Artist News

Neil Young on Donald Trump: “I make my music for people not for candidates”

By | Published on Friday 19 June 2015

Donald Trump & Neil Young

Neil Young has now provided personal comment on Donald Trump’s use of his song ‘Rockin In The Free World’ while announcing his bid to become the Republican candidate for the US presidency. This follows a statement from the musician’s management company, Lookout Management, earlier this week stating that Trump’s use of his track was “unauthorised”.

As previously reported, Trump opened his announcement event with the song, as he came on stage to the applause of what it now turns out were a group of paid actors.

Refusing to actually name Trump in his statement, Young said: “[Earlier this week] my song ‘Rockin In The Free World’ was used in an announcement for a US 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”.

Let’s just stop here to add that to the list of reasons why Pono is one of the worst things to ever happen.

“Music is a universal language”, Young went on. “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”.

As previously noted, whether or not Young gave permission for his song to be used at Trump’s event is irrelevant, as public performances of music such as this are covered by the blanket licenses provided by the industry’s collecting societies. However, given the sensitive nature of tying music up with politics, it does tend to save a lot of bother if the token gesture of asking for permission is made first. Though Trump might struggle to find any musicians willing to support his campaign with their music, so maybe asking wasn’t an option.

Young went on to lament that “democracy has been hijacked by corporate interests”, noting that under the US system only those with massive financial backing or personal wealth, such as Trump, can run for office. “The ever increasing economic disparity and the well-funded legislative decisions all favour corporate interests over the peoples”, he said.

This led to an opportunity to plug Young’s new album, ‘The Monsanto Years’, which, as previously reported, takes aim at companies such as genetically modified seed manufacturer Monsanto, claiming that – through lobbying group the Grocery Manufacturers Association – they are attempting to overturn a law in Vermont that requires food and drink companies to state when GM crops are used in their products.

A number of the companies called out on the album recently commented on Young’s accusations for an article in Billboard. Among them, Monsanto said: “Many of us at Monsanto have been and are fans of Neil Young. Unfortunately, for some of us, his current album may fail to reflect our strong beliefs in what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable. We recognise there is a lot of misinformation about who we are and what we do – and unfortunately several of those myths seem to be captured in these lyrics”.

Concluding his statement, Young said: “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”.

Read Young’s full statement here.