"Music Can't Change World" Says Neil: World Reaction
Photo by Markus Schreiber
From the man whose song "Ohio" played a part in helping end the Vietnam war, now admits that music can no longer change the world.
Neil Young made the comment at the Berlin film festival which is screening "CSNY: Deja Vu".
From Associated Press story by GEIR MOULSON:
"I think that the time when music could change the world is past. I think it would be very naive to think that in this day and age.
I think the world today is a different place, and that it's time for science and physics and spirituality to make a difference in this world and to try to save the planet."
There's been quite a reaction to Neil's observation.
Commenting on Neil's remarks, Mother Nature On the Run said:
Did I read that right?
Music has always served as the catalyst for change ... the musician who provides the message in many cases is like a teacher we don't appreciate until we look back and see how they directly impacted our lives ...
What quickly precipitated change in the Nam years was the public's strong reaction to the deaths of the young people caught in the protest crossfire on campuses throughout the US ... do we really want to see our kids being shot down on the college campus today by orders from their own president? No. This is happening anyway due to a different war we're fighting here in the homeland ....
But don't sell yourself short, you old geezer. How many times has a person come up to you to say, "thanks Neil, for making LWW."
There's your answer.
Consider this ... the increase in activism lead by some very brilliant young people associated with MoveOn & increase in voter registration over the past 8 years from people who typically don't show at the polls ... it is always a few who lead ...
Hell, I got off my fat ass and did something after listening to LWW ... we all did ...
Rock on, Neil!!
Be safe, be careful, and send us a postcard ...
RoseMerry comments The Huffington Post:
If you read a number of biographies, you see that unless the subject dies young, the final chapters are never the best. I love Neil and I am just as prone to fall in the darkness of despair as anyone but the man is so, so wrong. Music has enriched my life and often provided meaning in a life that might otherwise would not have been worth living.
I am so sick of hearing that "today's music does not have the same soul". There are so many great, great young new artists, you just have to look past the noise of the megacorp idols that the Monsters of Distraction want to force feed us. The Wide World Web provides a great bypass of the this monster. Just takes a bit of effort on one's part.
We have changed the world - hey, did you ever think that a black man would win the Presidential primary in George Wallace's Alabama!!! I never dreamed I would live to see that!
This southern man is so glad that Neil Young is and was but he is so wrong in this - as wrong as Lynard Skynard was about his song.
From TakePart Blog Network:
"Neil Young is right. Music can’t change the world but musicians can. There just has to be enough of them working together."
misterbone The Huffington Post:
In the heyday of CSNY, music was one of the few forms by which political messages could be communicated to a mass audience. It was after all a form of entertainment which made it available to radio and television, media which otherwise gave little opportunity for straight political discourse, especially radical discourse beyond the mainstream. Today in the age of round the clock cable television news, the blogosphere, et cetera, music no longer is an indispensable means of mass political communication. However, given its power to reach our emotions, it can still play a role where the message has particular urgency.
From Sexuality in the Arts:
"Whether you agree with Neil Young or not, is not so important.
If you disagree in part with Neil Young, prove him wrong by showing or improving music’s reach and quality of communication to the rest of the world (and more specifically, start with your community and friends).
If you agree with Neil Young, then do what Neil Young does and keep singing, expand into new mediums (he just put his band’s music into a film), and keep speaking out for the things you want to see changed."
From Quark Soup:
"Wow, I'd really like Neil Young to explain how physics is supposed to save the world. It's far from obvious, especially to the physicists."
From TakePart Blog Network Amy V. writes:
"Perhaps it’s true that music and musicians don’t change the world the way they or we like to think they can. But individual people create change every day. Some by teaching, some by protesting, some by volunteering time or money. Sometimes a smile is all it takes to make the difference in another’s day. A song won’t change the world dramatically overnight, but it has to start somewhere, and musicians and their music can still do their part even if it’s not a revolution."
From Stereogum: Pack It Up, You Hippies Marty posted:
"As for whether music still has the power to change the world, I'd argue that it has no more and no less power than it did in the sixties. The only difference is that, with the arrival of the Beatles, several different social movements coalesced around the central point of music. Music wasn't necessarily what changed the world so much as a medium for what the world was going through."
From The Huffington Post mouselion posted:
"Music, as with all art, is not made in a vacuum. You can't separate life from the art. All art, no matter when it was made (and no matter how unwittingly) makes a political statement.
When Neil says, 'it's time for science and physics and spirituality to make a difference in this world' he's ignoring that they've been saying that for a few centuries now and, in fact, the current situation with Iraq (war), Pakistan (nukes), Iran (maybe nukes), terrorism, energy consumption and global warming is because 'we' put 'our' faith in science and technology. What ever happened to 'When the aimless blade of science slashed the pearly gates'?!
And, as far as spirituality -- whose version of spirituality? Another blogger today wrote of the need of a spiritual awakening. Seems like that also plays into the problems of today. Somebody's grasping at enlightenment eventually caused subsequent followers to hate somebody's grasping at enlightenment.
So, for 'science and physics and spirituality' to make a difference in the world, it takes vision. To communicate that vision, it takes art (which includes web design, blogs, and even 'objective' news media).
So, sorry Neil, you're not off the hook on that. And, neither are the rest of us...
From The Huffington Post by ArmchairNihilist:
"Give Neil credit for not capitulating to hippie sentimentality about 'the power of music' and such nonsense. The power to change the world could be in people's hands--IF they would choose to seize it, and if they'd sacrifice some of their comforts in pursuit of the common good. Alas, our narcissistic, individualism-uber-alles, winner-take-all spectator American society thinks it's just a matter of sitting around, waiting for the pendulum to swing back toward center. I'd say our 'progress' toward fascism is about 45% complete."
Neil Young Still Doesn't Get It | Future Majority:
"... music and culture continue to have a vital role to play. One song may not be able to change the world anymore, but hundreds and thousands of songs by as many artists, supported by fans that are smart and organized can. Neil Young should stop singing laments for activism of the past, and channel his anger and frustrations into aiding these new artists and activism models that are in part following in his footsteps."
Beyond the Art Fair: Neil Young is Feeling Bad:
"If we give up on the idea that that music or art will not repair what's wrong in this world, then we have lost our world.
It's not naive to think that art will change the world, Neil. It's naive to think we CAN'T."
Paz3 comments on The Huffington Post:
Sorry Neil, but I have to tell you that many of us over 40s (I'm 66) who work in non-profit social service are very familiar with your work, and it helps a lot of us keep going.
One of our particularly dedicated and inspiring staff members has "Rust Never Sleeps" scrolling across his PC monitor screen as a screen saver. That's just one example, among many. Also, quite a few of us in this work are big U2 fans.
Small change, maybe, and maybe we are mostly keeping our fingers in the dike, but remember that human beings learn most effectively via eaxmple.
Don't sell yourself short, Shakey.
This whole reaction is similar to that when Neil commented that he made "Living With War" because today's musical generation wasn't which resulted in an open letter to Neil Young by musician Stephen Smith which in turn resulted in the Songs Of The Times web page.
Lastly, many blogs site this video "Yes We Can" by will.i.am as an example of music possibly changing the world.
UPDATE: 2/11/08 - "I will keep on singing": Neil Reacts to Reaction.