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Sunday, July 09, 2017

Forbes Magazine Responds To Thrasher's Wheat: Review of "Children of Destiny" by Neil Young

"Children of Destiny" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real

Neil Young + Promise of the Real's new song "Children of Destiny" -- featuring a full orchestra -- has been making a bit of a splash this summer. So much so that Thrasher's Wheat counter response to Forbes Magazine's review of Neil Young's new song "Children of Destiny" merited a personal reply by the author David Alm. (More below)

The new song's "patriotic" video seems to have really hit a nerve with some -- as we noted on the 4th of July -- managing once again to both polarize his fan base and inflame critics.

Inflamed and polarized to such a degree that Neil Young issued a statement essentially saying that he won't quit no matter what -- which 96% of his fan base generally supports. Proof? All of which led us to Neil Young's Muse: The Passion, The Pathos & The 4%.

"Children of Destiny" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real

In our quick deconstruct of Forbes Magazine's What Is Neil Young Trying To Say In His Surreal 4th Of July Anthem?, we pointed out a few troubling aspects of the analysis involving the review's characterization of the "Children of Destiny" video as "surreal" and "incoherent" as being unsupported and illogical.

From Statement by Neil Young + Orchestra Video Version of "Children of Destiny" by Forbes Magazine author David Alm:
Hi all,

I'm the writer of the Forbes piece, and I really hope I'm not opening myself up to any direct hostility by posting here. I just wanted to say that I've enjoyed reading these exchanges, and appreciate the thought many of the posters have put into their comments.

I also wanted to say, for what it's worth, that I'm actually a very big Neil Young fan and have been for 30 years. I first started listening to him around the "Rocking in the Free World" era and he was my number one throughout college. Decade was my soundtrack on my first solo cross-country road trip when I was 20, in 1995, and Sugar Mountain was an especially important song to me that summer. Same with Powderfinger, when I turned 22, and Old Man when I turned 24. (Those of you who know his lyrics will know why I specify these songs.) My list of favorites goes on and on.

I only offer this because I wanted to assure those who felt offended by my reading of Children of Destiny that I hold Neil Young in very high esteem, and have a lot of deep personal connections with his music. At the same time, I'm extremely concerned about the current political climate, and I think what we need is strong statements of protest, not statements that could easily be appropriated by the far right to condone a white nationalist or jingoistic message.

Unfortunately, I see Children of Destiny being such a "statement," regardless of Young's disavowal of Trump (the video/song will be interpreted on its own merits, not in conjunction with other statements Young has made in the press). The American flag waving in front of the white house, all the white children waving flags at July 4th celebrations, etc. It wouldn't be hard for a Trump supporter to get as amped up about this song as anyone on the left. This is what I meant when I wrote that the song is "by turns, patriotic and defiant, which was quoted by the original poster as an indication that I was "hedging." But the "by turns" is important: it means that the video flops between the two. On the one hand, it can seem extremely patriotic, in the USA! USA! USA! vein, while also seeming to protest the current state of affairs. I find this ambiguity dangerous.

As for the title of the piece, the word "surreal" refers to the juxtaposition of patriotic imagery, protest marches, foreign countries, and Young himself singing behind glass streaming with rain. It's just odd, bizarre, sort of nonsensical (to me).

Again, I hope I'm not opening myself up to any attacks, but I don't really get the sense that folks on here are the type to attack (thanks for that!) Just wanted to offer my two cents, and again, to assure anyone who's interested that I'm as big a fan of Neil Young as many of you. But he's not a deity, and I still think it's important to think critically about everything, no matter how much you may like the person who produced a given song, or whatever.

Thanks for reading.
"Children of Destiny" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real

We responded here on Statement by Neil Young + Orchestra Video Version of "Children of Destiny" directly to Forbes Magazine author David Alm by commenting:
Hello David.

We truly appreciate your dropping by here to comment. It's good to know you're a long time Neil fan as well, so need to feel you may be opening yourself up to any hostility.

That said, we do realize that we were a wee bit harsh on your review and can see your long time appreciation of Neil's work.

Thank you for the clarification on the "surrealism" and the protest message.

No disagreement about concerns the message could easily be mis-appropriated. But really now? We only say that because we've have been though all of that in depth with Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Neil Young's "Southern Man" and "Alabama". (See Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Neil Young.)

The risk is worth it because in the end the blowback comes full circle.

Or take Neil's recent song "Neighborhood" on Peace Trail. You know, "The Drone Song", about terrorist suicide Hang gliders? “Neighbors with funny names”, “hidden in the dark” that could “end your life tomorrow”.

Look at how that blowback comes full circle?

As Micah Nelson responded: "The song is calling out the hypocrisy of the prejudice people here in our country, mainly Trump supporters who can't tell the difference between an innocent Muslim man and a terrorist. The song is a critique of shallow, narrow-minded viewpoints that sadly pervade our culture." (See Micah Nelson Responds To Neil Young's New Song "Neighborhood" .)

Again, thank you for your reply here David. These are important discussions to have where we can freely express ourselves without fear of the thought police.

David, keep on rockin' in the free world while Neil sings truth to power.


Official Music Video by Neil Young + Promise of the Real of "Children of Destiny"

For more on Neil Young + Promise of the Real's new song "Children of Destiny", see:

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At 7/09/2017 10:39:00 AM, Blogger Harold Lepidus said...

Nice to read some some civil discourse and respectful interaction for a change!
Kind of makes me feel nostalgic ... :-)
Kudos to everyone involved...
Be the rain.

Harold Lepidus.
Author: Friends and Other Strangers: Bob Dylan Examined
(Bennion Kearney)

At 7/09/2017 11:10:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Harold yer blogger. Good to see you, our friend.

It is pleasant isn't it?

In full disclosure, TW is trying to be as transparent as possible in presenting a range of thoughts on Neil's "Children of Destiny".

likewise, always be the rain.

At 7/09/2017 11:27:00 AM, Blogger joe mama said...

jesus Christ, dude. do you ever get tired of embarrassing yourself?

At 7/09/2017 11:37:00 AM, Blogger herbsworld said...

RE: Children Of Destiny and Micah Nelson's comments.
I listen to music for many reasons, mostly to forget about the day to day B.S.
I'd rather NOT be bombarded by opinions of elitist ENTERTAINERS. whether it be Musicians OR Movie stars OR any other "Talking Empty Head". Micah mentions the Trump ban on Muslims. first off it's not ALL Muslims. Secondly, have a look around. OUR president sees what is happening in the U.K. and is trying to prevent the same here. A country without borders is NOT a country. I would tell Micah to have a chat with his buddy George Clooney. another wooden head who thinks anyone cares what he has to say b/c of his "status". Clooney just announced he is leaving the U.K. (that's right, he lives there) while he doesn't agree with Trump, he does seem to realize he is placing his young family in harms way by staying in the U.K. What a hypocrite.
Back to the topic @ hand. This music is shite. But I respect Neil's right to make shite music. I'll just turn it off, tune it out and wait fer something of substance to be released, ALA "Hitch Hiker" or (Fingers double crossed) Archives 2.
/end of rant.

At 7/09/2017 04:10:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Neil Young is being criticized for a milquetoast, albeit picturesque, patriotic video. Why? Well, it doesn't knock Trump, or at least might be taken the wrong way by Trump supporters. The Forbes writer notices that there are quite a few white people in the video and not too many non-whites - would he ever allow himself to notice that a video was short of white people? Somehow, Trump wanting border control and not opening the U.S. up to immigration from every culture and every corner of the globe is un-American in the current year. Trump must be protested at all costs, before he even gets started! Apparently names like Washington, Jefferson and Franklin were un-American too, for not having a wide-open immigration policy.

At 7/09/2017 06:05:00 PM, Blogger medward said...

If it were a good song, nobody would be complaining

At 7/10/2017 02:32:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

herbsworld and saducee,

Your political agenda is your problem. Certainly, someone making up a song you disagree with or dislike is not a hardship or personal violation. You know Neil. You know what he's likely to say, right? So shut it off, go somewhere else, do what you have to do--but please, leave those of us in peace who are interested in substantive discussion as opposed to polemics.

As a matter of civility, please avoid putting words in all caps. It comes across as shouting. The added emphasis is blatantly unnecessary; I promise, everyone understands the connotations you mean to convey!

Above, I want to make fervently clear--for the benefit of anyone who may happen to read this--that racism, xenophobia, and other hateful prejudices have no home here. We're no strangers to differing points of view around here, but in my experience, we are not accustomed or predisposed to people expressing themselves in an inflammatory or aggressive manner. Regular posters are generally good at remaining civil and balanced, no matter their opinions, and I hope it stays that way.

At 7/10/2017 02:41:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

I'd like to share this song, by the Irish musician Tommy Sands:

Partly because Neil's new lyrics reminded me of it (children hiding and rain showers), but mostly because it's a sentiment I really want to share with the world right now.

Sands, incidentally, has no connection with the '50s American crooner of a similar name, but in fact grew up, lives, and works in Northern Ireland. As those of with a passing acquaintance with history may know, puts him in a rather excellent position to reflect on trying to heal social divisions and violent conflict.

At 7/10/2017 11:03:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

substantive - that's a debate all on its own...

At 7/10/2017 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

I have stated in the past here on Thrashers that I feel that art is meant to illicit a emotional response. Positive or negative responses are both valid responses, and the stronger those responses are the better the art. This would make "Children of Destiny" a remarkable and successful piece of art, as the responses have been strong and passionate in both positive and negative reactions. From my perspective I would say that Neil has succeeded in his artistic attempt to illicit a reaction.

I have also mentioned several times here that there is no such thing as good or bad music. There is only music you like and music you don't like, and that may change dramatically as you journey through your life's walk, and it can also apply to individual artists, including Neil Young.


At 7/10/2017 12:51:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Ian - thanks for support. Agree that we try and keep our chats civil and balanced.

As thrashette often reminds us ... it's only castles burning...

@Dan - It does seem that "Children of Destiny" is a successful piece of art, by the criteria that it seems to have both pleased and offended many. time will tell.

And we're still discussing Neil's art titled Greendale & Living With War.

At 7/10/2017 03:11:00 PM, Blogger joe lookout said...

I knew and I wrote that this song would cause a stir, if not at Union level, at least among Neil's fans. The more I watch the video (rather than listening to the song) the more I have the feeling that Neil wrote/produced this also from kids perspective. It sounds like he wants to give the voice to the ones they are not in a position, yet, to change the status quo.
I partly agree with Forbes article's author, the message Neil sends can be ambiguos or misleading or just 'confused, but it is not always easy to identify who the real 'enemies' are and what principles we have to fight for. Time will probably say that but we do not know when.


At 7/10/2017 05:04:00 PM, Blogger onthebeach said...

someone mentioned in an earlier post if this new material was gonna replace Hitchhiker...I found this link on Bob Dylan's Expecting Rain the other day...

The article says that Hitchhiker is coming out August 4, so we'll see...

At 7/11/2017 02:19:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 7/11/2017 04:12:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

@Dan, Saw your comment before you mysyeriously deleted it.

I think in a divided government, the side playing opposition is bound to be angrier and more aggressive about taking down the other side. And it's pretty easy for folk to eat up what they are being fed, if it appeals to their foundational prejudices; I think we're all guilty of it at times. That being the case, I don't see the new song as being particularly ambiguous, but maybe that's because I, like everyone here, am viewing/listening through the prism of my own prejudices. Ideally, what Neil is suggesting here should transcend partisanship. I feel the song is intended to unify and motivate, not to divide people. That said, even "Save the land and preserve the sea" seems to have become a partisan concern these days. This hyper-partisan environment sucks up everything in its path. We (probably) all agree about upholding democratic values, but depending on your political persuasion, you may be loath to accept the premise that there are certain dangers at present.

At 7/11/2017 04:28:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

I took it down because my mother once told me never pick a fight w someone who spills ink by the bucket load … and i was probably a bit too combative … I agree that much of what Neil is saying is pretty unambiguous and also agree with Neil's message … also agree w your comment that the opposition will often be angrier and more aggressive -- good insight … however I also stand by my view that Neil's message is more nuanced than some people would like it to be because the world is more nuanced than the MSM and partisan hacks make it out to be. Neil's not going to toe the partisan line because he's an independent thinker and partisan's by definition aren't they're just restating party orthodoxy (even if they fancy themselves as progressive and open minded or traditionalist and more enlightened) … and hard to have real dialog when most people are entrenched in their views and refuse to listen or rethink any aspects of their views and their media is just reaffirmation of the propaganda they believe be it right or left … Neil tho stands outside that silly box thats one of the many things I love about him …

At 7/11/2017 06:04:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Dan, I think Neil's message is designed to be as universal as possible, while still getting the point across: protect the planet and democracy and work to stop the wars. As the title suggests, NY is emphasizing the children and young people, not just because our decisions will impact future generations, but because he wishes to motivate young people as a vital contingent of progress-makers. Then there were complaints about the ethnic make up of the cast of thousands, but I noticed it in a positive way: anyone, regardless of their appearance or ethnicity, belief system,etc. can be an American. Draw your own conclusions as to whom that note is addressed.

At the same time, this is the man who said, and I quote, "Fuck you, Donald Trump". Not that that's an entirely partisan sentiment, but such context clues can be found in his recent work and statements, indicating his perspective on certain matters.

The only line I find somewhat ambiguous is "The capital is yours"... or is it "capitol"? Spelling would affect meaning here. And who is the "you" in yours? Is he talking to You, the Citizen, or You, the Politicians who Control the Capitol (D.C.)? Maybe both forms of the operative word (capital/capitol) equally apply--a pun of sorts. The preceding lines--"When money matters most, and war is good for gain"--contextually suggest a reference to "capital", as in capitalism. Which would in turn suggest Neil is implicating those who profit from war and corruption. On the other end of the spectrum, is he reminding us that the Capitol is Ours--by, for, and of the People? I suspect it is both and all meanings at once: the same words, crafted to send different messages to various classes of potential listener.

At 7/11/2017 06:47:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...

Edit: I try to keep a balanced media diet... which doesn't mean alternating between Mother Jones and Breitbart, or Fox and CNN. That would drive a person nuts. But some of the major papers (NYT, for instance) make a new feature of weekly rounding up "partisan writing" on both sides, which is a nice step toward counteracting the echo chamber effect. I think the most important response is to think about everything you read, and the potential for bias to affect anything. I don't use "mainstream media" as a bogeyman, like independent or new media forms are immune from the same pitfalls. Anyone can start a propaganda outfit, not just corporate overlords. There are plenty of independent media outlets that strongly cater to various perspectives. Quite honestly, it's sometimes a wonder that breathing oxygen hasn't become a partisan issue. In such an environment, I don't universally blame the media for struggling. I do think some are worse offenders than others, and I like a good balance of Old and New Media. I like to support news organizations I feel are trying to do genuine work in difficult times.

Lastly, "far left" and "far right" can be relative, but most of the world would probably laugh at the idea of calling Bernie Sanders or progressive Democrats "far left". At the moment, I see a powerful/ascendent right wing, so that anyone whose views align even a bit left of center would tend to feel threatened, angered, disgusted, etc. A lot of trouble comes when these feelings get entangled in our efforts to make policy and solve problems.

If America has a "far left" in any classical sense, I have yet to be introduced to it. Some far right (and, yes, even neo-Nazi) elements, however, seem to have been emboldened by the willingness of candidates to accept their brand association for electoral gain.

At 7/11/2017 07:32:00 PM, Blogger Dan1 said...

so, I try to ignore politics these days because it can waste a lot of time and nobody wants to hear anything that doesn't corroborate their viewpoint. These days my commentary is about what wrong w our political system, both parties and the media … but what good does it do to just complain? In fact I just erased another long post which took me a while to write, realizing its pointless to debate it all. As I heard someone recently quote a former President who said "the office is bigger than the person sitting in it" … My strategy with politics is a bit like my strategy when Neil puts out music I don't love … I wait it out and before long something better comes around … Time Fades Away you know … and its all illusions anyway … FWIW just remembering when I saw Neil play acoustic in Boston in like 2014 he had some very harsh things to say about Obama … Neil is real he doesn't play politics he's not a partisan hack he speaks truth to power its one of the many things I love about him …

At 7/11/2017 09:39:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...


I would be perfectly happy if Neil were to sing about other things. Ultimately, he's got to do what he's got to do, God bless him. That's for him to decide and, as you say, he doesn't sing for Pepsi or Coke. I, too, admire his consience and integrity in this regard: he sings what he believes. I think he said around the time of Silver and Gold (2000) that his preferred president/VP ticket would be Al Gore/John McCain! The trouble in my opinion is that we seem to be at a point where Donald Trumps gdt more votes from Americans than John McCains.

Nice talking and didn't find you overly combative, relative to other posts we've had.

At 7/12/2017 12:28:00 AM, Blogger TOM said...


At 7/12/2017 12:29:00 AM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...


Thanks for all.

In retrospect there have been times, in recent months, when I've been pretty damn honest regarding how I feel about the state of affairs. It's all part of the fraught atmosphere that's just gotten worse and worse since the last election cycle began. But I hope I've hope I've always been civil and never, myself, overstepped the bounds of constructive discussion. I'm starting to make a conscious effort at this point to practice what I preach re: civil discourse. The way things have been, it's been easy for discussion to get heated in the last six months or so. It's not bad to feel strongly about things, but it can't be productive unless we can refrain from tearing down people who feel strongly in other ways.

At 7/12/2017 09:34:00 AM, Blogger joe mama said...

politics....let's stop beating around the bush, folks. if you voted for or support Donald fucking Trump you are an awful person. Period.

At 7/12/2017 07:38:00 PM, Blogger TOM said...

End this thread

At 7/12/2017 10:03:00 PM, Blogger onthebeach said...

I agree...I was hoping someone would comment about the article link I posted about Hitchhiker...wondering if it was a reliable source about it possibly coming out Aug. 4...but it got washed away...

At 7/12/2017 10:22:00 PM, Blogger The Metamorphic Rocker said...


Sorry about that. I posted links to several articles a few days ago, including one from Ultimate Classic Rock. They all mention the August 4 date and refer to a press release, so I can't speak with any authority, but it sounds legit. I would like more information from stronger sources, but, we shall see.

@Tom, I hear you. Didn't want to leave onthebeach hanging, though!

At 7/12/2017 11:23:00 PM, Blogger TOM said...

:- )

At 7/13/2017 11:33:00 AM, Blogger Art Carey said...

radio's on -- and "After the Gold Rush" is playing-- and it's so beautiful -- and it's so sad that work like that won't be coming again any time soon...


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