Friday, April 28, 2006

Living With War

I listened Neil Young's new album today. Not last fall's "Prairie Wind," but the new new album called "Living With War". It was streamed for free today on, but I don't think they were ready for the demand since I couldn't get on that site all day. I used my Internet savvy to find a back channel (O.K. there was a link of, which I check twice a day).

Neil shocked his record company by informing them that he had a new record ready to go, since he just did one (and last month there was a lot of publicity for a concert video based on that last album). But Neil is really mad at George W. Bush, so he sat down and wrote a bunch of protest songs about Iraq and Bush and cut them in no time at all. Politics aside, it's a pretty good record that doesn't seem hurried at all.

Neil is an interesting case politically because he doesn't easily fit into the typical brainless "limousine liberal" entertainer model, and unlike many entertainers I feel like he has enough integrity in his personal life that if he wants to speak about what is moral or right he isn't hopelessly hypocrytical (unlike his CSNY bandmate David Crosby for example).

He's written a couple of the all-time seething leftist protest songs of the rock era in "Ohio" and "Rockin' in the Free World" (though the latter is, like "Born in the USA," usually mis-interpreted as a patriotic anthem). However, he has also written an emotional potentially militaristic post-9/11 anthem in "Let's Roll," he once supported the Patriot Act, and once spoke in support of Reagan.

Neil brings up some good points during the course of the record, but I'm a bit bothered by the second to last track "Lookin' for a Leader." He suggests that many problems can be solved by putting a new person in the White House, one who can "re-unite the Red, white, and blue" and "clean up the corruption."

He also says the new leader will have "The Great Spirit on his side." Despite the ecumenism in such a statement, isn't Neil essentially advocating what Bob Dylan warned about over 40 years ago in "With God On Our Side", or for that matter what peasants in monarchies have believed for centuries--the divine right of kings? Does he really expect there will, even figuratively speaking, be a divinely appointed individual that can make everything right?

I don't want a president who people look up to as a savior or a hero. I would rather a president who fits into a system, and a people who look to a system rather than an individual to solve problems. It might not be as sexy or as good of a story to have faith in systems instead of individuals, but I think it is much less dangerous.

For the sake of argument, though, let's assume that a huge number of Americans listen to Neil's message and go along with it. Who of the presidential contenders for 2008 right now has the best shot at attaining the "cult of personality" that Neil is looking for, who can claim to be an idealistic visionary leader, who can claim to be a hero? There is only one: John "Wayne" McCain.

Wouldn't it be funny if Neil's album turns out to be best for Republicans in the long run?


Blogger Tim said...

Tommy Thompson might run for Wisconsin guv again.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Azor said...

He wants to run for president. He was probably inspired by "Looking for a Leader." "Hey, Neil must be talking to me." Actual quote from Tommy: ""I would love to be able to get my ideas in front of a bigger audience, because I know I'm right."

He might be a bit more polished, but he isn't that different from his brother Eddie.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Did you see Nichol's column about Mark Green's reaction? Actually wasn't too bad. I had the same thought about that episode: What was THAT all about.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Azor said...

Wow you actually praised Mark Nichols.

1:31 PM  

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