Sunday, May 14, 2006

Niel Young speaks Truth with Power Chords

The album as blogpost:

A lot of folks are talking about Steven Colbert and Neil Young, almost interchangably, for their brutal truthtelling.

War of Distortion:
Mr. Young goes to Washington.
by Jonathan Valania

When Stephen Colbert hosted the White House
Correspondents' Association dinner-the annual D.C.
puppet show where reporters play patty-cake with the
prez-he rode the Trojan Horse of truthiness right up to
the president's table and unleashed its hidden
contents: a disinfecting dose of reality-based reality,
thinly coated with irony for easier digestion, though
impossible to swallow for those weaned on Fox News
comfort food.

Speaking truth to power at point-blank range, Colbert's
barbs essentially added up to: The emperor has no
clothes, and all of you, the fourth estate, have become
nothing more than royal dressers. No wonder Colbert's
performance was greeted with pin-drop silence and was
muzzled in the coverage of the event: It's a sad day
for the republic when the job of truth-telling falls to
the clowns.

Increasingly, rock music is stepping into the breach,
bridging the yawning chasm between what's real and
what's permitted. There was a time when I would've
thought the protest song had outlived its usefulness.
Turns out no generation gets the protest songs it
wants-it gets the protest songs it needs. What's that,
you say? Preaching to the choir? Well look around, son-
there ain't no choir.



Don Quixote: Gordon LightfootWhen I think of speaking truth to power, or anti-war songs, I think of The Patriot's Dream by Gordon Lightfoot.

Lyrics courtesy Lightfoot.ca

The songs of the wars are as old as the hills
They cling like the rust on the cold steel that kills
They tell of the boys who went down to the tracks
In a patriotic manner with the cold steel on their backs

The patriot's dream is as old as the sky
It lives in the lust of a cold callous lie
Let's drink to the men who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever and the cold steel that kills

The train pulled away on that glorious night
The drummer got drunk and the bugler got tight
While the boys in the back sang a song of good cheer
While riding off to glory in the spring of their years

The patriot's dream still lives on today
It makes mothers weep and it makes lovers pray
Let's drink to the men who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever and the cold steel that kills
The first two verses deal with the loss, the agony and the forlorn hope of those who hear their fathers and fiancee's are missing in action, all asking "why."And then, Gordie turns with merciless precision to the author of the war to answer that question in the words of power.
Well there was an old man sitting in his mansion on the hill
And he thought of his good fortune and the time he'd yet to kill
Well he called to his wife one day, "Come sit with me awhile"
Then turning toward the sunset, he smiled a wicked smile
"Well I'd like to say I'm sorry for the sinful deeds I've done
But let me first remind you, I'm a patriotic son"
They tried to do their duty and it took 'em straight to hell
They might be in some prison, I hope they're treated well


I don't recall there being more than the one anti-war song on the album; - it's been a long long time since I've listened to it. But it's an amazing disk, and you rally need to have a copy, if only to rip copies of this song and force them upon everyone you know. Hey, and buy new; Gordie's been having health problems, he could use the money.

Other artists have made statements; Pink, with Dear Mister President and Eminem with Mosh.

But to the best of my knowledge, Niel Young has done an entirely new thing, releasing an entire album on the web as a blogpost, and selling it in direct partnership with his listeners.

So buy with that link, and use the amazon link to review it.

And it is good. It is very, very good.

"We are the silent majority now, and we haven't done a damn thing," Young told The New York Times recently. "We've stood by and watched this happen. But there's more of us than there is of them, and we have to do something. When people start talking and see they can get away with it, it's going to happen everywhere. It's going to be a landslide, it's going to be a tidal wave. This is just the tip of it."
Listen to Niel Young's truthtelling album, "Living With War."

Sometimes you can make a difference by just cranking the tunes.



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