Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Beck Covers Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’ in NFL TV Commercial - UPDATED


Beck has covered Neil Young’s song ‘Old Man’ for a NFL TV commercial.


Beck Covering Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’ for NFL Commercial


Why this song was specifically chosen to promote football is not well understood at this time and makes little sense from a marketing perspective. Because old men are target market and watch lots of tee-vee, perhaps?

This has sparked a bit of a flare up on the long running controversies involving artists selling out for commercial purposes.


Sponsored by Nobody?!
Neil Young's 1988 "This Note's for You"

On Instagram, Young posted a photo showing him holding a beer bottle with a label that reads, "SPONSORED BY NOBODY" without a caption.  hmmmm...

Neil Young| Instagram

The photo posted on IG is from the video for the 1988 Bluenotes song "This Note's for You" in which the musician parodied fellow artists (like Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, etc.) who used themselves and their songs for product and company advertising.

As we reported in January 2021, Neil Young sold his copyrights for 1,180 songs to Hipgnosis Songs Fund for $150,000,000.

"There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’":
 Merck Mercuriadis - Founder, Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited


Merck Mercuriadis, founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, stated at the time:

"Hipgnosis and Young have a common integrity, ethos and passion born out of a belief in music and these important songs. There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’ but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear them on Neil's terms.”

"There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’".   Seems clear enough.  No worries, right?

So does the promise made above hold for Young’s classic song ‘Old Man’? Is this very poor taste usage not akin to ‘Burger of Gold’"?  Apparently not.

The question is why?

How can these statements above reconcile with the travesty of this "spectacularly bad idea and in poor taste"?

So why would Neil Young authorize and agree to this usage? Or maybe he didn't authorize this because the decision is now handled by the new ownership stake in his catalog? 
Clearly, this is a sacrilegious abuse of an artist's life work and a breach of contract by Hipgnosis' Merck Mercuriadis that MUST be atoned.

As we editorialized at the time of the 2021 announcement, be careful what you wish for ... because you reap what you sow ...

Our earlier cautions about "risking the "family jewels"  was actually addressed directly by Neil Young himself on NYA. (Also, please note some of our clarifications on this subject after the giant hullabaloo/kerfuffle in 2021.)

"gotta watch out for the greedy hand
the greedy hand" 

The Greedy Hand | Neil Young Store | WBR

Also, see this 2007 piece The Price of Neil: When Art and Commerce Collide.  More on "Cough Up the Buck$": Neil Young's Song of the Day | NYA.

Cough Up The Buck$ Crew
HarryO w/ Volume Drinkers: Brand New Guy & Paul D.
Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY - 12/15/2008 
photo by TW


  1. As an "old man" ourselves, we are deeply offended by this exploitation and seek to cancel the NFL, Beck and bad marketing of "boomer covers".

    stated w/ tongue firmly planted in cheek...

  2. I remember when I was a kid they played Muzak overhead at the grocery store, but as time went on you started hearing fifties rock music. Now they play everything from The Beatles to ZZ Top in the grocery stores. I guess it’s just a sign of the times that the music I grew up with is now selling toilet paper and football. Ten years from now they’ll be playing gangster rap in Walmart, so this is just another example of corporate America claiming ownership of our music. “Follow the money” was what deep throat said during Watergate. He also said “these are just people; they’re really not all that smart”. We’re simply being treated to the decline of western civilization as we know it. Nothing serious…… it been going on for decades.

    Peace 🙏

  3. ha ha ha Dan, I love your last line.

    Some idiot on one of the networks said something like, "wow, this changes the meaning of Young's lyrics." Yes, I guess it does in some middle school level of thinking. This kind of stuff really grinds on me. I was thinking, by analogy, I could use Faulkner's great line from As I Lay Dying "all any man has is time" for a rolex add! I have magically transformed the meaning of his words!! How incredibly imaginative of me. Perhaps in some other form of life, this sort of taking apart might be clever or even fun but not in this culture.

  4. ...and then it got darker. Blackstone is not real friendly with anything other than the quarterly report every three months.

  5. ya u kno i hate when they take something that i thought was sacred, and they turn it into something cheap

    sponsored by nobody


  6. The fact that it's Beck makes me feel like they're all in on the same joke and makes totally okay with it. I can envision how that phone call went down, ""Hey Neil, they're offering this much money, and I'll just cover your song... We'll both get made fun of, but our grandkids will be set, you don't even have to do anything. Great.. we'll make some new and fun obscure music later and piss everyone off again, sounds like a plan."

    Sometimes we all turn into the Grandpa of Granola Rock and the world will forget ab d move on..

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  8. Robin Williams comes out gets into the crowd right near me. Hes ripping on whatever he sees. Spontaneous thing. Im keeping my head down. A very rainy night this is under the big tent. A guy like 17 in back of me goes Its her Birthday! Points at his girlfriend. Williams runs over stands on the seat next to her trusts his hips in her face. At that point whatever he said broke up 23k ppl.

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  10. IDK as far as commercial use of songs go..I was ok with it. We have to remember most people don't know the story of "Old Man".
    My dad loved the song and thought he wrote it to his dad, I told him the story and he said didn't matter, that was how he thought of the lyrics.
    Once a song is out there in the universe..interpretation is unique to each listener.
    Also, one could be in worse company than the greatest quarter back and one of the best new quarter

  11. @ Marmooskapaul - thanks for perspective. and we get how many folks find this no big deal.

    but ...

    this is how is starts. one little promo, then another, etc. death by a thousand cuts.

    but here's why we come down condemning this so strongly.

    as you see above, Merck Mercuriadis,Founder/CEO of Hipgnosis (the company which purchased 50% of Neil's catalog rights) explicitly, emphatically and categorically stated:

    "There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’"

    So the guy is either a complete liar, an idiot or possibly both.

    The promise was to respect the artist and his body of work and not sell it out for trivial, irrelevant commercial exploitation. And talk about poor taste?! Offending your target market of old men at that.

    A deal is a deal. If someone broke their side of the contract, then the deal is no longer valid.

    Neil - take your songs back and break the deal. Whatever you got, it isn't worth it to tarnish the "family jewels".


  12. 'As an "old man" ourselves, we are deeply offended...' - an "old man": singular -> you are talking about yourself in the third person (like kings and queens) or who is "we"?

  13. @ GordonHobs - ok, good catch and fair question.

    as regular readers know, we have been using the phrase "we" here on this blog for many decades now.

    generally, the "we" encompasses "us", i.e. the thrashers. t & t-ette

    now we're not in 100% alignment on all things neil or much else really. like any long running couple, we have our differences. and we have our common grounds.

    so, if thrashette penned this post, then "she" as an "old woman" married to an "old man" and it is "we" who are offended by this distasteful commercial exploitation.

    but make no mistake, this is not the royal "we" usage. again, regular readers know how much we disdain royalty, titles, supreme signifiers, etc.

    we are the ordinary people. we be rusties.

    peace & love

  14. Neil's playing a game with this trying to gain a bit of publicity (very sad).

    In my opinion the commercial was fine and simply showed a fellow respected artist (Beck) strumming out the song hyping a young man (Mahomes) looking up to and chasing an old man (Brady). The song made perfect sense in that context, and Neil's response to it just seems like a pathetic cry for attention.

    This is much ado about nothing and I suspect Neil gave his approval prior.

    He's still Shakey, but sadly less innaresting and relevant day by day. I'm still on the ride with him and buy everything he releases, but that magic feeling is waning. Hopefully it's just me, but I don't think so...

    "Take my advice
    Don't listen to me"

  15. @ TD - well, in the grand scheme of things, yes, this is much ado about nothing.

    but in our little TW world, this is HUGE.

    because it strikes at the heart of artistic integrity. Either neil has it or he doesn't.

    granted, neil has veered all over the map on the subject over the decades. but he always seems to return to the starting point that artistic integrity is paramount and all else flows from.

    Once it's gone, it can't come back.

    we warned about trifling w/ "the family jewels" when this all was announced.

    and we were pounded mercilessly for that opinion that you don't hand over rights at any price.

    these rights are precious and inalienable. clearly this Merck cat has no integrity or scruples and a liar who has defrauded neil.

    neil should tear up agreement and walk.

    it's just not worth it to me at the mercy of these mercenaries.

    Merck "The Mercenary" Mercuriadis
    3M, eh?! cough up the f'n bucks, dude.

  16. Right now, it's just a fellow artist covering a Neil classic to promote a football game, okay I guess that's fine? Of course, in 5 years if we're hearing Mr Soul in a commercial for Axe body spray, we may be singing a different tune. And I guarantee that's the path we are heading down.

    Oh well, Neil got his $150 million, not sure what he's complaining about. The guy can't seriously be so naive to expect his music won't be used to sell some kind of "piece of crap" product. He let the deal go down, he shouldn't be surprised that this would be done with his music.

  17. @ Richie - well, that is the point here.

    Is Neil being totally hypocritical here?

    Or he did he get shafted by 3M?

    or both?

    2022 has been a great year for NY music, for sure.

    But from the get go in 22 w/ the Rogan/Spotify fiasco, the no tours until eco-bus, to bailing on Farm Aid & Willie, and now this, not so good a year.

    and that has us conCERNed.

    because if Neil's integrity bona fides collapse, then, well ...

  18. Thrasher, I'm just hoping that Neil is still making the decisions concerning his art. Truthfully, the last few years has me wonderin who's really in charge.

  19. So, I still listen to Neil mainly alone and now alone with the headphones blaring. No ad or radio station or neo-hipster cover can taint the meaning of a song for me. Even the background story about how the song was written and what about rarely pushes the needle off what the words say to me. In other words, stuff like this never "ruins" a song for me.

    The selling of the 50% stake and then subsequent things like this one-off songs usage usually only gets me thinking "I hope Neil, family and NYA are more secure now." I'd like to think Neil in attempting to secure a future for even more people now, but who could be sure of something like that.

    Sorry for the delayed comment, I've been traveling. Also, read this great post again:


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