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Friday, May 22, 2020

Trump Plays Neil Young's song “Devil’s Sidewalk” From Greendale

Neil Young's song “Devil’s Sidewalk” - Listen from 00:00 - 01:51

Yesterday, when U.S. President Donald Trump visited a Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Neil Young's song “Devil’s Sidewalk” was played at the factory before hand.

Ford plant - Ypsilanti, Michigan - May 21, 2020

The audio fades right after the lines:

"Big wheel's still rolling
Down on me
One thing I can tell you
Is you got to be free

John Lennon said that
And I believe in love
I believe in action
When push comes to shove"

Lyrics for Neil Young's song “Devil’s Sidewalk” - Greendale (2003)

President Donald J. Trump has used Neil Young's song "Rockin' in the Free World" at his campaign rallies also, much to Neil Young's consternation and frustration.

Neil Young's song “Devil’s Sidewalk” from the album Greendale (2003) was just recently featured on NYA. (See Going Back to Greendale #4: "Devil's Sidewalk" from Neil Young's RETURN TO GREENDALE | NYA )

"Devil's Sidewalk"
Neil Young's Greendale (2003)

(More on Going Back to Greendale #4: "Devil's Sidewalk" from Neil Young's RETURN TO GREENDALE | NYA )

In an interview with Neil Young in June 2003, he said that the first Greendale song to emerge was "Devil's Sidewalk," a two-chord rumination on the state of humanity: "There's a garden growing and a million weeds/There's no way of knowing who has done which deeds".
"I didn't even know what it was," Mr. Young said. "I said, what the hell is this? What is that? What am I talking about?" Then came another song, "Falling From Above." And another, "Double E." For the first time in Mr. Young's career, they both mentioned the same characters: Grandpa, his son Earl and Earl's wife, Edith, and a granddaughter.
The song "Devil's Sidewalk" references terrorists and terrorism in the context of "The War on Terror" began to ramp up in 2003. Suggesting the difficulty of fighting "The War on Terror" when it's difficult to distinguish protesting citizens from "terrorists", Young sings in "Devil's Sidewalk":

"There's a garden growing
And a million weeds
With no way of knowing
Who's done which deed"

So are those "weeds" really "terrorists"? Or protesting citizens expressing their freedoms?

The Devil Breaks Out of Jail @ 666 Main St, Greendale

Could U.S. President Donald Trump be possibly suggesting that the "War on Terror" referenced in Neil Young's song “Devil’s Sidewalk” from Greendale has now morphed into a "War on Germs"? That those "weeds" are a metaphor for "germs"? "The Invisible Enemy?" A "War on Invisible Enemies".

U.S. President Donald Trump - Ypsilanti, Michigan - May 21, 2020

That this entire pandemic is just another terror operation on citizen's similar to 9-11?

(btw, we made similar observations on Greendale's "Carmichael", as well, where Jed's activities seem suspicious in the "See something, say something" post-9/11 atmosphere with "camouflage hung in his closet, guns all over the wall; plans for buildings and engineers, and a book with no numbers at all.")

The Devil: Greendale's Invisible Enemy?
GRAPHIC NOVEL: Neil Young's 'Greendale'

Probably not, of course. After all, who really thinks that way anyways?

More on the the somewhat surprising, long term tangled relationship between Neil Young and Donald Trump.

Just #BeTheRain

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At 5/22/2020 12:56:00 PM, Blogger Keys Left Hanging said...

I’ve seen Neil Young play for a bunch of chickens this week, but I doubt he would want any part of such a malevolent incompetent as Corp. Bone Spurs who couldn’t understand the idea Greendale if he tried.

At 5/22/2020 01:17:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

On a similar note.... check out the new article on NYA in the Earth News section by Miles Klee. The article probably should have been published under the viewpoint section, but anyway, it rings true on so many levels and painfully humorous in a sadly disturbing way.

Peace 🙏

At 5/22/2020 02:13:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ KLH - hey, thanks for dropping by!

well, have to agree that Neil playing for chickens was more enjoyable than a Greendale track in a factory anyday!

@ Dan - thanks for mentioning Miles Klee piece.

it's really hard to keep up w/ all the NYA-TC updates. a good problem to have.

yes, we see Klee's perspective all over, for sure. F it. we all know the feeling.

but why do we keep f'g up? (btw, quite serendipitous that KLH commented here while we're discussing f ups?! no coincidences as they say.)

anyways, the point we tried to make w/ “Devil’s Sidewalk” last week was that Greendale was really about the "fake" "War on Terror" and the similarity to the "fake" "War on Germs".

That similar to the 2001 "infodemic", today we have an updated terrorizing algo driven "infodemic" w/ citizens encouraged to report on their neighbors suspicious behaviors.

It's all about fear -- all the time.

Divide & conquer all over again.

Keep'm scared = Keep'm down

We know how the "See something, say something" mentality worked out. So, those "weeds" in Greendale? A metaphor for "bad thing" like "germs"? "An Invisible Enemy?"

So who or what is The Devil?

Where does freedom lie?


At 5/22/2020 02:32:00 PM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Say what you like about Donald (and you would be entirely justified in doing just that), but it's fair to say he's got great taste in music.

As for Devil's Sidewalk, I think it's a good one (a little bit Dylanesque), and one written in the usual fashion: Neil sitting down, pen in hand, and just writing at length and seeing what happens. One line leading to the next, instinctively.

But does Neil have a precise idea about what every line of this song "means"? Personally, I doubt it. Part of its charm (and the charm of many of his most magical songs) is it eludes any easily categorised meaning, instead going for something deeper and more multi-layered. I think the unconscious part of a songwriter's mind often has something more interesting to say than the conscious.


At 5/22/2020 02:51:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Scots.

"But does Neil have a precise idea about what every line of this song "means"?"

Neil? Hope so. Maybe you meant Donald???

At 5/22/2020 03:21:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

The unconscious mind tends to be the real thing, and the conscious mind is always questioning everything. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I think 🤔

Peace 🙏

At 5/23/2020 12:07:00 AM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

Say what you want about Trump, but it's pretty obvious he's a real Neil fan. I mean, he's whipping out Greendale tunes at a press conference. He ain't no "Heart of Gold/Old Man" Neil fan. I gotta say, that impresses me.

Wonder if the Donald still has Time Fades Away on vinyl???

At 5/23/2020 01:20:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Someone mentioned the unconscious mind. I think this might just be an unconscious admission of guilt/character on Trump's part. There's nothing about that song that is relevant enough in the context in which it was played to be politically friendly or inspiring. It's akin to playing Sympathy for the Devil to a group of hell's angels. It's a subliminal rallying cry from the devil to his would be troops.

At 5/23/2020 03:33:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The lyrical nuances of that song are completely beyond the comprehension of the orange baby man.

At 5/23/2020 07:37:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

It is kind of peculiar that Neil Young songs are used totally out of context to underline a certain political agenda. General and dictator Manuel Noriega (Panama)comes to mind, who was blown out of his besieged hide-out with "Prisoners of Rock 'n' Roll" by American intervention troops. While Noriega obviously was a criminal figure and finally got what he deserved, he also had been a multi-purpose puppet installed by the US governments of his time. Has there ever been a comment by Neil Young regarding the use of his song back then?

At 5/23/2020 10:00:00 AM, Blogger Matt & Jes Wedding said...

Those of you saying trump is a real Neil fan, please tell me you aren't serious. He does not listen to ANY music and couldn't name ANY Neil song. Not to mention he is way too busy live-tweeting fox news to select deep cuts to play at his campaign stops

At 5/23/2020 02:50:00 PM, Blogger wsanjose01 said...

100 percent agree Matt and Jess. Trump doesnt know shit about Neil Young nor does he care to.

At 5/23/2020 02:59:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

Heck, some people might say that Neil is a big Trump fan. At least he was when he went to Trump to try to get financial backing for Pono. They were taking pictures together like old high school buddies or something like that.

Of course, life is easier to deal with if you choose to only remember the good stuff, but I prefer a more real approach.

At 5/23/2020 03:04:00 PM, Blogger Mister Henry said...

Maybe Beck's song Devil's Haircut would have been more appropriate?!

Oh well, just trying not to get trampled in the Stampede Into Greatness....

At 5/24/2020 03:55:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Matt & Jes W: Trump used to go go Neil's shows prior to becoming president, including a show on the Greendale tour. And presumably part of the reason Neil's management approached him about investing in Pono was that they knew he was a fan.

I think Trump deserves a great deal of criticism: had you told me 10 years ago he was going to become president of the US then I would have struggled to believe it. Nowadays nothing much surprises me.

But I'm not going to fall into the same trap as most of the media by criticising him for entirely stupid reasons. He shouldn't be entitled to destroy the planet, but he is entitled to his taste in music.


At 5/24/2020 03:55:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Thrasher: good point!

At 5/24/2020 04:03:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

Dionys: Interesting!


At 5/24/2020 05:28:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

via email from Art (& Leslie)

My guess is either Trump or someone on his staff remembered the lyric "Big wheel's still rolling" and thought that Devil's Sidewalk would be appropriate for the moment.

Not unlike The Donald thinking "Keep on Rocking in the Free World" was a good theme for him, missing the irony of the lyrics of the song in their entirety.

This makes me 'feel like goin' back' to our second Greendale/Crazy Horse show, on Sept 13, 2003 at the Trump Taj Mahal. Our seats were on the aisle, row 12, and my wife noticed during the opener that the entire third row center was unoccupied. So, she moved down there and stood/danced for a while. Eventually a large man, looking like security, moved next to her on the aisle, and was checking her out. After Neil and the Horse took the stage and launched into performing the songs of Greendale, from the other end of row 3 The Donald and his fiancé, you know who, moved in. Trump looked to the security fellow and signaled with a nod or whatever that Leslie met his approval (!), and she was allowed to stay in the unoccupied part of row 3 for the duration.

That was and probably will be the only time we'll ever be thankful for anything Trump!
Early in Neil's set he made the mistake of announcing "The boss is in the house", and of course in New Jersey most folks, especially Leslie as a veteran of over 100 Springsteen shows, gasped and searched the hall for Bruce; only to be disappointed that Neil was referring to Trump. Sad.

The Donald stayed for most of Greendale, but left before the break and the band tearing into Hey Hey My My. He didn't seem to be much of a fan to us, but I suppose something of Greendale left an impression.

At 8/06/2020 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Maheto said...

There's no way he perceived the ambiguity and subtlety of "Devil's Sidewalk". Zero, None. "Greendale" would be totally beyond him. He was there just to ogle Sun Green and the shimmying hippie chicks, that's all.


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