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Thursday, March 17, 2022

"Families" by Neil Young: The Story Behind The Song & Video

 "CSNY DEJA VU" Film Poster - 2008


As you may recall, over the past few days we -- and many others -- have been contemplating the runup to WW3 -- which many of us find truly to be a disturbing and alarming proposition.

Because -- as we see it --  We're Still Living With War... and It's Deja Vu Yet Again

This week's Thrasher's Wheat Radio 2.0 episode featured Special Guest Davy from Scotland who discussed the connections between albums Deja Vu and Living With War amidst the backdrop of ongoing global unrest in the context of the anti-war music of CSN&Y.  ( Check it out. )

The center piece of  TWR 2.0 Podcast - Episode #14 | Still Living With War + Deja Vu Again is the song "Families" from the 2006 Neil Young album Living With War.  Many long time rusties are familiar with the story behind the song and video "Families" based upon the personal experience of rustie Bo Alexander.
Word got back to Bo on our TWR podcast and here is what he had to say upon watching:


Mike "Expecting To Fly" shared the link to your podcast that discussed Déjà Vu, the song "Families" and the video I made of the song. I thought the podcast was very nice, well done, and sensitively handled.

The podcast brought back memories - man, was it really 16 years ago?

I think so, 2006 is when it started, and kept on thru 2008 and further when I think the Déjà Vu came out. What an experience that was! At first sad of course, but also interesting. The experience made me delve deeper into some of those long suppressed sad feelings, and at times that was really hard on me. However, it also let me "visit" with my folks again. In the end, I think it was good, and cathartic for me to go thru that, and I came out better on the other side.

I told Mike/E2F that when I saw Déjà Vu for the first time in the theater (at the Premiere of 'CSNY Deja Vu' at 2008 Sundance Film Festival), and saw my parents on the big screen with other people watching (of course I had seen the photos and film that I used in my Families video many times, but this was different), it was kind of like I was introducing them to other people, in a way I could not in real life.

So that was a "good part" of the whole experience. When I was at the premiere though, at first I was a bag of nerves, part sad, part nervous, would I see Neil there (yes!), what might we talk about (yikes!). I actually had to take a chill pill to keep my heart from jumping out of my chest! My wife was actually worried about me, I was pacing outside. But it was all quite nice, and I settled down. Neil and everyone were really great about it, and it was a good experience.  And my parents had a movie premiere!

I met some of the other people featured in Déjà Vu, Josh Hisle, and Michael Lemke. Their experiences in Iraq were so intense, and they were so awesome as people - my hat goes off to them. Josh could really sing, and his songs were so intense. They called me 'brother', even though they fought in the war, and I did not. Very touching to be included by them like that.

But like you said, I really made my Families video for me, or I suppose I made it for my family too. I would like to thank Mike/E2F, Karen "Love & Affection" Schwarz, Johnny "Song Dog" Yuma and all the other rusties for convincing me to share it. I kind of wanted to, but also kind of didn't (what would my dad's older Army peers think of it? But I heard from several of them later, they were fine with it, and it brought back memories for them too). But my friends helped me decide that it was ok.

Anyway, you guys did a great job with your podcast about Déjà Vu and Families. Pass on my thanks to Tony and Davey - they did great too, very thoughtful.

And as always Thrasher's Wheat is a fun Neil website. I introduced a young friend to Neil, and Thrasher's Wheat last year, he's amazed at the material you have.

All the best!


Graham Nash, Neil Young, David Crosby and Stephen Stills 
Eccles Theatre,Park City, Utah - January 25, 2008

We can not begin to express to you how much all of this means to us Bo.  

We shared this feedback w/ both Davy and Tony, who were also deeply touched y your experience.  In fact, Davy was so moved that he made a followup video on this whole experience.

As we wrote in a comment to Dionys recently, saying things like the album/lyrics "Living With War" or "Deja Vu" do seem a bit trite with the glare of WW3 on the horizon.

a small "but" here.

For our audience of aging CSNY fans, these are loaded terms which carry huge meaning.  And the fundamental message that war is for profit at the expense of the people, is unchanged thru time ... WW1,2 3 or take your pick.

But as Davy & Bo say on the podcast, ultimately who gets impacted the most are The Families. Those widows and orphans left behind, lives destroyed.

So we salute CSNY for their long running commitment to the anti-war movement.

Has anyone heard of any new anti-war songs lately?  (Dionys suggested Dylan's "Masters of War" as the penultimate anti-war song.)

no war
No War
Greendale Film still

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At 3/18/2022 12:10:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

My perspective is American, tho not popularly held in the US.

Speaking more generally, of decades & centuries of US policy: Our country, our 2 party Oligarchy, is Pro War, obviously. Its a Money machine! If its good for the economy, defense contractors make big profit, the stock market is happy. We don't question War. We are more interested in our 401K. Military aerospace engineer quoted as saying, "Bro, I know I promised you I would not work designing the weapons of War, but I got this job, and the guys on the receiving end of our missles probably have it coming to them." This conversation I remember well, back in the late 1980s, because that was my older brother talking.

The US power brokers don't like Nord Stream 2, and Russia making a killing on fossil fuels. I have read that the Americans had a better plan, a pipeline through Syria. That didn't work out well. Hillary the Hawk wanted to put a "No fly Zone" over a sovereign country, in which the Russians were already there, with their airplanes and armies. Hillary was courting WW3, but the American Liberals turned a blind eye to her. Why question the 1st woman to become President?! Its predestined. Right.

Oddly enough, the Republicans and even Trump have been less Pro War than the Democrats in the last few decades. Obama bombed 7 countries in his final year in office w.o. declaring War. He also let DAPL through and dropped more bombs than "W" and also deported more immigrants than "W." Obama was George Bush Lite (and I voted for him twice). I am not a fan of Trump, or conservativism, but even I must admit that Trump started less wars than Hillary would have. Never mind the fact that he burned a bunch of bridges with our good Allies. But the 1% in each country is really just working to help the 1%. Why should Americans have Universal Health Care? The USA, the only Western country which gets away with NOT giving health care to the people, which of course, the people are paying for, one way or another. Your tax money is needed to fund more Wars. Save Earth? Save the people? Are you nuts? The price of Oil, and blah blah blah.

Not referring to Ukraine, just speaking in general, of real History. and the US Government's Since the Vietnam War ended, Americans have forgotten how to even protest. Many have protested against Oil Pipelines. The local Governement (North Dakota, Minnesota) made laws against Protest. A Canadian Oil Company, Enbridge, paid for American Cops to arrest Amercian Citizens for protesting a pipeline on American soil. A good American doesn't question the push for War, at any time, by the Government. We watch a football game and the Military Recruitment Drive is in full swing. I am not buying that shit. Endless War, for profit and pillage. Power, Control. The US Armed Forces (and CIA) have overthrown more democratically elected Governments around the world than any other country. "You can't be a patriot if you don't support the Troops."

I am Hugely proud of Neil Young for his strong Anti War stance, and for giving us so many incredibly powerful anthems. Neil Young models Protest action. For What Its Worth (cool guitar riff, Neil), Ohio, and all the rest. Neil Young is right to hate War and Planetary Destruction. Thanks for all the cool anthems, Uncle Neil. When my fellow Americans get off the couch and join in the protests in the streets, I will see you there.

Pennsylvania teachers invested heavily in the DAPL Oil Pipeline, revealing their selfishness in the face of very strong evidence of a World Extinction Event, in progress as we speak. Global Warming will kick man's ass right off the face of the Earth. And, one day the planet will be pretty and healthy again, rich with a vast array of species, beautiful and majestic, eating each other and maybe some veg too. Mother Nature is brutal, but 2 legged predators are the most dangerous. We can even change the climate.

Your Brother Alan in Seattle

At 3/18/2022 12:20:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I support the Troops, who are being duped and fooled into doing the bidding of the Masters of War. I do not support War, in general. Yes, Ukraine is a unique modern problem and is a different chapter than the many embarrassing ones for the US in the past. Its embarrassing to be a Bully, and to fail because you are stupid and anti-intellectual. Americans fail to question their government enough. AI in social media has us divided and conquered. We in the US will continue to argue over polarized issues. You can't have an Abortion. And... No, you can't have money for food to feed the baby, or money for housing, or a decent school to educate this child. Is that how Jesus would have done it? I am thinking he might have stuck around to support the kid, feed, clothe, shelter, educate, employ. What a concept. I am not religious, but I notice those who are seem opposite of their Idols / established religious figure.

At 3/18/2022 02:07:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

*(Not many) Some… have protested Oil Pipelines. But most Americans are not involved with protest, & never have been. Americans either never knew, or never learned how to do mass protest to steer Democracy.

Making up for some lost time here. My opinion, is bound to piss people off on both sides of the aisle.


At 3/18/2022 05:45:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

A lot of good points Alan. It isn't just that you can't have an abortion, you also must be humiliated for even thinking of it as an option. These are the same people, as you say, who want to give vouchers for private school, destroy social services, and do whatever they want to the earth.

Families is a damn good song.


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