Anthems of Outrage
Kevin McCarthy Fri May 12The Nation ...Young is hard to categorize politically, but he appears to be something of a populist libertarian and humanitarian, with a penchant for cantankerous contrarianism. His altruistic endeavors include being an outspoken advocate of relief for family farmers as an original member of Farm Aid. The father of a son with cerebral palsy, he also founded a school for the children with severe speech and physical impairments, which he supports with annual benefit concerts. And he has consistently been against war.
But according to manager Roberts, "Neil doesn't read newspapers, he doesn't really read Time or Newsweek very much. It's gotta be something he sees--if he watches TV on the road and there's a CNN special on Bosnia, Neil wants to do a record and a benefit within two days. Or he can ignore it forever if he doesn't see it." While we're sure to hear charges that Young is a Canadian, America-hating, rock and roll anarchist, he actually seems more akin to that creature that pundits and politicians are so enamored of: the independent voter.
Living With War appears crafted to appeal to independents. Young steers clear from any partisan commentary. On "Looking for a Leader," he suggests that anyone from Barack Obama to Colin Powell--"to right what he's done wrong"--could be destined to lead America out of our "desolation." In other songs, such as "Families" and "Roger and Out," Young evokes the war's toll on soldiers and their friends and families. And in "Flags of Freedom," a song that references Bob Dylan's 1960s protest anthems, Young attempts to wrestle the patriotic imagery from the prowar zealots who wrap themselves in the flag. .... more