Keep on rocking in the free world

Written By: - Date published: 8:19 am, June 19th, 2015 - 25 comments
Categories: john key, music, national, same old national, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, us politics - Tags: , , , ,

In yet another example of a right winger misappropriating a progressive musician’s music wanna be Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has insulted Neil Young by using his song Rockin’ in the Free World at his presidential candidacy campaign launch.  As noted by Mother Jones the choice is unusual.    The song was clearly an attack on a Republican administration for its complete indifference to the plight of the poor.  It appears that Trump is as clueless as he is arrogant.

A terse note from Neil Young’s management clearly set out his displeasure with what happened.

Donald Trump’s use of “Rockin’ in the Free World” was not authorized. Mr. Young is a longtime supporter of Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and describes himself as a Democratic Socialist.  All power to him.  So far he has polled strongly in New Hampshire and is second to Hillary Clinton despite the absurdness of a true leftie wanting to be the President of the free and the brave.  But I have now decided on a personal favourite.  Shame I do not have a vote …

Neil Young has also personally responded in prose that is as good as his music (h/t Molly).

Yesterday my song “Rockin in the Free World” was used in a announcement for a U.S. presidential candidate without my permission.

A picture of me with this candidate was also circulated in conjunction with this announcement but it was a photograph taken during a meeting when I was trying to raise funds for Pono, my online high resolution music service.

Music is a universal language. so I am glad that so many people with varying beliefs get enjoyment from my music, even if they don’t share my beliefs.

But had I been asked to allow my music to be used for a candidate – I would have said no.

I am Canadian and I don’t vote in the United States, but more importantly I don’t like the current political system in the USA and some other countries. Increasingly Democracy has been hijacked by corporate interests. The money needed to run for office, the money spent on lobbying by special interests, the ever increasing economic disparity and the well funded legislative decisions all favor corporate interests over the people’s.

The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling is proof of this corruption as well as are the proposed trade deals which would further compromise our rights.

These Corporations were originally created to serve us but if we don’t appropriately prioritize they will destroy us. Corporations don’t have children. They don’t have feelings or soul. They don’t depend on uncontaminated water, clean air or healthy food to survive. They are beholden to one thing – the bottom line.

I choose to speak Truth to this Economic Power. When I speak out on corporations hurting the common man or the environment or other species, I expect a well financed disinformation campaign to be aimed my way.

Such is the case with the reaction to my new album The Monsanto Years, which covers many of these issues. I support those bringing these issues to light and those who fight for their rights like Freedom of Choice.

But Freedom of Choice is meaningless without knowledge.

Thats why its crucial we all get engaged and get informed.

That’s why GMO labeling matters. Mothers need to know what they are feeding their children. They need freedom to make educated choices at the market. When the people have voted for labeling, as they have in Vermont, they need our support when they are fighting these corporate interests trying to reverse the laws they have voted for and passed in the democratic process.

I do not trust self serving misinformation coming from corporations and their media trolls. I do not trust politicians who are taking millions from those corporations either. I trust people. So I make my music for people not for candidates.

Keep on Rockin in the Free World.
Neil Young

Trump is not the first right wing candidate to totally ignore the rights of musicians to protect their personal property.  Ronald Reagan used Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” in 1984, and caused major affront to Springsteen who is a strong union supporter and a true progressive.  And in 2000 George Bush junior used Tom Petty’s song “I won’t back down“.  He then received a cease and desist letter from Petty which showed clearly that Petty was not backing down.  Petty even played this song for Al Gore after he conceded the 2000 election.

In Aotearoa New Zealand we have had some similar examples.  In 2007 John Key and National borrowed the intellectual property owned by Coldplay in its song Clockwork to promote a right wing campaign using music from a left winger.  A more blatant breach of copyright you could not imagine.  Lucky for Key the limitation period has expired.

And last year National borrowed without permission a riff from Eminem.  The breach of copyright case is ongoing.  I hope Eminem succeeds because IMHO the case is as clear cut as you can imagine.

Also last year the Government chose to through proxies attack Darren Watson for his Planet Key song which was as pure an example of gentle yet biting political commentary as you could imagine.  Key described the song as an example of dirty politics.  Surely he was joking.  The Electoral Commission’s continued harassment of Darren needs to be investigated.  It appears National’s indifference to the intellectual property of musicians is comparable to its indifference to their right to freedom of expression.

To finish this post I thought that we should have the benefit of two songs, the first from Herbs who were the trailblazers of Pacific Reggae as well as being deeply political.  Some current personal favourite bands including Fat Freddy’s Drop, Katchafire and Trinity Roots clearly have been heavily influenced by Herb’s music.  And the second is the perfect song for all of us pollies …

Enjoy …

25 comments on “Keep on rocking in the free world”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    Surely the Centre Right has its own perfectly good songs.

    If you like Polkas.

  2. saveNZ 2

    +1 and good on Neil Young to make such a eloquent statement, in particular…

    Increasingly Democracy has been hijacked by corporate interests. The money needed to run for office, the money spent on lobbying by special interests, the ever increasing economic disparity and the well funded legislative decisions all favor corporate interests over the people’s.

    The Citizens United Supreme Court ruling is proof of this corruption as well as are the proposed trade deals which would further compromise our rights.

    These Corporations were originally created to serve us but if we don’t appropriately prioritize they will destroy us. Corporations don’t have children. They don’t have feelings or soul. They don’t depend on uncontaminated water, clean air or healthy food to survive. They are beholden to one thing – the bottom line.

    I choose to speak Truth to this Economic Power. When I speak out on corporations hurting the common man or the environment or other species, I expect a well financed disinformation campaign to be aimed my way.

  3. Sable 3

    I often wonder if Trumps hairpiece is alive? If so I wonder what he feeds it? Is it trained to fetch slippers and the newspaper. Snarl at lefties?

  4. Jones 4

    Trump is drunk on his own ego. His campaign launch speech was a meaningless parade of sound bites and cliches.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    “Also last year the Government chose to through proxies attack Darren Watson for his Planet Key song”

    Do you have any evidence that the government interfered with the independent Electoral Commission?

    That is *quite* a claim to make, especially if you don’t actually have any evidence for it.

    • TheContrarian 5.1

      Was thinking the same thing

    • Roflcopter 5.2

      Almost as bad as this part….

      And last year National borrowed without permission a riff from Eminem. The breach of copyright case is ongoing. I hope Eminem succeeds because IMHO the case is as clear cut as you can imagine.

      Tui time.

    • mickysavage 5.3

      Do you have any evidence that the government interfered with the independent Electoral Commission?

      No I said the attack was through proxies and did not detail who they were. But I am surprised and amazed at the decision of the EC to appeal the High Court ruling. I thought the ruling gave the EC all the guidance it needed and nothing else was required. A Court of Appeal hearing for both parties is really expensive and I do not see what benefit there is for the Government in taking this step.

    • Smilin 5.4

      Of course thats the problem with Fascists the are the only ones who are allowed to have a say, it goes with there dogma ridden history run by people who hijack Democracy to create their own protected power block and they talk about Communist dictatorships being the ruin of the Free world
      What do you call Ronnie Rayguns and Gwanker Bush and our Very own” buy my self a country” President John Pillock Key

    • Ummm, what, exactly? We usually have a better line in trolling from the righties here, Liam. Have a coffee and try again.

    • Thanks for linking to that article, Liam. I especially like the bit which says

      Sanders’ campaign is now trying to distance him from the article, calling it a “dumb attempt at dark satire in an alternative publication intended to attack gender stereotypes in the 1970s” that in “no way reflects his views or record on women.”

      And that’s how you make it clear that you know the silly things you did decades ago were wrong, and that although you’re a human being who’s made some mistakes, you’re able to admit your mistakes.

  6. Paul Campbell 7

    Have you ever seen Trump’s hair and Boris Johnson’s at the same time, I think it’s two-timing

  7. David H 8

    John Stewart is so happy at Trump for entering the President race.

  8. Charles 9

    Neil’s getting wordy in his old age. In the old days he might’ve said, “People who think I support Trump haven’t even heard my Greendale album – or any of my music”. And then sued.

    I’m not sure there is any popular Right-wing toned music. A quick search reveals that Spandau Ballet lead singer has right wing sympathies, and Eric Clapton got a bit xenophobic once when he was drunk. But generally it takes the classic right-wing “sensor” literal approach to interpreting art to label music “of the right”. For example, some of Bjork’s lyrics sound very right-wing-sloganish at face value, but when interviewed about it, she says it was about her talking to herself in stern mother voices owing to the fear and hopelessness of depressive episodes – that it wasn’t a promotion of social disregard at a political level. Of course, not many people bother to discover what songs really mean, and simply superimpose their own meanings as it suits.

    • While most heavy metal music is inherently conservative, I believe Canadian prog rockers Rush are the only band dumb enough to write songs about Ayn Rand. They’re suitably embarrassed about it now, though drummer Neil Peart still calls himself a libertarian.

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