Monday, June 02, 2003


It is difficult to find supportive things to say about George Bush unless your construction company is rebuilding Iraq, but it would be a droll irony if it was him we have to thank for Neil Young's latest creative renaissance.

"The US is like a baby with a bomb," he barks, his eyes blazing with the famous stare. "The reaction to France that the administration allowed to happen is so immature. These people have their own opinion - they're French! They're not fuckin' Americans, they're French ! Vive la difference, hello? And this big deal about Bush landing on an aircraft carrier? Talk about a six-year-old kid with a Tonka toy - we got it here."

After a string of less-than-awesome albums, it is excellent news that Young has found himself a new itch to scratch. He has never been a political songwriter, unless you count his 1970 hit single Ohio, but the songs from his new album, Greendale, take a critical squint at Bush's America through a small-town keyhole.

He tells his story about the fictional town of Greendale through a variety of characters, including three generations of the Green family, but the dominant themes reflect Young's personal concerns. He seems especially fired up by issues of media intrusion, ecological conservation and illegal surveillance by government agencies.

"I think the world today, at least the US and to some extent Britain now, is experiencing this kind of Big Brother thing," he ruminates, the day after completing his string of solo performances at London's Hammersmith Apollo. Close up, the Toronto-born Young looks lined and weatherbeaten, but his mental focus is sharp.

"It's not what we thought we were gonna be doing, a lot of the people's civil rights have been compromised, and we don't know what's going on. If I keep speaking my mind, will I be deported? I'm not very happy with the state of things. Music is being banned, and we have people in control of the radio stations who are the same people in control of the concert halls. They're also tied into the [US] administration and are sponsoring pro-war rallies. It's not good. It's interesting ."

from The Guardian