President Trump has been a fan of Neil Young’s music for years, although that may change after Young’s latest broadside against him
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Neil Young hasn’t written a scathing song about President Trump yet, but that may be only a matter of time.
The Canadian-born music legend became an American citizen in late January, specifically so he could vote in the 2020 presidential election, but he isn’t wasting any time sharing his thoughts.
On Tuesday, Young posted an “open letter” to President Trump on his Neil Young Archives Times-Contrarian website. Young’s missive blasted Trump, while also announcing his strong support for Democratic party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
As he did in his in his 2006 song “Let’s Impeach the President” and in his classic 1970 Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young protest anthem “Ohio” — which excoriated then-President Nixon and mourned the deaths of four anti-war protesters at the hands of the National Guard — Young does not hold back.
“You are a disgrace to my country,” Young, 74, writes to Trump, 73.
Intriguingly, as far back as 2008, Trump had declared himself a big fan of Young, saying at the time: “I’ve met (Young) on occasions and he’s a terrific guy.”
As of this writing, Trump has not used his widely read Twitter page to acknowledge or respond to Young’s open letter attacking him.
“Bragging about the U.S. economy does not disguise the fact that the numbers today are what you inherited 4 years ago,” Young continues. “Your mindless destruction of our shared natural resources, our environment and our relationships with friends around the world is unforgivable. Your policies, decisions and short term thinking continue to exacerbate the Climate Crisis. Our first black president was a better man than you are.
“The United States of America, my country, is not a green on one of your branded golf courses that you can ride around on and damage so that other players cannot shoot straight.”
Young, who in 1984 voiced his support for then-President Ronald Reagan, also uses his open letter to take Trump to task for his use of Young’s 1989 song, “Rockin’ in the Free World,” at Trump’s rallies.
"(It) is not a song you can trot out at one of your rallies,” Young writes. “Perhaps you could have been a bass player and played in a rock and roll band. That way you could be on stage at a rally every night in front of your fans, if you were any good, and you might be ...
“Every time ‘Keep On Rockin’ in the Free World’ or one of my songs is played at your rallies, I hope you hear my voice. Remember it is the voice of a tax-paying U.S. citizen who does not support you. Me.”
Young concludes by letting Trump know exactly which candidate Young is supporting.
“One of your opponents has the answers I like,” Young writes. “He is aiming at preserving our children’s future directly. He is not popular with the democratic establishment because unlike all the other candidates, he is not pandering to the industries accelerating Earth’s Climate Disaster, the end of the world as we know it. He is truly fighting for the USA.
“His initials are BS. Not his policies. We are going to vote you out and Make America Great Again.”
For the record, Young first voiced his dismay over Trump’s use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” in 2015, when Trump started using the song at his presidential campaign rallies. Trump, in turn, called Young “a hypocrite” because Young had previously asked Trump to help underwrite Pono, an online high-resolution music service that Young launched in 2014 and shut down in 2017.
Moreover, Trump’s campaign stated at the time that it had obtained a U.S. Music rights licensing agreement to use “Rockin’ in the Free World” from ASCAP, which collects licensing fees on behalf of songwriters and music publishers.
Either way, President Trump has been an avowed fan of Young’s music for years.
“He’s got something very special,” Trump said of Young in a 2008 Rolling Stone interview.
“I’ve listened to his music for years and I’ve seen him before that, but I went to the concert where they were honoring Bob Dylan years ago at Madison Square Garden [Bob Fest 10/16/92] and Neil got up and totally brought the house down. There was nobody close. He’s performed for me at my casinos over the years and he just brings it down. I’ve met him on occasions and he’s a terrific guy.”
Asked by Rolling Stone if he had a favorite Young album, Trump replied: “It’s sort of all favorite. I like the older stuff better, which is typical with a lot of artists — hence the famous Ricky Nelson song ‘Garden Party.’ I like all (Young’s) songs, you know, ‘Rock and Roll’ — just great stuff. His voice is perfect and haunting. He’s 63 and I don’t think it’s changed. It’s more important than his playing, ’cause you have so many great players — but there’s just one voice like that. Whatever the hell ‘it’ is, he’s got it.”
Could Young’s support of Sanders open the door for a reunion of the long dormant Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young?
Maybe, but it’s a long shot.
The legendary quartet has been inactive for years, as has Crosby, Stills & Nash, and the outspoken David Crosby has been all but ostracized by Young, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills.
“Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young has always been up to Neil,” Crosby said in a late 2018 Union-Tribune interview.
“Neil is the big chicken there and he makes the decisions. If he decides to do it again, we will. I don’t think he’s going to; I don’t think he needs (us). But, usually, he calls when he needs us. And I’d do it, happily, if he did. I can only speak for me.
“I wish we had a song like (the Young-penned 1970 CSNY-recorded anti-war protest anthem) ‘Ohio’ that related to the state of things right now. We need one. I’ve been trying to write one and I hope somebody does. We need a fight song when we go out in the streets — our version of ‘We Shall Overcome.’
“We need that. Recording ‘Ohio’ was part of our job, the troubadour/town-crier part of our job. We need that.”
Nash, while a fan of “Ohio” and proud of his work with CSN and CSNY, vowed in a separate 2018 Union-Tribune interview that “Crosby, Stills & Nash will never play another note together.”
Elaborating, Nash said: “You can say ‘never say never’, and I can say ‘never say never’. But I just don’t like Crosby. I can’t make music with him. It’s done. It’s over. It’s over.”