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Monday, January 27, 2020

So, Neil Young, If Music Can't Change The World, Then Can Voting?

Neil Young Becomes A U.S. Citizen

Last week, Neil Young finally became a U.S. citizen after a delay due to "possible lack of GMC (Good Moral Character)".

Neil Young's primary desire to becoming a U.S. citizen was in order to "vote my conscious on Donald J. Trump".

So, can voting change the world, Neil?

Neil Young @ Berlin Film Festival - Feb. 2008
Photo by Markus Schreiber

At the Berlin Film Festival in Feb. 2008, Neil Young stated in response to an audience question, that music can no longer change the world. The comment was made after the screening of his film "CSNY: Deja Vu".

From the man whose song "Ohio" played a part in helping end the Vietnam war, the reaction was swift, huge and global. (See World Reaction to Neil Young's Statement "Music Can't Change World").

In 2008, many argued passionately that music can in fact change the world, while others argue that it never has and never will.

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 with a post titled "A Song Alone":
"No one song can change the world. But that doesn't mean it's time to stop singing.

Somewhere on Earth a scientist is alone working. No one knows what he or she is thinking. The secret is just within reach. If I knew that answer I would be singing the song.

This is the age of innovation. Hope matters. But not hope alone. In the age of innovation, the people's fuel must be found. That is the biggest challenge. Who is up to the challenge? Who is searching today? All day. All night. Every hour that goes by. I know I am.

My friends write to me don't give up. I am not giving up. I know this is the time for change. But I know that it's not a song. Maybe it was. But it isn't now. It's an action, an accomplishment, a revelation, a new way. I am searching for the people's fuel. Will I find it? Yes. I think so. I don't know why I may have been chosen to help enable a discovery of this magnitude. I know I can only write a song about it when I find it. Until then I can write a song about the search or spend all my time looking. But a song alone will not change the world. Even so, I will keep on singing."
'When the aimless blade of science slashed the pearly gates'


"Living With War": Rock Music's "Fahrenheit 9/11" -
Neil Young Rocks on CNN

This whole reaction is similar to that when Neil commented that he made "Living With War" because today's musical generation wasn't which resulted in an open letter to Neil Young by musician Stephen Smith which in turn resulted in the Songs Of The Times web page.

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

On August 7, 2008, in Helsinki, Finland, Neil Young debuted a new song called "Just Singing A Song Won't Change The World" in response to a the uproar he created. Others, nevertheless, haven't lost faith in the power of music, as Amy says:
"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."
What Would Neil Young Do?  
A Battle Raged on the Open Page: Can You Change Your Mind? 
Poster by Jeremy Deller
So, has the time when music could change the world passed? Is it time for science and physics and spirituality to make a difference in this world and to try to save the planet? And does voting matter any more than just singing a song? What gets us closer to our Gods? Music that motivates and inspires us? Or a politician asking for our vote? There are those that argue that mankind is suffering from problems that can not be solved politically -- only spiritually.

Creation of Eve
From The Metaphysics of Creation by Jay Dyer:
Without a tradition and a worldview to inform science, science is not a search for knowledge or truth, but a tool of power politics, enforced by the nastiest oligarchs to their own ends.
Science becomes scientism, the baseless ideology of a technocratic state with no other telos than the perpetuation of the technocratic corporate state itself. Might now makes right, because there is no truth, “truth” is simply made by the entity with the most “stuff,” whether material or virtual. The removal of telos from the world, and thus of the divine from the world, is the replacement with the Great Monadic Particle God of Flux, and his cultus, the fetish of the ever-new. Yet the ever-new that must constantly be churned out constantly denies eternal truth and permanence, and so negates itself nihilistically as irrelevant. Religion then degenerates according to this destructive scientistic spirit, becoming a mirror of the consumerist plastic society in which it dwells. Without a metaphysical basis, science is meaningless. If ultimate reality is irrational, man’s finitely-constructed subjective meaning is a drop in a vast ocean of universal meaninglessness.
Modern man and his scientism are ultimately doomed to nihilism, as the empty promises of scientific progress tell man his life pointless, and with it all of his science.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
The "Virginia Is For Lovers" Concert
Foreman Field @ Old Dominion University
Norfolk, Virginia - August 27, 1974
(Click photo to enlarge)

Back in the '60's and '70's, music was one of the few forms by which political messages could be communicated to a mass audience. Today in the age of instant smart phone communication, music can still has a role.

Music, as with all art, is not made in a vacuum. You can't separate life from the art. All art, no matter when it was made (and no matter how unwittingly) makes a political statement. And, as far as spirituality -- whose version of spirituality? So, for 'science and physics and spirituality' to make a difference in the world, it takes vision. To communicate that vision, it takes art. It's not the format (speech, music) or the platform (radio, internet) but the message, so keep speaking/singing out for the things you want to see changed.

It's not naive to think that music and art will change the world, Neil. It's naive to think we CAN'T.

Neil Young, Neil Young (2004)
Life As A Neil Fan
Photo by Melanie Schiff

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At 1/27/2020 11:22:00 AM, Blogger Br said...

Seems that a lot of Canadians I have known became Americans to get away from the burdensome tax base created with social medicine.

At 1/27/2020 12:36:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

A recent letter on NYA was from a guy who was completely despondent about the state of this country. Neil did his best to encourage him to not give up and vote. This was a pretty long letter and I’m not convinced that Neil got through to this man. The guy said he felt like the government had lost its way and had become so corrupt that voting doesn’t seem to make any difference.

I understood how he felt, as I too have wondered the same thing. We are living in a difficult time right now. It feels as if we have taken several steps backwards when it comes to being united. Polarization weakens us as a people and I feel that has been the goal of our government. To keep us divided in order to keep their status quo. This concept of us against them is not working. So we need to reclaim our country somehow and if you believe that voting is the right approach, then please do so. If on the other hand, you feel like it won’t change anything then you have the right in this country not to vote.

Look at the world around you and really decide if you’re okay with how it is right now. If you can’t find anything wrong, then do what you think is right. It’s your right. If you’re feeling despondent and hopeless then you still have the same choice. It’s entirely up to you.


At 1/27/2020 01:26:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

The president clown in the White House is there because a lot of irresponsible people chose not to vote for the other candidate and because a lot of irresponsible people voted for the clown. Those who walk away next time are just as responsible for the outcome.
Not responsible for the outcome are the other 7 billion inhabitants on this planet, still they have to make do with this scary clown. And we did not decide to have Americans decide over the fate of the planet which is ours, not just yours. So it would be very kind if the Americans next time would vote responsibly.

At 1/27/2020 01:35:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

If both candidates are clowns then even if everyone votes we still get a clown.


At 1/27/2020 04:08:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Last night my wife and I watched the movie Blinded By The Light, and being based on a true story, it reveals how Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics changed at least one life. The film was clearly a love letter to the lyrics more than the music. So perhaps music can change the world, but maybe it will have to be one person at a time.

You don’t need to be a Springsteen fan to appreciate the movie either. The lyrics written by a guy from New Jersey changing the life of a Hindu living in England in the 80’s may sound preposterous, yet it did happen. The film shows the potential for music to create a life changing ripple. So let it ripple away and who knows, maybe it can change lives. One person at a time.


At 1/27/2020 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

....sorry... my mistake. The young man is not Hindu but Pakistan.


At 1/27/2020 06:44:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Dan & Dionys as always for your thoughtful opinions. Most welcomed.

We admit we waivered on publishing this. But glad we did and generate some discussion on certainly the most important issues of our lives.

btw, we have seen Blinded By The Light and quite enjoyed it. Definitely does demonstrate the power of music to change lives.

we have to say after considerable thought over the years, that it really is a combination of everything to make change happen. thoughts, words and deeds.

as we went back over old posts on the subject from the LWW and FITR days, we were really struck by the passion and volatility of the comments on some our posts.

Frankly, we're happy that folks have chilled out here and moved on to other places to rant and rave. it was an exhausting time. so today everything seems so much calmer if you can believe that.

See, for ex.

Just Writing a Blog Won't Change The World

A Battle Raged on the Open Page: Can You Change Your Mind?

we even came across a comment by Dan?! That was you right Dan S?

At 1/27/2020 07:04:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

Hi Thrasher:
I looked at the links and saw one by a Dan but it wasn’t me. You’re right though, things are much less intense now than then.
Keep up the great work here. I’m enjoying some time off so I’ve been adding more than usual. Hope I’m not over doing it though.



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