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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ohio Revisited: Neil Young 40 Years Later

Thrasher's Wheat highlighted on Neil Young's

"When OHIO was written 40 years ago it was a thing done on instinct.

I felt moved to do it and I'm glad I had Crosby Stills and Nash there with me. 40 years later I feel the same way. It was all just too real and that hasn't changed. To those who knew the 4 and survived to see today, I say peace and love be with you.

- Neil Young

For the 40th anniversary of the Kent State tragedy, Neil Young has made a statement on his "LIVING WITH WAR TODAY" website on the song "Ohio" he recorded with Crosby, Stills, & Nash that went on to become an anthem to a generation.

The LIVING WITH WAR TODAY website also reprints a letter by the mother of slain student Jeffrey Miller -- one of the four dead in Ohio. If you have not read her heart wrenching letter yet, we urge you to do so.

Also, the LWW page highlight's Thrasher's Wheat post on the anniversary. So that's kinda cool although this is one of the saddest things we've ever blogged...

And we've received quite a few comments over the years on "Ohio". Here's a comment on 40 Years Since 4 Dead in Ohio: Kent State Massacre Remembered by Greg M.:
It’s an honor to share this space with all of the posters here, especially Mrs. Holstein, whose measured response is truly inspirational. Encouraging too, because of the obvious lessons learned. The Kent State shootings have always been a personal embarrassment for me, because at the time I absolutely fell into the “they probably deserved it” camp, and its companion sentiment, “had they not been protesting when they weren’t supposed to be, nothing would have happened.” I was about 11 at the time, the product of a very conservative community, and would not hear “Ohio” for years to come. We were so sheltered at the time, that it took a new friend and his mother, transplants from another state, for me to hear my first anti-Vietnam sentiments from someone I actually knew. Even my fellow Nixon loving friends laughed at my thick headedness on the subject. But then Watergate hit, and everything I had ever believed in became subject to doubt, bringing me face to face with my ignorance. “Ohio” cemented things for me still further.

For me now it’s a matter of awareness. I had my views relative to my exposure at the time, protesters came to their views based on their exposure to a newer, revolutionary awareness. And then there were those who were caught in between, who were getting there gradually, but needed one more push to cross over. This is one of the more crucial effects of Kent State, and to a lesser extent “Ohio”. The event shocked a lot of people into finally accepting what they had already begun to suspect on their own- that things were spiraling out of control, and that there simply wasn’t enough righteous basis to the war to counter the suspicion. I attended a lecture a while back describing the social significance of Neil’s songs, and “Ohio” received a lot of attention. I’ll never forget the ravaged expression on the face of a Vietnam war vet there, who described his emotions when he first heard the song in country. Already in a state of agitation when confronted with his own involvement in the war, he very nearly lost his faith in America on the spot, and described to just what extent the songs images haunted him for years to come.

The song, then as now, is inspired confirmation driven home in the most unambiguous of all ways, through music, imagery, and above all, the power of words. Those words will never grow stale, no matter how many times they’re repeated, and no matter what era they are applied to. “What if you knew her, and found her dead on the ground?” Has a more chilling question ever been uttered in song form? How about “We’re finally on our own?” Has the truth of this statement ever been more relevant than it is for the world we occupy right now? I won’t get into all the reasons why I think this is so, but sad to say, we’ve lost a lot of steam. Never mind our “elected” officials, there is precious little to protect us from the direction this country is headed. Riot police and SWAT teams crushing anti-WTO demonstrations before they even get started, crushing ear drums with noise weapons, a complicit media branding the protesters as anarchists, or under reporting demonstrator numbers, if they report them at all. Or “restless consumers” captivated by “bread and circuses”.

Thanks Thrasher for the post, and for a reminder that the work is not finished, that we cannot allow the “four dead” to die in vain. Thanks for shining a spotlight on a song and an event that serve very effectively to remind us all once again: “How can you run when you know?”

Greg M (A Friend Of Yours)

Thanks Greg!

So were the lessons of Vietnam learned in "Ohio"?

Well. Last we checked, We're. Still. Living. With. War.

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At 5/06/2010 06:34:00 AM, Blogger Gilliam said...

In remembrance of the four students who died on May 4th, 1970 at Kent State University. Shot down by the National Guard. A very dark day in American history and a tragedy that did not have to happen and let's hope will never happen again. 9 more students were wounded that day.

At 5/06/2010 08:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't read KENT STATE--HOW AND WHY IT HAPPENED by James A. Michener (unsure about the exact title) without getting extremely angry...can't fathom why ANY living thinking feeling human being would say that the protesters "DESERVED IT"...not 100% sure things are that much better in America now, but I pray that they are...


At 5/06/2010 12:35:00 PM, Blogger Matthew Lintzenich said...

Kudos to Thrasher for your recent posts on Kent State and the LWW thread a few days ago as well. The connections (lessons not learned, that is) can't be denied. Luckily we haven't had a Kent State yet in the 21st century.

Also Kudos for being featured on the LWW site. So when Neil finally invites you out to the ranch for a sit-down, can I come along as your personal photographer? heh heh

At 5/06/2010 02:50:00 PM, Blogger Dmitri Karamazov said...

It pains me to say this, but since that horrible day 40 years ago, we have not learned anything. In fact we have forgotten an awful lot.

At 5/06/2010 03:04:00 PM, Anonymous SONY said...

Bright Lights, Big City

Good job Thrasher. Finally some recognition from the big man hisself. For all you do, this notes for you.


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