Reviews of "Living with War"
Loudersoft - You’ve got me talk, talk, talkin’ out loud… » Neil Young’s “Living With War” Comes Marching In:
“Simply put, Neil Young rocks the house like a mother f**ker on a mission from God. Neil is focused, angry and on target.”
Los Angeles CityBeat - Redemption Songs: Springsteen’s Seeger tribute fiddles, while Young’s war protest burns by Chris Morris:
"Living With War is the best and most powerful album of 2006."
Rolling Stone by David Fricke:
"In a time of crisis, subtlety is not an option, and speed is essential. Neil Young recorded the nine original songs on this album in six days, just a month ago. He wrote four of those songs on the day he cut them. And in all nine, Young charges the current president and his administration with, among other things, lying, spying, waging war with no right or reason and dereliction of duty to the nation’s founding ideals. He then calls for the most extreme judgment available to the American people in “Let’s Impeach the President,” with rusty-fuzz guitar, the righteous muscle of a hundred-strong choir, a trumpet playing “Taps” and the self-incriminating voice of Bush himself.
Living With War is one man’s opinion: Young reports, you decide. "
`War' a howl of dissent from rocker Neil Young | Chicago Tribune By Greg Kot:
"The mix places the singer's guitar and voice on the same plain as Chad Cromwell's drums and Rick Rosas' bass. On about half the songs, Young has to fight to be heard above the instruments, and his voice quivers with conviction. The production befits a garage-rock band lacking both rehearsal time and a recording budget; the trio roars to life as if responding to a starter's pistol, latches on to a sliver of a melody, and then rides it without letup. Several of the songs were written and recorded in a single day, and they sound like it; the unvarnished immediacy is jarring -- and thrilling.
There is little of the epic ebb and flow that Young conjures from Crazy Horse, the band with whom he records most of his electric rock albums. Even Young's craggy guitar solos aren't much in evidence. In their stead is a furious forward momentum, punctuated by a choir that lends an almost celebratory air to the outraged 'Let's Impeach the President.' Even those who disagree with Young's views ('Let's impeach the president for lying/And leading our country into war/Abusing all the power that we gave him/And shipping all our money out the door') may not be able to deny a performance that rolls like a tidal wave: Call it a punk-gospel anthem."
Neil Young to Tour for 'Freedom of Speech,' As He Expresses It with New CD:
"Asked this week if he was afraid about a backlash to his CD, Young said, 'I'm not in the least bit concerned. I expect it. I respect other people's opinions. That`s part of what makes the United States and Canada and all free countries great, is the fact that you can differ with your friend and you can still sit down at the same table and break bread with your friend.'"
NPR : Protest That Sings: Neil Young's 'Living with War'. Audio review by Tom Moon of the "purposeful" album tracks. "Neil Young awaited a younger singer to step up but could wait no longer."
NPR's Fresh Air: Neil Young's Political Statement by Ken Tucker calls Young "a partisan contrarian".
False 45th: Montpelier, Vermont Music Store Buch Spieler Opening at Midnight for Neil Young Release
washingtonpost.com - Neil Young's Antiwar Howl By J. Freedom du Lac:
"This album is all about venting, and it's accordingly noisy and discordant. It also sounds unfinished, as Young opted to work in the moment and plow through the writing and recording process rather than refining the material. Thus, it has the rough-draft feel of 'Mirror Ball,' Young's hastily recorded 1995 collaboration with Pearl Jam."
Guardian Unlimited Arts | | Neil Young, Living With War by Alexis Petridis:
"In the aftermath of 9/11 Young was initially hawkish, writing the Give-War-a-Chance anthem Let's Roll and supporting the Patriot Act, but the war in Iraq prompted another volte-face. Last month, he wrote and recorded an entire album in nine days, protesting both the war and Bush Jr's presidency.
However, the most pressing question Living With War raises for long-term Young fans is less political than musical. Young is the kind of venerable artist whose classic work is so important and influential that it casts a rosy glow over his more recent output. Everything he releases is greeted as a startling return to form, but the truth is that he hasn't made a great album since 1995's Sleeps With Angels. For 10 years now, he has seemed to be a man coasting towards retirement. It would be nice if Living With War's speedy, reactive gestation indicates Young rousing himself from a decade of cosy torpor."
calendarlive.com: Neil Young By Randy Lewis:
"Young will be accused of a lot of things — of being a traitor and/or terrorist sympathizer — but mincing words won't be among them. The sheer brazenness of this collection is refreshing after years of timidity in the upper echelons of the pop world forged in a debate-stifling environment in which 'if you're not with us, you're with Al Qaeda.'
The legacy of Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra right up to Operation Iraqi Freedom provides the subtext of Young's tack here. He draws a line between vehemently disagreeing with the decisions (and ethics) of government leaders and supporting the grunts who are putting their lives on the line because of those decisions.
'Families' captures the dilemma of those who take pride in the commitment of their fathers, mothers and siblings in the military while worrying about their well-being. 'Looking for a Leader,' snarling like most of the tracks with distortion-drenched electric guitar work over thundering rock rhythms, yearns for someone of peaceful vision to rise up from the ranks and guide the country in a new direction. The album concludes on an introspective note with 'Roger and Out,' about a longtime friend who apparently has passed, leading into an a cappella choral reading of 'America the Beautiful.'"
On His New Album, Neil Young Calls for Bush's Impeachment - New York Times By JEFF LEEDS:
"[Manager Elliot] Roberts said that he did not know exactly what had inspired Mr. Young to record the new songs, which were written and recorded in a span of roughly two weeks, but that 'I know he watches the news.' He added that he believed the album's sentiments would resonate broadly, adding that 'it's not a political, Democratic versus Republican feel.'"
Singles Scene: Neil Young - Living With War: Review:
"The plan was to song by song review this, but I'm having a hard time saying much except, sounds like the last song. Thus, I'm going to stop here and give more general impressions. Every song reminds me of an older Neil Young song but I can't quite place it. It's in the dirty guitar sound and tempo, which is the same for each song.
It ends, however, with a nice, acappella, gospel version of America The Beautiful. Unfortunately it is song ten before a gear change happens, too late to salvage the work as a whole."
haahnster's hallucinations: LIVING WITH WAR - Initial Impressions:
"Bottom line: I think it works well at LOUD VOLUME (and what other way would you want it?), and I think it's going to resonate with a lot of people. I'm sure it will alienate a few, especially the Fox News watchers. Fuck 'em. PLAY IT LOUD!!!!!!!!!"
The World Wide Glen: Welcome to My Thoughtmare:
"Protest music is as richly American an artform as you'll find anywhere on the landscape of our country's history...from the protest songs born in the dust bowls and the union struggles, to the negro spirituals which arose from the cotton fields of the civil war era.
I personally find it ironic that quite often the loudest voices at home in support of unpopular wars...like Vietnam in the sixties or Iraq in the present day...have also been among the quickest to want to supress the very voices of protest or dissent that the soldiers are supposed to be fighting for."
On Blogcritics.org, Daniel Woolstencroft responds to above review by Glen:
"Excellent review Glen - you've wisely reviewed the album itself rather than getting too heavily drawn into the political message. I'd agree with this review 100%.
This also proves that streaming an entire album online before its release isn't a bad thing; I'd probably never have bought this had I not had the chance to hear it first."
National Ledger - Neil Young and United 93: Are Either Exploiting 9/11 Attacks? by Christopher J. Stephens:
"Thirty-six years later, Neil Young returns to protest form with the release of “Living With War.” This new release, which Young is now streaming on his website, was reportedly written and recorded in March. It’s a strong collection of electrified, fuzz-rock anthems with titles like “After The Garden,” “Living With War,” and “Shock and Awe.” For forty years, this is an artist who has rarely compromised when it comes to left-wing hippie ideologies, and if only for this he should be lionized. Grizzled and high-pitched and angry [especially in “The Restless Consumer,”] this is a collection deep from the heart.
Early mixed media commentary on “Living With War” has been understandable. Like most rock stars of his vintage, Neil Young is a better performing musician than he is an interview subject. Nervous footage of his recent appearance on CNN will speak to that. “Let’s Impeach The President,” one of the more controversial songs in this collection, is an interesting yet poorly structured lyric saved only by clever audio of Bush and chants of “Flip/Flop” to underscore the point. “America The Beautiful,” ingrained in all of us, ends “Living With War.” this context is as heartbreaking as you might expect."
Living In The Past » Neil Young , a has been and a fool.
"Truth is painful. I think it's hard to live with truth everyday. Like I said the other day, if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention. But today, the truth hurts and it's easier to be numb, or to shut it out. In the record's mournful title song, 'Living With War,' Young sings: 'I'm living with war everyday, I'm living with war in my heart everyday, I'm living with war right now' but he also says 'I take a holy vow to never kill again' and 'try to remember peace.' As he sang those words I thought of what he did with John Lennon's 'Imagine' on the 9-11 memorial album. Remember? He changed the line, 'Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can,' to 'I wonder if I can.'
:|: Suburbia :|: :: Neil Young Will Be Streamed for Free by The Globe and Mail's Robert Everett-Green:
"At bottom, this is a profoundly patriotic record. Its predominant theme is spoiled hopes, and the list is long, including hopes for a safe environment, for economic justice at home and abroad, for peace between nations. But a few songs make it clear that Young isn't finished with hoping. Looking for a Leader, which comes right after Let's Impeach the President, is an unvarnished call for a new authority figure who can right the wrong, clear out the corruption, and make the nation's symbols feel pure again. 'Some one walks among us, and I hope he hears the call,' Young sings, 'Maybe it's a woman, or a black man after all.'
That was some truth."
An in-depth review that brilliantly harks back to On The Beach for inpiration on Cole Slaw Blog: Neil Young starts all over again:
"To find a little perspective on Neil Young's Living With War, consider that arguably the darkest album in the history of pop music is his 1974 release On the Beach."
calendarlive.com: POP MUSIC - Neil Young's harsh words By Chris Lee:
"'I was waiting for someone to come along, some young singer 18 to 22 years old, to write these songs and stand up,' Young said. 'I waited a long time. Then, I decided that maybe the generation that has to do this is still the '60s generation. We're still here.'
"I'm eternally optimistic," he said. "Change doesn't have to happen tomorrow. Maybe the day after tomorrow. The endgame is, when people hear it, it's up to them to think whatever they want. And I can say whatever I want. We seem to be losing track of that."
London Free Press - International News - Despite Neil Young's song, Obama's not 'lookin' to lead'
"The 44-year-old Barack Obama said at a news conference before a fundraiser Saturday he has read the lyrics. But despite being name-checked by a rock 'n' roll hall-of-famer, Obama said he has no intention of running for president in two years.
That doesn't mean Obama is dismissing Young completely: "I'm a big Neil Young fan," Obama said of the Canadian musician.
He and Young met in Chicago at last year's Farm Aid concert. Obama said he sat in a trailer while Young rehearsed the song Southern Man.
"The acoustics in a trailer are terrific. It was unbelievable. . . . It was one of the best times that we've had since I was a senator."
The Social and Political Power of Music (The Mad Optimist):
"Is there any question, judging from the above lyrics (from Young's latest release Living With War) that Neil, again, has something to say about the current state of affairs, particularly as they relate to the current President of the United States? I think not, and I am damn proud that we still have an old rocker like him to say what so many other artists seem so scared to."
BlogWonks » How To Impeach Bush: A Friendly Suggestion for Neil Young and the Hollywood Left by Doug Powers:
"Now, since Young says that the war has gone bad and Bush’s poll numbers are down, Young is anti-Bush. Honest coincidence, or is Neil Young simply riding on waves of public sentiment, no matter where they are or what they’re for or against? Duh! He’s an entertainer. It’s what they do.
That said, the value of this activism in achieving whatever it is said celebrity is trying to accomplish is usually minimal at best, completely counterproductive at worse.
How effective are celebrity protests and anti-war songs?
The limo-liberal left should realize that, if they’re truly interested in getting us out of Iraq and avoiding confrontation with Iran, they should form a group called “Actors For A Radioactive Teheran.” The general public would turn pacifist virtually overnight. Nobody in their right mind would want to start a war if Mia Farrow and REM thought it was a good idea, right?"
:: The Cleveland Free Times :: Cleveland's Premier Alternative News Arts & Entertainment Weekly - Ragged Glory: Neil Young Addresses Dubya and the Damage Done By Peter Relic:
"While there's no way you can listen to the album and not feel both Young's anger towards the Bush administration and his empathy for the American people, the man well knows that kick-ass rock 'n' roll trumps plenipotentiary polemics every time, and delivers accordingly.
Music may not be able to change politics, but it can transform society, and Living With War has the potential to do exactly that."
uh, plenipotentiary polemics?!
Hammer of Truth » Neil Young Jumps on the Impeachment Train comment by Paul:
"Neil Young. What a pathetic excuse for a living bacteria. He has been a degenerate his whole life and continues to show his traitorous stupidity wherever and whenever he can. Hope he gets stuck in the mud in Alabama. I’m sure the “good ‘ole boys” will surely give him a hand."
At Home in Hespeler: Neil Young - Living With War:
"Like many who read here, I am fed up with celebrities shooting their mouth off about what's none of their business.
Shut Up and Sing is my usual motto here. But in a case like this I take a different view. If an artist wants to put their views into their work, put their money where there mouth is, then that's fine."
The Screaming Eagle Journal: My review of Neil Young's new album:
"I am a Neil Young fan. That said, I just spent the last 40 minutes listening to something he should be totally ashamed of. The album is flat, totally unimaginative, and musically listless, not to mention all lies. Neil no matter how much fun it would be to go back in time, we can't. The 60's and 70's are gone forever. Let it go. "Living with war" is garbage."
You Can Take The Boy Outta Brooklyn… » Review: Neil Young, "Living With War":
"Living With War is a vital rock album, an energetic & heartfelt protest album, and a very loud reminder that Neil Young is not growing old quietly - definitely worth your time."The Common Ills: Kat's Korner: Neil Young's Living With War
Third Estate Sunday Review: Music spotlight: Kat's Korner "Neil Young's Living With War -- key word 'Living'":
Kat: Thank God for Neil Young. He's the first one to give us what we've all been wanting. The one that takes on the Bully Boy.
You buy that crap in the previous paragraph? Sometimes rewritten history is enough to turn you off reality. For instance, revisionist history doesn't note that Neil Young was quite happy to support the Patriot Act at a time when artists like Rickie Lee Jones were raising their voices. Rickie Lee took on the Bully Boy. So did Green Day. So did Pearl Jam (in the past and on their new self-titled CD). And of course Bright Eyes, the Rolling Stones, Cowboy Junkies and many more. In terms of a sense of how America's has changed, you need only listen to Tori Amos' Scarlet's Walk to hear a journey across an America rotting from above. Those artists are far from the only ones who have spent time among the living in the last six years."
Cahl's Juke Joint: A rock, blues and jazz blog: Neil Young: 'Living with War':
"Moreover, “Living with War” rocks hard. In fact, the album reminds me of the music at a concert I saw Young give on his “Rust Never Sleeps” tour in 1979. That show ranks as one of my top rock ‘n’ roll memories because I’ve never seen anyone else, not even Bruce Springsteen, lose himself in the music like Young did that night.
I haven’t lived with the new album long enough to know whether it will be a regular visitor to my CD player in a few years. But I do know that I’d love to see Young when he tours to support this album. You can bet it will be one of his best tours ever."
The Washington Monthly: NO MORE LIES comment by Charlie P:
"I agree with your Neil Young assessment. I think the reason that the combination works with him is that his songwriting is perfectly integrated with his personality. Combine that with the years of honing his skills, he has reached the mastery of his media so it responds to his needs rather than having to force it to fit. It helps that he is stubbornly individualistic. One additional aspect of his craft that helps (also with Ohio) is the rejection (for the most part) through the years of over-production. This enables him to quickly produce an album of this sort without the loss of quality. The excellent quality of this CD belies the short amount of time it took to produce."
Stubborn Lion » Neil Young is my hero:
"But I love art, music, writing, etc. that captures those moments and starts to answer some of those questions. Angels in America comes to mind as an example. And this new Neil Young album certainly does it as well. Buy it, download it, steal it, whatever. Just hear it."
More comments on "Living with War" here, here, here, here and here.
UPDATE 5/18: A fan's review of "Living With War" from the Neil Young Albums In Order review series.