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Sunday, October 14, 2007

What Would Neil Young Do?

Poster by Jeremy Deller
Glasgow’s Modern Institute Museum

From Getty Images Blog:
“What would Neil Young do?” has that well-meaning, all-purpose flexibility that straplines like “think different” have. Its tone is a mix of the cheeky and the high-minded, serious but also a little wry.

I laughed when I first saw the poster because I recalled Neil Young telling his biographer James Mcdonough that when he was young he used to ask himself “…what would Bob Dylan do?…”

Ansel’s take was that Jeremy Deller was playing with the common US bumper sticker ‘What would Jesus do?”

I prefer to think that Deller is a Neil fan, has read the Bob Dylan story, has heard Neil’s trenchant ‘Living With War’ album and has conflated all the above with the Jesus bumper sticker thing.

After six hours of wandering around the Art Fair on the way home on a packed Underground train, an empty seat appeared.

I gestured to a woman with a handful of bags standing up beside it to sit down. She shook her head. I gestured again, she said “no thanks” so I sat down, wondering whether I should really have insisted, whether she was just being polite, and I’m sure it sounds daft, but in my self-conscious embarrassment I couldn’t help thinking, “What Would Neil Young Do?”

UPDATE: "What would Neil Young do?" is the punch line of an anecdote in the Canadian musician’s authorized biography, Shakey (2003).

Faced with any tricky business decision — whether to do a commercial or a TV show, say — Young and his manager Elliot Roberts would always ask themselves: "What would Bob Dylan do?" There comes a day, though, when the torch of cantankerous rock-star integrity must pass. 

Says Manager Elliot Roberts : "Years later I’m managing Bob Dylan, and some decision came up, he turns to me and says "What would Neil Young do?" 

What Would Neil Young Do?
Poster by Jeremy Deller
(More on  A Battle Raged on the Open Page: Can You Change Your Mind?)

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At 10/14/2007 01:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny because what Neil does is so erratic and unpredictable that the question is absurd to begin with.

Nothing to do with Bob Dylan, in my opinion...

At 10/14/2007 05:32:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the critics might say that Neil would have charged her for the seat. Ha!

But I'm not one of them.

At 10/14/2007 08:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 10/14/2007 08:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really have no idea what Neil would do. Neither does Neil it seems at times.

But it seems pretty obvious that Neil would do what's right as opposed to what he's "supposed" to do as a rock star. His career has long passed the point where he needs to 2nd guess conventional wisdom. His songs come from deep inside. If you have to think about your actions than they are not truly sincere. Evil is pre-meditated and conscious. Doing the right thing is a natural instinct.

Maybe we'll give peace a chance?

At 10/15/2007 02:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 10/15/2007 10:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil might have sat down, picked up a banjo and starting picking and singing the "Old Standing Lady".

At 10/15/2007 12:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cmon. The aristocracy doesn't stoop that low. Neil would never be on that train unless he had a private car or was doing some PR with a camera crew in tow. He doesn't mingle much with the unwashed masses. And when he does, he expects to be served, not to serve. A more relevant topic would be Who would Neil bomb?

At 10/15/2007 01:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see the piss & vinegar reservoir is still full. This may be shocking to One Note Johnny but there are some people who have made themselves wealthy who do not pull up the ladder and still can relate to ordinary people. Forty years of having your ass kissed does not mean that you demand it and the idea that you charge market rate for 2000 seat shows and all of a sudden you are above it all? Cmon man give it up.

FYI - The whole What would whoever do is overused and uninspired. What would Neil do? Who cares. What would Neil do? He would put out a record once a year - go play some shows and play with model trains. What would Neil do? None of my flippin business. Mark in Denver - too lazy to reset a password - posting as anonymous.

At 10/15/2007 02:00:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Thrasher, some good news for those of us who were wanting to see that CSNY movie and then heard nothing else about it.


CSNY Movie
2007 | October 13 |

"Graham Nash participated in a "live chat" yesterday for the Washington Post while he's in town for the upcoming Pray for Peace Concert. He hinted that Neil is working on "the CSNY [concert?] movie to be released in time to influence the 2008 elections."

This is the link to the transcript.

In January we already reported that CSNY were moving forward with a documentary film (and live album) from the quartet's Freedom of Speech '06 North American tour."

I thought they dropped it like they dropped all their other previous tour media. And I never thought Neil would've been doing the film, not with "Chrome Dreams II," the tour, and "Archives Vol. 1" coming out soon.

Neil's a very busy man, and even if I don't agree with all his politics, I will support him all the way! Can't wait till all this stuff comes out!

At 10/15/2007 03:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have tickets to the NY show. Who is Neil touring with? Is it solo acoustic, Crazy Horse or some other incarnation?

At 12/11/2007 02:45:00 PM, Blogger Ross McGowan said...

This is the best thing I hae seen in years.... how does one get a copy of this poster


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