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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Comments of the Moment: Micah Nelson Responds To Neil Young's New Song "Neighborhood"

Lots of excellent discussion on Micah Nelson Responds To Neil Young's New Song "Neighborhood".

Just to recap. Neil Young's new song "Neighborhood" (The Drone Song) (watch/listen) has begun to stir up a bit of controversy after only a few public performances. On the YouTube page comments, there is now posted an "Open Letter to Neil Young" on the song's lyrics by Rabih Hamzeh to which Promise Of The Real's Micah Nelson provided a well measured response.

And likewise, TW readers also responded with carefully considered comments. The Comment of the Moment is from everyone's friend Greg M.:
I'd also be interested to know the veracity of this letter, and its elements. Did the crowd really cheer at the lyric? If so, how many cheered thinking as Rabih did, that the lyric was in fact Neil's real sentiment, and not a satirical view of fear mongering? I agree that Rabih must be relatively new to Neil and his music, to not automatically err on the side of Neil adopting a lyrical persona, as most of us do, but I also hope I can empathize with someone who faces prejudice on a daily basis being a little over sensitive. You know, walk a mile in my shoes, and you might feel differently about some things.

This takes me back to my freshman year of college, watching the movie "The Godfather", with a predominately white, privileged group of kids like myself, who knew next to nothing about what it meant to grow up as a black person in America- this was 1976. In the scene where the family heads are discussing the relative merits of getting into the drug business, when one of the characters made the statement "In my city, we would keep the traffic in the dark people- the colored. They're animals anyway, so let them lose their souls", when most of the audience laughed I looked up to see a couple of black students leaving in disgust. Although I didn't laugh, neither did the scorn and heartlessness of the statement register with me. To say the least, it took me a few minutes to direct my attention back to the screen, after getting such a disturbing view of myself. My antennae wasn't up, and therefore I didn't see it coming. Likewise, it isn't hard for me to consider that the antennae of the concert audience, or of the posters on this blog, is not up in a way that it must be up for Rabih. Don't get me wrong, I'm not pointing a finger, or discounting the good points being made, just saying maybe look at it a little more from the perspective of the Rabih's among us.

A Friend Of Yours
Really, really good points Greg/AFOY. And we're glad we're having this conversation. Once again, another demonstration that Neil fans are some of the most knowledgeable and astute music fans out there.

Yes, undoubtedly, anyone unfamiliar with Neil's music may have had Rabih's reaction. And it is a legitimate reaction to a "perceived: slur.


But at the same time when you write an Open Letter to Neil, write 7 well-constructed paragraph's and post it on one the web's largest sites, you need to really think these things through. Maybe familairize yourself with the artists work, how about?

And that is is what is suspect here.

You bring up The Godfather scene from the past. Another analogy is the whole "Sweet Home Alabama" business. Exactly the same. A bunch of folks getting all stirred up about mis-interpreting lyrics.

Fair criticism is always fair. Lies, distortion, manipulation, hidden agendas are an entirely different matter.

Be sure to check all of the comments on Neil Young's new song "Neighborhood" (The Drone Song).

you -- masters of war -- give peace a chance
(Thanks HtH!)

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At 10/20/2016 12:19:00 PM, Blogger Pabst said...

At Oldchella weekend #1, I felt like everyone who cheered was cheering the mockery of ignorant idiots. Maybe I'm wrong though and a lot of folks attending are/were bigots who couldn't understand Neil's sarcasm in the lyrics.

But, either way, I could see how a casual fan might not understand and thus think Neil was mocking Muslims. I mean, there are people who still make out during Pearl Jam's Better Man... a song about domestic abuse. Because people don't pay attention to the lyrics and people don't understand nuance.

At 10/20/2016 02:24:00 PM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

Just FWIW, according to Micah, the song is called "Terrorist Suicide Hanggliders" (though that really should be two words). And not sure where the "Drone Song" subtitle is coming from, since the lyrics don't mention drones at all.

At 10/20/2016 02:32:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

A casual fan who probably never heard "Last Trip to Tulsa" is probably not listening to the lyrics or paying attention. I don't believe there is a soul on the planet that thinks Neil is practicing racist or bigot.

"Alabama" is without question THE letter to all Americans from a Canadian songwriter who was just learning about the general attitudes and perceptions that bigots and racists had about people of color in America. The message was "Get your shit together, Jim Crow."

And Jim Crow responded, "Southern man don't need him around anyhow."

At 10/20/2016 02:32:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Pabst - good to hear from someone who was actually there. When we heard the song debut in Telluride, around us, it seems like the lyrics were absorbed. Afterwards, we heard quite a few confused reactions.

@Babb B - The "Drone Song" subtitle is coming from us here @ TW. Drone = "Terrorist Suicide Hang Glider"

"Terrorist suicide hang gliders
In the sky above you can't see
Hidden there in the darkness
Behind the reasons that you're free"

At least that's the way we hear it....

At 10/20/2016 02:34:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

Babbo, the lyrics I thought I heard allude to drones spying on people.

At 10/20/2016 03:27:00 PM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

Matter of interpretation, I suppose - anyway, lyrics are here:

At 10/20/2016 06:38:00 PM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

Excuse my ignorance what neighborhood does Neil live in these days?

At 10/20/2016 08:22:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

So maybe not a troll bot after all? If so, our deepest apologies to Rabih Hamzeh.

Here is Rabih Hamzeh's response to Micah's response...


I really really appreciate your response to my "open letter" to Neil. I guess I've become a bit sensitive as of late. It's great to know that Neil meant the lyrics in satire (it makes sense of course considering who he is). I think the problem was that I was surrounded by a lot of people who actually agreed with the song as he sang it. We all knew it was a joke when Stephen Colbert played a super conservative guy on The Colbert Report, but I think "Neighborhood" lost its main thrust a bit when what actually happened was people started screaming "YEAH!!!" during the "funny names / bad or good" part. We live in such divisive times that it's hard to know what anybody believes anymore. I think it's going to take the country a long time to heal from what Trump has done to it. Anyway man, I'm extremely touched that you took the time to respond. Bless you, Neil, your brother and your dad. Rock on brother man. - Rabih PS: Your guitar playing is perfection. SO soulful.

Sooner or later it all gets REAL... and it just got really real real here @ TW.

At 10/20/2016 08:57:00 PM, Blogger Alfonz said...

In Telluride, I could hear/see Neil say "Neighborhood" when Micah asked what song they were about to play next. That's how I wrote it when I posted a setlist. I don't know if Sugarmtn picked that up, or they got the name from another source (e.g. paper setlist from the stage).

So who knows what it's called. It's a new song, might only have a working title (or 2 or 3) anyway.

At 10/21/2016 05:35:00 PM, Blogger Mother Nature on the Run said...

"... but I think "Neighborhood" lost its main thrust a bit when what actually happened was people started screaming "YEAH!!!" during the "funny names / bad or good" part. We live in such divisive times that it's hard to know what anybody believes anymore." ~ Rabih Hamzeh

We need more people like him who believe that more people are good. Thanks for posting that, Thrasher.

At 10/23/2016 06:09:00 PM, Blogger José from Paris said...

At 10/25/2016 04:14:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm so tired of these millennials being offended at every turn. It’s one sentence of a song for crying out loud. People will do and say things you don’t like and don’t agree with; its called life.

At 10/26/2016 01:32:00 AM, Blogger Babbo B. said...

Yup, Terrorist Suicide Hang Gliders:


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