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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Still Living With War: One Year Later

4 riders
The 4 Musketeers
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.

neil_young_forehead_handAs 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.

Neil Rocks on CNN

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.


At 4/08/2007 07:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the most important album of the last 15 years

At 4/08/2007 08:49:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Well thank goodness you didn't shut down Thrasher! We would have sorely missed you! I can't get all the things done now that I have committed to, how could I keep up with Neil? Thanks, man!

At 4/08/2007 09:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can very clearly remember when I read about this CD being made. I was so thrilled that Neil was taking a stand. It seemed like everyone was in a trance like state about being at war. Everyday it seemed you would hear one, two, three soldiers dead. And folks would shrug it off. Or ignore it.

Thanks Neil for reminding us that brave men and women are sacrifing while so many of us go about our day to day oblvious to true sacrifice.

I'll be hunting for my LWW CD and playing it tonight.


At 4/09/2007 02:37:00 AM, Blogger Alicia Morgan said...

I'll never forget how shocked I was that people were going nuts about my little post on my little nobody blog. I was surprised at the vitriol, both at the beginning when I was accused of making it up - when I was assured that it wasn't real because 'Neil Young doesn't record at Capitol; everyone knows that' and 'his record company hasn't mentioned it' - and then when it turned out not to be a hoax, and my inbox burst at the seams from all the apologies pouring in ;-), how vile some people could be to find their way to my blog and threaten and insult me.

Nevertheless, it was awesome to get so many positive reactions too, and be a part of something that matters. I think, looking back over last year, that the record did make a difference. It contributed to a lot of dialogue that would not have happened otherwise, and I think we've made progress since last year, and that "Living With War" was a part of it.

At 4/09/2007 07:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where can I find statistics on how much money Neil has donated to wounded and dead veterans' families?

I'm sure that he has because Neil would never be one to capitalize on a war and line his own pockets.

At 4/09/2007 10:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil's one of the most honest people in music,on this planet.He ain't reaching for his slippers for a long time !Thank God !
Hamish McA

At 4/09/2007 12:50:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Red State Update gang are clearly in the Rusty camp. Far from being Neil Young haters, this is satire much like The Colbert Report. Heck, they even refer to Arc and Landing on Water! Some of the funniest stuff I've seen in a long time--they even make fun of Robbie Robertson's overdone hair in the Last Waltz.

At 4/09/2007 05:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You won't find statistics on how much money Neil has donated to wounded and dead soldiers families for the same reason that you won't find statistics on how much he has donated to other causes, including the Bridge School..... Neil doesn't make that information public. Many of us who have long opposed this war have donated to care packages, volunteered to help veterans, etc.... But we do it because it needs to be done, not for recognition. And before you go calling me a commi, anit-American, libb, or whatever else ya dream up, know that I am a proud American veteran, who is not proud of my country's actions regarding this idotic war........
I thank God that Neil had the courage to speak out against this useless, pointless war...

At 4/09/2007 06:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Thrasher - great site and I applaud your efforts. Looking back on this last year "Living with War" - two things come to mind. 1) Living with War was and is as patriotic and pro American expressing the ideas we hold dear as anything ever recorded (sorry Lee Greenwood)...Families - cmon read the lyrics. 2) Our misguided President has not changed a thing in the last year and now we have the bloodiest year of this conflict yet and how many more hundreds dead including 6 more yesterday. God Bless Neil and Thrasher and yes I am still proud to be livin in the USA!

At 4/10/2007 09:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to all who wuold question Neil's sincerity... Neil does not make public the amount he donates to various causes. Profiteering from the war? Let's see how much the CEO of Exxon/Mobil donated to Iraqi war veterans; and those of Bechtel and Haliburton, and KBR, and Blackrock for that matter. However, if Neil's impassioned pleas result in one fewer lost life in this stupid, senseless, blood-for-oil conquest, then his donation would be as great as any.

"If we are searching for the truth, why do we feel that double-edge blade cutting through our LAND?" America, A-mer-i-ca, where have you gone?? It's a Long Walk Home..."

At 4/10/2007 12:17:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Thrasher and Neil Young. It's only too bad that things aren't much different a year later. The linked Greek themes of hubris and tragedy continue.

"..and now we can't go back"


At 4/10/2007 05:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can only hope for some of the none believers, they get to say someday......"I was blind but now I see".
Living with War really, really sucks!
How many great young men and women have to die? Look while you remove the Red, White and Blue from your eye? How can we sit while the 'W' lies?
Come on, come on, open your eyes.
Hope many people have to die?

At 4/13/2007 06:02:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, with the WMDs being exposed as a lie, and the war becoming increasingly unpopular in the USA, what reason do the last few Bush-maniacs find to bash Neil Young and his fantastic album? That he doesn't tell us how much he gives to veterans' charities! Woah! The crime! Geez, this must mean he's an evil capitalist bastard! Or a profiteering, hypocritical communist, liberal, Al-Qaeda-loving hippy! Funny how the rednecks and conservatives can denounce someone as a "commie" (I'll gloss over the fact that most people in the US don't seem to actually know what a communist actually is) in one breath and then denounce money-making in the next. You can't have it both ways, guys! Either Neil's an evil commie or an evil capitalist, he can't be both. Could it just be that he's neither, that you can't simplify things like this all the time? Maybe it's time to stop glueing your minds to the FOX News propaganda. The truth of the matter is that Neil gives money to charities. He's dedicated the best part of 20 years to the Bridge School and to Farm Aid. He's given money to a gay men's AIDS charity. Like a lot of celebrities, more than we think, he gives to charity. He doesn't disclose the ammounts, or even the charities he gives it to, but then most people don't feel the need to advertise such deeds all the time. Besides, the issue is about more than just American troops being killed. It's about the awful loss of civilian lies in Iraq, the rising death-toll of US and British troops, the political instability the conflict has generated in the Middle East, already such a volatile region, and the gross travesty of a war waged for oil and profit masqueraded as democratic intent. Stop turning the non-issue of whether or not Neil gives money to veterans into some sort of hot potato. He probably does, but it has zilch to do with Living With War. Living with War is about making a statement and denouncing the lies the Bush administration told. Just one listen to the record is enough to prove he's not in this for the cash. Get real.

At 4/13/2007 07:12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, you dope. He's an evil hypocrite profting from a war which he claims to be against.

You really are stupid. Dealing with you and most people who post here is like dealing with a developmentally arrested child. Crawl back under rock, listen to Living With War and receive your instructions about what to think from your hero.

At 4/13/2007 09:38:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Please remember everyone, don't feed the trolls! Be content that you know where it's at, and let Mr. Anon wallow in his "send him back to Canada" vitriolic intolerance. Don't feed it - ignore it.

At 4/13/2007 12:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I grew up my mother always said don't take on bullies. Don't feed their taunts. Don't sink to the level of their ignorance. Come to think of it, Jesus instructed us to turn the other cheek, so, in that vein, there is enough hatred in the world so rather than further pollute this great website by responding to an anonymous someone who must have eaten a cold bowl of chili, we should focus on the larger question of whether or not we are engendering a world we would want to live in or not. For me, I'll take a world that isn't Living With War (every day).

At 4/14/2007 04:51:00 PM, Blogger Muskie said...

I really liked the cartoon, I missed that in the RSS feed.

At 4/15/2007 04:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, anonymous, I was already of the opinion this war was illegal and wrong before it even started, when Bush and Blair were hawking on about WMDs and links to Al-Qaeda without ever giving conclusive proof of the reality of either, all the while ignoring the UN and the International Community they profess to lead. My mind was made up alone, and LONG before LWW came out. I was just thrilled to learn that my idol shared some of my views, albeit not all of them. You, however, sound like just another brainwashed Bush-ite who is content to go along with what the fascists on FOX TV like to say without stopping to try and think for yourself. And the other posters are right, I shouldn't even bother responding. Shit, even BORAT was able to show up just how stupid and laughable narrow-minded, reactionary, conservative war-mongers like you truly are, so it's not like I'm impressed with your low-brow rhetoric. Fool.

At 4/15/2007 04:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and as some other posters pointed out, I'd rather Neil using this record to get an honest, heart-felt call for peace out to as many people as possible, and hey, maybe making a few bucks out of it, than watch the ogres at Halliburton, and bastards like Dick Cheney making literaaly billions of dollars through the deaths of THOUSANDS of Iraqis and coalition troops. How can anyone feel MORE disgusted at Neil, when those guys are raking such fortunes thanks to the suffering they inflicted? You're sick, there's no other word.

At 4/15/2007 12:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To all you cynics who dare to criticise NY and free speech: You are the most close-minded hypocrites I have every heard utter such foul words with your keyboards. Only losers such as yourselves have nothing better to do than stone one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the 20th century for saying something that should have been said long ago. Just because George W. is president doesn't mean he's right, because "some of the people can be part right some of the time, some of the people can be all right some of the time, but all of the people can't be all right all of the time."(Quote Bob Dylan, slightly out of his context) People like you should crawl back into your hovels and burrows and not attempt to drag NY into the holes you're in. One final question: How come only know when NY makes enemies for opposing Bush Jr., do you have a go at his harmonica playing, but never any time before that? Or maybe you're so busy feeding your own massive egos you don't have time to answer that... Neil Young deserves better.

At 4/18/2007 08:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last thing: Living with War was online FREE for several weeks before it actually hit the shops. Hardly the attitude of someone just looking to make a quick buck on the back of the war now, is it?


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