Neil Young urges Bush impeachment on protest album
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Veteran rocker Neil Young has recorded a protest album featuring an anti-Iraq war track with "a holy vow to never kill again" and a song titled "Let's Impeach the President," the singer said on Monday.
The 10-track set, called "Living with War," was recorded this month by a "power trio" -- electric guitar, bass and drums -- plus trumpet and a 100-member choir, the Canadian-born musician announced on his Web site.
Young's longtime manager, Elliot Roberts, told Reuters the album, which has been the subject of Internet buzz for several days, will be played for executives at his label, Warner Music Group's Reprise Records, on Tuesday.
Reprise spokesman Bill Bentley said Young's latest effort, which he spent about three days recording, came as a surprise.
"We didn't know he was making a record," Bentley said. "That's the beauty of Neil Young."
Young, 60, is the latest in a string of big-name recording stars to take musical aim at President Bush and his conduct of the war in the Iraq. Others have included Steve Earle ("Rich Man's War"), Willie Nelson ("What Ever Happened to Peace on Earth") and the Rolling Stones ("Sweet Neo Con").
But "Living with War," coming from one of the most influential and iconoclastic singer-songwriters of Young's generation, may be the most heavy-hitting anti-Bush protest yet to surface from a major rock star.
In a message crawl along the bottom of his Web site, www.neilyoung.com
, Young drew parallels to two of the leading protest singers of the 1960s, saying of his new record: "I think it is a metal version of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan ... metal folk protest?"
The crawl goes on to reveal the lyrics of the album's title track, with such lines as: "I raise my hand in peace ... I never bow to the laws of the thought police ... I take a holy vow ... to never kill again ...
"In the big hotels ... in the mosques and the doors of the old museum ... I take a holy vow ... to never kill again."
Roberts confirmed that a separate song on the album is titled "Let's Impeach the President." He declined to disclose any further details about the record.
But according to some online reports, that song accuses Bush of "lying" and features a rap with the president's voice set against a choir singing "flip-flop."
One member of that choir, a California-based musician, wrote on a "blog" entry last Friday that the recording session wrapped with an a capella version of "America the Beautiful."
Young's latest offering comes just seven months after the release of his last album, "Prairie Wind," which has sold about 450,000 U.S. copies as of last week, according to sales tracking service Nielsen SoundScan. Music from that album was featured in the recent concert film "Neil Young: Heart of Gold," directed by Jonathan Demme.
"Living with War" appears to bring Young full circle from a more pro-Bush administration stance he took in the months following the September 11 attacks.
Not long after recording the song "Let's Roll," a tribute to passengers who apparently fought back against hijackers on doomed United Airlines Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, Young came out publicly in support of the U.S. Patriot Act.
The legislation, which gave law enforcement authorities broad new powers aimed at bolstering the administration's war on terror, was harshly criticized by some as threatening civil liberties.
But at a December 2001 ceremony accepting an award from the free-speech advocacy group People for the American Way, Young said he believed the measure was necessary, though he urged the audience to ensure that its more controversial provisions were only temporary.
"Living with War" is hardly the first work by Young to take on the political establishment. As part of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, in 1970, Young wrote and recorded the song "Ohio," about the four Kent State University students killed by National Guard troops during an anti-Vietnam war rally.
Nearly two decades later, he book-ended his album "Freedom" with the song "Rockin' in the Free World," which chided Bush's father, then president, with the lyrics: "We got a thousand points of light/For the homeless man/We got a kinder, gentler machine-gun hand."