Neil Young, from Nixon to Bush
From The Observer's interview by Sean O'Hagan titled "Neil Young, from Nixon to Bush" on "Living With War":
"Well I just went with my instincts as always. I was trying for a sound that really resonates so that's why the choir's on there. I wanted something so utterly simple and unarranged that people could sing along with it and play along with it, just like those old stirring folk songs. So when we play them live, anyone can get on board. There's no arrangements to learn, no fancy harmonies. It's stripped-down folk really, but I wanted it to sound angry and agitated and raw, too. My voice, and what I think as an individual, is much less important on this project. It's the project itself that's the important thing. It's about making yourself heard.'
Living With War is indeed an angry record but one that manages to sound somehow patriotic, too. Young says he waited a long time to make it because he was hoping that 'maybe a younger artist would stand up and write these kinds of songs'. That never happened, or at least not in the high-profile way he thought it would. 'For a while, you know, I didn't feel it was my place. Being 60 years old, and being who I am, it just didn't feel appropriate,' he continues, getting into his stride. 'Plus, after 9/11, we were told by the government that expressing dissent was not patriotic. I mean, I trusted the government back then. I was one of those guys who thought the Patriot Act was an OK idea when it first came out. I got behind it.' He shakes his head at his own folly. What, I ask, changed his mind? 'Bush did. The government did. We need a leader who's more cautious, not so reckless with things they don't understand. Other cultures need to be respected. Culture itself needs to be respected. I mean, I feel Saddam was bad and had to be overthrown, but are we smart or are we stupid? At this point in our evolution, with all the technology that we have, there has to be a better way of doing this than bombing a country into oblivion."