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Thursday, July 04, 2019

A Happy 4th of July To All of Our "Children of Destiny": Some Commentary on Neil Young's 2017 Song

"Children of Destiny" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real
Frame from Official Music Video

A very happy 4th of July to all of our "Children of Destiny" out there across the lands.

And on this Independence Day in America, as we celebrate freedom and eat hot dogs, once again Neil Young drops in on the festivities with his own special brand of fireworks with the song and video "Children of Destiny" from the 2017 album The Visitor with the band Promise of the Real.

Judging by the reaction in July 2017, clearly once again Neil had managed to polarize his fan base. As if right on cue, some fans say "Right on Neil! Tell it to The Man!". Other fans say, "This is really dreadful hippie patriot jingoism."

Normally, over the past years here at Thrasher's Wheat, we blog on the 4th of July -- where we were born in the U.S.A. -- our hopes and dreams, such as 2015's Americana and The American Dream - This Land Is Our Land, This Land Is Your Land or Who's Really Going To Stand Up? But not this year, because thankfully Neil Young has done the job for us.

"Children of Destiny" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real
Frame from Official Music Video

So without further ado, here's the look back at the backlash in July 2017 on Neil Young + Promise of the Real's song "Children of Destiny".

First up is this rather scathing attack on the song from What Is Neil Young Trying To Say In His Surreal 4th Of July Anthem? | Forbes by Contributor David Alm. Incidentally, David Alm has an "academic background in art history, literature, and film history, and taught journalism and film courses."

Forbes Contributor David Alm writes:
Neil Young has dropped a new track to commemorate the 4th of July, and it's as confounding as it is catchy. Marching drum beats, swelling refrains, a melody so epic and simple you'll be humming it in your head after one listen, whether you want to or not. Featuring a 56-piece orchestra and backed up by the band Promise of the Real, which includes Willie Nelson's sons Lukas and Michah, "Children of Destiny" was announced Friday by Young and Michah Nelson via Facebook Live.

Stand up for what you believe/Resist the powers that be/Preserve the land and save the sea/For the children of destiny, chants Young between verses that convey an incoherent message that feels, by turns, patriotic and defiant. Sort of.

The video is no less confusing. It's a barrage of jingoism and protest, a political statement devoid of any actual statement, aside from a vague theme of "America rocks."

Images of fighter jets and American flags, many in the hands of children at 4th of July celebrations, are interspersed with aerial shots of the Women's March in Washington, D.C., tanks rolling through presumably foreign lands, and nature footage of America's mountains and rivers. Oh, and the Kremlin, and marches in other countries, and satellite images of planet Earth. The lyrics, meanwhile, are at once triumphant and trite, as well as lazy: The people feel the pain/They feel the pain/They walk the streets/While the bombs fall in the rain/The children hide/Somewhere inside/While the bombs fall in the rain.

Apparently it's tough to find a word to rhyme with "rain."
We'll stop there on the hatchet job. Got it. Thanks for helping us understand "What Is Neil Young Trying To Say In His Surreal 4th Of July Anthem?" Mr. Alm.

So what exactly is so surreal about this Mr. Alm? Is is not REAL? Do you not have the power of disCERNment to distinguish the wheat from the chaff? David Alm, if you're truly interested in trying to understand the surrealism of Neil Young than maybe try and go a bit deeper down the rabbit hole? It's dark and scary but maybe Neil's trying to tell you something you're not ready to appreciate and consider? What is so "incoherent" about the message, that it took 1,000+ words to deconstruct, de-legitmatize and re-frame? Busted.

Ain't that America, Mr Alm?

We completely understand how easy it is to rip apart Neil's latest work. In some ways, the attacks feel all to similar to the attacks on Young's 2006 album Living With War (which we're still living with...) Bombastic, preachy, political, weak, uninspiring, antagonistic, etc.

"Children of Destiny" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real
Frame from Official Music Video

Probably the most perplexing reaction is the standard "Neil: Stay out of politics and focus on the music". Here's a comment on NEW Official Music Video: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - "Children of Destiny" by Buck Savage:
So I've been reading for years here and finally thought I'd post my thoughts.

I've been with Neil since Harvest. NOBODY has touched me like only Neil can. I have gone with him into the ditch more than a few times, as I'm sure we all have. I'll admit to a few head shakes when he was in the ditch, but that always made it all the sweeter when he hit the road that I love to travel on with him. However, albums like LWW and the latest Children of Destiny have become deal breakers for me. My life doesn't revolve around politics and all of the hate and negative emotions that comes with it. Neil is becoming so political and I often don't align with him. There are so many other emotions that he used to explore, but seems to have lost interest in. Peace Trail Protest? Which white multi millionaire's agenda is being promoted / protested this week? Two side of the same coin.I have found it a full time job to work on my own character flaws than to search out the faults of others.

If you enjoy the protest / political / save the planet stuff bully for you. I'd never criticize anyone who enjoys it. We are all different and I never am surprised when Neil takes a hard turn and losses me for a bit. That's who he is.

Neil lost a huge stabilizer when he and Pegi walked away from each other. So I get the absence of "love" songs and the negative themes of his latest work. He's taken up with a career protester, with all of her negative baggage. Neil has always gotten to make his choices, but this choice will have significant consequences, perhaps more than Neil bargained for I fear.

Lastly, these are just my thoughts, which doesn't make them right or wrong. I have no fear for the future with Neil. His body of work is so vast I won't live long enough to explore it all. For me, there are advantages of living in the past. I'm sure he will hit the highway again. When he does, I'll be there with a smile, like that from an old friend.
Uh, hello?! Remember that song about "Four Dead in Ohio"? A bit political and anti-war wouldn't you say? If the Internet existed in 1970, the reaction to "Ohio" would be the same. Half the country is outraged by attacking Nixon and insinuating the the President indirectly murdered 4 unarmed students. The other half is going "Right on!" Deja vu... all over again ...

Neil Young really hasn't changed that much in the past 40 years. He is still singing truth to power and we love him for that alone.

"Children of Destiny" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real
Frame from Official Music Video

Here's a response to Buck Savage's comment above on NEW Official Music Video: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - "Children of Destiny" by Ian:
Buck Savage,

I will note that Storytone had no shortage of "love songs", accompanied by one protest number, so in that regard, I'm not sure he's only up for topical music these days--though he does seem increasingly drawn in such a direction. I say this not just in light of Ms. Hannah, but because he's working with the Nelson Boys. There's a pretty strong pedigree for rock activism there.

I don't think Neil's interest in Mother Earth is purely political. He seems to feel a deep spiritual connection to the natural world and living things, and I feel that passion is behind much of his latest work. Nonetheless there have recently been, for me, two good albums--Peace Trail and Storytone--that don't lose sight of the human story, even amid elements of broad topical commentary. Monsanto Years has less playback value (for me) because I don't feel it balances those aspects quite as effectively. The live Earth album should also be highlighted as a worthwhile experiment to give some of those songs a refreshed artistic context.

So, yes, I see your point about Neil's political frenzy of late, but I do think there's more to it. Regarding whether one's own views fit comfortably with Neil's, I don't see that that's his problem as an artist. I could mention varying previous songs that may make indviduals of any political persuasion less than reassured.
So many great comments. Thanks to all.

And we'll leave you with this final thought by on Comments of the Moment:"Children of Destiny" by Neil Young + Promise of the Real by Hounds That Howl:
I believe Neil is saying look, you can be part of the solution, saving Mother Earth, or part of the problem celebrating Nationalism to the exclusion of addressing the problems facing Humanity. The Nationalism is represented in the hokey Patriotic Videos and video of our arch enemy the Kremlin.

The Children of Destny are being brainwashed by the fourth of July celebrations to honor nationalism and being blinded to their other responsibility as children of Mother Earth.
Thanks Buck, Ian & Hounds That Howl & everyone else commenting!

Once again, thanks Neil. You're clearly on the right track here. Past experience demonstrates that the more polarizing a new song is to your fan base, the more it demonstrates its the power and success. If we can't share our differences, we can't peacefully coexist.

To all, have a great and safe holiday.

A Postscript...

Here is another video release of Neil Young + Promise of the Real's song "Children of Destiny" featuring the orchestra in studio.

The video above cames quickly after the release in July 2017 the music video "Children of Destiny" version of the song, as noted above.

The 2017 song "Children of Destiny" and the accompanying video really hit a nerve back in July 2017 -- as we noted yesterday on the 4th of July -- managing once again to both polarize his fan base and inflame critics.

One well put phrase on the song was: "Living with War meets Storytone." (Thanks Ian!)

We took the hit piece What Is Neil Young Trying To Say In His Surreal 4th Of July Anthem? | Forbes by Contributor David Alm to task for a number of items, including the misleading headline. The article nowhere explains why the song is "surreal". The headline asks a question to a totally obvious answer. Contributor Alm writes that the song has an "incoherent message" yet it again is totally clear what the message is to anyone who opens their ears and mind. In fact the "incoherent message" is so coherent that Alm immediately backtracks and calls it "patriotic and defiant". Then immediately hedges. And so forth in a smug, condescending pseudo-intellectual fashion.

We gave up on the Forbes article after a few paragraphs of the typical mainstream corporate takedown. Well done David Alm. Hope you get your contract renewed as a paid stenographer.

Then -- it happened -- Forbes Magazine Responds To Thrasher's Wheat: Review of "Children of Destiny" by Neil Young. And -- yet again -- comments ensue as Neil rusties engage on the weighty topic of "Children of Destiny".

"Children of Destiny" - Neil Young + Promise of the Real
Frame from Official Music Video

Here is Neil Young's statement to go with the new video version of "Children of Destiny".

Thanks so much for your response to Children of Destiny! This is a heartfelt message to people all around the world, our home. We hope this song resonates with you and gives you strength to know that you are not alone. Resist those who lash out against our positive message with violence, name calling and negativity. We are concerned for our Democracy, Environment and Freedom. Nothing will ever stop us from standing up. We gathered together on the full moon to record our song.

Here is a new video of that moment!

Love and Respect,
Celebrate Interdependence!
Thanks Neil.

Neil Young + Promise of the Real

Your words inspire us indeed. When we say we know the feeling, it is because of the support you gave us when we here at Thrasher's Wheat were feeling the same way regarding the relentless negativity of "The Doubters".

"The Doubters" -- who embrace failure -- will never be the "Children of Destiny". Not sure about that? Check the danger of able @ ~2:00:00 and your world will be rocked for the children. This is the TRUE Field of wheat.

Likewise, we still see the vista. We hear the muse. We continue. We continue because we believe and have faith in that greater good. Just as we all must teach our children (of destiny) well, we "must have a code that we can live by." Because, you are a child, i am a child, and we are all children of destiny. And, don't forget, in the fields of wheat, the "Children of Destiny" will NOT be harvested -- however, the chaff will be burned by unquenchable fire.

And just as your encouragement long ago inspired us to soldier on, we won't quit or give up. We will
"Keep on bloggin'
`Til the power goes out
The batteries dead
Twist and shout"

Because, "We're The Ones We've Been Waiting For", as we like to remind ourselves.

Who's Going To Stand Up and Save The Earth?
Neil Young
2014-07-12, Hyde Park, London, England

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

Labels: , , , , ,


At 7/04/2019 01:25:00 PM, Blogger windsaloft said...

it is both amusing and embarrassing how personally you take any criticism of Neil Young.

At 7/04/2019 03:03:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@Biteme -

Pardon my heart
If I showed that I cared
But I love you more than moments
We have or have not shared

You brought it all on
Oh, and it feels so good
You brought it all on
When love flows the way that it should
You brought it all on.

It feels so good
It feels good
It feels good



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