Still Living With War: One Year Later
Woodie Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, & Neil
Art by Down With Tyranny!
A year ago it all started when an obscure blog link popped up over in the right sidebar here on Thrasher's Wheat. According to the blog Last Left Turn Before Hooterville a new Neil Young album was being recorded. The blog, written by a member of a 100-voice choir, said the album would contain the lyrics: "Let's impeach the President for lyin'!". Alicia blogged:
"Every time new lyrics would come up on the screen, there were cheers, tears and applause. It was a spiritual experience ... We finished the session by singing an a cappella version of "America the Beautiful" and there was not a dry eye in the house."
"I've never been at a recording session that was more like being at church. Heck, I've never been to a church that was more like a church than that session."
Needless to say, the Rusties were in an uproar last April, with a serious meme circulating that this was all an elaborate hoax.
Could this be the predicted swerve to the ditch? This wasn't the first time Neil was ahead of the curve on impeachment (Nixon) or calling out for the truth.
As word of the album began to percolate through the blogosphere, reactions began to pour in fast and furious.
From Cole Slaw Blog:
"Mildly disappointed with Neil Young's syrupy fall release 'Prairie Wind,' this morning I'm happy (I'd write 'thrilled' or 'overjoyed,' but I'm trying to be more understated) to read that Neil will soon release a hard-rocking protest album called 'Life in War.'
After days of continuing speculation as to what Neil was up to, his official website began to offer up specific details. Neil himself described the album as "Metal Folk Protest" like Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan.
Once completed, Neil played the album for his label Reprise and than immediately gave a live interview to CNN. For many fans, this was Neil at his finest -- speaking truth to power.
So would "Living With War" be rock's "Fahrenheit 9/11"? For critics, it seemed to be the case.
But things would get ugly. Very ugly. Blogs exploded on early news reports of the still unheard album.
Day By Day Cartoon
Sadly, a not untypical comment on Hammer of Truth » Neil Young Jumping on the Impeachment Train by Taylor:
"How should I put this? How but, Fuck Neil Young.
He nothing but another commi, liberal, anti-american, hippie. If he hates the way George Bush runs America, then he can just take his whining ass back to Canada. We sure as hell don’t need him here, complaining about how bad things are. He talks like he would make a better president than George Bush. If someone like Neil Young was our president, then every terrorist in the world could walk all over us and he wouldn’t do a damn thing. His little anti-war ass."
Well, we thought we had seen everything. Until "War on Neil Young" from Red State Update started appearing on YouTube. Couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry.
It nearly became depressing. How could so many who probably had never even heard of Neil's music become so filled with hate? I was down on a frown when a messenger brought me a letter. Thankfully, there was much support for both Neil and Thrasher's Wheat. Without the stunning and overwhelming reader support, this site would have folded last April.
Eventually, the CD was released, heard and evaluated. Reviews of "Living with War" were predictable for their focus around one song on the album and failing to grasp the larger picture.
The experience of April 2006 was unlike anything ever experienced before here at Thrasher's Wheat. Now I know what it feels to be hit by a virtual tsunami with 100's of comments on nearly every post -- many of which were filled with hate about Neil's freedom of expression. One of the things Thrasher is most proud of is the coverage the site has received that notes our non-partisan and apolitical stance, as Daily Kos notes:
"The definitive Neil Young site Thrasher's Wheat has done the hard work of assembling reaction from musical and political bloggers. Some of the reactions gathered on the normally apolitical Thrasher's Wheat show Bush's zombies in early meltdown."
If nothing else, Living With War was the most courageous album of 2006.
Complete coverage of the Living With War controversary at Neil Young News: 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 and Neil Young News: 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006.