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Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Song "Just Singing A Song Won't Change The World"

On August 7, in Helsinki, Finland, Neil Young debuted a new song called "Just Singing A Song Won't Change The World".

The song is in response to a question that was raised at a press conference: "can music still change the world"?

The worldwide reaction to Neil's response prompted him to make a highly unusual clarification about what it will really take to change the world.

And now Neil's put those thoughts into a song.

"Just Singing A Song Won't Change The World" [mp3]

Thanks Johnny TheSongDog Yuma!

Lyrics transcribed by Liza from Germany.

Just Singing A Song Won't Change The World

You can play my guitar
See it where it'll go
Send this song to a distant star
While the rhythm explodes
Just singing a song won't change the world

You can drive my car
Feel how it rolls
Feel a new energy
As it quietly rolls
Just singing a song won't change the world

Just singing a song won't change the world
Just singing a song won't change the world

You can sing about change
Well, you're making your own
You can be what you're trying to say
On a big wheel road
Just singing a song won' change the world

You could play my guitar
Go where it goes
Send this song to a distant star
While the rhythm explodes
Just singing the song won't change the world

(Note that lyrics in 3rd verse are incomplete. Corrections welcome!

Thanks Liza! Updated lyrics 8/14.)

Pete Townshend discussed Neil's quote that music can not change the world on this YouTube video and didn't necessarily disagree.

Others, nevertheless, haven't lost faith in the power of music:
"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."

Lately, Neil has made serious commitment to his vision of eliminating roadside re-fueling with the LINC VOLT project.

Asked about the perceived shift, Neil responded in an interview:
'You know, I thought long ago you could change the world by writing songs.

'But you can't change the world by writing songs.

'Oh, you can inspire a few people, get some of them to change their thinking about something. But you can't change the world by writing songs.

'But we could change it with this car.'"
"Back in the old folky days,
The air was magic when we played."


At 8/10/2008 05:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats nice! Also check out the other one here:

At 8/10/2008 09:14:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the melody, but I have a problem with the lyrics. Just singing a song can change the world. I remember eight years ago when I was a teenager in suburban Australia, thinking that a lot of things were messed up. School sucked, girls didn't have any interest in me and my plans for the future were being ridiculed. 'You can't make a living being a writer!' they'd all say. One of the things that changed my bleak out look on life was listening to Neil's music. Some of it made me feel less lonely, and some of the rocking songs were cathartic and just brought a smile to my face. The music made a massive impact and changed my world. The really tough times have gone now, and I'm thankful for Neil's music for helping me back then, and still get a lot of pleasure from listening to it now. Making individual people happy through a song can change the world, given that we are all part of this world.

At 8/10/2008 09:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lyrics Suck. Period.

At 8/10/2008 09:24:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil should change the lyric to: 'Just singing a song can change the world.' That would be more truthful.

At 8/10/2008 10:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just Singing A Song Can Change The World

There’s a boy who’s alone in his room,
and its a lonely day.
But the light of music could come,
just go and press play.

Just Singing A Song Can change the World

There’s a heart that’s broken,
it’s got nowhere to turn.
But music lends its shoulder,
and comfort it will learn.

Just Singing A Song Can Change the World

The singer at the darkened club,
thinks, ‘who will understand?’
But a teen run's to his friends,
and they’ll start a band.

Just Singing A Song Can Change The World

Small change, can make big change,
be brave and sing your song.
It might fade away to nothing,
but it could last and be strong.

Just Singing A Song Can Change the World

At 8/11/2008 12:00:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just singin a song CAN!!!! change the world you old hippie. You have given up on the spirit.

At 8/11/2008 04:50:00 AM, Blogger Ben said...

You're missing his point. Music can be a catalyst, but he's urging us to remember that you also have to get off your ass and act. Everyone's saying they have solutions to the world's problems but nobody's really DOING anything.

At 8/11/2008 09:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Changing the world through any art smacks of grandiose and probably delusional thinking. What makes more humble and truthful sense is the idea that

"A little love and affection
in everything you do
will make the world
a better place
with or without you"


At 8/11/2008 09:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

of course i was excited when i heard that neil has two new tunes that he´s playing now on the leg of this tour. but after a first listen i have to say that i´m not too impressed. those songs don´t sound very inspired to me - musically speaking, i´m not talking about the lyrics. i wouldn´t mind if he doesn´t play them the following sunday in austria - i´d rather hear some of "the old stuff". bit of a dissapointment here..


At 8/11/2008 09:42:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil simply isn't the great songwritter he once was,so dont expect great things.He's a great performer and WAS a great songwriter,but the last album wasn't exactly EKTIK or RNS ! But at this stage of the game,I'm thrilled if he just releases archives material.

On the above video..... Townsend
is a brilliant musician,great songwriter and intelligent guy..... but Daltry proves he is still just an ignornant ass.

At 8/11/2008 09:58:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i do agree on the term that neil has already written his best stuff - that´s for sure. but he came up with some great stuff lately, don´t you think? i like most of "prairie wind" a lot, "living with war" rocks, and also "chrome dreams 2" has some great moments ("no hidden path"!). but again, those two songs.. i dunno, it´s not my thing. o.k., i admit that i´ve only listened to them once, but i don´t think they´ll grow on me.
oh, just asking: why is roger daltrey an ignorant ass..?


At 8/11/2008 12:06:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actully think Sea Change has the potential to be the big jam song, replacing NHP and prominently featuring pedal steel.

Just singing a song is filler.

At 8/11/2008 12:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil needs to put more time into the songwriting instead of writing filler songs.

At 8/11/2008 01:08:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the same impression after listening just once to the new songs. But they really do grow on you after listening again and again. Especially "Just singing...." is a catchy song, I don't think it's a "filler". I really like it!

I also think, that Prairie Wind is one of the best albums he has ever made.

At 8/11/2008 03:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a few songs that have changed a lot of lives thereby making the world a better place for others to live ... thank you Neil!

At 8/11/2008 04:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil Young and Seymour Hersh are the only historical figures to play equally important roles in the history of opposition to two American Imperial adventures. Ohio, My Lai. Abu Ghraib, Living With War.

Living With War got me back into Neil, after about ten years of not really following him, but being deeply involved in antiwar organizing. It is - listened to with distance- one his ten essential works, and a vital historical document as much as is Ohio.

This Note's For You objectively created a backlash against corporate rock.

At 8/12/2008 12:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoever said this: "Neil needs to put more time into the songwriting instead of writing filler songs." You are 100% correct. These 2 new songs are pretty bad; throwaways.

For me, Greendale was the last thing he's done that's been really good. Prarie Wind & Chrome Dreams 2 don't do it for me (except Ordinary People which is from the 80s). Spirit Road & No Hidden Path are pretty good, but...that's the best he's got these days??

Someone else said that "at this stage of the game,I'm thrilled if he just releases archives material." Agreed. He's an odd-decade guy where his best stuff was in the 70s & 90s (+ EKTIN in 60s & Freedom in 80s). Maybe "the spirit" will come back to him in 2011 (at age 65/66) & he'll come back with avengance.

At 8/12/2008 02:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree with you at all- if you'd seen Neil lately you'd know that he is very much at the top of the game, and the "spirit" you're talking about has certainly not left him! Let him finish his songs before you critisize them.

At 8/12/2008 03:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just listened to the Oslo version of the song and would like to correct the third verse, but I'm still not very sure about the words, maybe some native speaker could help?

You can sing about change
Well, you're making your own
You can be what a child said
On a big wheel rose
Just singing a song won't change the world

At 8/12/2008 03:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After listening to the song again and again, here the correction for the second verse:

You can drive with my car
Feel how it goes
Feel a new energy
As it quietly rolls
Just singing a song won't change the world

At 8/14/2008 10:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Thrasher,

after listening to the Hamburg version of the song, I finally understood the third line of the third verse:

You can sing about change
Well, you're making your own
You can be what you're trying to say
On a big wheel rose
Just singing a song won' change the world

It would be very nice, if you could correct the lyrics above!
Thank's for your work!

The first and the last verse are slightly different and Neil turned them around yesterday.
Regards, Liza

At 8/14/2008 07:06:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Liza! Updated lyrics. Also changed "rose" to "road". That's what I heard and makes more sense.

At 8/15/2008 04:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, Thrasher! "Road" sounds so much better than "rose"!

Regards, Liza

At 8/15/2008 11:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Competes for the most trite of Neil's lyrics:
car:star:guitar... geez, Neil.

Hold this klunker for Archives 17!


At 8/21/2008 10:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

neil has not changed a bit. most of his songs are hard to figure out. thats the point. he makes us think with our own minds.I can't wait to see him in san diego.
I just found this web site, what a great site.
" keep on rockin' in the free world " & keep on talkin' in the free world.

At 10/24/2008 09:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here a new clip :

Finally I think I know the words of the third verse:
"You can be what you try to say
As the big wheel rolls"

If you think, that this is correct, you may change the lyrics. Thank you and regards, Liza

At 10/31/2008 12:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Neil needs to put more time into the songwriting instead of writing filler songs.)))))
Oh please, filler?? Why don't you give it a shot? I guess it's good he doesn't write for people like you. Better check your taste buds, buddy.


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