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Friday, September 09, 2022

"God Save The Queen" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse | Americana

"God Save The Queen" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse (2012)
Art by Gary Burden and Jenice Heo
"The king queen is gone but he's she's not forgotten
Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?"

--Neil Young

Last year, when Prince Philip died at age 99, we ran this post which generated a fair amount of discussion about royals and who needs them.

So here's the video of "God Save The Queen" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse from album Americana (2012) featuring Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth. The video contains astounding historical footage.




From the Liner Notes for Americana by Neil Young & Crazy Horse:

God Save The Queen

Written in the 18th century with possible melodic roots in the 17th century, this anthem has been sung throughout the British Commonwealth and may have been sung in North America before the American Revolution and Declaration of Independence in 1776, which rejected British sovereignty. The Americana arrangement draws from the original melody and changes some melody and lyrics in the folk process, also adding lyrics of the same melody taken from “My Country ’Tis Of Thee”, in recognition of the war of Independence and America’s transition to freedom.

Now that is interesting that the melody of "God Save The Queen" and
“My Country ’Tis Of Thee” are the same?!  How could that be? (See comments on original 2012 post)

"God Save the Queen" by: Thomas Augustine Arne
Long May She Reign 
 God Save the Queen 
 God save our gracious Queen 
 Long live our noble Queen 
God save the Queen 
 Send her victorious 
Happy and glorious 
Long to reign over us 
God Save the Queen
 Long May She Reign
 O Lord and God arise
 Scatter her enemies 
 And make them fall 
Confound their politics 
Frustrate their empty tricks 
On Thee our hopes we fix 
God Save the Queen 
Long May She Reign 
God Save the Queen 
My country ’tis of thee 
Sweet home of Liberty 
Of thee I sing. 
Land where my fathers died; 
Land of the pilgrim’s pride; 
 From every mountainside, 
 Let freedom ring! 
Let freedom ring! 
Let freedom ring!

God Save the Queen, 2012
Mixed media (stencil, silkscreen, and collage) on canvas
43 1/2 x 30 inches
Image courtesy of the artist and Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Los Angeles.
© Shepard Fairey/OBEY GIANT ART
(See Shepard Fairey and Neil Young: The 'Americana' Collaboration )

UPDATE: See more reaction and discussion @ VIDEO DEBUT: "God Save The Queen" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse.  Also, see God Save The Neil Young Fans (& Thrasher's Wheat).

Be sure to check the astounding comments on this video back in 2012.  or God save the rusties.  Well, things certainly were livelier around here back in 2012, for sure. wow.

(You can  order "Americana" on (Thanks! You'll be helping to support us here at Thrasher's Wheat.)

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At 9/09/2022 06:19:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

We just started watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix a couple of weeks ago, and are both impressed with the screenwriting, acting, set design, and cinematography. Way more entertaining than I thought it would be, as monarchy was never one of my interests. No offense, as I have seen, there’s just so much to it. Who knew? Anyway, I only mention that because of Queen Elizabeth’s passing. She’s portrayed as such an incredibly layered individual, incredibly fascinating……

Okay, back on point here. Americana is one of my all time favorite Neil/ Crazy Horse albums. There is just so much to it, and really deep. Not just with the lyrics, but in the actual performances. Just the approach to each song is saying something powerful. Neil definitely had an agenda, and as far as I’m concerned, he succeeded in creating something new and different from the past. Brilliant on every level…… a classic example of someone self employed doing whatever he wants to do with his gift.

I just finished reading Neil’s post on TTC about the making of Earth, and in it he reflects on how the record flopped with the critics and some of his fans. He explains why he made it, which I feel is completely unnecessary. It’s a masterpiece in my opinion (for whatever that’s worth) and I love the images I see when I close my eyes listening to it. It works perfectly as sonic cinema in the best sense of the term. But then I heard masterpiece in Monsanto Years, so what do I know?

At 9/10/2022 01:18:00 AM, Blogger Fort Mac said...

Neil Young ..... Long live our Noble King . Shame on you for monetizing an anthem ...not a song .
As a common loyal subject of our Gracious Queen , I endeavour to persevere and learn from her grace .
But yet , just a common folk ... Neil Young ...yer nothin but a yellow bellied , turncoat , treasonous Yankee carpet bagger ... no longer welcome in Canada .

Long live the King !

At 9/10/2022 10:34:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Dan - Americana is definitely a unique CH album for sure. Again, we found the videos for the album quite compelling. Esp since they use stock footage but in an very effective manner to illustrate the music and message.

Just check out the vid for GSTQ above. Queenie liz sure was nervous during her coronation by the looks on her face. talk about awkward. oh, those silly royals.

Will check out neil's comments on EARTH and see if we can get something up. still lots of catching up to do here @ TW after our sabbatical.

@ Ft MAC - there is no shame @ TW. only our TRUTH.

At 9/10/2022 02:15:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Frankly, I an confused and disgusted. Queen Elizabeth dies and we cannot escape from the coverage. Gorbachev dies and almost nothing from the press. Our US flags at half staff? I get the history, Elizabeth is a worthy and historical figure but I think we need to remember that monarchy has its own cruel and brutal history. Don't forget that the origin of all this is in the Divine Right of Kings. Prince Charles is a bit far from the divinity (I am trying to be nice).

I have commented at length on Americana, a great Neil Young record and for some astounding reasons. He never "pays homage" to the songs but rips them to pieces with Crazy Horse (what they richly deserved). "Coming Round the Mountain" (whatever) certainly gets what it deserves and thereby reveals the grotesque supernaturalism of the song. "Clementine" gets beaten about the head and shoulders and what gets revealed is the underlying darkness. Too bad they did not mercilessly attack "God Save the Queen." Our sacred cows need to be attacked and with regularity, else we fall for the nostalgic absurdity embedded in anthems.

At 9/11/2022 03:47:00 AM, Blogger Graham said...

I have been a loyal fan of Neil Young for over 50 years and I have enjoyed a lot of the content on Thrashers Wheat for a long time as well. However I am saddened by this original posting but also more so by some of the totally moronic comments regarding the post. Her Majesty was arguably the most famous and wonderful women on the planet and to see this kind of content at this extremely sad time really is beneath contempt. Shame on you all.

At 9/11/2022 08:54:00 AM, Blogger Hambone said...

@Abner - well we're just emerging from a virtual news blackout except for one story. Of the 5 main free to air channels 4 have been wall to wall until this weekend. Meantime the radio stations went into mellow reflective ambient music mode and a few excitable presenters have been absent. This has all been planned for years mind you - apparently triggered by the code phrase "London Bridge has fallen Down". On the plus side we did get Harvest Moon played yesterday which presumably met the mellow criteria.

@Thrasher - your coronation comment needs a bit of context. Elizabeth was only 25 when she became the monarch and this was in the 50s when she had Churchill breathing down her neck as Prime Minister desperately trying to preserve the empire. I know we're used to 20-something CEOs these days, but I'd have been nervous in that situation back then. Luckily history turned in another direction and in time the main historical theme of the "new Elizabethan age" will actually be the dismantling of empire and dealing with the national PTSD this caused.

@Dan, well I can't be bothered to watch The Crown, having lived through much of the drama, but however the characters are portrayed it doesn't change the fundamental issue that Britain has a head of state with no executive power at all (unlike many presidents around the world) and their sole "job" is to approve Government laws (it's called the royal assent). It was last refused in Britain 1708, so essentially being a British monarch is to be a highly privileged Yes-man/woman for life.

So it's hardly surprising that the institution surrounds itself with good works/ charities and visible events in order to give the family something to do, but also create an aura of importance and worth. Don't get me wrong some of these initiatives are fine and well thought out, but they come from a starting point of privilege rather than a real community. Other European monarchies have been able to merge themselves into modern society more discreetly and haven't become a reality soap opera that makes it worth making a drama series in the first place.

The other element of this role is they are not supposed to publically make comments about issues of the day and so be seen to take a side, and that's going to get interesting where we have a new monarch who has been very outspoken on environmental issues - Charles started converting his farmlands to organic principles when it was considered crackpot agriculture - and a new government who wants to restart fracking and oil drilling in the North Sea. I suspect he will remain or be silenced in order to preserve the institution and this will reignite the discussion about what the point of a monarchy is - how can we consider ourselves "subjects" to an institution that acts only in it's own interest and always sides with a government, however unpopular the laws it passes are.

OK constitutional rant over. Please understand that I also have huge problems with elected presidents and heads of state, since they are generally simply pawns of political parties rather than follow a genuine neutral unifying role.

Hambome in the UK

At 9/11/2022 08:55:00 AM, Blogger Hambone said...

Part II:

re Americana - what I love about Americana is that's it's another example of Neil sitting on a project for ages abd then deciding to complete it. Neil first flirted with revising folk tunes way back in the Squires era when he was influenced by Tim Rose and the Thorns. Here's a quote From Shakey: "That was a certain Squires stage that never got recorded. Wish there were tapes of those shows. We used to do all this stuff, a whole kinda music—folk-rock. We took famous old folk songs like “Clementine,” “She’ll Be Comin’ ’Round the Mountain,” “Tom Dooley"" and one element was retrieving the darker verses and overtones of the songs and getting the Horse to bring this to fruition was uncannily right.

So GSTQ has the second verse about scattering enemies and confounding their politics (Hint: we do not learn this verse at school in Britain). So Abner I would consider including this verse suitably "mercilessly attacking" the anthem.

ANd I've decided that the reason this song ends the album is that it is a symbol of transition - the splicing of the two songs as a metaphor not just for national independence, but also for Neil's own journey from post-imperial Canada to the US, whilst acknowledging the influence of both. In this respect it follows the tradition of songs like Don't be Denied, Big Time and more recently Heading West and Canerican.

Finally thanks Thrasher for sorting out the post in moderation limbo earlier this week.

Think I need a rest after all that.

Hambone in the UK

At 9/11/2022 11:49:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Hambone in the UK,
More than just interesting comments on Americana. The historical facts make a big difference here. Virtually everyone sees Americana as a hasty throwaway, something that comes off the top of Neil's deranged mind. The notion that it is the completion of something from a strongly intentional and deliberate past project is a real revelation: an album that could only come from a mature and cumulative artist. But, of course, the people who write criticism for magazines and websites are not going to see this because they are not built for anything like an historical questioning.

Your comments about monarchy are equally fascinating. My problem with monarchy is always basically philosophical: what does it really mean to be a "monarch," a "king" and so on? At bottom, I do not think it can fit with the grounding of modernity. Thank you for the comments, I am appreciative.

At 9/11/2022 12:19:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Graham - your comment is very appreciated, respected and your perspective is intimately understood here loud & clear.

as background here @ TW, pls let us share where we're coming from here.

This isn't about The Queen. This is about Royalty. Nobility. About regular people who think that they are better because of their blue blood.

This is what The American Revolution was fought over. This is what The U.S. Constitution means when it says there will "no titles" allowed for elected officials.

We too are deeply disturbed that American flags are flying at half staff.

But this is what this country was founded on. Royalty has never served any purpose other than to keep the masses in line.

So it's not about some little old lady in a castle dying.

This is about Subjects of The Crown getting off of their knees and saying enough of this elitism.

Give me Liberty or give me Death, as famous Virginian Patrick Henry once roared.

If you wish to bow and curtsy to someone who thinks their blood is more pure than yours fine.

But FREEDOM is worth fighting for.

We'd rather die on our feet than live as a slave subject to a Crown, very frankly.

Keep your slavery fine. We're not attacking here, but if you're a life long Neil fan, isn't this all about FREEDOM, TRUTH, & LIBERTY & INDEPENDENCE?

How can that sentiment possibly square worth living under a Rule of Crown?

But know that if Your Queen was before you and you both dared to cut your wrists, you would see that you both bleed RED.

We are all one.

Lastly, it's impossible for us to feel sorry for someone who makes Jimmy Saville a Knight. Or The Palaces tolerance of Prince Andrew and his relationship with Epstein & Maxwell.

Thin Lizzie knew all about Saville, Epstein & Maxwell and allowed them to stay at Balmoral.

That was wrong, immoral, despicable and unforgivable.

Much like hate the sin itself but forgive the sinner. Hate The Royals but forgive the poor individuals caught in the web of palace intrigue.

Also, we did have much sympathy over Diana, since she was no longer "pure royal" and escaped The Queen and her Minions.

"God Save The Queen" ... it seems doubtful and much too late. sorry.

At 9/11/2022 12:41:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Graham should probably stay away from the comments (multiple) made by post-colonial scholars.

From our point of view (US) it is hard to separate out "divine right of kings" from "manifest destiny": it all leads to the same place.

Thrasher, not my business but if I had a vote, I am seeing Hambone's commentary on Americana as a comment of the moment!

Glad you are back. I hope you enjoy Farm Aid

At 9/11/2022 01:57:00 PM, Blogger Dionys said...

Back in the last days of the First World War German emperor Wilhelm II. (a distant cousin of Elizabeth II.) signed a document to henceforth and for all time, he and his heirs will step down. The Bavarian king (subject to William II. sort of, and also related to the Windsors) did no such thing. In 1918 he and his family went to the Alps and spent some days there until the worst violence was over and the Free State of Bavaria had been proclaimed which much later became a part of what today is the Federal Republic of Germany. However, legally the kingdom of Bavaria for some people still exists in a parallel universe, because the king never abdictated. Consequently there are royalists in Bavaria living their pipe-dream, so what?

The former royal family of Bavaria still is very highly respected (charity reasons). Once I was hitchhiking home from school and a guy in an Audi Quattro picked me up, a very rare and expensive car in the early 80's, later I learnt it was one of royal princes. As a student I worked for the other prince who would be king, if there still were a kingdom. Nice guy, runs a successful brewery with fairly good beer (Kaltenberg brewery: lager, stout, wheat, available in the UK, US and Canada).

The problem with British nobility is that they are at the very foundation of an explicitly class (-orientated) society. Travelling in the UK always gave me the feeling that the other is scrutinizing me whether I am inferior or superior to him or her. As the citizen of a egalitarian society that's a strange sensation. When I opened my mouth and they heard my German-American-Canadian double-dutch they sometimes even appeared to be relieved somehow. Real funny, eh?

To many Germans the British royal family is just a part of the dream-theatre that Brits are keeping up to convince themselves of their exceptionalism. Like with Brexit we outsiders have to learn to live with some illusions other nations have. Looking east I rather have Charles III. as a neighbour and friend than uncrowned czar Wladimir.

At 9/11/2022 04:16:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Existential moment, following Dionys's experience. While in Oxford for professional reasons, I felt a profound weight of inferiority. Being well past graduate school, I could not pretend I was any longer part of those institutions. In other words, I was a representative of a humble midwestern college. This was not good enough for the endlessly class conscious academic brits.

I found the US transplants to have found the same mental geography. It is easy to live within assumed superiority. Unlike Dionys, I have never quite felt like I live in an egalitarian society. The US hangs on to its own class consciousness and exceptionalism.

At 9/12/2022 03:48:00 AM, Blogger Dionys said...

"Egalitarian" in my context: Of course Germany is not an egalitarian society either, but eqality and dignity are societal postulates spelled out in the first article of our constitution, listed even before the sentence about equality before the law (thanks to the great Americans who insisted in co-writing our constitution in the late 40's btw).

I believe that the non-existence of a written constitution and the insistence on centuries old protocol instead (currently being exhibited on the grand stage) bear with them both some very amiable traits (the mourning about the deceased queen in itself is real) and some aspects that are truly inacceptable judged by modern ethical and political standards. As a professional traveller and a tourist one can't help getting in touch with very different groups in foreign societies. For a central European guy it's very educational to use a Greyhound bus leaving Chicago or to camp-out in a farm camp-site on the southern shore of England where Britian's comatose working class spends their weeks of summer binge-drinking. While people of colour in the US very often are victims of open and structural racism and every American who is right in his mind will concede to the deficits (and also quarrel and fight over them), British society (seen as a whole from the outside) with their constant re-iteration and affirmation of protocol apparently use this to put aside everything that challenges their hobbit-like world view.
Please forgive me my generalizations, I know that Americans and Brits and Germans are not all alike, I have been describing them for the argument's sake.

On the inferiority/superiority complex: English language teachers in Germany go to extreme lengths in explaining the sociological aspects of British English, the latter being the standard English in German schools. Some of these lessons are really helpful in achieving some understanding of comments published on this very website. When sometimes commenters condescendingly lecture others about the intellectual flight altitude of their comment one almost always can be sure to notice some smell of the rotten empire.

So Neil Young's treatment of "God Save the Queen / My Country it is of Thee" is confronting anglo-cousins on both sides of the Atlantic with the dubiousness of their overpatriotic attitudes, but that has been said before....

At 9/12/2022 03:56:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

@Thrasher I started to type a reply to what I feel are extremely misguided comments you've made but I deleted it and will just say that I've lost a lot of respect for you after reading your comments above. Very very disappointing

At 9/12/2022 04:48:00 AM, Blogger Flyingscotzman said...

The actor Christopher Walken once said that good actors have big heads (literally speaking).

And because he had a smaller head, Chris decided on a dramatic "Elvis-style" haircut to make his head look bigger.

Britain doesn't have a small "head", literally speaking... But it *is* small in size compared to Russia, China, the US, mainland Europe, India, Australia, Canada...

And so the Royal Family (among other things) is like Britain's version of Christopher Walken's hair. Or like the hood ornament on a car. Or, more dramatically, the eye spots on a wolf!

It's what marketers refer to as *branding*. The ceremony and posturing and meaningless ritual is the whole point.

And when we look back at the world leaders and figureheads of the previous 150 years, we will certainly see a lot more villainous characters than Queen Elizabeth II. I'm not a huge fan of the Royal Family, but at the same time, it could be a lot worse.

As a small cluster of islands, it's true that the UK has often punched above its weight on the world stage. Sometimes this has been unhelpful (both for Brits and for others), but not always.

So we can criticise Britain for an island mentality.... But we can also notice that being an island is one reason why Britain proved somewhat tougher to conquer in 1939/1940 than, say, Poland or France.

(As an aside: Do we prefer Neil, Graham, David and Stephen as independent solo artists... Or as interlocked members of CSNY? Our answers might dictate our attitude to Brexit, too. Hopefully we can see the appeal—and downside—of both approaches).

As for the class attitude — London is very different to Lands End, Cornwall, which itself is very different to Cardiff, Wales. Cambridge is far different to Bristol (another university town — where people don't build statues but dump them in the river). Aberdeen? Another world entirely.

But I suspect what could be detected as snobbery is more often just the deliberate reticence and social-inhibition that many Brits are willingly affected by. It's part of the armour.

As a Brit myself, I often find it hard to tell if other Brits like me or not. Why? Because dryness of personality can come across as distaste or lack of warmth.

The cure for dryness, of course, is not a trip to the university, but a trip to the pub around the corner (where you might join me for a pint of cider, or perhaps more fittingly for this conversation, a cup of tea).



At 9/12/2022 05:22:00 AM, Blogger Ron said...

A couple of excellent posts from Hambone there.

His summary of the reality of the role of the monarchy in Great Britain and Ireland in current times is spot on I believe. (The past wasn't always so though). It is and has been very much a ceremonial and traditional role during the Queen's reign, and although we could do with dispensing with bows and curtseys for example I don't believe the people feel we are on our knees or slaves to Royalty. I think a lot of people enjoy the ceremonies and traditions in fact. Sure, it's been massively over covered by the national broadcasters, but there are other channels and broadcasters and streamers available that can be watched (that's what I have mostly done - was nice to hear Helpless by CSNY on the radio too).

I also suspect most people don't think the Queen looked down on them. I have never met her but many people who have seem fond of her. Sadly there are many people in our country who do feel they are better than others and look down on them. I am not sure I saw the Queen that way though. Not so sure about some of the other members of the family/firm though.

We are actually ruled by our Government and frankly I am much more concerned about the harm they are doing to the nation and the people than anything the Queen did or could have done. Maybe that will change with Charles - time will tell.

Bringing it back to music and Americana I found it an interesting album but overall I think I enjoyed the videos best. I am not a big fan of the songs and it is not an album that I choose to listen to much since its release. Reading Hambone's comments and the extracts from Shakey has piqued my interest though and I am going to give another listen later.

"When you are angry and you're lashin' out
Don't forget love"

At 9/12/2022 09:43:00 AM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

of course, all places within in a country are going to have significant difference. I think of northwestern Maine in relation to Boston, etc..

The question is whether or not there are unifying or generalizable traits across the whole or in large portions. Many people are fond of making totally unsupported generalizations about the US. At the same time, many great books have been written about "Americans."

At 9/12/2022 01:09:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

There are multiple assumptions that go into a trip to the pub as opposed to a trip to the university, but I get the basis point (as it relates to "dryness," which is generally not something we can easily get at). In some ways the university can be more revealing as it may give a window to the educated elite. And just how elite is elite? Harvard- yikes. Oxford-yikes. University of Wisconsin at Madison? Not so much, which mirrors more the culture of the midwest and Wisconsin, unquestionably NOT elitist. How good is the university? World class.

At 9/12/2022 01:20:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Abner - good call on CotM. See

Comment of the Moment: "God Save The Queen" + Revisiting "Americana" by Neil Young w/ Crazy Horse

and thanks Hambone and everyone else here for sharing thoughts during these momentous and historic times.

to be able to gather opinions around the world has been a longtime goal of TW. To achieve these milestones is incredibly humbling and we're honored to be here with all of you.

And we mean everyone -- regardless of our differences. It's diversity of opinion that matters most ... everything else is irrelevant.

At 9/13/2022 06:25:00 PM, Blogger Fort Mac said...

No shame Thrasher ? ..... Of course you wouldn't , yer an Americana , showing yer Commonwealth envy but a young republic beholden to Fascists like Trump who convinced the throngs to over through the Reichstag while bearing arms protected by by yer 2nd amendment .

Simple truth of being Canadian vs Americana , and part of the Commonwealth .
Long before the movie " Saving Private Ryan " .... the Commonwealth ...our Queen and Country sacrificed much more than your Americana History lessons taught you in grade school .

I'll bough down to a Gracious Queen and respectfully take offence to those of your Republic that disrespect our Sovereign .


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"Symbols Rule the World, not Words or Laws."
... and symbolism will be their downfall...

Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge
Be The Rain, Be The Change

the truth will set you free
This Machine Kills Fascists

"Children of Destiny" - THE Part of THE Solution

(Frame from Official Music Video)

war is not the answer
yet we are
Still Living With War

"greed is NOT good"
Hey Big Brother!
Stop Spying On Us!
Civic Duty Is Not Terrorism

The Achilles Heel
Orwell (and Grandpa) Was Right
“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.”
~~ Bob Marley

The Essence of "The Doubters"

Yes, There's Definitely A Hole in The Sky

Even Though The Music Died 50+ Years Ago
Open Up the "Tired Eyes" & Wake up!
"consciousness is near"
What's So Funny About
Peace, Love, & Understanding & Music?


Show Me A Sign

"Who is John Galt?"
To ask the question is to know the answer

"Whosoever shall give up his liberty for a temporary security
deserves neither liberty nor safety."

~~ Benjamin Franklin


(Between the lines of age)

And in the end, the love you take
Is equal to the love you make

~~ John & Paul

the zen of neil
the power of rust
the karma of the wheat