes. Does this make me a bad person for thinking this way? Probably. But I don't care.
posted by Greener at 12:01 PM on January 11, 2002


The problem is, since the "war on terrorism" is an undeclared war with little definition and no timeline, the "right now" of the Patriot Act is undefined too. When will it be lifted? When will there be a conclusion to the "war?"
posted by readymade at 12:21 PM on January 11, 2002


The Act expires in 2005
posted by Greener at 12:24 PM on January 11, 2002


Quonsar: Neil can get more feeling out of a one-note guitar solo (see Cinnamon Girl) than all the guitar "virtuosos" combined. I bet you like Yes and Rush, don't you? Nevertheless, Neil should be ashamed of himself for talking that crap...
posted by elvissinatra at 12:25 PM on January 11, 2002


I certainly don't think you're a bad person for feeling that way, Greener. It's not like you actively want to see people harrassed by the government.

My only point is that the USA/Patriot Act makes life safer for me.

I agree that that's probably true. But it's only a part of a much more complicated equation. Protecting the physical space that is the US, and the lives of its people is, of course, extremely important. Right up there with it, though, is protecting the principles that are supposed to differentiate the US from other nations: Freedom of speech and religion, equal rights regardless of race or ethnicity, a right to due process under the law.

You yourself mentioned "Live Free or Die." While I wouldn't necessariliy go quite that far, that's exactly what I'm talking about. I think we need to defend the constitution just as vigilantly as we protect our airports and New Years celebrations.

It would be relatively easy to protect the nation under Martial Law, for example. The hard part is maintaining the balance between civil liberties and public safety.

</Now that's a soapbox :-)>
posted by jpoulos at 12:32 PM on January 11, 2002


elvissinatra - how can you even mention yes and rush in the same breath? but - yes to yes. i'd crawl over a mile of broken glass to hear steve howe. i've never really understood what whats-his-name (rush guitarist) was trying to do.

and danf: you might be very surprised at what i could do :-)
posted by quonsar at 12:47 PM on January 11, 2002


jpoulas:
The "live free or die" thing was in response to your request for more hackneyed slogans. But yes, I get what your saying. And, yes...I know I'm climbing a VERY slippery slope here. As far as the Martial Law thing goes...I wouldn't go that far either. As far as The Constitution goes, one could argue that it's point is to protect our way of life...but I'm not about to go down that road. But honestly, would you be opposed to a toned-down version to the USA/Patriot Act?
posted by Greener at 12:53 PM on January 11, 2002


Just a reminder that the actual death toll from the WTC and Pentagon attacks was about 3,000, and not the 5,000+ that's more commonly attributed.
posted by alan at 12:55 PM on January 11, 2002




As I heard said when Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, caught crap about his comments regarding Salman Rushdie and the fatwa: "Trust the art and not the artist."
posted by alumshubby at 12:57 PM on January 11, 2002


Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Neither of them old boys can carry a tune. They can play the guitar sorta, but their harmonica solos just suck. Nevertheless, they wrote some songs that will never be forgotten and changed the people who heard them forever. If you don't understand that, quonsar, don't call yourself a musician; you're just a musical technician.

As far as the politics go, I'm a little disappointed in Brother Neil myself, but I was in the streets when he sang about 4 dead in Ohio and he was speaking for us then, and will probably continue to speak for us if we have to go there again.
posted by norm29 at 1:01 PM on January 11, 2002


Unfortunately, it appears that the definition of terrorism under the patriot act is sufficiently broad enough to jail AIDS activists in addition to terrorists according to In These Times. A different view of the story can be found at pointing fingers. Somehow I doubt that the patriot act was meant to cover AIDS activists who make obscene phone calls in the middle of the night.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:02 PM on January 11, 2002


Uhhh, am I the only one who felt that "counterpunch" article was just a slightly biased, inflammatory opinion piece that had little to do with Neil Young at all? In their own words, that site is dedicated to "muckraking with a radical attitude".

Whether I agree with Neil Young on this particular issue or not, one of the reasons I admire him is that he has always thought for himself and made up his own mind about what was going on in the world politically.

I admire him for standing up for his opinion and being independent in that way. I would suggest those who are so quick to bash Neil Young based on this article should do the same.
posted by edamame at 1:19 PM on January 11, 2002


If we include civilian deaths in Afghanistan,the total of fatalities arising from 9/11 is more like 8000.
And counting.
posted by Fat Buddha at 1:22 PM on January 11, 2002


My only point is that the USA/Patriot Act makes life safer for me.

How, exactly?

Why must we accept fear of our government in exchange for a little less fear of terrorists?

It's no more likely that I or anyone I love will be killed in a terrorist attack now than it was before the 11th of September. But it is much more likely that my email will be read, my house searched, or that I will be arrested than it was before the passage of the Patriot act.

They've pulled in tighter the boundaries of the legal, and that leaves all of us a little closer to the wrong side of the law. Why must we accept this as the price of an ultimately illusory security?

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:34 PM on January 11, 2002


People for the American Way, which once described the goal of the PMRC censors as "to bring children and parents together on music selection"

What a weird way to introduce People for the American Way. I don't know the context for that quote, but in isolation it certainly gives a very distored picture of PAW. They're an activist organization dedicated to preserving civil liberties and very much not a friend of John Ashcroft.
posted by redfoxtail at 1:38 PM on January 11, 2002


the fact that i did not choose to devote myself to guitar playing as a career is not relevant to a discussion neil young's stunning inability to play.

Well Quonsar, freedom gives you the ability to have your opinion - one which I disagree with entirely. No Neil is not a technical guitarist but he crams more emotion into his playing than 95% of the artists I've ever heard and I'll take that anyday over technical precision. He's an artist not an engineer - precision is not always the point with art.

As for his statements on the current issue, the truth hurts I guess. I'm absolutely sick of people crying that they want assurances of security but they don't want to be delayed 10 minutes in bording their planes. Some sort of temporary sacrifices MUST be made until facilities and procedures can be upgraded...you people have been living in this "instant society" far too long if you think it works any other way...
posted by RevGreg at 1:47 PM on January 11, 2002


rev greg, an excellent point. because i mentioned technique though, every response has basically said the same (obvious) thing. no, i don't think precision and technique are supreme, and i can name several technical masters whose music feels robotic and uninspired to me. i also mentioned steve howe, who often seems to throw out all the rules and stutter in and around the beat. nevertheless, i don't care for neil, i think he's a hack, i think his fame is a hangover from CSNY.

now, as to the topic of the post - its the masquerading, posturing and blatantly stupid 'anti-terror' reactions that people are disgusted with. there is no need for the security farces currently underway at airports. steel doors which cannot under any circumstances be opened by the pilots without the aircraft being powered down and sitting on the ground, and then only by the use of a second key held by authorized airport personell would handle the problem totally. usa patriot act indeed. some of us know a right wing powergrab when we see one.
posted by quonsar at 2:05 PM on January 11, 2002


Yes, Greener. We all know how "temporary" goverment acts never become permanent or anything like that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:36 PM on January 11, 2002


From the Yahoo story about the awards:

"Besides Young's award, People For The American Way presented Defenders Of Democracy citations to directors Kimberly Peirce and Kevin Smith and South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker."

Now, I'm confused. Perhaps People for the American Way are not the people I thought they were...darn it, now I have to go do research. :)
posted by dejah420 at 3:01 PM on January 11, 2002


People for the American Way are a lefty Hollywood group started by Norman Lear (producer of All in the Family), among others. (PftAW were among the groups blamed by Falwell for Sept. 11, along with gays, atheists, Teletubbies, left handed people, and my dog.) i think they were probably pretty shocked at Neil's pro-Ashcroft stance.
posted by Ty Webb at 4:02 PM on January 11, 2002


As for his statements on the current issue, the truth hurts I guess. I'm absolutely sick of people crying that they want assurances of security but they don't want to be delayed 10 minutes in bording their planes. Some sort of temporary sacrifices MUST be made until facilities and procedures can be upgraded...you people have been living in this "instant society" far too long if you think it works any other way...

I don't know anybody who's objecting to the patriot act on the basis of increased airport security. Instead what is being objected to is a definition of "terrorism" that is defined so broadly as to include many forms of political protest (including nonviolent protest), sweeping new powers given to federal law enforcement for intercepting communications, and a new type of wiretap warrant that lets you under investigation if you just happened to share the same public telephone as someone under investigation.

Those of us who know history recognize this as a classic bait and switch. In the early 20th century, quite a few laws were invoked claiming to improve public safety after the Russian Revolution and anarchist bombings. However what these laws were really used for was suppressing political dissent of all kinds. So certainly, reform of our airport security system is long overdue. However, giving law enforcement sweeping powers to claim a suspect is a terrorist in order to suspend due process is probably unnecessary.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:49 PM on January 11, 2002


Neil's politics have always been of the shallow and populist variety; that's why he can do a song about the killings at Kent State and, twenty-odd years later, tour with big yellow bows on each side of the stage in support of the troops "fighting" the gulf war.

That being said, consistency and predictability are not two words you should use to describe his music.

Oh, and quonsar: trying to base your music criticism on justifying what you enjoy (or vice versa) just makes you sound like a twit.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:21 PM on January 13, 2002


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